Feels fancy but so easy, this Baked Goat Cheese Cranberry Appetizer pairs sweet seasonal cranberries with tangy goat cheese, and you can spread it all on toasted bread. Perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Circular white ceramic fluted dish filled with cranberry sauce and medallions of baked goat cheese, garnished with mint sprigs, served with toasted bread.

What are your thoughts on Thanksgiving appetizers? I think it kind of depends on what time you eat your main dinner.

I know some families that will do an appetizer lunch earlier in the day, but then have their main dinner with bourbon glazed turkey and bread stuffing and all the other trimmings later in the evening.

My gathering usually eats our meal around 3pm, so we keep appetizers pretty simple so that we don’t fill up too much before the main event. I mean, I like to save some room for Thanksgiving salad and Thanksgiving fruit salad, because I’m a weirdo.

This simple baked goat cheese cranberry appetizer for Thanksgiving is a little something to nibble on that won’t fill you up terribly.

Plus, like my cranberry curd tart, this appetizer with goat cheese is a nice way to incorporate cranberries into this seasonal meal if traditional cranberry sauce just isn’t your favorite thing.

A cranberry appetizer topped with baked goat cheese and mint sprigs in a circular white ceramic dish.

What you’ll need for this baked goat cheese cranberry appetizer:

  • cranberries – you will need 12 ounces of fresh cranberries for this cranberry goat cheese appetizer. Frozen cranberries work too, as long as they are just plain frozen cranberries with no additives.
  • orange zest – cranberry and orange are a natural flavor pairing, so we will be adding the zest of 1/2 an orange.
  • orange juice – might as well juice the orange after you’ve zested it! You actually might need two oranges to get the 1/2 cup fresh orange juice that you’ll need.
  • sugar – regular granulated white sugar will sweeten the cranberry sauce base of this recipe.
  • cinnamon – this warm spice is a welcome addition to this sweet and cheesy appetizer.
  • goat cheese – I used an 8 ounce log of Montchevre brand cranberry cinnamon goat cheese. You do not need to buy this exact brand or flavor for this appetizer with goat cheese. More on this below.
  • mint – I garnished this appetizer with fresh mint, but I discuss other garnish options below.
  • toasted bread and/or crackers – for serving, unless you just want to eat this with a spoon, which would be fine with me. For a really special treat, you could even make homemade brown rice crackers.
A cranberry goat cheese appetizer garnished with fresh mint and served with toasted bread on a wooden surface.

What if I can’t find cranberry cinnamon goat cheese?

The most important thing for this cranberry appetizer is that you buy a goat cheese that’s sold in a log, so that you can slice medallions of it to nestle into the cranberries.

But, if you can’t find cranberry cinnamon goat cheese there are plenty of other options.

Plain goat cheese is absolutely delicious here, and if you buy an extra package, you can make goat cheese pasta salad for lunch next week!

Honey flavored goat cheese would work great with the sweetness of the cranberries, and can also be used for a fried goat cheese salad.

I’ve even seen jalapeño goat cheese, which would really spice things up in this cranberry goat cheese appetizer! I think it would balance great with the sweetness of the cranberries. I would even try it in my sweet potato breakfast casserole for a spicy wake up!

A baked goat cheese snack made with red berry sauce and mint, with a knife smearing it onto toasted bread.

A store-bought shortcut for this goat cheese appetizer:

As you’ll see in the recipe below, the first step of this cranberry appetizer for Thanksgiving is to make homemade cranberry sauce.

Well, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to! Just like my cranberry sauce muffins, this recipe can be made with canned cranberry sauce.

If you’re using canned cranberry sauce for this cranberry goat cheese appetizer, be sure to look for the words “whole berry” on the label.

You don’t want the “jellied” kind, because that will be too thin and smooth to make a good base for the baked goat cheese.

Other ways to garnish this cranberry goat cheese appetizer:

You have lots of options when it comes to garnishing this goat cheese appetizer. If fresh mint isn’t your thing, you can easily swap that out for another herb, like thyme, rosemary or even basil.

You could also sprinkle a handful of chopped nuts over this baked goat cheese. I would recommend walnuts or pecans.

Another option is one of my favorite seasonal ingredients – pomegranate seeds. They are beautiful in Christmas salad and would add a nice crunch to this cranberry goat cheese appetizer.

A white dish with a red berry sauce topped with baked goat cheese, garnished with fresh mint.

More easy Thanksgiving appetizers:

Everybody needs a little something to nibble on while the turkey finishes roasting. The apps below will take the edge off your hunger without spoiling your dinner.

A cranberry appetizer topped with baked goat cheese and mint sprigs in a circular white ceramic dish.

Baked Goat Cheese Cranberry Appetizer

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 27 minutes
Total Time: 42 minutes

Feels fancy but so easy, this Baked Goat Cheese Cranberry Appetizer pairs sweet seasonal cranberries with tangy goat cheese, and you can spread it all on toasted bread. Perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 log (8 ounces) cranberry cinnamon or plain goat cheese
  • Fresh mint, for garnish
  • Crostini and/or crackers, for serving

Instructions

  1. Add cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, sugar and cinnamon to medium saucepot. Heat to simmering over medium heat. Cook 12 to 14 minutes or until cranberries begin to burst, stirring occasionally. Let stand 15 minutes to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread cranberry sauce in even layer in medium baking dish. Cut goat cheese into 10 slices. Nestle cheese slices into cranberry sauce. 
  3. Transfer to oven and bake 14 to 16 minutes or until sauce and cheese are warmed through. If desired, broil under high heat 1 to 2 minutes to brown cheese (watch very carefully to ensure you don’t burn cheese).
  4. Garnish with mint and serve warm with crostini and/or crackers.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 134Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 131mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is for cranberry and cheese mixture only. This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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