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This Cranberry Salsa is an all time favorite Christmas appetizer. Sweet and tart cranberries sweetened with some blended pear and sugar are balanced with a soft heat of jalapeño, fresh cilantro, green onion, and a pop of fresh lime juice. Serve this over some softened cream cheese for an appetizer that is beautiful and ideal for Christmas!

This cranberry salsa is the perfect salsa recipe for the holidays. I have a love for salsa, it’s my go to snack or appetizer. The classic salsa recipe is good all year round. Pineapple salsa makes me think of summer. And this cranberry salsa is my go to for winter and the holiday season. 

Cranberry salsa served over a block of cream cheese and served with crackers.


All about this Cranberry Salsa…

This salsa comes out sweet and tart with a hint of heat. Adding pear with the cranberries balances the fresh, tartness of the berries. 

  • Quick and Easy: this salsa comes together in minutes using a food processor. Simply pulse the ingredients together, cover and chill.
  • Sweet & Spicy: the balanced flavoring of sweet, tart cranberries with the sweet pear and sugar blend perfectly with the heat of the jalapeño and fresh pop of lime juice.
  • Christmas coloring: this appetizer naturally has a beautiful coloring that just screams Christmastime!

Ingredients Needed:

Ingredients needed to make cranberry salsa laid out on the counter

Notes on some ingredients:

  • Cranberries: use fresh or frozen cranberries. The frozen berries will need to be thawed before being used.
  • Pear: this is added for some extra sweetness to help balance the tart cranberries. This can be swapped out with an apple.
  • Sugar: cranberries are exceptionally tart, the sugar helps to balance the flavorings.
  • Jalapeno: prepare by slicing in half, you can remove the membranes and seeds to reduce the heat, or you can leave it all together and give a rough chop before adding to the food processor. 
  • Green onion: slice off the very end, and give a rough chop before adding to the processor. 
  • Cilantro: grab a handful of cilantro and add in.

How to make (step-by-step):

Fresh cranberries added to a food processor, then after being pulsed and chopped up.
  • Add the cranberries to the processor or blender, mix briefly to break up the berries.
  • Add the jalapeno, green onion and cilantro to the processor and continue to pulse until the ingredients are blended to desired consistency.
Adding cilantro and jalapeno to the processor and then after being pulsed and chopped together.
  • Remove the salsa to a medium size bowl. Stir in sugar. Blend the pear, and add to the salsa. I process them separately so that I can control the consistency of the pear.
  • Cover and store in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 4 hours, overnight is best. You can see in the images below how much the cranberries soften during this time.
Processed pear being added to the cranberry salsa.
Cranberry salsa before being chilled and letting to sit, and then after chilling overnight.

Expert Tips:

  • Blended Pear: I blend this separately because I want it to be very blended, almost to the point of being mushy, like apple sauce.
  • Chill time: it is important to let the salsa chill in the refrigerator before serving to allow the sugar to soften the cranberries, and blend all of the flavors together.


What do I serve cranberry salsa with?

Cream cheese is the most popular option. It can also be served on top of a creamy brie. Serve with some crackers on the side for scooping.

How long does fresh cranberry salsa last?

Homemade cranberry salsa can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 10-14 days.

Can I freeze cranberry salsa?

Yes! Store this salsa in a freezer safe container and keep frozen for up to 1 month. Remove to the refrigerator to thaw overnight before serving.

Cracker scooping up homemade cranberry salsa and cream cheese.

More Christmas Appetizer Recipes:

Cranberry Salsa

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Chilling Time: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Serene
Sweet, tart, and slightly spicy, this Holiday Cranberry Salsa makes a festive appetizer perfect for all parties and get togethers! 
Cranberry salsa served over a block of cream cheese and served with crackers.


  • 12 ounces cranberries fresh
  • cup cilantro fresh
  • 1 jalapeno roughly chopped (membranes and seeds removed if desired- this will reduce the heat)
  • 4 green onions roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon lime juice fresh
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cup sugar
  • ½ Bartlett pear
  • 1 8 ounce block cream cheese


  • Rinse and dry the cranberries, remove all that are mushy or bruised. 
  • Add cranberries to a food processor and pulse briefly, just to chop them up.
  • Add in the cilantro, jalapeño, green onion, squeeze of lime juice, and salt. Pulse in the processor or blender just to chop up all of the ingredients. Do not blend to a puree.
  • Remove from the processor and spoon into a medium size mixing bowlStir in the sugar.
  • Process the pear to a consistency of applesauce, pour into the cranberry salsa. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Best if chilled overnight.
  • Serve over cream cheese, brie cheese or with crackers or chips. 


Substitutions: can substitute the pear for an apple or unsweetened applesauce if preferred. 
Storage: salsa can be kept covered in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. 


Serving: 1 | Calories: 138kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Sodium: 82mg | Fiber: 2g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

Recipe first published December 20, 2019. Updated December 16, 2021 with new information and video.

Welcome to my kitchen!

Welcome to the House of Yumm!! My name is Serene. I’m the food photographer, recipe developer, and official taste tester around these parts.

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Recipe Rating


    1. This is not an approved canning recipe. You would need to find a recipe made for canning that would most likely involve vinegar to give more of an acid base to it.

    1. I don’t recommend making this salsa with dried cranberries, only fresh. And I also don’t recommend canning this recipe.