These Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Bites are the perfect slightly sweet, yet savory appetizer. These bite-sized delights are the ultimate holiday appetizer, guaranteed to impress your guests and leave them craving more. Picture this: creamy goat cheese infused with a hint of tanginess, rolled in a crunchy coating of crushed pecans and a burst of sweetness from dried cranberries, drizzled with a balsamic reduction. The combination is simply irresistible!
I have been sponsored by Princess Cruises to bring you this post about an Alaska cruise excursion, the fourth in a series sharing our Alaska cruise. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.
Not only are these bites a feast for the senses, but they are also incredibly easy to make. With just a handful of ingredients and a few simple steps, you can create a stunning appetizer that will steal the show at any gathering. They’re a perfect party appetizer all year long, but I’m really looking forward to serving them over the holiday season!
I discovered these Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Bites during our White Pass Scenic Railway tour during our Alaska Cruise with Princess Cruises. As soon as I tasted them, I knew I had to recreate these tangy goat cheese bites to share with you. This recipe is inspired by the ones we enjoyed during our train ride, catered by a local restaurant in Skagway, Alaska, called The Red Onion.
Goat cheese is a soft cheese that adds a unique and tangy flavor to any dish. Its creamy texture and slightly tangy taste are the perfect complement to the sweetness of the dried cranberries and the nuttiness of the crunchy pecans. Whether it’s spread on a crostini, stuffed into mushrooms, or rolled into bite-sized balls like in this recipe, goat cheese adds a touch of sophistication to any simple appetizer.
To create this perfect holiday appetizer, you will need the following simple ingredients:
8 ounces of goat cheese, room temperature
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of honey
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
½ cup chopped pecans (use a sharp knife or food processor to chop your own)
½ cup chopped dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
You can make these mini cheese balls in just a few easy steps!
First, in a large bowl, combine goat cheese, garlic, honey, and pepper. Mix with a rubber spatula until well combined.
In a separate shallow bowl, combine the chopped pecans, dried cranberries, and chopped fresh parsley. Stir together until evenly mixed.
Use a small cookie scoop or teaspoon to roll two teaspoons of goat cheese mixture into a ball. Then press each individual cheese ball into the nut mixture, rolling to coat both sides of the goat cheese.
Re-roll into a round ball if needed. You might need to roll it in the cranberry-pecan mixture again to get full coverage.
Place the goat cheese truffles on a serving platter and, if desired, drizzle with a balsamic reduction before serving.
Note- I halved my Balsamic Reduction recipe and added a touch of honey as it simmered. It added a delicious finishing touch, but you can serve the goat cheese bites without it.
Make sure to bring the goat cheese to room temperature. It makes it much easier to mix with the honey and pepper using a spatula.
I used a small cookie scoop. It made it easy to get just the right amount of goat cheese instead of using two teaspoons.
After you make them, I recommend refrigerating them for at least a half hour to an hour for the goat cheese to chill before serving. Personally, I just think they taste better cold as opposed to room temperature. It’s not like you won’t enjoy them if they’re warm, but I think slightly chilled is the way to go.
They can be made the night before if you want to save time in your party prep, but the pecans will soften slightly. I prefer the crunch, but they’re still delicious regardless.
This cranberry goat cheese appetizer is delicious with a side of your favorite crackers, pretzel sticks, or a sliced baguette. You could also consider a small ramekin of homemade cranberry sauce.
While the classic combination of cranberries, pecans, and goat cheese is hard to beat, there are several variations and substitutions you can try to customize the recipe to your liking. Here are a few ideas:
Make this recipe into one large cheese ball, or serve it as a cranberry goat cheese log to slice for crackers or bread slices.
Not a goat cheese fan? Substitute cream cheese instead.
Add a touch of heat by sprinkling a pinch of red pepper flakes into the goat cheese mixture.
Drizzle the finished bites with some maple syrup for added sweetness.
Feel free to get creative and experiment with different flavors and textures to make this festive appetizer your own.
And if you do, I’d love for you to leave a comment below as others may be interested in doing the same!
These cheese balls need to be refrigerated in an airtight container and will keep for up to 3-5 days.
Yes, you can! Wrap each cranberry goat cheese truffle individually in saran wrap, then place them in a freezer bag. They will keep up to a month. Just make sure to thaw them completely in the refrigerator before serving.
If you enjoyed these cranberry pecan treats, you might like these recipes:
Drizzle with a balsamic reduction before serving.
This post was originally published July 23, 2018. It has been updated in format and with pictures on October 30. 2023.
The train ride on Princess Cruises Alaska Cruise excursion travels 20 miles from the dock to the Summit of the White Pass, an elevation of 2,865 feet! We saw Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point, and Dead Horse Gulch. We also saw part of the original Klondike Trail of 1898. There were even some pickaxes on the trail, too.
As you can tell, we did not go hungry during our 3 1/2 hour train ride.
There was a submarine sandwich way in the back on the left-hand side of the picture, a tray of crudités and assorted cheeses, a shrimp and dip platter, along with their goat cheese balls in the foreground, and then a bowl of mints. Also not pictures was a tray of phyllo cups filled with a mushroom pate.
We were also served soda, wine, and beer by this lovely gentleman, Chris.
He was our host and guide and told us all that we needed to know about different spots along our route and interesting stories about the building of the railroad and life in Skagway during the gold rush of 1898.
Our ride in the Luxury Class car on the White Pass Scenic Railway train was just one of our Alaska Cruise Excursions compliments of Princess Cruises. I have to say it was my second favorite after our Zodiac ride.
It was raining a bit the day we arrived in Skagway, so I was happy that we were going to be kept warm and dry but were still going to see more of that beautiful state.
We didn’t have to walk far to get to the train either! It was literally just a hop, skip and a jump from our ship, the Island Princess.
The Luxury Class car was the first car of the train. We were treated to a special surprise when at the very top of the mountain before we headed back down on the same track into town. I’ll tell you more about this below.
Here’s the gang! There was a total of 14 of us and we were able to sit in these comfy chairs that swiveled so we could see out both sides without any problem. Talk about riding in style, hunh?
This was one of the original cars from the when the railroad was built for the 1898 gold rush.
Looking at the rest of the train behind us while going up the mountain.
Heading into one of the tunnels. You can see it in the mountain behind that pine tree.
Before we went through the tunnel, I looked to my left and saw one of the original bridges which thankfully, is now abandoned as you can see some of it’s missing.
Take a look at a few more of our railroad trip pictures below the recipe and how the car we were riding in became the caboose at the top of the mountain!
Everyone will love these Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Bites. They’ll be especially festive over the holidays with their red and green coloring.
I took this one at the top of the mountain.
As I mentioned before, once we crossed into Canada and couldn’t go any farther, the engine in front of us was disconnected and was moved to the other end of the train. Our car then became the caboose! It was fun not having anything behind us on the way down so we could have a clear view of the scenery.
The picture below shows the engine after it they disconnected it.
I mean, look at this view!! It was wonderful, too to have the deck just outside with a bench on each side. Even though it was a bit windy and chilly it was great to go out there and enjoy the fresh mountain air and take in all the beauty that was surrounding us.
I can’t recommend putting an Alaska Cruise with Princess Cruises on your bucket list enough. It’s a trip you’ll never forget and will leave you with memories to last you a lifetime!