If you are looking for an appetizer that is mouth-wateringly delicious, then this cranberry jalapeno dip is definitely worth a try. The tart taste of fresh cranberries goes so well with the smooth, sweet taste of cream cheese. Add a few Jalapenos for some heat and this dip won’t last long!
Sweet and Spicy Appetizer
I think most people love the taste of cream cheese but when it’s mixed with tart but sweet cranberries and a little spice from jalapenos, amazing things happen!
This recipe is made in two layers. First, fresh cranberries, jalapeno and some cilantro are all pulsed in a food processor. This will chop everything into the perfect small pieces. Next, it’s mixed with sugar and lemon juice. This will help the cranberries to release excess moisture AND absorb the sweetness from the sugar.
The bottom layer of the dip is just cream cheese (made smooth using a hand mixer). It is spread into a serving dish and topped with the delicious cranberry mixture. Serve it with your favorite cracker for a variety of flavors and textures all in one bite!
Everything you need to make cranberry jalapeno dip with cream cheese can be found in any grocery store. Be sure to pick up your favorite cracker and perhaps a few others as well. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need with full ingredients in the recipe card at the bottom of this post:
- CRANBERRIES – I used fresh, uncooked cranberries for this recipe.
- JALAPENO PEPPERS – Choose jalapenos that are unblemished and avoid ones that are scabbed.
- CILANTRO – Cilantro has a slight citrus flavor that is almost minty and is a great addition to this dip.
- GREEN ONION – Make sure your green onion is fresh and discard any dried stalks that might come in the bunch.
- LEMON JUICE – You can use fresh or bottled lemon juice here, both will work.
- WHITE SUGAR – White granulated sugar is absorbed by the cranberries and will help to remove the tartness.
- SALT – A little bit of salt will enhance flavors.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can add ingredients according to what you like.
- OTHER BERRIES – Cranberries are a tart berry, so you’ll want to find a berry that is similar in taste to lingonberries or red currants.
- SERRANO PEPPER – If you are looking for more heat, you can use Serrano peppers as an easy alternative.
- RED ONION – If you can’t find any green onion, dice up a red onion and use that.
- SWEETENER – Replace the white sugar with coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup.
How To Make Cranberry Jalapeno Dip
I know your mouth is already watering just thinking about this recipe! Here’s an overview of how to make it with full instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post:
- DICE – Using a food processor, add the cranberries, jalapenos, and cilantro. Use the pulse button to dice everything into small, chopped pieces.
- CHOP – Next, chop the green onion into small pieces and put that into a medium mixing bowl, along with everything in the food processor. Now you can add the sugar, lemon juice, and salt.
- MARINATE – Mix everything together, cover, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, but preferably overnight. The longer you soak, the sweeter the cranberries will taste.
- BLEND – Before assembling the dip, make sure your cream cheese is softened at room temperature. Using a hand mixer, blend the cheese until smooth and creamy. If you want a sweeter cream cheese, you could also blend it with a bit of sweetener.
- STRAIN – Remove the cranberry ingredients from the fridge and pour it through a strainer to remove all excess liquid. Swish it with a spatula in the strainer. The less liquid, the better!
- ASSEMBLE – Now, use a spatula to spread the cream cheese evenly along the bottom of your serving dish. Then add the cranberry mixture over the top, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge until it’s time to serve.
HELPFUL TIP: The longer you leave the cranberry mixture marinating in the fridge, the better it will taste. I prefer to leave it to soak overnight for best results.
During this time, the cranberry pieces will absorb the sugar helping to create a less tart taste. There will also be a lot of excess liquid that’s released from the cranberries and it’s important to strain this before assembling the dip.
How To Store Leftovers
This dip can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. Over time more liquid will be released from the cranberries. You can strain this with a spoon or blot with a paper towel and continue to serve.
Can I freeze cranberry jalapeno dip?
No, this recipe will not freeze well. The cranberries will lose their firmness and turn soggy. The cream cheese will change in texture and turn a bit grainy. It’s best to start prepping this dip the day before you plan to serve.
Here are a few suggestions to help you make the best dip ever.
- Mix in the sugar evenly so that it can be soaked up by the cranberries. This will help to take the tartness out.
- Use the pulse setting on the food processor for about 20 seconds. The cranberries should be chopped small (about the size of pomegranate seeds) but not blended any further.
- The longer you keep the cranberry mixture in the fridge, the better it will taste. The sugar will draw out the flavors from each ingredient and meld them together.
- You can shape the cream cheese into a log shape and then sprinkle on the cranberry mixture for a different presentation. Or you can add it to a small bowl like I did. I like using a glass bowl so you can see the two layers.
- Save a few fresh cranberries as a garnish for the top!
Frequently Asked Questions
Any style of cracker will work great! You can also try toasting different slices of bread such as pumpernickel, sourdough, and rye. Just cut the toasted slices into bite-sized pieces. Sliced veggies are also a great vessel for the dip.
A jalapeno heat source is in the seeds and ribs. Simply discard these and you’ll be left with the great jalapeno flavor and a tiny bit of spice.
Yes, you can use low-fat cream cheese and still get the same great results.
It’s recipes like this cranberry jalapeno dip that are a lifesaver when entertaining guests during the holiday season. It’s perfect for any function or party and can be made ahead of time with little effort.
More Dip Recipes To Try
Cranberry Jalapeno Dip
- Add the cranberries, cilantro and jalapeno peppers to a food processor and pulse just a few times until everything is chopped small. The cranberry pieces should be the size of pomegranate seeds.
- Add to a medium bowl along with chopped green onion, sugar, lemon juice and salt (the longer you let it sit, the less bitter the cranberries will taste). Gently mix everything together. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2-12 hours. The longer it sits, the sweeter the cranberries will taste (they will still be slightly tart).
- Once cranberry mixture has chilled in the fridge, give it a stir. Pour through a strainer to remove any excess liquid (important step). Drain as much liquid as you can.
- Add the softened cream cheese to a medium bowl and blend until smooth and creamy using a hand mixer.
- Use a spatula to spread the cream cheese into a single layer in a small serving dish.
- Spread the cranberry mixture over top and smooth evenly. Placed covered in plastic wrap in the fridge until ready to serve. Scoop onto crackers, pretzels, toasted bread or veggies using a knife or spoon.
The nutritional information provided is an estimate and is per serving.