The Easiest Appetizer Ever!

posted by Andrea | 12/16/2014

easiest appetizer

I know, I know, I don’t usually use “est” when referring to anything… but this appetizer recipe (if you can even call it a recipe) is one of the easiest, if not THE easiest, recipe I’ve ever made.

I bring this appetizer to parties, potlucks, and other gatherings all the time — and I ALWAYS get rave reviews every time. Usually, I catch someone scraping the last bits of food off the platter with their finger at the end of the night — it’s just that good!

So what is it?

Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Dip

There are actually many different names for this ultra-simple, ultra-delicious appetizer, but essentially, it’s a brick of cream cheese with a jar of pepper jelly dumped over top and served with crackers. It also pairs well with almost any type of cheese and fruit.

Yes, that’s it! 

It literally takes 30 seconds to assemble, it looks quite fancy if you ask me, and it tastes SO good.

pepper jelly dip

photo source

So what is “pepper jelly”?

Pepper jelly is exactly like it sounds, jelly made with peppers instead of fruit. It has the exact same consistency as jelly and is made the exact same way. You can buy many varieties of pepper jelly in most grocery stores and I’ve even canned my own many times (with peppers from my own garden).

Pepper jelly is sometimes called “lotsa pepper relish”, “pepper relish”, “sweet pepper jelly”, “sweet pepper relish”, “hot pepper jelly”, “jalapeno jelly” etc. — but it’s all basically the same. And no, it’s not hot or spicy unless you leave the seeds in.

For this appetizer recipe, I personally prefer the non-hot jellies — but that’s a personal call.

pepper jelly

I don’t have the recipe for pepper jelly on my blog (at least not yet) but here are a couple recipes if you want to try making it yourself.

Of course, you could always just buy it too!

Once you have your pepper jelly, you’re ready to assemble this dish.

Recipe for Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Dip:

{print recipe}

Serves a lot! 


  • one 8oz. block cream cheese
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup pepper jelly
  • assorted crackers, pretzels, Fritos, etc.


  • Unwrap cream cheese and place on a small serving platter
  • Pour pepper jelly over the top of the cream cheese
  • Serve with crackers, pretzels, Fritos, or your favorite salty snack
  • Cover and refrigerate any leftovers (although you probably won’t have any!)

The one thing I REALLY love about this recipe (besides the fact that it’s delicious and quite frugal) is that it travels so well. Whenever I bring it to a party, I wait until I arrive to assemble it so I don’t need to worry about anything spilling in the car and I can keep the cream cheese cold with an ice pack.

And yes, you can definitely make a half-batch (or smaller) if you’re not sure it will get eaten. Just cut the cream cheese in half and use less jelly — that’s actually what I did for a smaller party we had this past weekend.

I usually don’t get very creative with this recipe, but I did see a fun idea to cut the cream cheese block into the shape of a Christmas tree if you’re bringing this to a Christmas party 🙂

Christmas Tree

If you’re looking for an ultra-simple, no-bake, last-minute appetizer to take to an upcoming holiday party (or really any gathering throughout the year) I would highly recommend this “recipe”.

You won’t disappoint anyone’s taste buds and, better yet, you won’t spend all day in the kitchen!

What are your favorite super-simple appetizers?

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Filed under: FoodHoliday Foods

Leave a comment


  1. Amy Dahm


    We love doing this with cocktail sauce and townhouse crackers! (shrimp allergies in our house)


    Andrea Reply:

    so you put cocktail sauce over the cream cheese? interesting — I’ve never tried that before. It does sound easy though!


  2. Jules


    Hi Andrea, I just volunteered to bring “nibbles” to a christmas gathering on the basis on this recipe. Fingers crossed!


    Andrea Reply:

    well, hope you and your family/friend like it as much as we do 😉


  3. Carrie


    Another version of this appetizer is a block of cream cheese flattened slightly with a jar of salsa poured on top. Occasionally I will add some finely shredded cheddar cheese. The best thing about this dip is that I have made it on a paper plate with no utensils. I just used the packagaing from the cream cheese to flatten it. This is a good recipe to make for potlucks after long days of sporting events.


    Andrea Reply:

    yum… sounds delicious. I can’t believe I’ve never made any of these “similar but different” recipes everyone is sharing in the comments. I guess I need to buy more cream cheese 🙂


  4. April


    My super simple appetizer is on the same line as yours. I use the block of cream cheese on put cocktail sauce and a can of tiny shrimp on it and serve with crackers. It’s my all time favorite.


    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that sounds great too! I love those tiny shrimp!


  5. Verity


    Thanks for this tip!

    I had some pepper jelly and didn’t know what to do with it! A friend gave it to me, and I have had it sitting here for months! This looks great!!


  6. Jackie


    This snack is super popular among my friends, but we use a raspberry chipotle sauce usually! In fact, I only had the pepper jelly version of this snack a couple weeks ago! I usually like to microwave the sauce and cream cheese just a little bit, so the sauce is warm. And no matter how much I sauce I put on initially, it never seems like it’s enough. I always have to add more sauce WAY before the cream cheese runs out!


    Andrea Reply:

    YUM Raspberry chipotle sounds amazing!


  7. Amy


    Glad to see pepper jelly is not just a Southern thing! We always have this appetizer at family Christmas gatherings. I love it!