Try this super simple but deliciously sweet and spicy, make-ahead Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip appetizer for your next holiday party or gathering. You won’t believe how flavorful it is!
It’s my favorite time of year, and I want to celebrate the holiday season by sharing my all-time favorite holiday appetizer recipe, Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip. You might be skeptical and wonder how tart fresh cranberries and spicy jalapeños can work together, but trust me, they do.
Here’s what’s in this recipe:
The ingredients for this delicious dip include:
- Fresh cranberries: because of their low sugar content they are slightly bitter. But combine them with the other flavorful ingredients in this recipe and they shine!
- Green onions: sometimes called scallions, add a slight onion flavor to the cranberry salsa mixture.
- Cilantro: besides the beautiful green color, cilantro adds a fresh citrusy flavor to this dish.
- Jalapeño pepper: provides the spice in the sweet and spicy cranberry salsa.
- Sugar: brings everything together and sweetens the tart cranberries.
- Lemon juice: this fresh citrus element enhances the flavors.
- Cumin and kosher salt, two seasonings that come together help produce the awesome flavor of this dish.
- Cream cheese: provides a mild sweet taste and slight tang and is the perfect partner for the cranberries.
You will also need crackers or toasted baguette slices for serving. Choose a sturdy variety because the cream cheese can be pretty stiff.
Here’s how to make it:
- Rinse the cranberries and drain well. Put them in the food processor. Pulse until they are coarsely chopped.
- Add minced green onions, chopped cilantro, and the jalapeño pepper.
- Add the sugar, cumin, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse the ingredients until everything has been well mixed, and your ingredients are finely chopped.
- Don’t over-process this mixture. You still want some texture, and you still should be able to see flecks of the jalapeño and cilantro.
- Transfer the mixture to a storage container. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours to allow your flavors to come together.
- To serve, spread the softened cream cheese on a pie plate or serving bowl. Use a slotted spoon so you don’t get too much juice, and spread the fruit mixture evenly over the top.
The cranberry, jalapeno mixture can also be mixed with the cream cheese and served together as a dip.
Another way to serve it is to put a block of cream cheese on a plate and spoon the fruit mixture on top.
The cranberry jalapeno mixture can be served by itself as a cranberry salsa with chips or crackers. Not only is it delicious, but you also save the cream cheese calories.
Storage and leftovers:
The cranberry mixture will keep well covered in your refrigerator for up to four days, and it can also be made up to 24 hours ahead. It will keep better if you can separate the cream cheese and cranberry mixture because of the amount of juice. However, if it starts looking messy, mix everything, and serve it like that.
- If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop everything up using a sharp knife.
- If you serve this dip on a plate, be sure to use one with a lip to prevent any cranberry juice from spilling out.
- Serve this dip with sturdy crackers or toasted baguette slices as the cream cheese can become stiff.
- If you don’t have cilantro or don’t care for it, you can substitute fresh parsley.
- To soften your cream cheese, leave it out on your kitchen counter for about an hour before you plan to use it. You can also soften it in the microwave. To do this, unwrap it and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. It will take about 30 seconds for two blocks.
- Stock up on cranberries now while they are in season and store them in your freezer to use later in the year.
More recipes with cranberries:
Since we are talking cranberries, in addition to this delicious dip, I have several other popular recipes on my blog that I know you will love. They include Ultimate Cranberry Upside-Down Cake, Cranberry Cake with Hard Sauce, and No-Bake Cranberry Cheesecake.
Popular holiday cocktail recipes on my blog include Cranberry Infused Vodka and Frozen Cranberry Margaritas. And, if you are looking for appetizers, check out my Cranberry Pecan Mini Goat Cheese Balls and 3-Ingredient Cranberry Brie Bites.
Just when you think there couldn’t be anymore, how about Cornish Game Hens with Cranberry Stuffing, Apricot-Cranberry Stuffed Pork Loin Roast, and my Thanksgiving favorite Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Oranges.
Speaking of holiday classics, if you like this recipe, I’ll bet you will also love my post on The Ultimate Relish Tray Guide.
★ If you make this dish, please leave a comment and give this recipe a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thanks so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones!
Holiday Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries rinsed and drained
- 4 green onions or scallions minced
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper with seeds and ribs removed, minced
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 16 ounces cream cheese softened
- Pulse the cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the green onions, cilantro, and jalapeño pepper. Pulse a few more times to combine.
- Add sugar, cumin, lemon juice, and salt, and pulse until thoroughly mixed.
- Transfer the cranberry mixture to a bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours to allow the flavors time to come together.
- To serve, spread the softened cream cheese on a pie plate or serving dish and spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the top.
*Originally published on December 12, 2015. Republished on November 5, 2020, with new photos, expanded directions, a “how-to” video, and tips.