Sweet and spicy cranberry salsa with cream cheese is the ultimate holiday dip! This delicious combination of flavors is sure to satisfy your taste buds.
Whenever I bring this dip anywhere, I always get asked for the recipe. It’s the perfect holiday appetizer and is bursting with flavor. Some of our other favorite appetizers to make for Thanksgiving or Christmas are a bacon ranch cheese ball or fruit and cheese platter.
I first tried this cranberry salsa at my friend Erin’s house and loved it so much that I begged for the recipe. I’ve made it several times since and can’t get enough! We love to serve it for Thanksgiving or Christmas because it’s so colorful and vibrant. It’s a huge crowd pleaser and always the first appetizer to go.
I love this dip because the flavor combination is unique and unexpected. The sweetness of the cranberries and the spiciness from the jalapeno blend really well together. The salsa is then served over softened cream cheese, which adds a creamy and tangy component that tastes absolutely amazing.
- Cranberries: Look for a bag of fresh cranberries that have a vibrant dark red tone.
- Green onions: Use green onions, as they have a milder taste but still add plenty of flavor.
- Cilantro: This herb is loaded with flavor and blends together nicely with the other ingredients.
- Jalapeno: This gives the salsa the perfect amount of spice. Keep the seeds on the pepper if you like spicy (remove them if you don’t).
- Sugar: The sugar helps maximize the sweetness of the fresh cranberries. You can add more or less to taste.
- Lime juice: Mix in a spoonful of lime or lemon juice to add some acidity to the salsa.
- Cream cheese: It’s creaminess and tang compliments the sweet and spicy flavors from the dip. Make sure it has softened before serving.
How to make cranberry salsa
- BLEND. Use a food processor or blender to blend together the rinsed cranberries, green onions, cilantro and jalapeno. You want the mixture to be finely chopped, but not pureed. I like to pulse the mixture a few times until the consistency looks just right.
- MIX. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the sugar, lime juice and salt. Cover the bowl and store in the fridge for at least 2 hours so that the flavors can marinate together. The longer it marinates, the more flavor the salsa will have.
- SERVE. Spread the softened cream cheese on a plate or in a shallow pie dish. Drain any extra juices from the salsa, then spread it evenly on top of the cream cheese. Serve with your favorite crackers or chips!
Tips + variations
- Make sure to rinse and dry your cranberries really well. I like to rinse them in a strainer and then place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry.
- I’d recommend making this salsa the day before, so that the flavors can marinate together overnight. Add on top of the cream cheese just before serving and strain any extra juices.
- Add an extra jalapeno for extra spice.
- Add chopped pecans to the salsa just before serving.
- Serve the cranberry salsa on it’s own and don’t add the cream cheese.
- Serve over baked brie instead of cream cheese.
More recipes with fresh cranberries:
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro (more to taste)
- 1 jalapeno (minced and seeded, leave if you like spice)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (more to taste)
- 1 Tablespoon lime or lemon juice
- pinch of kosher salt
- 12 ounces cream cheese (softened)
For serving: Crackers or tortilla chips (I prefer Wheat Thins and Ritz)
- Rinse the cranberries in a strainer and remove any that may be mushy.
- Place the cranberries, green onions, cilantro and jalapeno in a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely chopped, but make sure not to purée. Then place in a bowl and stir in the sugar, lime juice and salt. Store in a covered container and refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
- When ready to serve, spread cream cheese on a plate or in a shallow 9" pie dish. Drain any excess juice from the salsa and then place on top of the cream cheese. Top with a sprig of cilantro if desired.
- Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.