This cranberry-jalapeno cream cheese dip is sweet, tart, spicy, and absolutely one of the best holiday dips on the planet.

white dish with softened cream cheese topped with chopped cranberry jalapeno mixture

This amazing, festive cranberry dip has been a staple in our Novembers + Decembers for almost ten years. 

I am a huge fan of cranberries, but this dip is in a league of its own and is one of the main reasons I get excited to see those bags of bright, red berries appear in the grocery store. 

A combination of sweet and spicy, tart and creamy, this is the perfect holiday party appetizer.

But honestly, we love it so much, we stock up on cranberries just for this dip and sit around eating it on average Tuesday nights. It’s kind of one of my favorite weekly holiday traditions. 

dipping wheat thin cracker into cranberry-jalapeno cream cheese dip

Fresh Cranberries Only

Using fresh ingredients – not dried or frozen – are critical to this recipe:

  • fresh cranberries
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh lime juice
  • fresh jalapenos
  • fresh green onions (or chives)

The freshness of the ingredients provides a burst of brightness that is unparalleled this time of year. 

cranberries in food processor, chopped up cranberries in food processor, cilantro and sugar in food processor, cranberry mixture processed in food processor

The cranberries are best if they are chopped into fairly fine pieces. A food processor or high powered blender will make light work of the job. 

Once the cranberries are coarsely chopped, I add all the other ingredients and pulse until evenly chopped and everything looks very “dippy.”

If you choose to do all the chopping by hand, bless you. 

cranberry jalapeno mixture in glass bowl

Make it in Advance

The cranberry mixture needs to be made several hours ahead of time. Even better if it can be refrigerated for 12-24 hours. 

If you taste it right away, you’re probably going to be underwhelmed. But wonderful things happen as the flavors have time to meld and develop. 

With time, there might be a bit of liquid that accumulates in the cranberry dip. I like to pour a lot of that off before spreading on the cream cheese. 

cranberry-jalapeno cream cheese dip on wheat thin cracker on white plate

Cranberries + Cream Cheese

The sweet and tart (and just ever so slightly spicy) cranberry mixture over the softened cream cheese is amazingly delicious. 

Pretzel crisps or thin crackers are the perfect vehicle to inhale this dip. But I’m not above eating spoonfuls of the tasty concoction. Life’s short, what can I say. 

Also, I have it on good authority that this cranberry-jalapeno cream cheese dip is ridiculously good on sandwiches. I think we should all take that advice very seriously. 

white platter with cream cheese and cranberry jalapeno mixture

Here are a few other rave reviews from the comments below: 

Tonya: I made this for Thanksgiving and it was to die for. Everyone LOVED it!!!! My sister in law said it should become a staple. Making it again today for our Christmas cookie exchange and probably for Christmas, too!

Tracey: OMG this was a show stopper. I made this for my work friend besties Christmas dinner last night everyone raved over it. It is one of those amazing recipes-super easy to throw together and absolutely delicious and a crowd pleaser! Will be making this again and again.

Cara: This really is the best dip ever! I am always asked to bring this to family gatherings, and everyone who tries it wants the recipe. Definitely a holiday must-have in our house!!

Cranberry-Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip

Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
white dish with softened cream cheese topped with chopped cranberry jalapeno mixture

Ingredients

  • 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 ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (8 ounces each) packages cream cheese, light or regular, softened
  • Crackers, for serving

Instructions

  1. Pulse the cranberries in a food processor or blender until coarsely chopped. 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 container and refrigerate for 4 hours (or up to overnight) so the flavors have time to meld and develop.
  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.
  3. Refrigerate for up to an hour before serving. Serve with crackers.

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Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Jamie Cooks It Up

Recipe originally published Dec. 2011; updated Dec. 2020 with new photos, recipe notes, etc.

A small white dish with cream cheese and a chunky cranberry mixture on the top, and 4 crackers on the side of the dip.