Cranberry-Jalapeno Dip

Brian, the husband and official taste-tester, would like to declare, for the record, that he positively could not stop eating this cranberry-jalapeno dip. And he would like to follow that up with the declaration to everyone that has been waiting for his metabolism to finally catch up to his 34-year old body (undoubtedly still reaping the benefits from a strict college wrestling regimen) that it finally has, thanks to this dip, which did he mention? He could not stop eating.

Cranberry-Jalapeno Dip

The funny thing is that when I made this, I was absolutely sure he would turn up his nose at it – perhaps take a little nibble – but I knew for a fact he would not like it. Uh, it looks like I don’t know my husband as well as I thought I did because I was dead wrong.

I hope he’s not too embarrassed for me to publicly announce here that over the course of a few days, he had no trouble finishing off the masterpiece of a dip and even on the 3rd day, he was literally sighing in gastronomical joy at each bite.

Cranberry-Jalapeno Dip

It’s a simple concept – tart cranberries, sugar, spicy jalapenos and a few other flavors combine to make a sweet and spicy relish of sorts that smothers unadorned cream cheese. The silky, cool cream cheese offsets the gentle spice of the dip perfectly and compliments the play on sugar and spice. Served with crispy crackers, this dip really is a holiday palate pleaser. The kids and I loved it, too, but our reaction completely pales in comparison to Brian’s. In fact, every day since it has been gone, he’s asked me redundantly if we happen to have more fresh cranberries. And trust me, he’s not hankering for cranberry sauce…he’s wanting this dip. Looks like I’ll have to print off the quick and easy recipe and casually place it on his nightstand or truck dashboard. Hope you enjoy it just as much as we (he!) did!

Cranberry-Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip

Cranberry-Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 4-5 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (8 ounces each) packages cream cheese, light or regular, softened
  • Crackers, for serving


  1. Pulse the cranberries in a food processor or blender until coarsely chopped (alternately, you can do this task by hand). Add the green onions, cilantro, jalapeno, sugar, cumin, lemon juice and salt and pulse until the ingredients are well combined and finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a covered bowl or tupperware and refrigerate for 4 hours (or up to overnight) so the flavors have time to develop and the cranberries lose a bit of their tartness.
  2. When ready to serve, spread the cream cheese in an even layer on a serving plate or 9-inch pie dish. Top with the cranberry-jalapeno mixture, spreading evenly over the top of the cream cheese.
  3. Refrigerate for up to an hour before serving. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Jamie Cooks It Up

86 Responses to Cranberry-Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip

  1. April says:

    Has anyone ever made the cranberry mixture then frozen it? I want to make this for Christmas dinner but have to work everyday leading up to that. I also have all the fresh ingredients now so was wondering if I would make it and freeze it for 5 days or so. What do you think?

    • Mel says:

      I’ve never tried it, April, but I think it’s worth a try.

    • Debbie says:

      Jeanette in the comments above said she made it and froze small batches that she taste tested over a year’s time. She said it tasted just as fresh as the day she made it even after s year. Hope it works for you too!

  2. Kristen says:

    Mel, Have you ever served this dip warm?

  3. Where”s the instructions for the cranberry jalapeño dip? All I see is comments.

  4. Jeannette says:

    I hope I’m not repeating anyone here, but I froze small 4 oz containers and tested a batch each month to see how long you could freeze this recipe. We love it for entertaining, snacking and use it on sandwiches. Especially good with ham and turkey off the bone. Any rate, each batch taste as fresh as the day it was made and I tested the entire 12 months. Hope this helps if you get a chance to stock up on cranberries at an exceptional price. Last year I was lucky enough to get them 50 cents a bag.

    • Debbie says:

      Thanks for posting Jeanette. This will be really helpful since we can only get cranberries around November and December here.

  5. Judi says:

    Hi there! This cranberry jalapeño dip is amazing! I was just wondering what I might have done wrong when I made it because it had quite a bit of liquid in it – the juice from the fresh cranberries. Is the normal?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Judi – yes, this dip does tend to have a bit of liquid. Sometimes I’ll drain a bit of it off before putting it on the cream cheese.

      • Judi says:

        Ok good to know! Thank you for replying. It was a big hit at my annual girlfriend’s Xmas party this past weekend & I had a few requests for the recipe! So delicious.

  6. Rachel Trautmann says:

    I made this over the holidays and everyone OBSESSED over it! Had a request to make it again, but cranberries are out of season. I read the above reviews and wondering if anyone tried frozen cranberries? If so, how did it turn out?!

  7. cecelia kimble says:

    looks very delicious! will have to have it at my next big dinner. thank you very much!!

  8. Jessica says:

    Hi there. Should I chop up all of the parts of the green onion from the white to all of the green? Or just the white onion part?

  9. Paddy says:

    Hi Mel,

    I made this as a sauce for beef pattie sliders and it worked a treat. Thanks!

  10. michelle says:

    Hi Mel
    I am drooling again as I always do when I visit your website. I use your recipes often, always with great success. This dip looks totally insane, however, I can’t buy fresh cranberries where I am (Australia)
    I was wondering if I could use fresh pomegranate instead?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Michelle – that’s a good question! You know, I’ve never used pomegranate seeds but actually, I think it could be delicious – a little different texturally and you’d definitely want to decrease the sugar by a lot since pomegranate seeds are much sweeter than cranberries but I think it stands a fair chance of working out. Good luck!

  11. […] Cranberry-Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip […]

  12. Alyssa says:

    What type of crackers would you suggest?

  13. JD says:

    Since I am diabetic, I was wondering if I substitute Stevia for the sugar and Greek yogurt for the cream cheese (yes, I know, it pales in comparison to cream cheese), if it would work. Any diabetics out there with an opinion?

  14. Judy says:

    Seriously. Seriously! Seriously? This stuff is amazing! My first bite….”Hmm, ok, this is good. Wait, now I can taste the cream cheese…wait, now the salty cracker. This stuff is AWESOME!” Can’t wait to see if it is a hit at the party I am taking it to. We’ll find out tonight 🙂

    The combo of flavors with this is just awesome.

  15. Janelle says:

    I made this last year, and then completely forgot about it until the other day. I saw some cranberries at the store and visions of the cranberry jalapeno mixture started dancing in my head. Sadly, I didn’t buy the cranberries, and I’ve been craving this ever since. You’d better believe that cranberries are at the very top of my shopping list this week!

  16. MaryConstsnce says:

    Hi Mel, I made this for a holiday cocktail party last night and there were many raves! as well as many requests for the recipe. I am going to prepare it again for my Christmas day dinner….so easy and yummy! I did not think it was too spicy, just a great combination of tart, sweet and fire! Loved it and thanks so much.

  17. Iris says:

    This dip sounds amazing and I would dearly love to try it. My problem though is that I am unable to get either fresh or frozen cranberries here in Australia. I have only ever eaten dried which I assume would be a totally different flavour. I do grow European gooseberries which are tart and I have stocked in my freezer. Do you think these would be a suitable substitute or are you able to suggest something else?
    I am discovering your amazing range of recipes and can’t wait to work my way through them. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Iris – unfortunately, I don’t know a good substitution for the cranberries. You could go ahead and try the gooseberries but I have no idea how they would work out since I am not familiar with them. Many recipes can take substitutions quite well; but I think this one really needs the fresh cranberries.

  18. Hannah says:

    Since I can’t find fresh cranberries at my grocery store this time of year, I was wondering how fresh raspberries would be?

    • Mel says:

      Hannah – no, I don’t think so. Fresh raspberries have a completely different flavor profile and texture than fresh cranberries. Sorry!

  19. Mel says:

    this sounds super good, but where i’m from, we don’t have fresh cranberries. would it be possible to substitute with dried cranberries or mashed cranberry jelly?

  20. Maurita says:

    Thank you for this flavorful dip! We had some guests over and they were kept going back and back for more! We are making it again tonight! 🙂 We half the sugar and is sweet enough for our taste. My husband also says to double it because once you taste it, you will have wished you would have doubled it.
    My husband made it and loves to be in the kitchen cooking your recipes. Another one we love is Coconut Curry Chicken soup. Yum, Yum!!!

  21. Suzanne says:

    Yum! I made a half batch of this for the holidays and the flavor combinations were just fantastic. I am going to use the other half of my cranberries to make it for a baby shower.

  22. lynn kocakis says:

    Awesome dip but you only need 3/4 cup sugar at most!!! And def 1 more jalapeno!!!

  23. […] right) were great for a delicious and quick morning breakfast. I used the cranberries to make a cranberry jalapeno cream cheese dip for a Thanksgiving dinner appetizer–definitely going to make that again, it was a big […]

  24. DeDe says:

    This recipe was a big hit at Thanksgiving this year. This was our new favorite! I added two jalapenos & I don’t like hot foods. My family liked it best on bagel rounds. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  25. […] bottles of root beer made for a delicious menu for any age! While the kids feasted we snacked on Cranberry Jalapeno dip (Mel’s Kitchen Cafe) spread onto these delicious gratitude rolls (One Good Thing by Jillee.) […]

  26. Teresa says:

    I made this last night for out Canasta group thanksgiving get together. I use only 1/2 cup sugar and two jalapeños (seeds & Membrane removed). Everyone loved it! Great balance between sweet, tart, spicy. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Mel says:

    Hi Kathy – sure, I think you could sub parsley just fine!

  28. Kathy says:

    The time for cranberries will be upon us soon and I can’t wait to try this dip (since I somehow missed it last year) I have one question what would you substitute for the cilantro? Parsley maybe? I’m one of those poor people that for us cilantro tastes like soap! (don’t blame me, its genetic!)

  29. Mel says:

    Diane – I’ve never tried it so I don’t know. The combination doesn’t necessarily strike my taste bud fancy but if you like all those flavors combined then it is probably worth a try!

  30. Diane says:

    Would you think this would work as a spread on pumpkin bread?

  31. Nicole B says:

    I was browsing through your recipes to get some new ideas and I forgot to leave a review of this salsa. I have to say it is now my go-to appetizer dish to make for a family gathering for the holiday’s–thanksgiving and christmas! It’s always a huge hit with my family and myself, of course! I serve it with lightly salted wheat thin crackers.

  32. Cheri Wegwitz says:

    So, I was wanting to make this for my book club and just realized cranberries are out of season. Have you made this with something else or could I get away with using canned cranberries?

    • Mel says:

      Cheri – I would look for frozen cranberries first. I don’t think canned cranberries would work well at all in this dish because of the texture. Good luck!

  33. sofaia says:

    What can I say? All of the recipes I have made from your website are addicting- with a capital “A!” No doubt! With this knowledge I knew I could not be trusted to make this recipe for just my husband and I (Visions of us demolishing it easily, very easily, in 5 sec flat, invaded my mind) so I took it to work Valentines Day. It was gone in no time! Mel, thanks again for such a stellar recipe. You rock my recipe world!

  34. Deb says:

    Divine. Such a surprise to everyone who tried it. They all looked skeptical on approach and I’d have to “sell” them on trying it, but after one bite, they would go back with a spoon and mound a huge pile on their plates. Oh, and this happened quite by accident, but I had this dip on the counter next to a bowl of sweet potato tortilla chips from Trader Joe’s and they were delicious with this dip.

  35. Erika says:

    I made this during Christmas & it was soooo amazingly good! Now making it again for a girls weekend I wanted to share how much I LOVE this dip! And I love dips…but this dip is #1 for me!

  36. Melanie A. says:

    SO good! Could not stop eating this!!

  37. Christyn says:

    I made this also, using Splenda instead of sugar for dietary restrictions in our house. turned out great, and is my new favorite “go to” salsa!!!
    Long time reader of yoru blog, but never commented. thanks for the nice mix of healthy and indulgent. It really reflects a balanced and realistic lifestyle.

  38. Laura D says:

    Forgot to add…I served them with Wheat Thins Toasted Chips (the plain ones, Great Plains Multigrain) – super yummy and good for scooping up the dip.

  39. Laura D says:

    This was so good!! And I had no idea fresh cranberries are so inexpensive. Thanks for the great recipe!

  40. Carol B says:

    Yum! I made a batch of this for two different dinner parties we had over the past weekend. It was a hit at both! I served it a little differently than suggested in the recipe. I had 4 small matching bowls. In bowl #1 was the cranberry mixture, #2 some sliced candied jalapenos (made by my sister), #3 some onion & chive cream cheese, and in bowl #4 some regular cream cheese. On a platter I placed 3 different kinds of crackers… club, Ritz, and regular saltines. That way everyone could mix and match what they wanted and then try it a different way with the next cracker. This recipe is definitely a keeper! Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing your yummy recipe!

  41. Nice way to enjoy some cranberries!

  42. Lynne says:

    We make a similar dip, but add a small can of crushed pineapple and no cumin or lemon juice. It’s fantastic and a must at the holidays.

  43. Catherine says:

    This is how completely I trust your recipes, Mel: Having never made or tasted this before, I made it and served at two family Christmas parties last weekend. AND I’m not even a jalepeno girl. I’m warming up to those little peppers though, especially after this dip. Everyone who tried it liked it and many of us loved it. As my brother-in-law from Arizona said, “Anytime you can put both cranberries and jalepenos in something, I’m in!”
    I also made Citrus Water Punch for the party. I describe it as a sofisticated lemonade. Very yummy! And finally, to finish the Christmas weekend with your recipes, I made Morning Buns for our between-Christmas-presents-breakfast. All three of these recipes got a place on my Christmas weekend, even without vetting them myself. Thanks for vetting them for me!

  44. Lisa says:

    All I can say is wow! This recipe was deliciously simple and so tasty – you really couldn’t stop eating it. Total hit at our Christmas dinner! Thanks Mel!!!

  45. Leah says:

    Mel, I made this dip as my part of an appetizer party for work last night…a number of us have a suggestion regarding it:

    We strongly suggest you rename it.

    Something like…Mel’s Cranberry-Crack Dip…or Mel’s Addiction. This stuff IS addicting, amazing…and out of the park delicious! Thank you for sharing a recipe I’ll be making for many years to come.

  46. Daisy says:

    I made this for cards’ night, and it was a smashing success! Everybody loved it – and the best part? It was super easy to make! I did cut the sugar down to 3/4 cup, and that was perfect for us. This recipe will be a keeper around here! Thanks!

  47. Shannon says:

    Made this for our Christmas dinner, and it was a huge hit! Thank you so much for the awesome recipe!

  48. KB says:

    This is simple and economical to make and REALLY delicious. It will be a Christmas appetizer staple for me. Thanks for sharing.

  49. LadyJayPee says:

    THIS, people, was AWESOME! Made it for guests this weekend, and no one can stop eating it. (I only stopped momentarily to let you know.) 😉 L♥ve, l♥ve, l♥ve!

  50. Jeannie says:

    I found your recipe (and blog) through Pinterest and thank heavens I did. This was fantastic! Everyone raved and raved about it. Tasty! This will be a Christmas party staple for sure. Thanks so much!

  51. Melanie says:

    I just had this for the first time the other day and it was delicious. The girl who made it said she’d get me the recipe but hasn’t yet, so thank you! I love the festive red and green colors (she garnished it with cilantro leaves). Perfect for Christmas!

  52. Mel says:

    Sara – yes, I think it is fairly sweet. I cut down the sugar from 1 1/2 cups (from the original recipe) to 1 cup and still, I think you could get away with 3/4 cup…having said that, my husband and brother LOVED it the way it was. Just remember those tart cranberries need quite a bit of sugar lovin’ get take the tartness off. Pecans would be delicious!

  53. grace says:

    this sounds excellent to me, mel! it must be similar to pepper jelly atop cream cheese, but with the added tart element. fabulous!

  54. sara says:

    Is this fairly sweet? 1 C sugar sounds pretty sweet and I’d like a more “cheeseball” flavor. Was thinking of adding pecans too.

  55. Sounds fantastic! I love the sweet, spicy and tart combo. This dip would be perfect for a Christmas get-together. 🙂

  56. Kelley says:

    I was actually asking my friend for this recipe so I could send it to you! 🙂 Great minds think alike!

  57. Cammee says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I have friends that make sweet jalapeno jelly and give out every Christmas. I wait all year long for that jar of jelly. My favorite recipes usually end up being sweet and savory recipes and this doesn’t look like it will disappoint!

  58. Hey Mel…glad your hubby loved it! I took it to our Thanksgiving Dinner this year and my Mother in law kept gathering up members of our family saying “Come and try this fabulous dip…it does’t taste a thing like you think it’s going to when you look at it.” (I think I heard her say it to 7 different people) It is a yummy suprise of a dip, isn’t it? Thanks for the link back. Have a good one!

  59. Mel says:

    Denise – I didn’t think this dish was spicy in the least, thanks to removing the seeds and membrane from the jalapeno and due to the sugar in the recipe. In fact, if it were up to me, I’d probably add another jalapeno or leave in a few seeds for a little extra spice…so my guess is that one jalapeno (make sure the seeds and membranes are removed!) will be just fine for you.

    • Julie says:

      You are exactly right, mild wings are “spicy” for me, but this was perfect, just sent my niece the link to this site b/c her family is asking for it for Christmas, I had it for Thanksgiving, wonderful!! Served it with triscuit and LOVED it.

  60. Denise says:

    How “kicky” does the jalepeno make this dip? I’ve never been able to handle much kick so just curious because I want to make this but I’m trying to figure out how muc jalepeno I should put in! Any recommendations? It looks so yummy!

  61. Mel says:

    Carolyn – sure, you could probably leave it out but you might consider replacing it with chili powder or another smoky, chili-type spice – just to round out the flavors.

  62. Mmmm this looks heavenly! And a nice change-up to the typical holiday appetizers….

  63. Peter Chamberlain says:

    My wife had this salsa for the first time last year at a company Christmas get-together. It’s as good as it sounds. I like a little extra pepper so I would add two jalapenos if it were up to me.

  64. Deborah says:

    I made this for a Thanksgiving appetizer, and it was one of everyone’s favorites! It’s going to become a regular for us!!

  65. Carolyn says:

    So now I think I know what I’m bringing to Friday’s Christmas party:) Do you think I could leave out the cumin? I guess it is only a 1/2 tsp, but I always think it wont bug me in a recipe and then even the littlest bit is just too much for me…

  66. I made a very similar recipe last week. I couldn’t stop eating it either. Sooooo good and so pretty and festive! Love it! Your pictures look great…as always 🙂

  67. Judy B. Texas says:

    Just copied and saved the recipe – will definitely be on my menu very soon.

    Sat here with a big smile on my face when you described your husband’s “love” for this dip – isn’t it wonderful when you totally please someone! Go ahead, make him some more.

  68. Liz says:

    Wow, this looks like the recipe that will make me go buy a food processor.

  69. I don’t know if this is a Texas thing, but we love sweet + jalapenos. We usually take cream cheese and pour over a bottle of this raspberry jalapeno jam and eat it up! It’s a holiday classic for us. I’m happy to see your homemade version with cranberries!

  70. Kim in MD says:

    I love the unexpected flavor combinations in this dip! The color of the cranberry salsa is gorgeous, too, and perfect for a holiday spread or pre-feast appetizer! The fact that it keeps well for days is a bonus (if there is any leftover). Thanks for sharing, Mel!

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