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Fresh Cranberry Salsa with cream cheese and crackers is a spicy and sweet, quick and easy appetizer that is perfect for entertaining during the holidays!

If you are having company and are looking for more great party food ideas, be sure not to miss my Jalapeno Popper Dip with BaconPhilly Cheesesteak Dip, and this tutorial on How to Make the Best Fruit and Cheese Platter!

An image of fresh cranberry salsa served with cream cheese and Ritz crackers.

Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese

This stuff right here is probably one of my favorite easy appetizer recipes that I make. It takes like all of 5 minutes to chop everything up in the food processor (affiliate link), then you just stick it in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Salsa is my obsession and I am the kind of person whose goal when eating it is to scoop as much as humanly possible onto a chip. I love all types of salsa from classic Mexican restaurant-style salsa to mango salsa

This fresh cranberry salsa has all the classic salsa flavors present with plenty of cilantro, jalapeno, and lime, but instead of tomatoes, it’s tart and tangy cranberries that take center stage in this fun appetizer that is always the take of the party. 

Because cranberries are so tart, there is a decent amount of sugar added to them to balance things out. The exact amount kind of depends on your taste, but I recommend starting with 1/2 cup and going up to 3/4 cup. I’ve even seen some recipes that call for a full cup of sugar, but that’s a little too sweet for my tastes.

It’s really easy to adjust the sugar as long as you start with the smaller amount.

An image of cranberry salsa with cream cheese on a plate.

Cranberry salsa is so good that you can eat it straight up with chips and totally skip the cream cheese. But you really ought to try it over cream cheese at least once because the combination of the two is wonderful.

If you’ve ever had red pepper jelly served over cream cheese, you will know what I’m talking about.

The cream cheese helps tone down the spiciness of the salsa (which you can make super mild just by making sure to get rid of any seeds and stems from the jalapenos). And I love the textural contrast of the smooth cream cheese with the cranberry salsa which you can make as chunky or fine as you want.

An image of a hand holding a Ritz cracker topped with cream cheese and cranberry salsa.

We love this with Ritz crackers, although Wheat Thins and even tortilla chips are good choices too. Be sure to serve it with a spreader since the Ritz crackers aren’t strong enough to scoop the cranberry salsa and cream cheese without breaking.

How to Make Cranberry Salsa

This cranberry salsa recipe is so fun to make because all of the ingredients are so darn pretty!

An image of a food processor with cranberries, green onions, cilantro, jalapenos, and sugar.

Just do a rough chop on the green onions and jalapeno, then add everything to a large food processor (affiliate link).

If you only have a small food processor (affiliate link), just pulse half of the ingredients first, then do the rest and combine the two. 

Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The sugar will help sweeten the cranberries and the flavor will develop the longer it sits in the fridge. If possible, I like to make this cranberry salsa a day in advance.

An image of chopped cranberries in a food processor.

When ready to serve, place a brick of cream cheese on a serving plate or bowl and cover with half of the cranberry salsa. When using a full 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, this cranberry salsa recipe makes enough to serve with two blocks of cream cheese.

An image of an easy holiday appetizer of cranberry salsa served with cream cheese and crackers. 

Tips for Cranberry Salsa

  • You can make this in advance and keep it in the fridge overnight. I actually love how the flavors develop together and think the salsa is even better the next day.
  • Be sure to pull the cream cheese out of the fridge and turn it out onto a serving plate or bowl so it can have time to soften before guests arrive.
  • Make this as spicy or mild as you like. Even with two jalapenos this isn’t super spicy as long as you remove all of the seeds and stems first.
  • The recipe makes enough to use with two blocks of cream cheese, so it feeds a large group as an appetizer.

An image of a cracker spread with cream cheese and cranberry salsa.

More Great Appetizer Recipes Like This

An image of fruit salsa on crackers.   

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An image of cranberry salsa with cream cheese on a plate.
Yield: 12 Servings

Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese

Fresh Cranberry Salsa with cream cheese and crackers is a spicy and sweet, quick and easy appetizer that is perfect for entertaining during the holidays!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, or up to 3/4 cup to taste
  • 1-2 jalapenos, seeds and stems removed, roughly chopped (I usually just use one)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves (about 1 small bunch)
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened
  • Crackers or chips, for serving

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients except cream cheese and crackers to the bowl of a large food processor and pulse 20-30 times until finely chopped. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Unwrap the cream cheese and place on a serving plate or bowl. Top with the cranberry salsa and serve with crackers or chips.

Notes

  • Like any salsa, you can easily adjust this recipe to suit your tastes by adding an extra jalapeno, more or less cilantro, or adjusting the sugar.
  • We like these with buttery Ritz crackers, but you will need to be sure to have a small knife for spreading the cream cheese and salsa since the crackers aren't strong enough to scoop this dip on their own. Wheat Thins are another good choice though and they are sturdy enough not to break.
  • You can even use frozen cranberries. Do not thaw first. Just add them to the food processor and pulse.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 78Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 35mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 0g

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