This post is in partnership with Kroger.

Based on my late mother-in-law’s fresh cranberry relish, my Spicy Sweet Cranberry Jalapeño Dip with Cream Cheese is the perfect appetizer for any holiday gathering. As a bonus, it takes just five minutes of active time – Merry Christmas to YOU!

bowl of cranberry jalapeño dip on a wooden board with an assortment of crackers and a block of cream cheese.

Her sentimental cranberry relish was something I looked forward to every year; I get to honor my husband’s mom by making her recipe with my own spicy, Mexican twist. Bright, tart cranberries meet spicy jalapeños, fresh cilantro, sliced green onions, and a bit of sugar for a macerated, pico de gallo style cranberry salsa that just begs for crackers and cream cheese.

About This Recipe

If cranberry sauce has never gotten you excited, I can understand why. The canned, jellied version that many of us grew up with is fine, but doesn’t really seem special to me.

My mother-in-law Dottie was the first person to introduce me to cranberry relish. Made with fresh cranberries that are never cooked, the resulting dish is slightly crunchy, sweet, tart, and simply delectable.

Me being me, I took good ol’ Dottie’s recipe and gave it the Mexican treatment by introducing some heat via jalapeños and a bit of piquancy by adding green onions, cilantro, and lime juice. My friends, this spicy cranberry jalapeño relish is perhaps my favorite way to enjoy the crimson fruit during the holidays. It sort of reminds me of a wintry version of my strawberry pico de gallo, but the longer it sits the more flavorful it becomes, unlike my strawberry pico de gallo which doesn’t have a long fridge life.

But what’s even more magical about this spicy-sweet condiment is that it can actually be transformed into more than just an accoutrement for turkey. Served with cream cheese and spread on a cracker, this incredible cranberry jalapeño dip will have the whole neighborhood talking.

I can honestly eat a whole bowl by the spoonful – it is THAT good! It’s sweet-tart with a kick, and pairs beautifully with soft, tangy cream cheese.

If that weren’t enough to sell you on this crave-worthy cranberry jalapeño dip, I have even more reasons for you to love it: it takes just five minutes (5!!!) of active time to make, and every ingredient on the list is easy to find at your local Kroger. From the freshest selection of produce and cheese to all the pantry staples — Kroger has you covered.

ingredients for making jalapeño cream cheese party dip laid out on a table.

How to Make this Recipe

In a food processor, pulse cranberries about 15 to 20 times, until you get a rough chop.

Tip: No food processor? You can use a high-end blender to pulse ingredients for a chunky consistency, although the size and shape of the pieces may be more irregular than you’d get in a food processor.

In a medium-sized bowl, add chopped cranberries, green onion, and jalapeños. Add sugar, lime juice, and salt and stir gently until blended.

Cover and refrigerate the cranberry jalapeño dip for at least four hours, or preferably overnight. This gives the sugar time to macerate the berries and for all of the flavors to meld.

close up of a bowl of spicy sweet cranberry jalapeño relish with a wooden spoon.

For Cranberry Relish: If you’d like to serve this fresh, bright take on cranberry sauce as a condiment for your turkey dinner, by all means you should! I still recommend you give it a few hours to sit prior to serving. Plus, it’s nice to get some things checked off the to do list ahead of time, amirite?

Take cranberry mixture out of the refrigerator and stir and strain the liquid using a colander. Add cilantro, if using. Place cream cheese and crackers on a platter with a bowl of the cranberry jalapeño mixture.

Spread cream cheese on a cracker and dollop with cranberry dip. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions

This delightfully complex cranberry jalapeño dip is a natural pairing for tangy and smooth cream cheese, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Here are a few more ideas for you:

  • Use as an alternative to regular cranberry sauce for your holiday dinner.
  • Swap in goat cheese or Boursin instead of cream cheese.
  • Plate it like a pie by spreading an even layer of cream cheese in a mini pie pan and then top it with the cranberry jalapeño dip.
  • Use it as a condiment for your leftover turkey sandwiches.
  • Turn your leftovers into turkey quesadillas and use it as a cranberry salsa!

However, you happen to get this stuff into your mouth, I have a feeling you’re going to enjoy it. If you come up with any winning ways to use it, let us know in the comments below!

kroger branded cheese board with a bowl of cranberry jalapeño relish, a cracker smeared with cream cheese and cranberry dip, and a handful of crackers on the side.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best kind of cracker to serve with this cranberry jalapeño dip?

I happen to like Private Selection Classic Collection Crackers for an array of crackers with flavors from hearty to toasty that makes them perfect for a variety of toppings and spreads. Triscuits, Wheat Thins, or Ritz crackers would all work great too!

How can I make it less spicy?

With all the sugar in this dip, I promise you – two jalapeños with seeds is quite mild, and adds the perfect amount of spice. But remember that the majority of the capsaicin (the compound that tastes spicy) lives in the seeds and membranes. To make your cranberry salsa less spicy, simply remove the seeds and membranes before chopping. You can also cut back on the amount of pepper you use.

What kind of cream cheese should I use?

I used Kroger brand block cream cheese, but you can easily swap in a whipped version instead.

What if I don’t like cilantro?

You can either omit it or substitute with parsley instead.

More Holiday Inspiration

If you made this yummy Cranberry Jalapeño Dip with Cream Cheese, please let me know how it turned out by rating and reviewing it below!

overhead shot of a festive party platter filled with a block of cream cheese, multiple types of crackers, and a white bowl of spicy sweet cranberry jalapeño dip.
cranberry jalapeno dip with cream cheese.

Cranberry Jalapeño Dip with Cream Cheese

5 (3 ratings)
Based on my late mother-in-law’s fresh cranberry relish, my Spicy Sweet Cranberry Jalapeño Dip with Cream Cheese is the perfect appetizer for any holiday gathering. As a bonus, it takes just five minutes of active time – Merry Christmas to YOU!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeños    , diced
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • cream cheese
  • crackers

Instructions 

  • In a food processor, pulse cranberries, about 15 to 20 pulses for a rough chop.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, add chopped cranberries, green onion, and jalapeños.
  • Add sugar, lime juice, and salt and stir gently until blended.
  • Refrigerate dip covered for four hours or overnight.
  • Take cranberry mixture out of the refrigerator and stir and strain liquid using a colander. Add cilantro, if using.
  • Place cream cheese and crackers on platter with bowl of cranberry mixture.
  • Spread cream cheese on a cracker and dollop with cranberry dip. Enjoy!

Notes

  • No food processor? You can use a high-end blender to pulse ingredients for a chunky consistency, although the size and shape of the pieces may be more irregular than you’d get in a food processor.
  • Variation: Spread cream cheese on a serving plate or pie plate in an even layer. Top with the cranberry mixture.
Calories: 63kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 26mg, Potassium: 40mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 14g, Vitamin A: 75IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 1mg

Photography by Jenna Sparks