Homemade cranberry juice, jalapeño simple syrup, and tequila are the main ingredients in this festive and flavorful Cranberry Jalapeño Margarita. Cheers to the holiday season!
I love a good holiday cocktail so much. More specifically, I love a good cranberry cocktail... With homemade cranberry juice.
You may think making your own cranberry juice is a little bit excessive for a cocktail. But I promise you it's not! It's easy to make and once you try it, you'll want to have some chilling in your fridge throughout the entire holiday season.
Homemade cranberry juice is so much better than anything you can buy. It has a deeper, more robust flavor and it's a bit more syrup-y than store-bought cranberry juice, which is often thin and watery.
It makes a huge difference in this cranberry jalapeño margarita... Plus, your friends and family will likely be quite impressed that you're serving them a cocktail with cranberry juice you made on your own!
The cranberry jalapeño margarita is super easy to make, but does require three steps and a little bit of chilling time. To make:
- Make homemade cranberry juice and let it chill
- Make jalapeño simple syrup and let it chill
- Combine ingredients in shaker and pour into glasses
How to Make Homemade Cranberry Juice
I make a batch of cranberry juice at least 5 times every holiday season. Not only is it incredibly easy to make, but it makes my home smell amazing and is delicious when mixed into so many cocktails... or enjoyed all on its own!
I do switch up the recipe a bit depending on what I'm using it for, how much I want, how sweet I want it to be, and how thick/thin I want it.
This specific recipe is perfect for this cranberry jalapeño margarita, but is also great to drink plain, though you may find it a tad bit tart (I used less sugar since I was also adding simple syrup to the margarita).
To make, simply combine cranberries and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
Lower to a simmer, add in spices (cinnamon sticks, anise seed/star anise, and cloves), cover saucepan, and let cook for 20-25 minutes.
Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer to extract liquid (dispose of cranberry mash or save for another use.. it makes a glorious ice cream topping!).
Pour liquid back in saucepan over low heat and stir in sugar and lime juice. I often use lemon juice for my cranberry juice, but since I knew this was going in a margarita, I chose lime instead.
And I loved it so much, I might use lime juice from now on!
Pour into heat-proof bowl or pitcher and place in fridge to let cool completely before using.
How to Make Jalapeño Simple Syrup
This jalapeño simple syrup is also incredibly easy to make and the kind of thing you'll want to have in your fridge at all times. I have the full step-by-step recipe and video here.
All you have to do is put sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add in sliced jalapeños.
Lower heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until syrup has thickened.
Pour mixture into a heat-proof bowl or mason jar. You can strain out the jalapeños if you want, but I like to leave them in.
Place bowl or jar in fridge to cool completely before using.
I had some leftovers after I made these cranberry jalapeño margaritas and Chris has been adding it into so many mixed drinks... It's even delicious in a simple gin and tonic!
Cranberry Jalapeño Margarita Recipe
The margarita itself only involves four ingredients: the homemade cranberry juice you just made, the jalapeño simple syrup you just whipped up, tequila, and lime juice!
Shake the ingredients up in an ice-filled shaker and then pour into salt-rimmed glasses. If you prefer sugar, feel free to rim glasses in sugar instead.
I like to garnish my cranberry jalapeño margarita with some jalapeño rounds and sugared cranberries. Sugared cranberries are another holiday staple in my house!
I made this cocktail because I loved the idea of a cranberry/jalapeño flavor combination... But it also ended up being the perfect red and green Christmas cocktail!
This is a simple margarita, but one that's packed with flavor. The cranberry juice is both bold and sweet and the jalapeño simple syrup obviously adds a nice kick.
It's not too spicy... Just make sure you don't use the jalapeño simple syrup to rim the glasses (use lime juice instead!).
Cranberry Jalapeño Margarita Substitutes + Tips
Short on time or don't feel like going through so many steps for this cocktail? Here are a few substitutes you can make:
- Use store-bought cranberry juice. I'm clearly a big fan of making my own cranberry juice, but in a pinch, you can certainly use store-bought.
- Use plain simple syrup or agave. If you don't have time to make the jalapeño simple syrup, you can use plain simple syrup or agave and simply add a few jalapeño slices to the shaker when you mix the cocktail up.
- The cranberry juice recipe and jalapeño simple syrup recipes as written will allow for about 8 cocktails.
- If you're making this for a crowd (though please not in 2020!), you can mix in a pitcher and pour into ice-filled glasses as guests arrive. To serve 8, I recommend: 4 cups cranberry juice, 3 cups tequila, 1 cup jalapeño simple syrup, and ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice.
- If you're not a fan of tequila, you can make this cocktail with vodka or rum. You won't be able to call it a margarita, but it will still be delicious!
No matter how you're celebrating the holidays this year, this cranberry jalapeño margarita should be a part of it!
And if you're not in the drinking mood... at least make yourself some homemade cranberry juice!
If you're planning to serve these drinks at a holiday party, these smoked jalapeno poppers would make the perfect appetizer addition!
More Cranberry Cocktail Recipes
Since I love making homemade cranberry juice so much, I've also come up with a lot of cranberry cocktails to utilize it in. But it's also delicious simply served over ice (you may want to add a bit more sugar in).
Here are a few idea for what you can mix up with cranberry juice (note that each recipe has a slightly different cranberry juice recipe included, but all can be used fairly interchangeably!):
- Cranberry Mojitos
- Cranberry Pomegranate Sparkler
- Tropical Cranberry Sangria
- Hot Spiced Cranberry Cocktail
- Cranberry Mimosas (from Vanilla Bean Cuisine)
- Cranberry Moscow Mules (from Dude that Cookz)
Cranberry Jalapeño Margarita
- ½ cup cranberry juice (recipe below)
- 3 oz. tequila
- 1 oz. jalapeño simple syrup
- ½ oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
Homemade Cranberry Juice
- 5 cups water
- 12 oz. (1 bag) fresh cranberries
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ tsp anise seed (or 2 star anise)
- 5 whole cloves
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- Brush rim of glass with lime juice (you can brush with simple syrup if you want, but note it may be a bit spicy so only use if you love spiciness!) and place upside-down on a small plate of coarse salt or sugar to coat rim. Fill glass with ice.
- In an ice-filled shaker, combine cranberry juice, tequila, simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake well and pour into prepared glass.
- Garnish glass with cranberries and jalapeño slices.
Homemade Cranberry Juice
- Put water and cranberries in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, add in spices, cover saucepan, and let cook for 20-25 minutes.
- Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer to extract liquid (Dispose of cranberry mash or save for another use).
- Pour liquid back in saucepan over low heat and stir in sugar and lime juice.
- Pour into heat-proof bowl or pitcher and place in fridge to let cool completely before using.
- You should be able to make about 8 cocktails with cranberry juice )and single batch of jalapeño simple syrup).
- For a big batch cocktail, you can mix this margarita in a pitcher: to serve 8, I recommend mixing: 4 cups cranberry juice (full batch), 3 cups tequila, 1 cup jalapeño simple syrup, and ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice.
- If making this cranberry juice to drink as is, you may want to increase the sugar a bit. I purposely leave it a little tart since the margarita also has simple syrup in it.