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Why this recipe works
Looking for a festive appetizer this holiday season? This easy cranberry cream cheese dip is so simple to make and always a crowd pleaser!
A layer of creamy and smooth cream cheese is spread over a platter and topped with a homemade cranberry jalapeño salsa. It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and so delicious – the perfect combination! You can serve this dip with your favorite gluten-free crackers or pretzels.
This easy cranberry dip is the best dip for holiday parties this time of year. It’s always a big hit!
This dip is also great as the base for a cranberry cream cheese crostini, too! Slice and toast a gluten-free baguette and top with smooth cream cheese and then a dollop of this delicious cranberry cream cheese salsa.
You’ll love this recipe because:
- Fresh cranberries – It’s best to use fresh cranberries for this recipe. Frozen cranberries get mushy when they are thawed. However, if you’re in a pinch and can’t find fresh cranberries, you can use frozen. Just make sure you thaw them completely before using. Your salsa may come out a little more smooth (rather than chunkier), since the cranberries will be softer after thawing as compared to fresh cranberries.
- Jalapeño – I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods and I love the addition of jalapeño in this recipe. So even if you don’t think you want to add the jalapeño I highly recommend it! It adds just a bit of heat to the cranberry salsa, giving it this delicious flavor that contrasts so well with the cream cheese. Scoop out all of the jalapeño seeds to keep it from getting too spicy. However, if you love the spice, feel free to use two jalapeños instead!
- Green onion – I like to use just the green parts of the green onion because it’s really pretty in this red and green appetizer and I find the green parts to be more mild than the white parts of the green onion. However, you can definitely use the white parts of the green onion, too. They are edible!
- Granulated sugar – Don’t skimp on the granulated sugar. You need it to balance the tartness from the cranberries and to help them draw out their natural juices while they sit in the refrigerator. You need granulated sugar to tone down the tartness from the cranberries.
- Fresh lime juice – Skip the bottled lime juice. Use fresh lime juice for best results. You can typically get two tablespoons of lime juice out of one lime. If you want to add the zest of the lime into the cranberry salsa, you can do that as well.
- Cilantro – I love the flavor that fresh cilantro brings, but if you are one of those people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap you can leave it out.
- Cream cheese – Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature to help it spread easily. For best results, use full-fat cream cheese.
Capsaicin is the plant compound in jalapeños that makes them spicy and can make your skin irritated and feel like it’s burning. It’s really easy to spread to your eyes and mouth, so you want to be careful while cutting your jalapeños. Wear gloves (my preference) or wash your hands very well after cutting your jalapeños to ensure that you don’t spread it around and irritate your skin, mouth or eyes!
This cranberry jalapeño dip is such a fun holiday appetizer and so easy to make with a few fresh ingredients. Follow the step-by-step instructions with matching photos to help you see the recipe at various stages. Take special note of the size of the chunks of cranberry so you know how long to pulse the food processor.
For the ingredient list with measurements, full instructions, printable recipe, and additional notes, please scroll down to the recipe card.
Yes, this dip is naturally gluten-free. Just make sure you use gluten-free dippers, such as gluten-free crackers or gluten-free tortilla chips.
No, you don’t. This recipe uses two bricks of cream cheese. You can place the bricks of cream cheese on a serving dish next to each other. Then just spoon the salsa over the bricks of cream cheese. Use a small cheese knife to cut some of the cream cheese and salsa for serving.
Yes, this recipe would be wonderful over soft cheeses, like chevre goat cheese, brie, or mascarpone cheese.
There are typically 8 ounces in a package of cream cheese. For this recipe, you will need 2 packages of cream cheese, resulting in 16 ounces of cream cheese total.
hints & tips
- Storage: Leftover cranberry cream cheese dip will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- Make ahead notes:Note that the cranberry salsa will continue to release juices after topping on the cream cheese. You may see some cranberry juice oozing on the cream cheese and off the sides, which may not be as beautiful as you want it to be. If you are planning on serving it at a party, I’d recommend that you DO NOT top the cranberry salsa on the cream cheese ahead of time. Instead, spread the cream cheese on your platter and refrigerate separately from the cranberry salsa (place it in an airtight container). When you get to your party, top the cream cheese with the salsa and serve immediately. Cranberry salsa on its own can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 5-7 days.
- Freezer Option: I don’t recommend freezing this cranberry cream cheese salsa. The cream cheese will change texture easily. Instead, you can freeze the cranberry salsa by itself in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Then, when you’re ready to serve, let it thaw in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Then top your softened cream cheese with the thawed cranberry salsa.
Have leftover cranberries? Try these gluten free cranberry recipes!
- Easy Cranberry Mimosa
- Red Wine Cranberry Sauce
- Cranberry Goat Cheese Log
- Cranberry Orange Chia Jam
- Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Cranberry Jam Muffins
- Cranberry Beet Smoothie
- Cranberry Jalapeño Salsa
Did you make this recipe?
I’d love to know! Please rate it and leave a comment below. You can also share your pictures and tag @adashofmegnut on Instagram.
Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries (340g)
- 1/4 cup green onion (roughly chopped (from 3-4 green onions, 18g))
- 1 jalapeño (deseeded and roughly chopped)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150g)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/2 cup cilantro (12g)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 16 oz cream cheese (softened, from 2 packages of cream cheese)
- Place the cranberries, red onion, jalapeño, granulated sugar, cumin, lime juice, cilantro, and salt in a food processor.
- Pulse until the mixture is almost smooth, but still has some chunks.
- Place the cranberry salsa mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours to let the cranberries release their natural juices.
- When ready to serve, place the softened cream cheese onto a serving platter. Spread the cream cheese evenly all over the plate.
- Spoon the cranberry salsa over the cream cheese and spread it almost to the edges, leaving a 1-inch border of cream cheese along the edges.
- Top with additional green onions and cilantro if desired. Serve immediately with gluten free crackers.
- Leftover dip will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- I recommend spooning the cranberry salsa over the cream cheese just before serving so that the salsa does not continue to release its juices. The juices can get runny and will ruin the look of your cream cheese dip.
- To make ahead, store cranberry salsa in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. Spread the softened cream cheese on a platter and refrigerate. Let the cream cheese sit out for 30 minutes to soften before serving. Spoon the cranberry salsa over the cream cheese just before ready to serve.