Need a festive holiday appetizer? Try this cranberry jalapeno dip! It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and a whole lotta delicious. Whether you’re planning a holiday get together with family or you just want to enjoy a fun festive snack at home on the weekend, you’ll love this delicious recipe.
Note: This recipe was originally posted in 2017 and has been updated in 2022.
Why eat cranberries?
Cranberries are quite nutritious. Whole cranberries are a good source of fiber for digestive health, and contain Vitamin C to support your body’s immune system.
Plus, they also contain high levels of beneficial components like phenolic compounds, anthocyanin, and flavonoids. These may have numerous benefits in the body.
For example, some research suggests that cranberries may help with gut health by preventing over colonization of bad bacteria (source). They also may improve heart health through impacts on blood pressure and inflammation (source).
Of course, all of this is still emerging and not finite, but is definitely another possible reason to include more fresh cranberries in your meals and snacks!
Here’s everything you’ll need to make this recipe, along with selected ingredient notes:
- Fresh cranberries – While you can get away with using thawed frozen cranberries if that’s all you have, this is one of the few recipes where I really think fresh works best. Fresh berries are firmer and hold a little crunch to them, which adds a nice textural element to the dish.
- Jalapenos – If you prefer a spicier dip, you can use a habanero instead.
- Sugar – Most jalapeno cranberry dip recipes are quite high in sugar, but I think too much sugar prevents the cranberry flavor from shining through. I developed this one to be a bit lower in sugar than traditional recipes (half cup instead of a whole cup).
- Cream Cheese – You can use any plain cream cheese. I prefer using a whipped cream cheese, as it’s fluffier and easier to spread (and also a bit lower in calories per tablespoon since it has air whipped into it). You could also use Neufchâtel cream cheese (aka lower fat cream cheese) in this recipe too.
- Additional ingredients: Lime, salt, scallions, cilantro
You’ll find the full recipe amount and instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of the page, but here’s a helpful overview with tips.
Start by chopping up the cranberries. This is done easily in a food processor by pulsing the mixture. The key is to chop the cranberries a bit without pureeing them. This dip is best when there is still considerable texture of the chopped fruit. I recommend hitting the pulse button once, then if you still see whole berries, it it again. That is typically enough.
Next, take the mixture and mix it with the jalapenos, scallions, cilantro, lime, sugar, and salt.
Let that sit in the fridge for at least a half hour.
When you’re ready to prepare the dish for serving, take a pie plate or another shallow dish, and spread the cream cheese over the bottom. If you’re using a regular (non-whipped) block of cream cheese, I recommend letting it sit out for about 30 minutes first to make it easier to spread. Whipped cream cheese will spread easily directly from the fridge.
Now take your cranberry mixture and strain it in a fine mesh sieve. You want to get rid of as much liquid as possible.
Dump the strained cranberry mixture over the cream cheese. Spread it on crackers and be transported to festive holiday delight!
Here are some common questions that may come up as you prepare this recipe:
This recipe pairs best with crackers (whole grain or buttery style!) or crostini.
Yes. To make a dairy free cranberry dip, simply use dairy free cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese.
Yes. Simply chop the cranberries by hand with a chef’s knife. It’s a little more time consuming but definitely feasible.
More cranberry recipes
Looking for more ways to utilize fresh cranberries? Try one of these delicious ideas:
- Healthy fresh cranberry sauce – This cranberry sauce is sweetened with canned pears and just a smidge of maple syrup, making for a lower-sugar version of the holiday classic.
- Cran-apple quinoa – One of my favorite fall breakfasts! With both cranberries and apples, this is a delicious seasonal warm morning meal.
- Cranberry overnight oats – This recipe is perfect for fall mornings, and a great meal prep option to make in advance.
- Cranberry chia jam – This quick jam requires no pectin and less added sugar. It’s delicious on toast or swirled into a yogurt parfait.
- Cranberry pork chops – Fresh cranberries and white wine add make a flavorful topping for pork chops in the recipe featured in this roundup (scroll a bit down to find it!).
Ready to get cooking? I hope you enjoy this easy cranberry jalapeno cream cheese dip recipe! It’s perfect for all your holiday parties and get togethers this season. The festive red cranberries, green scallions & jalapenos, and white cream cheese just scream Christmas.
Enjoy and happy holidays!
Cranberry Jalapeno Dip
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries (one regular size bag)
- 2 jalapenos, finely chopped
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 lime, juiced
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 14 ounces cream cheese (whipped, regular, or light)
- Add cranberries to a food processor and pulse once. If after once pulse there are still a lot of whole cranberries, pulse once more. Your goal is for most of the cranberries to be cut but you don’t want to puree them.
- Pour cranberries in a bowl and mix with jalepenos, scallions, cilantro, sugar, lime juice and salt. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (that’s the minimum; longer is fine).
- When you’re ready to complete the dish, spread cream cheese into a pie plate.
- Remove cranberry mixture from the fridge and place in a fine sieve. Let as much juice drain from it as possible.
- Top cream cheese with cranberry mixture. Serve with crackers and enjoy!
Share with me: What’s your favorite way to use cranberries? If you tried this dip, what did you think?
Feel free to pin this post to save for later!
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This dip looks soooo addictive! Also a perfect party app idea!
You are right; it’s so tasty!
I just bought all the ingredients, but I don’t see if you include the seeds from the jalepeno.
Hi Lisa! Good question. I deseed the jalapenos as I prefer the texture without seeds. The spicy part of peppers is actually the white pith (not the seeds) — so you can choose whether to remove that or leave it in depending on your spice preference. Hope you enjoy it!! 🙂
Outstanding!! My new favorite appetizer! Yes, it is addictive!! Thank you!
So glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Carrie A Groff
This sounds really yummy!!
What a fun flavor combination!
I felt like cranberries, jalapeno, and scallions would be weird together, but it just works 🙂
Taste tested the cranberry mixture, wonderfully delicious. I can see making it into a salsa
I definitely think a salsa would work too. Glad you enjoyed it!
This looks like an awesome dip–love how festive it is too! :]!
Right?! Perfect for holiday parties.
Oh … This looks good! I love dips like this. I’m definitely going to have to make it at the next get-together I have. And how fun is it that you got to harvest some cranberries!?What an experience.
Yes, the cranberry harvest experience was amazing. Definitely a once in a lifetime kind of trip that I was lucky enough to go on!
This looks so delicious!!! Just pinned it – can’t wait to give it a try!
Yay! Hope you love it!
Julie @ Running in a Skirt
How fun is this??? Looks so cool seeing how they are harvested. I love that you added to spice to your recipe too. Cranberries really are the best!
They’re so versatile! I love discovering new things to make with them outside of the standard sauce and muffins.
Angela Cardamone @marathonsandmotivation.com
Oh my, this looks so amazing! I love the contrasting flavors here, can’t wait to try it!!
Yay, hope you get a chance to make it!
This looks absolutely delicious Perfect for Holiday party table. Love that is healthier, less sugar version. Yum!
Thanks Natalie! So festive for the holidays right? 🙂
Thanks for this recipe. I had this dip last Christmas at a pot luck and I have been looking for a recipe for it ever since. I like the fact that everything is coarsely chopped rather than finely chopped or puréed. Cranberries grow wild where I live and I have picked a bumper crop this fall, so this recipe will get well used.
How awesome that you’e got local cranberries Ian! Hope you enjoy this dip over the holiday season 🙂
I absolutely love this and all my friends asked for the recipe.
I am curious to know what peoples favorites are to use for the dippers, has anyone ever tried anything but crackers?
So glad to hear you enjoyed it!! I generally veer towards crackers but small pretzels, small gingerbread cookies, or celery would also be good I think! 🙂
Stacy’s cinnamon & sugar pita chips are fantastic with this dip !
Oooh great idea!!!
I use mine nan ites with mesquite Turkey breast, unbelievable, as we say in N.Y., foggetaboutit
***** Excellent dip! I made this last year and admit a few family members were reluctant to even taste it, but once they did, they were hooked!! There was not one morsel left! I’m making a double this
Many thanks for sharing this recipe!
So glad you all enjoyed it Kathy! 🙂
Awesome recipe! So great to have something bright & fresh to compliment the traditional Thanksgiving meal. My daughter in law likened it to a bowl of fresh guacamole made tableside at our favorite Mexican restaurant! Thank you for sharing!
So glad you enjoyed it! Glad to hear it was a nice complement to your Thanksgiving meal.
I have my cranberry mix marinating now, I can’t wait to try this! One question though, do you soften the cream cheese? Thank you!
Hi Elissa! If you’re using whipped or light cream cheese, they tend to spread/scoop just fine right out of the fridge. If you’re using regular, then yes, let it sit out for a bit to soften so you can spread it in the plate and make it easier to scoop when people eat it. Hope you enjoy!
Thank you for sharing this recipe. It will be a go to for holiday gatherings for sure. Although it is so good, I may be making it throughout the year. My girlfriends raved about it and wanted the recipe. My family devoured it when I made it a second night in a row for a family dinner. Thank you! Merry Christmas!
So glad you enjoyed the recipe. Merry Christmas!