Cranberry Jalapeño Dip

updated Dec 18, 2023
Cranberry Jalapeño Dip Recipe

The festive whipped cream cheese dip I bring to every holiday party.

Serves8 to 10

Prep10 minutes

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Someone dipping pita chip into cranberry jalapeno dip.
Credit: Photo: Yunhee Kim; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

Hosting a holiday gathering means planning the menu, music, and atmosphere. I always include a festive appetizer to make the evening feel more celebratory and buy a little extra time to finish last-minute preparations once the doorbell starts ringing.

Cranberry jalapeño dip is a play on the crowd-pleasing classic: pepper jelly and cream cheese. With its vibrant red hue and sweet-tart flavor, this cranberry jalapeño dip is a must-make this holiday season.

Credit: Photo: Yunhee Kim; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

What Ingredients Are in Cranberry Jalapeño Dip?

  • Cream cheese: Whip the cream cheese before topping with the relish to make it easier to scoop up with crackers or chips.
  • Cranberries: Fresh or frozen (and thawed) cranberries are the base of this colorful relish.
  • Jalapeño pepper: Remove the white ribs and seeds to add flavor without the heat. If your guests enjoy spice, add a few of the seeds to the relish.
  • Scallion: Cut the scallion into 1-inch pieces before adding to the food processor. This ensures that this mild onion will be chopped evenly.
  • Fresh cilantro: This hearty herb adds a lemony, peppery flavor to the cranberry relish. Swap in an equal amount of flat-leaf Italian parsley if you don’t like the flavor of cilantro.
  • Lemon or lime: Citrus juice adds a fresh zip of flavor.
  • Seasoning: Granulated sugar and kosher salt balance the tart and fruity flavors.

How to Make Cranberry Jalapeño Dip

This double-decker dip will be among the easiest dishes you serve this holiday season — especially if you use a food processor.

  • Make the relish. Combine scallion, seeded jalapeño, cilantro, lemon or lime juice, cranberries, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Want to plan ahead? The relish can be stashed away in the fridge for up to one week.
  • Whip the cream cheese. For an airier, easier-to-scoop texture, beat softened cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  • Assemble. Spread the cream cheese into an even layer in a serving dish or pie plate, then use a slotted spoon to spread the cranberry relish on top.
  • Make a cocktail. Use any leftover accumulated juices from the relish for a festive cocktail or nonalcoholic spritz.

What Crackers Go Best with Cranberry Jalapeño Dip?

Serve with sturdy crackers or chips, or pick up a bag of cinnamon-sugar pita chips which are my favorite for dipping.

Cranberry Jalapeño Dip Recipe

The festive whipped cream cheese dip I bring to every holiday party.

Prep time 10 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


  • 2 (8-ounce) packages

    cream cheese

  • 1

    medium scallion

  • 1

    small jalapeño pepper

  • 4 sprigs

    fresh cilantro, plus more for serving

  • 1

    medium lemon or lime

  • 2 cups

    fresh or frozen cranberries (about 8 ounces), thawed if frozen

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Cinnamon pita chips, such as Stacy’s, for serving


  1. Place 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the following, adding each to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment as you complete it: Cut 1 medium scallion crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Trim and halve 1 medium jalapeño pepper lengthwise; remove the white ribs and seeds. Pick the leaves from 4 fresh cilantro sprigs until you have 1 tablespoon. Juice 1 medium lemon or lime until you have 1 tablespoon.

  3. Add 2 cups cranberries, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 10 (1-second) pulses.

  4. Beat the softened cream cheese on medium speed with the paddle attachment until light and creamy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Transfer to a serving plate or in a 9-inch pie dish and spread into an even layer about 1/4-inch thick.

  5. Use a slotted spoon to spoon the cranberry-jalapeño mixture over the cream cheese (reserve any accumulated juices for cocktails or nonalcoholic spritz), and spread into an even layer. Garnish with more chopped cilantro leaves if desired. Serve with cinnamon pita chips.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Cover the dip with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Make ahead: The cranberry-jalapeno mixture can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in the refrigerator.