This Cranberry Bacon Cream Cheese Appetizer has the perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors, with cream cheese, smoky bacon, caramelized onions, tart cranberries, balsamic vinegar and a bit of coffee to balance all the flavors. The perfect holiday appetizer!
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This Cranberry Bacon Cream Cheese Appetizer is easy to make but has such an impressive presentation.
It’s the perfect appetizer for your holiday spread or even for a fancy dinner party!
Made by topping a large block of cream cheese with a delicious bacon and cranberry mixture that’s so addictive, it’s such a delicious combination.
This is one of my favorite easy appetizer recipes, it takes just 20 minutes to make, and can be served with just about anything, from crackers to veggies!
If you love cream cheese appetizers, try my cream cheese balls for something a bit different! This classic Cheese Ball recipe is a great savory appetizer for a crowd during the holiday season, while my Snickers Cheese Ball is a great option for dessert.
- Bacon: use your favorite kind of bacon for this recipe. I usually use thick cut!
- Onion and Garlic: use freshly minced garlic and fresh onion for a great savory flavor base for the topping.
- Cranberries: dried cranberries and cranberry juice add sweet and tart flavors as well as a great texture to the topping.
- Seasonings: use salt and freshly cracked black pepper to enhance the flavors, with some red pepper flakes on top for a spicy kick.
- Brown Sugar: helps caramelize and sweeten the topping.
- Balsamic Vinegar: adds a burst of tangy sweetness to the topping.
- Coffee: use hot or cold coffee, so save some from your morning brew.
- Cornstarch: a little bit of cornstarch will make the topping a bit thicker.
- Cream Cheese: full-fat cream cheese will give you the flavor and texture you want, but use whichever brand you prefer. You can also use light cream cheese.
- Garnish: top with fresh parsley and fresh cranberries as desired. Serve with Ritz crackers or your favorite kind of crackers on the side for dipping!
How to Make Easy Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip
This recipe is quick and easy to make. Full instructions are included in the recipe card below.
- Cook bacon: In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon until nicely browned.
- Remove bacon: Remove the bacon from the pan, putting it into a bowl lined with a paper towel to drain.
- Sauté: Sauté the onion in the bacon fat and add the garlic.
- Add remaining ingredients: Add the bacon back to the pan with dried cranberries, cranberry juice, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, coffee, and red pepper flakes. Cook together, stirring often, until thickened slightly. Then, set it aside to cool to room temperature.
- Thicken: Whisk together some cranberry juice and cornstarch, then stir it into the sauce until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Assemble appetizer: Place the cream cheese block on a serving platter, then spread the cooled cranberry bacon mixture over the top of the cream cheese and serve with crackers.
Bacon Cranberry Cream Cheese Appetizer FAQs
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or so. If you aren’t planning on serving it right away, store the cream cheese block and the topping separately. Top the cream cheese and garnish just before serving. You may need to warm the bacon mixture slightly so that it is spreadable.
I wouldn’t recommend freezing the cream cheese block, though you can prep the bacon cranberry topping ahead of time and freeze it for up to 1 month. Let it defrost fully, and warm it slightly so that it is spreadable. Make sure it is room temperature before adding it to the top of the fresh cream cheese block and serve.
Tips and Notes
- Use high-quality cream cheese. As it’s the base of the dip, you’ll want to make sure you use good-quality cream cheese for the best flavor.
- Blend it into a dip. You can serve this appetizer as I have, as a block with a topping, or you can blend it together to make a flavorful cream cheese dip that is great for serving with crackers, veggie sticks, or even tortilla chips! Simply stir the cream cheese in a large bowl to break it down, adding some milk if needed to thin it out, and mix in the bacon cranberry topping.
- For a lighter texture, you can whip the cream cheese with some cream or a bit of sour cream, or purchase a tub of plain whipped cream cheese. Spread it onto a serving plate and top with the bacon jam.
Cranberry Bacon Cream Cheese Appetizer Variations
- Cranberry sauce. I love serving this cream cheese appetizer with fresh cranberries on the side for an extra burst of color, but fresh cranberry sauce will work well too!
- Adding spice. The red pepper flakes add a bit of spice to this appetizer, but you can add some chopped jalapeño chile or hot sauce to add even more spice if you want.
Serve this amazing appetizer as the center of your Christmas Day starter, or serve it with some of my other appetizers at a Christmas party.
More Holiday Appetizers to Try
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Cranberry and Bacon Cream Cheese Appetizer
Cranberry Bacon Topping:
- ½ lb bacon (chopped) 7-8 slices
- ½ medium onion (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup + 3 tablespoons cranberry juice (divided)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brewed coffee (hot or cold) – optional
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Cream Cheese Appetizer:
- 1 package cream cheese
- fresh parsley and cranberries for garnish as desired
- crackers for serving
- In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon until nicely browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
- In bacon fat, cook the onions over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and cook about a minute until fragrant.
- Add bacon back to the pan along with cranberries, ⅓ cup cranberry juice, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, coffee and red pepper flakes.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 15-20 minutes until thickened slightly — there shouldn't be much excess grease when it is done cooking, so be sure not to cut this cook time too short. If there is a lot of excess, you can dab with a paper towel if desired. Set aside to cool to room temperature or refrigerate.
- Whisk together 3 tablespoons cranberry juice and corn starch. Stir into sauce until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cream Cheese Appetizer
- Unwrap cream cheese and place on a serving platter.
- Spread cooled cranberry bacon topping over the top of the cream cheese and serve with crackers. (*Note: you can make ahead and refrigerate up to 1 day).
- Coffee: the coffee helps to balance out the flavors and the sweetness. You can omit if you prefer and swap with water.
- Cream cheese: you can easily use light or dairy-free cream cheese instead.
- Store: You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or so. If you aren’t planning on serving it straight away, store the cream cheese block and the topping seperately. Top the cream cheese and garnish just before serving.
- Freeze: I wouldn’t recommend freezing the cream cheese block, though you can prep the bacon cranberry topping ahead of time and freeze it for up to 1 month. Let it defrost fully, and reheat it to thicken it again if needed. Then, let it cool before adding it to the top of the fresh cream cheese block and serve.
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