Pesto Cream Cheese Bake and Other Appetizers

5 Average
With the holiday season upon us, this Pesto Cream Cheese Bake is perfect to make for any pot-luck, party, or gathering. It's so simple to make and trust me, everyone will enjoy it!
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Pesto Cream Cheese Bake from 100 Days of Real Food

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This is the “pot luck event” time of year so let’s talk appetizers. Below you’ll find a recipe for a super easy and insanely popular “Pesto Cream Cheese Bake” as well as some general appetizer ideas that would be the perfect real food addition to any party (holiday or not!). If you have any suggestions that I left off the list please share them in the comments at the bottom.

“Real Food” Appetizer Ideas:

  • Pesto Cream Cheese Turnovers
  • Sliced fruit like figs, apples, pears, grapes, melon, berries, small orange segments, or place a few together on fruit kabobs with a yogurt/honey dip
  • Olives
  • Cheese cubes
  • A spread for crackers like hummus, plain or flavored goat cheese, or pesto
  • Whole grain crackers like Ak-Mak, Multiseed Original, or Triscuits
  • Miniature caprese salad on long toothpicks (cherry tomato, small piece of mozzarella, and basil leaf
  • Homemade whole-grain “easy cheesy crackers
  • Vegetable crudite (cut veggies with ranch dip or tzatziki sauce)
  • Lightly salted nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, etc.)
  • Glazed nuts
  • Proscuitto wrapped mozzarella dipped in balsamic vinegar
  • Proscuitto wrapped cantaloupe balls
  • Mini “tea sandwiches” with cucumber/dill/cream cheese or pimento cheese in the middle
  • Small slices of homemade whole-grain pumpkin, banana nut, zucchini or cornbread
  • Whole-wheat popovers

Pesto Cream Cheese Bake – Holiday Style

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  1. I love these ideas so, so much and have for years wondered where the wooden, sectioned platter came from? I really like it and finally remembered to ask :). Thanks!

  2. Michelle Birdsell

    5 stars
    You can also add a layer of sun-dried tomato pesto (under $2 at aldi) or use a mixture of tomato paste with Italian seasoning, water and crushed tomatoes, to add another taste element and some Christmas red.

  3. I have a recipe for a very similar dip, but no-bake, so very easily made ahead – just spread softened cream cheese out in a thinner layer on a pretty glass serving plate (since it’s unbaked I like it spread in a thinner layer, easier to get a nice balance of cream cheese and pesto in each bite) , spread thin layer of pesto all over, and sprinkle with chopped sundried tomatoes and olives, green onions if you like, and serve w/crackers – really looks festive with the red tomatoes and all the green and EVERYONE I have ever made it for LOVES it.

  4. Made this for a holiday party – it was devoured! I used pomegranate seeds as “ornaments” – I just sprinkled them on when it was done baking. Sadly my Whole Foods only has cream cheese with guar gum, so it wasn’t perfectly “real” :(

  5. This is so yummy! Made it recently and it was everyone’s favorite! Anyone tried making it ahead of time, keeping it in the fridge then baking it a few hours later?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Sara. You could use any yellow food item that you choose such as fruits, veggies, cheeses, etc. ~Amy

  6. Do you think MASCAPONE cheese could be used for this recipe? I make this cheese at home from raw milk with more success than cream cheese.

  7. hi! Just wanted to let you know when I click on “Whole wheat popovers”, I get the whole wheat corn bread recipe. Do you have a popover recipe? Also, I wanted to tell you my 7 year old son loves the advent activities. He got so enthused doing something special, he attempted to do the laundry by himself for me! That’s a funny story for another day… Thanks so much for the yummy recipes.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Christina. You should cut the rectangle diagonally, making two triangles. Then rotate the one triangle and place the two side by side to make a tree. Jill

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jaci…I’m sorry, I meant to your taste (or preference). Hope you were able to make it and enjoy it. Jill

  8. Hi I plan on making the cream cheese pestle bake on Friday in 4days for a 31party I’m having but I couldn’t find fresh basil at my grocery store…I’m too far from any health food stores to go before Friday…so I tot a 4oz tube of organic prepared Basil spread stuff…it has Basil and oil and a few other things that dont need to be there but its the beat I can do right this minute…my question is how much do I use? It says one the tube its equal to 3bunches…but how many cups is that? Please help ASAP

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jaci. I would probably vary the amount based on how strong tasting the spread is. I would just start with a thin layer and then adjust it to your preference. Jill

  9. Kiran Dodeja Smith

    I made this last night for a group and it got RAVE reviews … everyone loved it! I’ve also used the pesto on pasta and chicken which my kiddos just love. This is going to be a staple for us from now on!

  10. Hi Lisa,

    Just wondering if you’ve ever tried Wasa brand crackers/flatbreads. I’m not sure if maybe they’re a Canadian product, but I eat them a lot when I don’t have time to make bread for sandwiches, for example. They’re pretty basic and come in a wide variety of types (e.g. rye, multigrain, sesame…). From what I can tell, all of the types contain solely whole grains, which I was thrilled to find.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Vanessa. I’m not sure about the Canadian product, it may be different than ours here in the US, but, I know our version contains sugar and palm oil, both of which we would not recommend. Jill

  11. I’m confused about cream cheese being “real” isn’t is really processed? Your site says 0 processed foods… and yet cream cheese is a manufactured food.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      We technically avoid all “highly processed foods” because even cooking is a form of “processing” or changing your food. If we didn’t eat anything that had been processed at all it would essentially be a “raw diet,” which is not how we eat. Per the list on our rules page we define “processed” as anything over 5 ingredients (just to draw the line somewhere)…and organic cream cheese fits the bill!

  12. You know the famous line from Jerry McGuire, “You had me at hello”? You had me at “the low fat version is not recommended.” I’ve recently found your website and so much is what I do (no lowfat dairy!) that we’re ready to do more eliminating and tweaking of our diets. Thanks for giving out so many great ideas to make our goals seem attainable.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      We look for “whole grain” crackers as opposed to “multi grain” and our favorites are Ak-Mak, Multi-seed, and Triscuits.

  13. what is in the appetizer photo, – something cut in half with some kind of cream cheese spread on it?? middle right item?

  14. What is the name of the crackers that you show in the picture next to the cream cheese bake, and where can you buy them? I’ve tried the Ak-Mak crackers (they are good!) and of course, Triscuits. But I’ve been looking for other crackers that follow your rules and haven’t had much success. Thanks!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      The brand of those crackers is “Multi-Seed” and they have more than 5 ingredients, but they are whole-grain. They are tasty, too!

  15. The pesto cream cheese sounds wonderful! I will have to try that out soon! I have a wonderful cheeeseball recipe that’s always a hit. Cream cheese and green onions. Mix together and roll in chopped pecans or walnuts. (The original recipe calls for hard salami or dried beef but I don’t think those are in the real food rules so I will be ommitting it next time I make it. It’s just as good without it!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      To be honest I’ve never tried non-dairy cream cheese so I am not sure how that would work as a substitution.

  16. Lisa that pesto cream cheese bake sounds AMAZING!! Thanks for all the great ideas. They seem to slip right away from me when it comes time to bring something to a party. :)