This pomegranate salsa dip with walnuts and cream cheese is a truly stunning appetizer. And a perfect dip for the holidays.
Pomegranate Dip with Cream Cheese
If you are looking for a festive dip for the holidays or during this winter season, then there is nothing better than this dip loaded with ruby red pomegranate arils.
To top it off, this recipe also has the intensely flavorful pomegranate molasses. I haven’t come across any recipe that uses both fresh pomegranate and molasses. It certainly packs a pomegranate punch!
It combines sweet, tart and spicy tastes, all of it topped on a luscious cheese layer.
Deck up your tables with this easy and amazing pomegranate salsa dip!
What about the Pomegranate Salsa?
If you don’t want to serve this as an appetizer with cream cheese, you can also adapt the recipe to serve it as a salsa. Just add some finely chopped cucumbers or tomatoes to increase the bulk. Then adjust the consistency and seasonings.
- Pomegranate Arils: Get these fresh from the fruit or find the ready-to-eat arils available at most grocery stores. Pick bright red, heavy and firm pomegranates. Find more on how to choose this wonderful fruit.
- Pomegranate Molasses: The tartness of molasses can vary with the brand. I used sultan brand which was sweeter than cortas brand. The latter is more tangy and worked well for our fesenjan recipe.
- Fruit Preserves: I like to use apricot or orange preserves, as the flavor and appearance blends well without altering the basic pomegranate-rich taste.
- Cream Cheese: We need softened cream cheese. Middle-eastern labneh works very well for this. Get Turkish style labneh as it is not so tart like the Arabic style, and pairs better with the tangy-sweet pomegranate taste. Regular Philadelphia cream cheese is good too. Make sure it is whipped and spreadable.
- Crackers: Choose the type that have a hard and firm texture. Pita chips would be a great choice for this pomegranate dip.
- Green Onions
- Jalapeno Pepper
- Ground cumin or grated ginger
How to Make It
Brief overview below. *Full recipe at the end of blog post.
- Prepare Salsa: Combine molasses, preserves, herbs, jalapenos, spices and salt. Stir in pomegranate arils.
- Cheese layer: Spread the cheese layer. Top with salsa and walnuts.
- Serve: Add crackers around the dip.
- Refrigerate the pomegranate salsa overnight for the flavors to meld together. Discard any juices released before spreading it on the cream cheese.
- Use fruit preserves appropriately to adjust the tartness, sweetness and consistency of the salsa to your taste.
This pomegranate dip with cream cheese is vegetarian, gluten free, egg free, soy free and grain free.
- Vegan and Dairy Free: You can skip the cream cheese or use vegan cream cheese.
- Nut Free: Do not use walnuts, and you may substitute it with pumpkin seeds.
- Lighter/Healthier: Use Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese.
How To Serve It
- With Cheese and Crackers: This would be the classic way to enjoy it.
- Just Crackers: The pomegranate salsa can be served with crackers. Just add some finely chopped cucumbers or tomatoes to enhance bulk and consistency.
- Sandwiches: Try the salsa with cream cheese, nut butters or grilled tofu sandwiched between bread slices.
What To Serve Along
Add this dip to a festive menu that may include some of the following:
- Main Dish: Adas Polo or Lamb Biryani
- Salad: Moroccan Carrot Salad, Cucumber Yogurt Salad
- Soup: Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
- Snacks: Sweet & Savory Party Nuts, Date Bar Cookies
- Dessert: Chocolate Almond Cake, Persian Baklava
The crunch of pomegranate arils, creaminess of cheese and crispy crackers makes for a festive appetizer.
The arils can be separated ahead of time. You can make salsa the day before. Add half the herbs just before serving for a pop of color.
Storage and Leftovers
The salsa cheese dip leftovers can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days. Make the salsa without herbs and freeze it in freezer-safe containers. Thaw, stir it and add herbs.
This salsa dip can be a very healthy if you serve it with Greek yogurt and use limited amounts of fruit preserves.
But the star of this recipe, the pomegranates are abundantly rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. In fact, the juice of this fruit is considered to have three times more antioxidant levels than even red wine and green tea. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C.
Therefore, regular intake of this fruit is associated with protection against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes.
More Dip Recipes
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Pomegranate Salsa Dip With Cream Cheese
- 8 ounces pomegranate arils fresh, about 1 cup
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses see note
- 2 tablespoons fruit preserves apricot or orange marmalade
- ¼ cup green onions finely chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves fresh, finely chopped
- 2 jalapeños minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin or grated fresh ginger
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper optional, adjust per taste
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons walnuts chopped
- 16 ounces cream cheese labneh, light or regular Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
- Crackers pita chips recommended
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate juice or water
- Greek yogurt or cream see note
- In a small mixing bowl, combine pomegranate molasses, fruit preserves, chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, minced jalapenos, spices and salt.
- Add juice or water if needed to thin out the consistency a bit. Adjust the amount of preserves as per the tartness of molasses. Stir in the pomegranate arils.
- Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight, to let the flavors meld together.
- Whip the softened cream cheese and spread it in an even layer on a serving platter (see note below). Discard any juices released before topping it on the cream cheese.
- Serve with a variety of crackers.
- Pomegranate Molasses: I used sultan brand molasses which was sweeter and less tart than the cortas brand. If you are not used to the taste of molasses, I recommend you start with a smaller amount and adjust it up as per your preference.
- Fruit Preserves: I often choose preserves made with fruit and juice concentrates. There are orange marmalades made only with fruit juice and peel.
- Pomegranate Juice: This is optional and needed only to thin out the consistency of salsa if the molasses are too thick.
- Cream cheese: Labneh is light and fluffy. If using Philadelphia cream cheese, whip it up a bit. Add some greek yogurt or cream to lighten it up and make it fluffy.
- Make Ahead: Prepare the salsa one day ahead. Add half the herbs just before serving.
- Storage and Leftovers: Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days. Make the salsa without herbs and freeze it. Thaw, stir it and add the herbs.
- For more information on ingredients, variations and serving suggestions, scroll up the page to the blog post.