Quick, Easy, and Festive Cream Cheese Appetizers

by Julie Rains on 5 December 2011 3 comments
Photo: star5112

Do you need a party snack or appetizer really quickly? You can combine a few items from your pantry and refrigerator with cream cheese for an impromptu party at your home. Or, if you are heading to someone else's place but haven’t had time to prepare anything, you can make a short trip to the grocery store or your local market and pick up a few items on the way and assemble the dish when you arrive. (See also: Quick Pantry Snacks for Unexpected Guests)

Try these no-bake appetizers that all follow this simple formula:

  • Unwrap and place slab of cream cheese on a serving plate.
  • Pour or spread a special ingredient on top. 
  • Decorate with colorful add-ons (like spices or candy sprinkles) if desired.
  • Serve with your choice of accompaniment: wheat crackers, celery sticks, tortilla chips, rice cakes, etc.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Buy chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil. Cover cream cheese with tomatoes. For a festive look, sprinkle with dill. Serve with wheat crackers.

Pesto Sauce

Use your own homemade pesto sauce or pick up sauce in the produce area (jarred) or dairy case (container). Pour over cream cheese. Serve with vegetable crackers or crisps.

Crushed Pineapple

Pick up a can of crushed pineapple in the canned goods aisle, or buy fresh pineapple and chop into smaller pieces yourself. Drain liquid, saving pineapple juice for a holiday punch or a cup of brewed tea. Pour pineapple over cream cheese. Serve with rice cakes.

Dried Cranberries

Find dried cranberries (aka craisins), or pick your favorite bite-sized dried fruit. Gently press cranberries on cream cheese. Garnish with cinnamon. Serve with rice cakes.

Pepper Jelly

Get red pepper or green pepper jelly in the condiments section of the grocery store. Pour over cream cheese, either generously or sparsely depending on the hotness of the jelly and your preferences. Serve with plain or wheat crackers.

Tapenade

Get your favorite kind of tapenade. Spread tapenade on cream cheese. Serve with crackers or crisps (try plain versions to make sure that the taste of the tapenade is not overpowered by flavored accompaniments).

Chopped Ginger

Grab a jar of chopped ginger. Spread sparingly over cream cheese. Shake red or green sugar sprinkles over the ginger to liven the look of the appetizer. Serve with pita chips. Use extra ginger in salad dressings or stir-fry dishes.

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Horseradish

Get prepared horseradish from the produce or condiments section. Spread a thin layer over cream cheese; top with lemon peel for added texture and flavor. Serve with vegetable crackers.

Peanut Butter 

Peanut butter is a staple in my house, so I can easily grab a jar from my pantry to make this dish. Spread peanut butter over cream cheese. Serve with graham crackers or vanilla wafers for a kid-friendly appetizer.

Fruit Spread

Grab fruit jam, jelly, etc. Dot fruit spread on cream cheese. Serve with graham crackers.

Honey

Drizzle honey over cream cheese; sprinkle with chopped pecans or walnuts. Serve on crackers or rice cakes.

Salsa 

Pick up a jar of your favorite salsa and spread over cream cheese. Serve with tortilla chips or wraps.

Guacamole

Make some guacamole, or buy a freshly prepared version. Pour and spread over cream cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.

Hot Sauce

For a fast dish, pour your favorite hot sauce, like Texas Pete's Chipotle Hot Sauce, over cream cheese. Serve with tortilla chips. 

Pimiento Cheese

Stretch the cost of freshly made pimiento cheese (produced at home using this cheddar-based recipe or acquired from your local market) by spreading over cream cheese. Serve with pita chips or celery sticks.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce seems to be plentiful during the holiday season, so you can find some in displays at the grocery store or on the shelf in the canned fruit section, or pull out a homemade batch from the refrigerator. Stir and pour over cream cheese. Serve with crackers.

What's your favorite fast-to-make appetizer?

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Christie

You forgot our favorite! Open a can of crab meat, spread it over the cream cheese, top with a jar of cocktail sauce. Serve with crackers or cocktail bread. Delish!

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks Christie. I've never tried that combo but it sounds good and the cream cheese can help stretch the cost of the crab meat.

Guest's picture
scoutmaster 134

We have fat free cream cheese topped with finely chopped nuts & brown sugar. pop it under a broiler for a minute to carmalize the sugar....YUMMY!! sweet treat We also serve a block of low fat cream cheese on a fancy plate with canned baby shrimp on top. Drizzle red cocktail sause over, garnish with chopped green onion. Always been a great hit.