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!
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
- 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
56 thoughts on “Pesto Cream Cheese Bake and Other Appetizers”
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!
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.
Can you leave out the pinenuts?
Hi. I would replace them with another nut. I’ve made walnut pesto. It works well.
What a great idea. What did you use for the star on top?
Hello Kelly. It looks like a yellow pepper to me. :)
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.
Has anyone tried goat cheese?
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” :(
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?
Hi Aimee. I think it will work just fine. ~Amy
Hi! Love the christmas tree idea – what have you used for the star on the top? Thanks! Sarah
Hi Sara. You could use any yellow food item that you choose such as fruits, veggies, cheeses, etc. ~Amy
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.
Hello Etta. I think you should test it out and let us know. :) ~Amy
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.
Can this be made a couple hours in advance? Looks great!
I too, want to know if it tastes good cold. Need an appetizer that I can travel 2 hours with.
Hi there. This one is really best served warm from the oven. ~Amy
i love appetizers because they are one of the tastiest part of a meal aside from the dessert.:
Our personal web portal
<a href=" http://www.foodsupplemendigest.com/natural-sleep-aids-with-tryptophan-and-melatonin/ “
I love this one too. I’m going to try it for a family xmas party in lieu of the reuben dip I usually make. I’ll make a homemade veggie dip to go with it.
Looks great!! One question: if you put a rectangle block of cream cheese, how do you get a triangle tree??
Cut the rectangle diagonally, making two triangles. Flip and rotate one triangle and push them side by side.
Do you just shape the cream cheese into the Christmas tree shape yourself?
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
Ive never made or had Pesto before ….so how do I make it “to taste” when I don’t know what it takes like? :)
Hi Jaci…I’m sorry, I meant to your taste (or preference). Hope you were able to make it and enjoy it. Jill
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
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
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!
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.
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
Have u ever tried making your own cream cheese? If so can you share recipe.
I have not…sorry!
Any idea if Brie would work in place of cream cheese?
Hmm…maybe if you took the peel off the top of it first, but I have not tried it myself.
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.
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! https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/real-food-defined-a-k-a-the-rules/
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.
What brand are the multigrain crackers you approve of? Always looking for a quick fix for the kids.
We look for “whole grain” crackers as opposed to “multi grain” and our favorites are Ak-Mak, Multi-seed, and Triscuits.
Mary’s Gone Crackers are great and healthy! Whole grain and made from brown rice, quinoa, flax seeds, and sesame seeds.
That looks amazing. I am so hungry right now, I should never read these while I’m hungery
Beautiful spread and I love the tray! I’m hoping to pick one up; do you mind sharing where you found it?
OMG fabulous- thank you for the quick response.
what is in the appetizer photo, – something cut in half with some kind of cream cheese spread on it?? middle right item?
Figs with goat cheese…yum!
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!
The brand of those crackers is “Multi-Seed” and they have more than 5 ingredients, but they are whole-grain. They are tasty, too!
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!
Sounds delish! Quick question, could non-dairy cream cheese be used?
To be honest I’ve never tried non-dairy cream cheese so I am not sure how that would work as a substitution.
What brand of cream cheese do you know of that follows the rules?
Any organic, plain, full-fat cream cheese will do!
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. :)
I can’t wait to try these homemade Margherita Pizza Rolls.