Chipotle Lime Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Want to see a family divided on Thanksgiving (or any other holiday)? Start talking cranberry sauce. People hold strong opinions about the stuff; they’re either hardcore ‘canned jellied cranberry’ fans or they’re hardcore ‘homemade is the only way to go.’ There’s a verrrrrry small population of people that want it both ways.

I’m hardcore ‘homemade is the way.’ Thankfully, my husband is part of that small population who likes it both ways, so I know he can have his canned stuff at his family’s house, and I can make the real stuff. 

This year, though, I decided to play around with my cranberry sauce recipes. I nailed down an Instant Pot method over on the Biscuits & Grading blog, and then I perfected this simple stovetop Chipotle Lime Cranberry Sauce. Also on my list of favorites: Tangerine Cranberry Sauce. Yes and please.

Read on for all the tips and tricks of making the perfect cranberry sauce!


Making Chipotle Lime Cranberry Sauce

To start, rinse your cranberries, and pick through them, discarding any wrinkled or bad berries. 

ingredients chipotle cranberry sauce 1

Combine cranberries, lime juice, orange juice and granulated sugar in a medium sauce pan. Stir well, then sprinkle cinnamon and chipotle spices over the top. Mix to combine the spices with the cranberries.

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Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once you reaching a full rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and continue to cook 10-15 minutes, or until the cranberry sauce has thickened to your liking. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it settle for a few minutes. Serve hot or refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it.

cooked cranberries with foam 1

This sauce is so simple – but the lime and chipotle give it such a delicious tart and smoky heat. It definitely cannot be beat as one of my favorite Thanksgiving sides!


How Much Chipotle to Use?

I recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper. That adds a smoky soft heat, something your mouth will taste but not really feel. If you like more heat, consider using 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle, and you can always add extra sprinkles as you cook and taste. 

If you’re serving to a group of family or friends, I recommend erring on the side of caution and sticking with 1/4 teaspoon, because everyone has their own spice tolerance and preference. 

chipotle cranberry sauce homemade 1

I’m Out of Lime Juice. Help!

My best tip is to never run out of lime juice. HA! Actually, I keep True Lime on hand, which is just dehydrated lime (so it’s shelf stable). Then you can just add a bit of water to rehydrate and you’ve got lime juice! 

But if you don’t have limes or True Lime, you can leave the lime juice out. Just add an extra tablespoon of orange juice to replace the liquid. I don’t recommend using the ‘lime juice’ that comes in that green lime-shaped bottle in the produce section. It’s got a different flavor and won’t taste great in your sauce. 


Can I Use Frozen Cranberries?

Sure! In fact, when cranberries are on sale around Thanksgiving, buy extra bags to freeze. To freeze them, spread the berries on baking sheets and freeze for a couple of hours (this prevents them from sticking together). Then pour into gallon zip-top bags, label and store them in the freezer for up to 12 months. 

To use, I recommend letting them thaw 30-60 minutes before you want to make cranberry sauce. Your sauce may take a bit longer to come to a boil and/or thicken, so just play around with it a bit.

chipotle lime cranberry sauce in pan 1

My Sauce is Thick, But:

it’s foamy. That’s okay! The foam will settle for the most part, but if it bothers you presentation-wise, you can always skim it off the top with a spoon.

too many cranberries are still whole and haven’t burst. If you want a smoother sauce or to crush your berries a bit more, use a potato masher to burst the cranberries. Then stir together and voila! Perfection!

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So. Many. Leftovers.

Honestly, a dollop of cranberry sauce is good on your Thanksgiving plate, but the leftovers are even better, because there is sooooo much you can do with them! Here are three of my favorite things to do with leftover cranberry sauce (outside of your typically ‘leftover Thanksgiving saundwich,’ with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce on bread):

  1. Add to a charcuterie board. In the days after Thanksgiving, I’ve eaten so much that lighter meals are usually my go-to. Charcuterie boards are a fun, easy lunch or dinner, and cranberry sauce can replace the jam/preserves/etc that you would usually put on your board. I’m telling you right now: crackers or bread topped with gouda and cranberry sauce. You need this in your life.
  2. Cranberry French Toast. Mm-hmm. Crispy-chewy french toast, topped with warm cranberry sauce. Yes, please. 
  3. Meatballs. Buy a bag of frozen, precooked meatballs and combine with cranberry sauce and bbq sauce for a simple, saucy, delicious dinner or appetizer. 


vertical chipotle cranberry sauce 1

Chipotle Lime Cranberry Sauce

Lisa Bonny


  • 1 bag 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice or 1 tsp. True Lime
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper


  • Rinse cranberries. Pick through and throw away any bad cranberries.
  • In a pot over medium heat, combine cranberries, orange juice, sugar and lime juice. Stir well.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon and chipotle pepper over top. Start with 1/4 tsp chipotle - you can always add a bit more if you decide to up the spice level. Mix well.
  • Bring to a boil over medium, stirring often.
  • Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and continue to cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • When sauce is thick, remove from heat. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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