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Holiday Appetizers: Spicy Cream Cheese and Cranberry Spread

Around the holidays schedules seem to fill up with parties. From cocktails with colleagues to sparkly New Year’s Eve celebrations, there is no shortage of eats and drinks this time of year.

The best part about parties is the food (is it just me?). Food is always better when it’s of the hand-held variety, and even better when there are plenty of options to choose from. Holiday party spreads usually feature anything and everything from homemade chex mix to Christmas cookies to bacon wrapped something or other. It doesn’t matter what it is because it’s wrapped and bacon, thus automatically delicious.

While you probably have your go-to snack and appetizer recipes lined up for the next get together, try throwing these jalapeño cream cheese and cranberry appetizers into the mix.

Not only do these flavorful bites have both sugar AND spice, they are color-coordinated for the holidays. Jalapeño adds a little (or a lot of, depending on your preference) heat and a hint of green to the cream cheese. If you prefer a less spicy spread, remove some of the seeds from the jalapeños before mixing it with the cream cheese.  Spread it (or pipe it for a fancier look) on your favorite crackers then layer on the bright, zesty cranberry orange sauce. Top it with a bright green chive to finish off your festive red and green holiday appetizer. After putting these on the table, they’re sure to become a party favorite year after year.

Spicy Cream Cheese and Cranberry Spread

Yield: Serves 12
Author: Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen



  • 2 medium (about 3 inches long) jalapenos, stemmed and halved
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 24 water crackers


  1. Add jalapenos to the bowl of a food processor fitted with mixing/chopping blade. Process jalapenos until very finely chopped.
  2. Add cream cheese to food processor and process until the jalapenos and cream cheese are well-blended.
  3. Add all ingredients for cranberry orange sauce to a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until cranberries start to burst, 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely.
  4. Add jalapeno cream cheese to a piping bag.
  5. Pipe about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese onto each cracker. Top with a generous teaspoon of cranberry orange sauce.


  1. For a less spicy cream cheese, remove some or all of the seeds from the jalapenos.
  2. Remaining cranberry sauce can be paired with roasted turkey, heated and served over vanilla ice cream, or used as a condiment on sandwiches.

Other holiday appetizer recipes:



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