This Cranberry Sriracha Pepper Jelly is crazy good! We love it spooned over cream cheese or goat cheese and served with crackers but it's also great as a sandwich spread and makes a wonderful glaze for chicken, pork, salmon, etc.
Ever since Scott and I began this crazy Café journey 10 years ago, there's a question that family and friends have come to expect when dining with us. "Is is blog-worthy?". They know the question means "is it wonderful?", "spectacular?", "outstanding?", "Does it need any tweaking?". I appreciate that they're honest. Sometimes the response is, "it's good... but not ready for the blog yet". At times, they say "needs a bit more work" and once in a while, "this is definitely not blog-worthy". This Cranberry Sriracha Pepper Jelly took a few tries but the consensus is now unanimous: "It's most absolutely-positutely, blog-worthy!"
Sweet and Spicy (or not so much)
This ruby-hued, sweet and spicy jelly is made from cranberries, fresh orange juice, bell pepper, jalapeños, sugar and a favorite condiment here at The Café, Sriracha. Sriracha is a fabulous hot sauce made from sun ripened chilis, and in combination with the jalapeños, adds a unique, delicious layer of heat. You can definitely turn the heat up or down in this Cranberry Sriracha Pepper Jelly, depending on your taste.
We're "medium" people when it comes to spiciness and the recipe, as written is perfect for us. It's easy to change that level by adding more or less Sriracha. The jalapeños add some heat but the Sriracha is more of the determining factor. Sriracha is available at just about every larger grocery store in the Asian section. It keeps well for months in the refrigerator.
You can also change the heat level by adding or omitting the seeds from the jalapeños. Taste the jelly right before you add it to the jars and add more heat if desired.
Many pepper jelly recipes require lots of choping but not this one! Simply throw the whole cranberries, bell pepper, jalapeños in a big pot with a scoop of sugar and bring it all to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and let everything simmer for 10 minutes. Once the cranberries are softened and the ingredients have time to meld and marry, the mixture is drained through a fine-mesh strainer. The result is the clear crimson juice that you'll use to make the jelly.
What does "a rolling boil" mean?
You'll notice that the directions for this recipe call for bringing the fruit mixture to a "rolling boil" for one minute. A "rolling boil" is a very vigorous boil that remains even if you stir the mixture. It's important in jam and jelly recipes not to start timing until you see that "rolling boil".
Can this Cranberry Sriracha Pepper Jelly be canned with a hot water bath?
Yes! Although I usually store my jams and jellies in the freezer and don't bother with a hot water bath, you can definitely go that route for shelf stability. If you decide not to can this pepper jelly, be sure to keep it refrigerated or frozen when not in use.
Can I use powdered pectin for this recipe?
This recipe calls for liquid pectin. I really wanted this recipe to work with powdered pectin as I know that powdered pectin is easier for some of our readers (especially those who live outside of the U.S.) to find. Sadly, after numerous boxes of powdered pectin, lots of cranberry and a boatload of sugar, I just couldn't get it to work to my satisfaction. The jelly didn't set well with the powdered pectin so, at this time, the answer to the above question is "no".
If you can only get powdered pectin, it would be better to go with a recipe that's specifically designed for that type of pectin. Powdered and liquid pectin are not interchangeable. The ratio of fruit and sugar is often different depending on which type of pectin you're using. The cooking technique for each is also different with the liquid pectin being added after the sugar vs powdered pectin, which is cooked with the fruit or juice and then the sugar is added.
I use the Certo brand of liquid pectin. You can find Certo at most larger grocery stores in the same section as the canning jars and supplies. If you can't find it, ask at the front desk as some stores stock in obscure areas.
What to do with pepper jelly?
Did you know that pepper jelly is a wonderful little treasure to have stashed away? There are so many fun things you can do with it...
- It makes a super quick and delicious appetizer; we love it spooned over cream cheese, mascarpone or goat cheese and served with an assortment of crackers.
- If you're looking for a wonderful glaze for chicken, pork or salmon, this Cranberry Sriracha Pepper Jelly is perfect.
- Try it also as a delicious spread for dinner rolls or bagels.
- Add a splash of vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil, a spoonful of Dijon mustard and a bit of salt and pepper and you've got a fabbulous, seasonal salad dressing.
- This one is definitely a favorite... a grilled ham (or smoked turkey) and cheese (Havarti please) sandwich on a nice whole grain bread with a thin layer of this pepper jelly- simply out of this world!
- I also love to serve this Cranberry Sriracha Pepper Jelly as pictured in this post with crackers or crostini, a log of goat cheese that's been rolled in pistachios, pepitas and sunflower seeds. I add little jar or bowl of pomegranate arils and some fresh cilantro leaves and let everyone fix their own cranberry pomegranate bruschetta! So delicious! So much fabulous texture and flavor!
Oh and I didn't want to forget to tell you what a lovely gift this jelly can make? Find a pretty bag, a box nice crackers and a log of creamy goat cheese. Add a jar of this beautiful, crimson, sweet-spicy jelly and you'll be sure to bring smiles of delight. You might want to include the recipe because when they find out you made it, they'll be sure to request it!
To make your gifts extra pretty and professional looking, we're including a free printable PDF for the labels pictured above and below. There are different sizes for different types of jars. Just leave us a comment in the comment section below and we will email the labels to you along with instructions on how to use them and links for the different types of jars pictured.
Just one little warning, Don't put out too much of this stuff before dinner. It's deliciously addictive! And you may find your guests picking at their dinner because they've spoiled their appetites. Of course you could just not even worry about dinner, just serve a big platter of crackers, cheese, charcuterie and this Cranberry Sriracha Pepper Jelly. I'm pretty sure no one would complain!
Café Tips for making this Cranberry Sriracha Pepper Jelly
- It's a good idea to use gloves when handling jalapeños or any hot peppers as they can burn your skin.
- Why is there butter in a pepper jelly recipe? A small amount of butter will help keep mixture from foaming a lot when the jelly mixture simmers.
- I often get asked the question, "Can I use less sugar?". I don't recommend decreasing the sugar in this recipe. There are two reasons for this:
- Jam/jelly making are an exact science when using pectin as a thickener. I love to improvise in the kitchen but not with jam and jelly unless I'm creating a new recipe and then it might take me 3 or 4 tries before I get it right. It's important to measure carefully and accurately for good results. If you need to reduce your sugar intake, it would be better to follow a low sugar recipe than to try to adapt this one and end up with runny jelly.
- In addition to sweetening, sugar also acts as a preservative in jams and jellies by stabilizing the color, texture and flavor and, even more important, it helps to inhibit microbial activity. So, to ensure success, it's best to not alter the recipe.
- Timing is another important aspect of making jams and jellies, particularly those that call for pectin. It's not difficult, just follow the directions and timing and you'll be sure to have success. Setting a timer for the 1 minute cooking time (after the pectin is added) will ensure that the consistency of your jam is correct.
- As mentioned above there are two ways to store this Cranberry Sriracha Pepper Jelly. You can make the recipe as written and store it in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks OR use the hot water bath technique which makes it stable at room temperature. If you've never used a hot water bath, these directions are a good place to start.
- If you decide to can this jelly, switch out the rice vinegar for regular white vinegar. White vinegar has a higher acetic % which is an important safety factor when preserving with a hot water bath.
- Use your biggest pot when making this Cranberry Sriracha Pepper Jelly. It's important to let the fruit and sugar boil vigorously and you don't want a big mess on the stovetop.
- As mentioned above, you'll need for this recipe is a fine mesh strainer for this recipe. A regular strainer will allow too much of the solid fruit to pass through and you won't get a nice clear jelly. Fine mesh strainers are reasonably price and are a verstile kitchen tool.
Thought for the day:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
This stuff is crazy good! We love it spooned over cream cheese and served with crackers but it also makes a wonderful glaze for chicken, pork, salmon, etc.
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries about 3 ½ cups
- 1 medium bell pepper stem removed and quartered (seeds are okay!) I use a red bell pepper but really any color is fine.
- 2 medium-size jalapeno peppers (about 3-4 inches long) quartered and seeds removed and reserved
- 1¾ cups orange juice fresh or purchased (I like the not from concentrate OJ)
- ¾ cup rice vinegar use regular white vinegar if you use a hot water bath for a shelf stable jelly
- 4 ¼ cups sugar divided
- ½ teaspoon butter
- 1 3-ounce pouch CERTO Liquid Fruit Pectin
- 4 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
Combine cranberries, bell pepper, jalapeños, orange juice, rice vinegar and ¼ cup sugar in a medium large saucepan (at least 6 quart-size).
Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover pot with lid slightly ajar. Cook for 10 minutes. Watch carefully to keep mixture simmering but not cooking up over the top of the pot.
Remove from heat and pour into a fine mesh strainer with a bowl set underneath to catch the juice. Allow the juice to drain for 5 minutes then push on solids gently with the back of a spoon to extract most of the liquid. Measure juice and add enough water to equal 2 cups. You want exactly 2 cups of liquid.
Wash the pot and add the cranberry juice mixture, the remaining 4 cups of sugar and the butter. Stir to combine and bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down.)
Add Certo pectin and return to a full boil. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a metal teaspoon. Add 2 teaspoon of Sriracha. Taste and add more Sriracha and the jalapeno seeds if you prefer a spicier jelly.
Ladle into clean jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace at the top. Cover jars and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours then refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Makes about 4½ cups of jelly.
Jelly can also be processed with a water bath at this point. I never do this as I'm a bit lazy and have plenty of freezer space.
See Cafe Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
How to adapt this recipe for hot water bath canning:
Follow the same recipe but swap out regular white vinegar for the rice vinegar and use these directions for safe preserving.