Looking for a festive appetizer to bring to your next holiday party? This cranberry pistachio cheese log is the perfect solution! It's easy to make and guests will love the delicious combination of flavors. Plus, it's sure to add a touch of elegance to any buffet table. So why not give it a try? Your taste buds will thank you!
Although this recipe is most popular during the holiday months, its ingredients are delicious and easy to find year-round! If you celebrate Christmas, this appetizer is sure to please your holiday guests. Its beautiful red and green colors will catch the eye of all of your hungry friends and family.
If you are looking for some additional holiday-themed dishes, be sure to check out my Raspberry Brie Tartlets, Soft Gingerbread Cookies (made without molasses!), and my famous Eggnog Pancakes that are cooked in fun holiday shapes!
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Cranberry Pistachio Cheese Log Ingredients
Preparation for this Cranberry Pistachio Cheese Log recipe could not be easier. It only has 8 ingredients (including salt and pepper!).
- Dried cranberries
- Goat cheese
- Cream cheese
See recipe card for quantities.
The preparation for this cheese log takes about 10 minutes. After mixing the cheese spread, it will need to sit in the refrigerator to firm up for at least 2 hours.
Combine ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
Mix ingredients together using a spatula until well combined.
Place plastic wrap on your cooking surface and wrap cheese spread, rolling into a log shape. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
Remove cheese log from refrigerator when firm. Sprinkle remaining cranberries, pistachios and parsley on cooking surface and roll log, fully covering exterior. Drizzle with honey and serve with crackers.
Hint: When serving, I like to sprinkle extra whole cranberries and pistachios around the cheese log. That way, your guests can add a little extra to their plate, if desired.
I love this recipe because if you are catering a party, you can make the cheese log in advance. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When you are ready to serve it, bring it out of the refrigerator and roll it in dried cranberries, chopped pistachios, and parsley. Place it on a platter surrounded with extra pistachios and cranberries. Drizzle honey over the top of the cheese log and serve.
I like to serve this cheese log surrounded by crackers. I usually place a cheese spreader with the cheese, as well.
Crackers that go well with this recipe:
- butter crackers
- water crackers
- whole wheat crackers
- plain bagel chips
- plain pita chips
You can also make crostini by smearing the spread on toasted slices of a baguette and topping each crostino with a few chopped pistachios, dried cranberries, and a drizzle of honey. This is a great way to serve this cheese spread when you are serving passed hors d'oeuvres (not serving buffet-style).
Here are some recommended substitutions for this recipe:
- Cheese - If goat cheese isn't your jam, no worries! You can either double the cream cheese or you can replace the 8 oz. of goat cheese with 8 oz. of mascarpone cheese.
- Cranberries - If you can't find or don't like dried cranberries, you can replace them with chopped dried cherries. If you have leftover cranberry sauce, you can also mix a few tablespoons into your cheese mixture to add a little more cranberry zing.
- Pistachios - I love pistachios - they are particularly lovely both in flavor and appearance in this recipe. However, if pistachios aren't your favorite, you can sub them for chopped toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts. Watch the salt levels if you do this - if your replacement nuts are already salted, you may not need to add a pinch of salt to the cheese log.
- Make it Vegan - Believe it or not, you can easily make this recipe vegan by swapping the cheese for 16 oz. of vegan cream cheese. Also, if your diet doesn't allow honey, agave nectar is a great alternative in this recipe.
- Make it Gluten Free - This one is easy - the recipe is already 100% gluten free (make sure your cream cheese is, but most are). You will just need to serve the cheese log with gluten free crackers or apple slices.
This cranberry pistachio cheese log can be modified pretty easily. In addition to the substitutions above, here are some more ideas!
- Make it spicy - Add 1 teaspoon of chili pepper flakes to the cheese mixture to kick the heat up a notch.
- Add some herbaciousness - 1 tsp. of finely chopped fresh or dried rosemary or thyme will add an herby kick to your cheese ball.
- Enjoy it during the rest of the year - This recipe is often enjoyed at Christmas. However, the basic cheese ball ingredients are available year-round. Instead of cranberries, use any dried fruit. You can also swap out the pistachios for almonds, pecans, or walnuts. Try chopped dried apricots and toasted almonds - you'll be happy you did!
This recipe is pretty straightforward and doesn't need a whole lot of special equipment. If you want to have a more whipped consistency on your cheese log, you can use a hand mixer to mix the cheeses. However, a spatula and mixing bowl will get the job done (the consistency will be slightly more dense). A cute holiday cheese spreader rounds out my list of equipment for this recipe.
If you wrap the cheese log well in plastic wrap, it should stay good in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Top tips for Making a Cranberry Pistachio Cheese Log
My top tips for making this cranberry pistachio cheese log have to do with the temperature of the cheese.
When you are mixing the cheese with the other ingredients, it is very important that your cheese is at room temperature. This allows the cheese to be more pliable because it has softened.
When you are refrigerating the cheese, it is best to keep it in the fridge for AT LEAST 2 hours. You want to give the softened cheese time to firm up. This will allow for a much easier process when you unwrap and roll the cheese in the cranberry-pistachio topping.
Fresh cranberries really benefit from the cooking process. They are edible in their raw form, but they are very sour and bitter. If you want to use something other than dried cranberries, you can use a different dried fruit.
Another option is to add 1-2 tbsp. of cranberry sauce to the cheese log mixture. It will turn the log a lovely pinkish-red hue and will taste delish! I wouldn't use cranberry sauce on the exterior of the cheese log, however.
Cheese logs can be tricky to freeze because the freezing process alters the texture of the cheese. If you want to freeze your cheese log, freeze it before covering the exterior with nuts and cranberries. Wrap it very firmly with plastic wrap, taking care not to have any air pockets. Place in a labeled freezer proof zipper bag and freeze for up to one month.
Cranberry Pistachio Cheese Log
- 8 oz. goat cheese plain, room temperature
- 8 oz. cream cheese plain, room temperature
- ¾ cup dried cranberries divided
- ¾ cup pistachios roughly chopped and divided *See Notes
- ¼ cup honey plus a little more for drizzling
- 2 tbsp. parsley fresh, chopped and divided
- salt and pepper to taste (I use a pinch of each)
- crackers of your choice
Make the Cheese Log Base
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine goat cheese, cream cheese, ¼ cup dried cranberries, ¼ cup pistachios, honey, and 1 tbsp. parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Mix ingredients together using a spatula or a hand mixer until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Place 1-2 strips of plastic wrap on your work surface. Scoop cheese log base onto plastic wrap. Carefully roll the cheese into a log shape, using the plastic wrap to roll and press. Seal the log tightly in the plastic wrap.
Refrigerate Cheese Log Base
- Place plastic-wrapped cheese log base into refrigerator for no less than 2 hours. You may refrigerate mixture up to 2 days.
Finish Cheese Log
- When you are ready to serve the cheese log, mix together the remaining ½ cup of cranberries, ½ cup of dried pistachios, and 1 tbsp. of parsley. Sprinkle cranberry mixture onto your work surface.
- Unwrap the cheese log and carefully roll it in the cranberry mixture, making sure cranberries, pistachios, and parsley cover the entire surface of the cheese log.
- Place on a platter and surround the cheese log with crackers and any extra cranberries/pistachios (if preferred)
- Drizzle cheese log with honey and serve with crackers.
- When it comes to pistachios, I prefer dry roasted, lightly salted, and already removed from the shell.