Hot Pepper Cranberry Jam

Hot Pepper Cranberry Sauce

Hot Pepper Cranberry Jam is one of these recipes you just have to try to understand.  If you’re a fan of hot pepper jelly, this is for you ~ the tart and tangy cranberries marry up perfectly with the heat of cayenne pepper for one memorable taste experience. 

Cranberries are special.  They’re one of only three fruits native to North America, (along with blueberries and Concord grapes) they’re loaded with antioxidants, they have an explosive flavor, and a brilliant color— they should really have a life beyond November.

That’s to say, don’t save cranberry sauce for the holidays.  This sauce can mingle with roast beef, chicken, pork, and lamb all year long.  It can be the star of your next cheese plate, and it would be killer on sandwiches, brats, and burgers.  Get creative with this amazing berry!

Plain cranberry sauce is about the easiest recipe on the planet, and it’s a perfect thing to assign to one of the kids.  My youngest daughter has claimed simple cranberry sauce as ‘her’ dish, and every Thanksgiving she makes it and gets raves.  This is one for the adults though; it’s kicked up with fresh cayenne pepper and a dash of vinegar.  Hot pepper and cranberries are one of those unexpected pairings that just works, the zingy sweet tart flavor of the cranberries can stand up to the heat of the peppers and the two together make quite a party in the mouth.  One word of caution — make sure you warn people before you plop this down on your Thanksgiving table!

Hot Pepper Cranberry Sauce/Relish/Jam


  • 1 or 2 cayenne peppers, seeded and minced (leave the seeds in if you're brave)
  • 12 oz (1 bag) fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar


  1. Rinse the berries and put in a pot. Add the water, sugar, vinegar and pepper(s). Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. The berries will start to pop, so stand back a bit. Once the sauce has come to a boil, it will be foaming and the berries will no longer be popping, turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Take off the heat and let the sauce cool completely. Then transfer it to a storage or serving dish. Refrigerate until set. Cranberry sauce firms up as it cools, and eventually it will be of a spreadable consistency, perfect for sandwiches and cheese plates.


  • Cooking with hot peppers is tricky. You can’t always predict the level of heat you’re going to get because hot peppers vary greatly, even within the same variety. One seeded pepper will usually give you a sauce with a kick, but on the tamer side. Use two peppers if you want a more pronounced heat. The high sugar content dampens the heat a bit.
  • You can use other types of hot pepper in this jam, for instance jalapeno, or habanero pepper will also work.

Psssssst: put some on a cracker on top of cream cheese or soft goat cheese.  You won’t be able to stop stuffing them in your mouth.  I swear.

Hot Pepper Cranberry Sauce


  • Reply
    September 28, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Can you please tell me , how many jars does the original recipe make? Would like to make enough for Christmas too, including a few gifts. Would like to do all at once. thank you. Liked this recipe better than any of the others I read.
    thanks again,

  • Reply
    August 4, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    Ok, I made this yesterday and it was soooo easy! I couldn’t find cayenne peppers so used one hot pepper removed the seeds and sliced it into the boiling mixture.
    It is very good, with a hint of ‘heat’ (I would have liked more), served with cream cheese and thin crackers. We all really like it, thanks!

    • Reply
      August 5, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Where did you find cranberries? I would love to make some! If you want more heat, be sure to leave the seeds in next time…

  • Reply
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen
    November 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Love this and bet it would be fabulous with goat cheese. I make new cranberry sauces and relishes each year. Can’t wait to try this one with hot peppers. Happy Thanksgiving Sue.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      I think you’ll love this, Sam, and yes, it is fabulous with goat cheese. Have a safe and happy weekend!

  • Reply
    August 5, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    I know I’m completely out of season here, but I think this recipe sounds great! What are your thoughts on using the remaining bag of frozen cranberries in my freezer for this with some cayennes from the garden? Also, any thoughts on canning some of it to use as gifts?

  • Reply
    November 17, 2011 at 12:04 am

    considering how much i adore pepper jelly, i’m pretty sure i’d be eating this stuff by the spoonful!

  • Reply
    November 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    How bright and delicious! Serving it as a cracker topping looks wonderful.

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    November 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    first of all the pictures are visually stunning! Just beautiful and the sauce/relish is fantastic. I love this idea

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    November 14, 2011 at 10:34 am

    We are addicted to chilli in my house so this is just perfect for my Christmas table. Rich red and luscious photos – love it.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    This sounds incredible. I love the heat you’ve added to the sauce. That makes me think that this is going to be tasty as well as beautiful. Your photos are spectacular. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • Reply
    Nessa Robins
    November 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    This relish sounds absolutely gorgeous. I love a nice topping for my cheese & crackers and this sounds perfect!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Oh my gosh! Sue, my husband should just thank you now and I haven’t even made this yet. Wow. Awesome idea.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I always loving making peanut butter and cranberry sauce sandwiches and I think this spiced up version would be ultra fabulous for such an endeavor.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Oh I put cayenne on everything so I’ll definitely make this for Christmas as I find the usual cranberry sauce a bit too sweet.

  • Reply
    Sue/the view from great island
    November 14, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Anon—ooops, I fixed that, thanks!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    The recipe says add cranberries & water, etc. to pot… how much water?

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Love the idea of chillies in cranberry sauce. I’m going to make this for Christmas.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    yummmm…I made a cranberry conserve similar to this last winter. There were no hot peppers in it though! I think some heat would be a welcome addition to sweet-tart cranberries and, of course, goat cheese.

  • Reply
    Sabrina-eat.drink.and be merry.
    November 13, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    YES!!! I love this! cant wait to get my hands on my cranberries!

  • Reply
    Heather @
    November 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Mmmm..this is a good one. I love the versatility of Cranberry Sauce. And although I do have “the perfect” recipe I make year after year, I’m venturing out and trying something else this year. I may have to add this one to the mix, as well…it sounds awesome!

  • Reply
    the gardener's cottage
    November 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    you get my attention anytime you pair hot and sweet. it’s my favorite combo in foods. this looks delicious! sue, the photos are stunning!

  • Reply
    From Beyond My Kitchen Window
    November 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I am making this today!!! I love everything about this recipe. The photos are gorgeous and I wanted to reach in and grab a cracker.Yum!! Thanks for the shout out.

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