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. 

A plate with a block of marinated cream cheese on it.
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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.

Marinated Cream Cheese

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.

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Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • So Easy
  • Simple, Fresh Ingredients
  • Great with a Variety of Serving Suggestions
A plate with a block of marinated cream cheese surrounded by crackers.

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Shopping List

  • Cream Cheese
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper
  • Minced Garlic
  • Pine Nuts
A plate with a block of marinated cream cheese on it.

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.
A plate with a block of marinated cream cheese on it.

Serving Platter

While our octagonal platter is no longer sold, we found one that is very similar!

A plate with a block of marinated cream cheese surrounded by crackers.
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Tips

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

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!

A plate with a block of marinated cream cheese on it.

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
A plate with a block of marinated cream cheese on it.

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.
  • 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.
A plate with a marinated piece of fish on it.

What to do with Leftovers

Dietary Considerations

  • Gluten Free
  • Vegetarian
  • Low Carb
  • Keto Friendly
A plate with a piece of marinated cheese and bread on it.

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.

More Cheese Appetizers

Appetizers
A plate of marinated cheese and bread with herbs on it.
5 from 3 votes
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Marinated Cream Cheese Appetizer

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! 
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 12
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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.

Julie’s Tips

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. 
Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 87mg | Potassium: 29mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 315IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Did you mean that if you are using dried herbs you’ll need to use 1/2 to 1/3 as much as fresh? I think that would be correct. Looks like a magnificent recipe!