This Cranberry Jalapeño Dip is a quick, fun, and easy recipe perfect for holiday parties. Tart cranberries, spicy jalapeños and cream cheese are a match made in heaven.
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Cheesy Cranberry Jalapeno Pepper Dip
Our latest Cozy Mystery Cooking Club read is Berry the Hatchet by Peg Cochran from the Cranberry Cove Mystery series. Our heroine lives on a cranberry farm and whips up cranberry concoctions to sell at the farm store and festivals…when she’s not solving murders! So, it’s a no-brainer that my book-inspired recipe has to have cranberries in it.
It just so happens that I’ve previously created two other book-inspired cranberry recipes, Cranberry Crumble Pancakes and Cranberry-Brie Donuts, although those books had nothing to do with cranberries and everything to do with the holiday season!
This creamy dip is no exception! It’s a great make-ahead appetizer for holiday gatherings. Tart little chunks of cranberries, spicy jalapeños, warm notes of cinnamon and vanilla, and tangy cream cheese come together for a great spread to jazz up all kinds of dippers.
Ingredients (+ Some Variations)
- Whole cranberries – frozen or fresh cranberries are both suitable!
- Onion – I recommend a sweet variety like Maui or Vidalia if you prefer a sweeter dip, or red onion for a more peppery finish.
- Jalapeño peppers – the level of heat in jalapeños is relatively tame, but to cut back on the heat, remove the seeds and ribs before chopping up your peppers. (Personally, I like to leave some of that spiciness in there!)
- Lemon juice – just enough to add balance to the other flavors. Take it in another direction by using orange or lime juice instead.
- Brown sugar, vanilla extract + cinnamon – these all add seasonal warmth to the cranberries.
- Kosher salt – a couple pinches to enhance the flavor.
- Softened cream cheese – both full fat and light cream cheese will work. I prefer this dip with only cream cheese, but you could swap a little of the cheese with sour cream or greek yogurt…this will alter the level of tang and the texture.
- Optional garnishes – chopped green onion or chives, fresh cilantro, jalapeno slices.
How to Make Creamy Cranberry Jalapeño Dip
- Make a quick cranberry jalapeño jam – combine all the ingredients (except for the cream cheese) in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a bubble then cook for an additional 10 minutes. By the end, the cranberries will have burst and the consistency will be thick and jammy. Transfer the cranberry mixture to a medium bowl to cool for several minutes.
- Combine with cream cheese – add the softened cream cheese to the cranberries and mix together until well blended. A hand-held electric mixer is helpful, but a silicone spatula will get the job done, too.
That’s it…you’re done!
Make It Ahead
Get a jump on your holiday entertaining prep by making this dip in advance. Make the dip one day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
To serve, give a a stir and transfer the dip to a pretty bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
What to Serve with Your New Favorite Dip
You can enjoy this cranberry dip + spread in so many ways!
- Crusty bread
- Tortilla chips
- Pita chips
- Celery sticks
- Mini bell peppers
- Sandwiches + wraps
What to Sip
Keep the cranberry theme going by pairing this appetizer with a Thanksgiving on the Cape…my holiday-inspired answer to the classic Cape Cod cocktail. Or, serve it with a Cranberry-Lime Sparkler that can be made with sparkling wine, seltzer or lemon-lime soda.
Your next holiday party will be super festive with this combo of sips and dip!
More Dippable, Spreadable Recipes!
- Baked Lemon Ricotta Dip
- Beer Cheese Fondue
- Goat + Gouda Pimento Cheese
- Warm Sun-Dried Tomato Goat Cheese
- Red Pepper Jam
- Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers
Cranberry Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip + Spread
- 4 oz cranberries fresh or frozen
- 1/4 cup onion finely diced or grated (I like sweet or red onion)
- 2 jalapenos finely diced (include ribs and seeds for more heat)
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 tbsp lemon Juice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 pinches kosher salt or more, to taste
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- Over medium heat, combine everything except the cream cheese in a small saucepan. Bring to a bubble and simmer for about 10 minutes until the cranberries have popped and it thickens to a jammy consistency. Transfer to a medium bowl to cool for about 15 minutes. (Give it a stir every few minutes to promote cooling.)
- Add softened cream cheese to the cranberry mixture and stir together to combine (an electric hand mixer is great for this).
- Optional garnishes: chopped green onion or chives, fresh cilantro, jalapeno slices.
- Make the dip one day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. To serve, give a a stir and transfer the dip to a pretty bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
- Serve it with crackers, crusty bread, tortilla chips, pita chips, celery sticks, mini bell peppers, spread it on bagels, sandwiches + wraps.
Nutritional values are estimated and provided as a general guideline only. I earn a commission from Instacart from qualifying ingredient purchases.