No matter how many different appetizers I serve at a party, it’s the ones with cream cheese that are the first to vanish. Cranberry Cream Cheese Appetizer Bites are easy to make, blissful to eat, and if the orange-scented cream cheese filling doesn’t win you over immediately, the buttery pie crust exterior will.
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This recipe is sponsored by Walmart.
This is just the easy appetizer recipe for your holiday arsenal.
A few strategic, store-bought items make it a breeze to whip up or to prep in advance.
The creamy filling, trademark holiday flavors, and golden crust, however, make this appetizer taste impressive, as if you made it 100% from scratch.
Let’s keep the shortcuts a Christmas secret, shall we?
There’s something so festive and delightful about bite-sized miniature snacks this time of year (like Goat Cheese Balls).
These handheld cream cheese bites have all the necessities of a popular finger food: sweetness from the cranberry sauce, richness from cream cheese, and a melt-in-your-mouth flaky vessel.
These bites join two of my favorite creamy cranberry appetizers, Brie Bites and Sweet Potato Rounds with Goat Cheese Cranberry and Pecans.
This cream cheese-based recipe is even easier to make, and since cream cheese is universally beloved, they are sure to win the heart of everyone who tastes them.
However many of these cream cheese appetizer bites you make, that is the number your guests will eat. They are THAT irresistible!
Tricks to a Quick & Easy Appetizer
This appetizer tastes completely homemade even when relying on store-bought shortcuts. In busy times like the holidays, we need all the help we can get, while still aiming to impress.
Here are my tips to make these cups lightning fast!
- Pillsbury Pie Crust. We have enough to worry about at the holidays without adding making pie crust to the list. While it can be worth it from time to time, for an appetizer recipe, store-bought crust is the way to go. This crust is easier to work with than homemade (key since we’re stamping out the rounds), and I’ve always had excellent luck with the way Pillsbury in particular bakes and tastes.
- Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The one and only! It’s an all-American favorite with a tangy flavor so popular, many enjoy it on its own. I added a little orange zest and chipotle to complement the cranberry.
- Cranberry Sauce. You can make it from scratch with my quick Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe if you like (or use up the extra from your holiday meal), but if you are looking for maximum time savings, simply use canned whole berry cranberry sauce. I tested the recipe this way, and we loved it.
In addition to saving time during the holidays, this time of year is also one when I become more mindful of how I am spending. The holidays are special, but it’s also a time when we find ourselves purchasing more than usual.
For this recipe, I found all the ingredients I needed at Walmart, which has an impressive holiday assortment. And as a cook who has long believed that preparing something special should be affordable to everyone, I appreciate the consistent value that Walmart offers, especially this time of year. I am also a big believer in their grocery pickup. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s a true time-saver!
How to Make Cranberry Cream Cheese Appetizer Bites
This recipe comes together in three parts, the pie crust (thank you store bought!), the cranberry sauce (homemade only if you have time; store-bought works here too), and the easy breezy cream cheese filling.
The subtle, surprise ingredient here is chipotle chile powder. It adds a subtle smokiness at the end that makes these bites unforgettable. (Don’t worry, the amount is so little, these aren’t spicy.)
- Create 12 rounds from the first pie crust.
- Press the rounds into the wells of a mini muffin pan. Repeat with the second crust.
- Brush the crusts with egg white and prick holes in the crusts. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8 minutes.
- Beat the filling ingredients together.
- Drop the filling into each pie crust and top with cranberry sauce. Bake for an additional 8 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, then DIG IN!
These bites go with just about any wine! Enjoy a Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvignon.
Make Ahead & Storage Tips
These cream cheese appetizers are a snap to prep in advance. Make the filling and prebake the crust the day before, then assemble and finish baking just before serving. These taste great at room temperature too.
- To Make Ahead. Up to 1 day in advance, bake the pie cups as directed in steps 1 to 4. Let them cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. Make the cream cheese filling and store in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, place the pie crust cups back into the mini muffin tin. Let the cream cheese come to room temperature, then fill and bake the cups as directed.
- To Store. These are best enjoyed the day they are made but can last in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Serve chilled, at room temperature, or warmed.
- To Reheat. Very gently reheat bites in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F until just warmed through.
I hope these simple, super yummy cranberry cream cheese bites add a touch of easy elegance to your holiday spread. We couldn’t stop eating them. I am so excited for you to try them too!
Cranberry Cream Cheese Appetizer Bites
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- 2 sheets Pillsbury frozen pie crust thawed overnight in the refrigerator
- 1 large egg
- 8 ounces Philadelphia 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese (Neufchatel Cream Cheese) softened to room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder optional for a subtle smoky kick at the end
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest of 1 orange
- 3 green onions
- 3/4 cup Homemade Cranberry Sauce or canned whole berry cranberry sauce or jam of choice
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Unroll the first pie crust. With a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, stamp out 12 rounds from the pie crust*.
- Place 1 round in the center of each muffin cup in a mini muffin pan, then press it down and up the sides gently so that it fits into the cup. Repeat with the second pie crust.
- Separate the egg, placing the white in one small bowl and the yolk in a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the white, then use it to brush the insides of the cups lightly. With a fork, prick holes in the bottom and along the sides of the pie crust cups.
- Bake for 8 minutes, until the pie crust is light golden brown.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: to the bowl with the egg yolk, add the cream cheese, chipotle, salt, and orange zest.
- Finely chop the green onions. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the dark green tops for garnish, then add the remaining to the bowl with the cream cheese. Beat on medium speed, until the cream cheese is smooth and the ingredients are evenly combined.
- Fill the cups: Once the cups have finishing baking, spoon the filling into the cups, dividing it evenly (you’ll need about 1 1/2 teaspoons or so per cup). Top each with 1 1/2 teaspoons cranberry sauce.
- Return to the oven and bake for 8 additional minutes. The crust will be golden and crisp.
- Transfer the cups to a serving plate, using a fork to help lift them out of the pan (be careful, they are hot). Sprinkle with reserved green onion tops. Enjoy warm or at room temperature!
- *You will have some pie crust scraps leftover. You can discard them, reroll them to squeeze out another 1 to 2 cranberry cream cheese cups per crust (strategize saving some extra filling and cranberry sauce accordingly), OR turn them into a little snack: reroll them and cut into strips; sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon and bake until golden.
- MAKE AHEAD TIPS: Up to 1 day in advance, bake the pie cups as directed in steps 1 to 4. Let them cool completely to room temperature, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. Make the cream cheese filling and store in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, place the pie crust cups back into the mini muffin tin. Let the cream cheese come to room temperature, then fill and bake the cups as directed in steps 7 to 9.
- TO STORE: These are best enjoyed the day they are made but can last in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Serve chilled, at room temperature, or reheated in the oven.
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I am sharing this post in partnership with Walmart. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you!