Red Hot Cranberry Chutney

For years we hosted an expatriate’s Thanksgiving for friends and acquaintances in quantities of up to and over 100 people. We’d deep fry multiple Cajun-style turkeys and concoct huge pans of thick gravy, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. We’d solicit the aid of all, asking guests to contribute pot-luck side dishes, salads, desserts, and drinks.

In the process, a cranberry relish or chutney evolved that has become one of my favorites, and I swear I’ll never go back to eating plain old, sweet, canned cranberry sauce again. Living in Mexico and surrounded by hot chile peppers of all types, it seems only natural that this cranberry accompaniment be on the Thanksgiving table here instead of the traditional, unspicy version …



And hot and spicy this cranberry chutney certainly is, but since cranberry sauce isn’t usually used in great quantities, even those people who don’t particularly care much for spicy foods seem take to it straight-away. It’s a perfect match  for  any kind of game bird or poultry, and would probably go great with pork as well. Most importantly (to me), it also is a fabulous accompaniment to things like vegan couscous and curried dishes at any time of the year.

Quantities are very approximate and can be varied greatly according to one’s own tastes. It’s a very simple and easy recipe.

  • 2 cups of dried cranberries
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 serrano or jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (optional) – I’ve used both fresh and canned and both work just fine
  • 1/2 c water, or more as needed
  • 1/2 c cranberry juice
  • 2 to 4 T brown sugar, depending on your sweet tooth
  • 1/4 cup white or cider vinegar
  • 3 or 4 drops of Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • 1 tsp chile piquin powder (a small red cayenne-like chile; can substitute with powdered cayenne)
  • 1 tsp (or more to taste) powdered Cajun seasoning (this is usually a mixture of black and white peppers, cayenne, paprika, garlic and onion powder, sometimes a touch of oregano and thyme)
  • 1 T Asian Satay sauce
  • 1 tsp Sriracha Sauce
  • 1 T fresh ginger root or pickled ginger, finely chopped (or more, to taste)

Place the cranberries, chopped onion, garlic, water, and cranberry juice in a heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat until cranberries and onions are all tender and falling apart. Add more water or cranberry juice if the mixture gets too dry. Stir often as it can easily stick and burn.

Add the seasonings, sugar, and vinegar, and continue simmering over low heat for 30 minutes or so to meld the flavors. If you want it hotter, add more Tabasco or Sriracha.  Allow to cool and store in the fridge until needed. Flavor improves with time and the sauce can be stored in the fridge for many weeks.