Cranberry cream cheese dip is an easy appetizer everyone will love! Homemade sauce has bright, sweet tart flavor (add jalapeno if you like).
Need a simple appetizer to wow at parties? Try this easy cranberry cream cheese dip! The homemade sauce bursts with sweet and tart cranberries, orange juice, and if you’d like, a little jalapeno for a tang. Spoon it over cream cheese and it’s perfect for dipping crackers or even apple slices. It comes together in minutes with minimal effort. So ditch the store-bought dips and make a batch of this homemade cranberry appetizer for your next party! Everyone will gather around the bowl.
Components for cranberry cream cheese dip
Cranberry cream cheese dip is cranberry sauce served over room temperature cream cheese, which brings a sweet tart burst to each bite. We like serving with crunchy salted pecans over the top for a little texture. While you can make this dip with canned cranberry sauce, the flavor isn’t nearly as good. It takes just a few minutes to whip up homemade cranberry sauce and the flavor is beautifully developed, with notes of orange and cinnamon. Here’s what you’ll need for this easy dip:
- Cranberry sauce: Cranberries (fresh or frozen), granulated sugar, orange juice (or water), jalapeno pepper (optional)
- Cream cheese
- Green onion
Tips for making the cranberry sauce
This cranberry sauce is a half recipe of our homemade cranberry sauce, with some optional ingredients. It takes just 10 minutes to simmer, and the flavor comes out beautifully bright. Here’s what you need to know:
- Simmer all ingredients over medium heat until a saucy texture forms. The timing will vary based on your pan and the exact heat level, but it should take about 10 minutes. We like to see most cranberries burst and dissolved, but there can be a few that are still whole.
- Substitutes are welcome. Don’t have orange juice? You can use water instead if you like.
- Add orange zest if desired. When you zest the orange, make sure to only get the orange part of the peel: not the white pith! The pith tastes very bitter and if you zest too aggressively, it makes the cranberry sauce taste bitter.
- Use jalapeno if desired, but it’s not required. The jalapeno pepper adds just a hint of bright flavor without heat.
Jalapeno is optional (and not spicy!)
Cranberry and jalapeño pepper is a classic flavor combination. This cranberry cream cheese dip is not spicy with jalapeno: since you remove the seeds before dicing it, it simply adds a tangy, irresistible flavor to the dip. Make sure to protect your hands when cutting the pepper and wash them immediately afterwards.
Can you make it spicy? Absolutely! Simply add a few of the jalapeno seeds to the mix when making the cranberry sauce. Another classic way to enjoy cranberry and jalapeno? Try this Cranberry Salsa, another crowd favorite.
Ways to serve cranberry cream cheese dip
This cranberry cream cheese dip is a sure crowd pleaser at parties! Simply add crackers or bread and it’s perfect for dipping. It’s great for holiday parties like as a Christmas appetizer or Thanksgiving appetizer, but it works anytime using frozen cranberries when fresh aren’t in season. Here are a few of our favorite ways to dip:
- Crackers, especially buttery crackers like Ritz
- Crostini, purchased or homemade
- Bread, like baguette slices or other artisan bread
- Flatbread, purchased or homemade
- Pita bread or pita chips
- Apple slices
And that’s it! Let us know if you plan to try this cranberry cream cheese dip at your next party! Our friends and family couldn’t stop dipping it.
This cranberry cream cheese dip is…
Vegetarian and gluten-free (with gluten-free crackers or apple slices).
Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip Recipe
- 6 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup fresh or bottled orange juice plus zest of 1/4 orange, if desired
- 1 cinnamon stick or ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 jalapeño pepper seeds removed and diced (optional*)
- 1 8- ounce block cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped salted pecans or pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion top
- 12 ounce fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup fresh or bottled orange juice plus zest of 1/2 orange, if desired
- 2 cinnamon stick or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeds removed and diced (optional*)
- 2 8- ounce block cream cheese
- 4 tablespoon chopped salted pecans or pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc
- 4 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion top
- 18 ounce fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cup fresh or bottled orange juice plus zest of 3/4 orange, if desired
- 3 cinnamon stick or ⅜ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 jalapeño pepper seeds removed and diced (optional*)
- 3 8- ounce block cream cheese
- 6 tablespoon chopped salted pecans or pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc
- 6 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion top
- Place the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, cinnamon stick, and optional orange zest and diced jalapeño pepper in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the cranberries pop and it becomes saucy, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving (place in the freezer to speed up the process if desired). You can also make the cranberry sauce in advance and reheat it until warm the stovetop before serving (stir in a little water if it is too thick).
- Soften the cream cheese by microwaving the block for 10 seconds on High power. Or, allow the cream cheese to stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- To serve, spoon the warm cranberry sauce over the cream cheese. Top with chopped pecans and green onions. Serve with crackers.