Easier to make than it appears, cranberry cream cheese bruschetta starts with the standard baguette bread then layers cream cheese infused with brown sugar and cinnamon, with a topping of finely chopped cranberries mixed with a blend of sugars for sweetness and fresh orange juice for tanginess. Mint sprinkled as a final touch then drizzled with honey takes it over the top and makes it one of the best holiday cranberry appetizer recipes of the season.
If you are looking for the next baked cream cheese appetizer to bring to a potluck Thanksgiving with family or even Friendsgiving, give this dessert bruschetta a try. It’s super easy to make and will have guests asking for the recipe. Every year, I try to think of new cranberry recipes to make for Thanksgiving, and this one is too tasty not to share.
How to Make Cranberry Cream Cheese Bruschetta
- Finely chop cranberries, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and freshly squeezed orange juice in a food chopper, or processor.
- Pour relish into a bowl and cover then refrigerate overnight or for at least 3 hours.
- For the baguettes, whisk together the cinnamon and light brown sugar into a bowl and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a bowl and set it next to the cinnamon and brown sugar.
- Cut your bread into ¼ inch slices and dip one side in the melted butter.
- Generously top the baguettes with the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture and brush off any excess. Place onto a baking sheet.
- Bake in a 360°F oven for 8-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, for the cream cheese topping, cream the cheese, 3 tbsp brown sugar, salt, and ¼ tsp cinnamon until light and fluffy.
- Remove baguettes from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before spreading a thick layer of the cream cheese topping across each slice.
- Drain juice from the relish.
- Generously spread the cranberry mixture on top of each baguette.
- Finally chop mint and garnish, adding a drizzle of honey.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- See Reader “Tips and Questions” for make ahead methods.
Cranberry Bruschetta Ingredients
- CRANBERRIES: Whenever possible use fresh cranberries, you will find them in the fruit section or the refrigerator section. Usually available in late October-January in the United States.
- BAGUETTE BREAD: A crusty loaf of baguette bread offers the best bite-sized appetizer and holds its shape and texture well.
- CREAM CHEESE: I like the cream cheese spread in the container. Feel free to use the “brown sugar” cream cheese spread variety available in most supermarkets. However, it is much sweeter therefore the taste will differ from the homemade version.
- ORANGE JUICE: Nothing tastes better than fresh-squeezed; you can use any type of orange. However, I do not suggest using orange juice from a container. Use the fresh fruit in this recipe.
- SUGAR: Sweeten cranberries by using a combination of sugar such as brown sugar and granulated sugar. The molasses in the brown sugar adds a tasty bite. Some of the sweetness will absorb in the fruit while sitting. The remaining juice will need to be drained before adding it to the toasted bread.
- CINNAMON: Cinnamon adds a warm flavor and aroma to this recipe.
- MINT: Add just the right amount of freshness with this unexpected herb that pairs well with cinnamon, and cranberries.
- HONEY: A drizzle of honey over your bruschetta will add a bit of sweetness in contrast with the cranberries. Don’t miss this delicious addition!
■ FLOUR TORTILLA SHELLS: This recipe uses baguettes, but you can also use flour tortilla shells. Get creative with your shells by rolling a larger one after you have layered it in the same method as the original recipe then chill the roll. When you take it out you can slice them into 1-1 ½ inch slices and serve on their sides. You can also cut into smaller
rectangles and roll them tightly, serving as a single serving.
■ CHEESE: Other cheese varieties that are wonderful include brie cheese, blue cheese, or gorgonzola cheese. To make with brie cheese, simply toast in a 300 degree F oven until melted then top with the cranberry relish and serve immediately.
■ FRUITS: Experiment with blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries. Lingonberries are a newer fruit being introduced in the United States from Europe. These berries can usually be found as jams, spreads, or preservatives at stores like World Market, Ikea, and TJMaxx/Home Goods. This fruit is considered a mountain cranberry and the cranberries are very tiny (pea size) which makes it a wonderful twist on this recipe. I do enjoy buying a jar or two and using it during the off-season at certain holiday parties.
■ PISTACHIO NUTS: You can add crushed pistachio nuts on top. In this case, I would skip the mint.
■ CHOCOLATE: Use Nutella instead of the cream cheese mixture.
■ CHOCOLATE CHIPS: Sneak some mini semi-sweet chocolate chips in with the cream cheese or simply melt it with a little cream and drizzle it on top.
■ DRIZZELED SYRUPS: Drizzle melted chocolate or caramel on the top instead of honey.
■ WHIP CREAM: Add a dollop of fresh cream right before serving to add extra decadence.
■ CRUSHED GRAHAM CRACKERS: Leave off the mint and add some crushed graham crackers, top with chocolate drizzle.
Reader Tips and Questions
What is container cream cheese spread vs a cream cheese brick? Container cream cheese spread is a cream cheese that has already been whipped so it is softer and lighter. If you don’t have a container of cream cheese or can’t find it then just soften the cream cheese brick and then whip it separately until light and fluffy.
Can I use frozen cranberries? If you can’t find fresh cranberries you can use frozen. However, just be sure to thaw thoroughly and drain any extra liquid before chopping.
Can I make this cranberry appetizer ahead of time? Yes. Make the cranberry relish topping ahead of time by sealing tightly and placing it in the refrigerator. The entire appetizer can also be made ahead of time as the brown sugar-baked crust as well as the cream cheese layer will keep any juices from the cranberry relish topping from soaking into the bruschetta. The finished bruschetta will keep in the refrigerator for approximately 2 days.
How long can I store these? Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
What can I make with the leftover cranberries I have? To use up fresh cranberries, try my Cranberry Fluff Marshmallow Salad recipe. It’s a popular dessert salad served for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. This easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Relish are great served with an Oven Roasted Turkey or on top of deli sandwiches. Make Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs for a tasty winter dinner or party appetizer with Christmas Jingle Juice.
What else can I use if I don’t have a food processor to chop the cranberries? A food chopped (mini) versions are inexpensive. Otherwise, simply finely chopping the cranberries works as well. If neither of those is an option, try a jam or preservative like lingonberries, cranberries in a can, or another type of fruit jam, jelly, or preservative.
If you’re looking for an easy cranberry recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas, try this easy one bite toasted bread appetizer that is sure to be a crowd favorite this year.
Cranberry Cream Cheese Bruschetta
Cranberry Relish Topping
- 12 oz fresh cranberries
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar packed
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 loaf baguette bread cut into ¼ in slices
- 3 tbsp butter melted
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar packed
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Spread
- 8 oz container cream cheese spread
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar packed
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp finely chopped mint
- ⅓ cup honey
- In a food processor or food chopper, combine cranberries, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Blend until finely chopped, wiping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Pour cranberry relish into a bowl. Tightly cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 3 hours or overnight. TIP: This step allows the cranberries to absorb and sweeten the fruit.
- Mix 3 tbsp brown sugar and ¼ tsp cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.
- Cut bread into ¼-inch slices
- Dip one side of bread into melted butter.
- Top bread generously with the mixture and brush excess off. Line onto baking sheet.
- Bake in a 360°F oven for 8-10 minutes.
- Cream the cream cheese, 3 tbsp brown sugar, salt, and ¼ cinnamon until light and fluffy.
- Spread a thick even layer across each slice.
- Drain cranberry juice from relish.
- Generously top each slice with the cranberry relish.
- Garnish with finely chopped mint and a drizzle of honey.
- Cover and refrigeratre until ready to serve. Takeout 30 minutes prior to serving.
Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.
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