13 Party Appetizers That Start With Cream Cheese

overhead shot artichoke and spinach dip
Photo: Lauren Grant

Cream cheese is a secret party animal. It may look all plain and innocent, but slip it into an appetizer recipe and it immediately gathers a crowd to revel in its delicious decadence. We've gathered up some of our favorite party foods — from dips and spreads to blintzes, crab rangoon, and jalapeño poppers — that all owe their party-cred to a touch of rich and creamy cream cheese. Scroll through to find cream cheese appetizers you'll want to invite to your next get-together.

01 of 14

Tuscan Cream Cheese Spread

tuscan cream cheese spread on white dish

Sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, garlic, and fresh herbs give plain cream cheese a robust, savory flavor. Serve with crackers, toasted French bread slices, or, for a rustic twist, homemade focaccia.

02 of 14

Cream Cheese Penguins

three appetizers made of black olive bodies, roasted red pepper scarves, and carrot feet and beaks, held together with toothpicks
Melissa Goff

You've never seen cream cheese this cute. Black olives, carrots, and cream cheese make up the clever little birds; and to make scarves, use fresh red pepper slices or canned pimento.

03 of 14

Pine Cone Cheese Ball

cheese ball shaped like a pine cone with almonds
Chef John

Adorned with almonds, this pine cone cheese ball looks super impressive, but is deceptively simple to put together. Mixing the cream cheese with goat cheese and adding fresh chopped tarragon and chives gives this cheese ball a sublimely savory twist.

04 of 14

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip II

overhead shot artichoke and spinach dip
Lauren Grant

This hot, fragrant dip won't just please a crowd — it'll completely win all your guests over. For a nice burst of savory flavor, use artichokes that have been marinated in oil and herbs.

05 of 14

Mouth-Watering Stuffed Mushrooms

Mouth-Watering Stuffed Mushrooms on a white plate
Alberta Rose

"This is a favorite recipe that I have made several times and I never have any leftovers," says community Stephanie G. "Even my young son loves the flavorfull filling. These are great to bring to get togethers. I usually prepare the stuffing and put into a ziplock and assemble them when I arrive. Just snip off the corner of the ziplock, fill the mushrooms like a pastry and pop in the oven."

06 of 14

Joelle's Famous Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip

creamy crab dip in bread bowl

"This hot crab and artichoke dip recipe is the best one around! Very flavorful and a crowd pleaser! Easy to make and mmm good! From a native Marylander who knows her crabs." — JOELLEFLYNN

07 of 14

Pepper Jelly Appetizer

Pepper jelly and cream cheese on top of a cracker
Holiday Baker

It doesn't get much easier than spreading store-bought pepper jelly over a massive block of cream cheese. Serve with assorted crackers for a party-friendly dish everyone will rave over.

08 of 14

Magic Pickle Dip

Magic Pickle Dip

This spin on pickle wraps is so simple you may never want to wrap up a pickle again. To save even more time, you can use relish instead of chopping up pickle spears; the juice from the relish will also make the dip's consistency a bit thinner and more spreadable.

09 of 14

Easy 3-Ingredient Cheese Pinwheels

Easy 3-Ingredient Cheese Pinwheels
Easy 3-Ingredient Cheese Pinwheels | Photo by Happyschmoopies.

Puff pastry, herbed cream cheese, and sliced Swiss cheese are all you need to make this simple, crowd-pleasing appetizer. These taste better warm, so wait until just before serving to stick them in the oven.

10 of 14

Cheese Blintzes

Cheese Blintzes
Cheese Blintzes | Photo by LatinaCook.

"Delicious!!! I served these as dessert for my husband's Super Bowl party," says community member ANNE LAMBORN. "after eating so many spicy and salty things the men loved these and several asked for the recipe. They're easy and fun to make and they're just yummy!"

11 of 14

Cream Cheese Sausage Balls

Cream Cheese Sausage Balls
My Hot Southern Mess

Sausage balls have one flaw: they can be a bit dry at times. Fortunately, the remedy to dry sausage balls is just as simple as it is delicious — adding cream cheese to the mixture is an effortless way to give your sausage balls some smoothness and moisture.

12 of 14

Make-Ahead Smoked Salmon Spread

smoked salmon spread garnished with sliced green onion

Smoked salmon and cream cheese are two ingredients that belong together, and this make-ahead appetizer is a great way to offer pricey smoked salmon to a crowd. It only takes 10 minutes to assemble and gets a great deal of additional flavor from dill weed, lemon pepper seasoning, and chopped green onions.

13 of 14

Grilled Bacon Jalapeno Wraps

grilled bacon jalapeno wraps

Nobody can turn down a good stuffed jalapeño, especially when it's wrapped in bacon and grilled. The smoothness of the cream cheese complements the smoky-spicy jalapeños and savory grilled bacon.

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