Marinated Cream Cheese Appetizer

LAST UPDATED: Apr 18, 2021 | PUBLISHED: Dec 22, 2020 | By:

This easy cream cheese appetizer is the ultimate make-ahead starter that’s quick, easy and full of flavor! Marinated cheese is seasoned with herbs, oil and spices. 

White platter with a cream cheese appetizer, marinated cheese recipe in herbs and oil.

Marinated Cheese Recipe

Cream cheese is one of my favorite ingredients to keep in my fridge – it truly has endless uses, both sweet and savory. It is long-lasting when tightly packaged, and it’s great to keep on hand, especially during the holidays.

By the way, have you seen my new printable list of baking essentials? So handy, along with Baking Substitutions!

For this holiday season I have already brought you a cute reindeer cheese ball, my pretty pesto cheese wreath, and a homemade Boursin cheese that I want to slather on everything. 

Don’t miss my best tricks for how to soften cream cheese and how to make a shortcut cream cheese pie crust, too! This delicious marinated cream cheese recipe is just another addition to an already incredible line-up of easy appetizers for all your entertaining needs.

White platter with a cream cheese appetizer, marinated in herbs and oil.

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Cream Cheese Appetizer Ingredients

It’s such an easy list! And if you decide to use dried herbs, it’s very likely that you’ll have all the ingredients you need for this herb cream cheese right in your refrigerator and pantry. 

  • Cream Cheese – Yes, you can use reduced fat cream cheese. It’s not quite as creamy and delicious, but it will certainly work! Learn how to soften cream cheese here.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Don’t skimp on the quality of your olive oil. When you’re creating a super simple recipe like this one, every ingredient will shine! 
  • Fresh Thyme – You can use dried thyme as well, but it won’t be quite as colorful.
  • Fresh Basil – Same here. If you’re going to sub dried herbs in place of the fresh in this recipe, you’ll want to use less dried than fresh – I like to think of a ratio of one tablespoon of fresh herbs = one teaspoon of dried herbs in a recipe.
  • Red Pepper Flakes – a little spice never hurt anybody! Adjust this with more or less to your taste. 
  • Sea Salt – not too much, as the garlic and herbs should be the standout flavors here. 
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper – again, you can adjust this to taste.
  • Minced Garlic – you can take a shortcut here and buy pre-minced garlic, but when it’s clearly visible (and raw) in a recipe such as this one, it’s really nice to use fragrant fresh garlic.
  • Pine Nuts (optional) – they add a nice little crunch and are a good addition to this marinated cream cheese, but totally optional.
A marinated herb cream cheese block on a white platter.

Variations

  • Use Dried herbs instead of fresh.
  • Mix up the herbs! Experiment with rosemary, oregano and more.
  • Try pecans or almonds in place of pine nuts.

How to Make Herb Cream Cheese

There are a couple different ways to make this delicious cream cheese appetizer! 

  1. Allow your cream cheese to rest on the serving platter.
  2. Slice the cheese sporadically, which allows the marinade to seep through.
  3. Next, chop the fresh thyme and basil.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, add your herbs and other ingredients.
  5. Add pine nuts if you’d like.
  6. Just before serving, pour olive oil and herb mixture directly over your cream cheese.

QUICK TIP: You can also combine all the above listed ingredients directly into your food processor. Save the oil for last and pulse to combine.

A cream cheese appetizer with marinated cream cheese recipe in herbs and oil, crostini to the side.

Make it Ahead

It’s always a good idea to keep goat cheese and cream cheese on hand during the holidays, because you can almost always come up with a way to serve them at the very last second when you have unexpected guests! 

One of the many reasons that I love serving dips and spreads is that they can often be made ahead. I really appreciate any opportunity to check an item off my list when entertaining! 

To prepare this herb cream cheese ahead of time, you’ll simply chop and combine your ingredients and store, sealed, in your refrigerator. Don’t cover the cream cheese with the marinade just yet- save that step until just before serving!

Marinated cheese surrounded by crostini on a white platter.

Tips

  • This herb cream cheese is delicious whether served cold or room temperature, but it’s definitely easier to spread as it warms, so keep that in mind.
  • Don’t forget to slice your cream cheese log throughout! This allows your marinade to seep into all the crevices.

Quick tip: I receive a lot of questions about my octagonal serving platter that I use for so many of my appetizer recipes! The one I have is no longer available, but this one is so similar and it comes in two great sizes! 

White platter with a cream cheese appetizer, marinated cheese recipe in herbs and oil.

Marinated Cheese Serving Suggestions

Another reason I frequently create cheese-based appetizers is because they work with a variety of diets.

If a guest is restricting carbs, they can generally still enjoy a high-protein cheese simply by dipping or spreading onto a veggie option instead of bread or crackers. 

  • Carrots
  • Bell pepper strips
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery

For traditional options, consider the following.

  • Crostini – it’s always my favorite pairing! Crunchy crostini is the best way to enjoy a cheese spread, especially when drizzled in olive oil.
    A cream cheese appetizer with marinated cream cheese recipe in herbs and oil, crostini to the side.
  • Pita chips are a great crunchy addition.
  • Buttery crackers are always a kid (and adult!) favorite when served with any kind of cream cheese appetizer.

What to do with Leftovers

Dietary Considerations

  • Gluten Free
  • Vegetarian
  • Low Carb
  • Keto Friendly
White platter with a cream cheese appetizer, marinated cheese recipe in herbs and oil.

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – This herb cream cheese recipe can be left out while serving for up to two hours.
  • Refrigerator – Cream cheese keeps for a long time when wrapped tightly and refrigerated! You can make the herb mixture up to 48 hours in advance before serving. You can store the marinated cream cheese for 2-3 days when wrapped in an airtight container.

Well, what do you think? Are you excited about this easy marinated cheese recipe? I know I am!

If you try this marinated cream cheese recipe, please come back to share using my 5 star rating in the comments below! Not only do I appreciate it, but I know readers do, too! For more easy recipes and simple living ideas, subscribe to my newsletter!

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More Cheese Appetizers

If you liked this you’ll love my Marinated Chèvre Cheese Appetizer!

Do you love cheesy appetizers as much as I do? You’ll enjoy the following options too!

An herb cream cheese recipe surrounded by crostini on a white platter.

Marinated Cream Cheese Appetizer

Author: Julie Blanner
This delicious Marinated Cream Cheese is covered in herbs, oil and spices for the easiest make-ahead appetizer. It's a simple cream cheese appetizer your guests will devour! 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American, French
Servings 12
Calories 145 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 6 sprigs thyme fresh
  • 6 leaves basil fresh
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • teaspoon pepper fresh cracked
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic minced

Instructions
 

  • Allow your cream cheese to rest on the serving platter.
  • Slice the cheese halfway through, every inch or so along the distance of the log. This allows the marinade to immerse into the cream cheese!
  • Next, you'll begin by finely chopping the fresh thyme and basil.
  • In a small bowl, combine herbs, salt and pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil.
  • If you'd like to add pine nuts, you're welcome to do so! Simply chop them finely or run them through your food processor for an added touch of texture.
  • Just before serving, pour olive oil mixture directly over your cream cheese.

Notes

Tips and Notes

  • This marinated cheese is delicious whether served chilled or room temperature.
  • Don’t forget to slice your cream cheese log throughout! This allows your marinade to seep into all the crevices.
  • To prepared this appetizer ahead of time, simply blend all herbs, spices and oil and refrigerate until ready to use. Pour over cream cheese immediately before serving. 

Nutrition

Calories:145kcalCarbohydrates:1gProtein:1gFat:15gSaturated Fat:5gCholesterol:21mgSodium:87mgPotassium:29mgFiber:1gSugar:1gVitamin A:315IUVitamin C:1mgCalcium:21mgIron:1mg
5 from 1 vote
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