Cranberry salsa with cream cheese is an eye-catching holiday appetizer. It’s full of vibrant color and flavor that will delight your dinner guests.
Zesty cranberry salsa is formed over non-dairy cream cheese for a tangy mix of sour and sweet. Serve with crackers for spreading. Vegan & gluten-free.
Cranberry salsa with cream cheese is a vegan take on a classic holiday appetizer. It’s perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings.
Cranberries are in season. And the cream cheese is reminiscent of freshly fallen snow.
It’s made by topping non-dairy cream cheese with raw cranberry salsa. The salsa is filled with fresh cranberries, sugar, lime and orange juice, cilantro, onions, garlic, red bell peppers, and orange zest.
It’s then drained and served over your favorite non-dairy cream cheese.
It’s a delightful mix of tart, sweet, and creamy. So beautifully tangy spread over crackers!
Which vegan cream cheese to buy?
My favorite store-bought options are from Miyoko’s, Kite Hill, Trader Joe’s, and Go Veggie. I like the flavor of Miyoko’s the best.
For the purposes of this appetizer, remember to get plain flavor. Something with chive or onion isn’t going to work here.
If you’d prefer to make homemade, I love the recipe in Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner. The recipe isn’t difficult. It just requires some pre-planning.
How to make this appetizer recipe
Start by making the cranberry salsa. <— Get the full recipe details here.
Once it’s prepared, move the salsa to the refrigerator to soften and sweeten.
(The salsa recipe makes about 2 cups. So that’s more than enough to put some on cream cheese, and to use some for other purposes like sweet potato tacos.)
Remove the non-dairy spread from its container. Use a knife to smooth it.
Then put the salsa on top of it. You can pour it across haphazardly.
Or you can use the back of a spoon and/or your hands to form it to the cream cheese like a ball.
Garnish with jalepeño pepper slices and/or cilantro.
Tips for best results
Before putting the cranberry salsa onto your non-dairy cheese, use a fine mesh sieve to drain the salsa. Otherwise, the extra liquid will pool at the bottom of the plate.
Also, if your cheese itself has any liquid pooled on top of it, drain that too before putting it on a plate to serve.
Alternate serving idea
If you’d prefer, you can prepare the crackers ahead of time for your guests.
Just smear non-dairy cheese onto crackers with a knife. Then finish with a dollop of bright red salsa onto them one by one. Put them out on a serving tray.
How to store leftovers
If you have any leftovers, I recommend just stirring the cream cheese & cranberry salsa together. Put it in a covered container, and store it in the refrigerator.
It gets a beautiful pink color. And it works well as a spread on crackers or a bagel.
Cranberry salsa with cream cheese (Vegan)
- Use a fine mesh sieve to drain cranberry salsa. (Too much excess liquid will make the cream cheese runny.)
- Cover the cream cheese with cranberry salsa. You can loosely pile it on top. Or use the back of a spoon and/or your hands to form the cranberry salsa around the cream cheese like a cheese ball.
- Top with optional garnish of a couple jalapeño pepper slices and/or cilantro leaf.
- Serve right away with crackers.
Content updated September 16, 2021. Originally published November 5, 2018.