Spicy Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese

by | Nov 20, 2019 | All, Appetizers

This Spicy Cranberry Salsa recipe is a mouthwatering addition to your holiday spread.  It takes minutes to make and is the perfect combination of spicy and sweet!

Appetizers don't get much more festive (or delicious) that this Spicy Cranbery Salsa with Cream Cheese. #appetizers #salsa #cranberry #partyfood

It’s officially party season and that, my friends, is my favorite time of year.

Not only is it party season. It’s cranberry season and cranberries never get the love and respect they deserve.

This Spicy Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese is a fresh spin on the traditional pepper jelly and cream cheese appetizer that everyone knows and loves.

We love all the cranberry things but easy appetizers are at the top of our list, especially during the holidays. After all, when else is it totally socially acceptable, even expected, to have appetizers count as a full meal?

I’m always looking for new appetizers to add to our holiday spreads each year. I have my tried and true favorites that everyone expects like the Bacon Cream Cheese Bites and this Asiago Dip

But I like to change the traditional menu up a little bit and this Spicy Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese is simply irresistible.

What ingredients do I need to make cranberry salsa?

  • Fresh cranberries
  • Jalapenos
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sugar
  • Green onions
  • Fresh Lime

How spicy is this salsa?

Spicy sweet is one of my favorite combinations. And this salsa has a subtle heat that is easy to amp it up with additional jalapeno or temper it by cutting back.

I love the combination of tangy fresh cranberries, spicy jalapeños and cool cream cheese. Slather it on a cracker and I can’t stop eating it.

However you make it, it will be delicious.  Add this to your holiday spread and watch it disappear.

How do I make this easy appetizer recipe?

Step 1: Place cranberries in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. You can decide how smooth or chunky you want it. Any way to chop them works, so pick what texture you prefer. Me? I’m a chunky salsa kind of gal, so I just give it a couple of quick whirls.

Step 2: Add sugar and stir to combine.

Step 3: Add cilantro, green onions, jalapeño, salt and the juice of one lime.

Step 4: Place in a glass dish, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. The waiting is the hardest part, but trust me this step is the most important.

Step 5: Place softened cream cheese on a plate and use a slotted spoon to mound the cranberry salsa on top. Serve with crackers.

Tip: Be sure to let the salsa chill for at least 4 hours, overnight is even better. If you try and eat it right away, your mouth will pucker. Those cranberries need to hang out in the sugar mixture to mellow their tartness. But once they do, you won’t be able to stop eating.

What if I don’t own a food processor? How do I make this cranberry relish?

No worries! You can still make this cranberry salsa without a food processor, it will just take you a little longer. Grab your favorite large knife and a cutting board and chop away.

Pro Tip: Use a cutting board with an edge so that your cranberries aren’t rolling all over the kitchen. This board has saved me a mess more times than I can count.

Need more party food ideas? We’ve got a whole board dedicated to them on Pinterest. Follow us to make sure you don’t miss anything!

How can I serve this cranberry relish?

Your options are endless. Here are a few of our favorite ways to eat it.

  • Serve it is with a block of softened cream cheese and some hearty crackers.
  • Set it out with some crostini and whipped cream cheese and let people build their own little bite size appetizers.
  • Eat it straight up as a relish.
  • Upgrade your leftovers and slather it on top of a turkey sandwich.

Simple, festive, and absolutely delicious. It’s your new go-to dish for the holiday season.

Follow Garnish with Lemon’s board Party Food Recipes: Appetizers, Drinks and Desserts on Pinterest.

Top down shot of spicy cranberry salsa over a bloack of cream cheese on a grey plates. garnished with crackers and cilantro.

You can never have too many cranberry recipes in our book. Check out our faves!

Need more appetizer recipes? Check out our whole collection here.

Spicy Cranberry Salsa spooned over cream cheese on a silver platter. Garnished with Green onions and Tricuit crackers on side for eating.




Yield: 8 servings

Spicy Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese

Spicy Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese

This Spicy Cranberry Salsa recipe is a mouthwatering addition to your holiday spread.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes


  • 1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries, fresh
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 block cream cheese (for serving)


  1. Place cranberries in bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Add sugar and stir to combine.
  3. Add cilantro, green onions, jalapeño, salt and the juice of one lime.
  4. Place in glass dish and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Place cream cheese on a plate and use a slotted spoon to mound the cranberry salsa on top.
  6. Serve with crackers or bread.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1/4 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 60Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 31mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 1g
Spicy Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese is a. easy appetizer that uses just a handful of ingredients. This spicy-sweet salsa is a tasty addition to your holiday party menu!


We're the creative juices behind Garnish with Lemon. In the past 8 years, millions of people have sipped & snacked on our recipes. Need easy, delicious party food and drinks for your next shindig? You’ve come to the right place.

Our Story

About Lisa

Hi, I’m Lisa! Looking for the party? It’s probably at my house. Nothing brings me more joy than sharing good food with friends and family. That and a seriously good cocktail.


  1. Avatar

    I just made a VERY similar recipe yesterday (slightly different than yours) and can’t find where I acquired the recipe – I always like to give credit where it’s due. But just wanted to comment that your photos of this are just beautiful. I have a good close-up lens, but don’t usually take the time to use it since I have to change out my regular one. Anyway, congrats on the photos. Now I’m going to take a look at other recipes on your blog.

  2. Avatar

    This was so good, everyone loved it and wants the recipe.

  3. Avatar

    Has anybody ever froze this?

    • Avatar

      I haven’t but can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work. Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

  4. Avatar

    Would it be okay to make this a couole of days in advanced, minus the cream cheese?

    • Avatar


  5. Avatar

    This is close to a recipe I used …but lost . I could eat it as a meal.
    I also add half an orange and Granny Smith apple finely diced. I also use the zest from the orange and the lime not to mention the juice from the other half of the orange and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Always have rave reviews with this recipe!


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