Uncle Bert’s Spicy Cranberry Spread

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This recipe was inspired by my cousin Marcus who, like me, HATES boring food! We both like anything we’re cooking or consuming to have some fire in it – nothing that will burn down the kitchen, but, you get the meaning. Some HEAT! Right after Thanksgiving, we had a conversation about holiday food and he remarked, “You know what, cuz…I like cranberry sauce but why does it have to come from a can? Why can’t I make my own and put some oomph in it? You know, put the blaze on it?”

“Well, shoot, cuz, nothing says we can’t do that. Nothing at all.”

So, on behalf of my cousin…you CAN make your own…and we put our heads together and we DID. This recipe won’t scorch your taste buds, but if you have a dry, boring turkey and/or stuffing – a shot of this will wake it right up! While you may notice a similarity to any other recipe that you can find online, you will NOT see us adding any water to this recipe. There’s going to be enough liquid released during cooking time, to properly hydrate this dish – and it will absolutely soften the cranberries enough to ensure proper mashing.


  • One and a half generous pounds (at least 24 ounces) of FRESH cranberries. Do yourself a favor – take the trip to Whole Foods if you have to, if you can’t find in your local grocery. After all, didn’t Jeff Bezos promise us that it was affordable now?
  • One cup/16oz of turbinado sugar. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT settle for table sugar. Trust me on this one!
  • Juice from one small orange and the zest thereof.
  • Juice from one small lemon and the zest thereof..
  • One jalapeno pepper, finely diced, with seeds.
  • One small onion, finely diced.
  • Three cloves of fresh garlic, minced finely..
  • One cup/16 oz of cranberry vodka.
  • 1 tablespoon of Spanish olive oil (NOTE: Spanish olive oil is a MUST for this recipe. It has a depth of flavor that lends itself to the heat in the sauce.


  • In a flat-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Once it starts shimmering, drop the onions first, and then the garlic. Warm until fragrant, and gently browned – don’t totally caramelize.
  • Once you see browning, take the opportunity to drop the cranberries and the sugar, and stir them until the sugar covers all of the cranberries. Also, at this time, drop the juices from the orange and the lemon.
  • Leave the heat on medium-high and watch the cranberries until they start popping gently, releasing the juices that you need for successful mashing.
  • Once enough juice has been released, take a potato masher and mash the cranberries together, almost like mashed potatoes.
  • Keep the heat on until the juices start thickening. Incorporate the jalapeno, the zests, and the vodka. Watch to ensure that the juice keeps reducing.
  • When you notice the mixture beginning to thicken – turn off the heat and cover, and just let it simmer and continue to thicken. Once it cools, scoop it into a covered Pyrex container and allow it to sit (preferably overnight) so that the flavors and the heat meld.
  • Serve either right out of the fridge or at room temperature, depending on your preference.

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