This easy recipe features a spiced, homemade cranberry sauce and creamy brie cheese in crispy phyllo shells. Ready in 25 minutes, this Brie Cheese and Spiced Cranberry Bites Appetizer is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Cranberry brie bites are the perfect appetizer for the holiday season. Tart cranberry sauce can be found on many holiday tables, but use it to top creamy cheese in these flaky shells and you have the perfect combination for delicious bite-sized appetizers.
We're skipping the pre-made fillings like raspberry jam, fig jam, and pepper jelly in this easy appetizer for a quick, homemade cranberry sauce filled with warm holiday spices and fresh rosemary. Using phyllo cups instead of buttery puff pastry gives these little bites a delicious crunch.
Try this recipe instead of the traditional wheel-of-brie-wrapped-in-puff-pastry for a fun twist on a common holiday appetizer.
- Phyllo cups - These small phyllo dough cups can be found in the freezer section of your local grocery store. Do not confuse them with puff pastry shells or mini pie crusts. Only use phyllo cups.
- Brie cheese - Choose your favorite. I love a double cream brie or even a triple cream brie for this recipe.
- Cranberries - Fresh or frozen cranberries both work great.
- Sugar - White sugar works best to add sweetness with no other flavors.
- Maple Syrup - Use 100% pure maple syrup for a smoky sweetness.
- Orange juice - Either fresh squeezed or a quality bottled orange juice work for this recipe.
- Cinnamon Stick - Do not use ground cinnamon. You’ll be removing the cinnamon stick from the sauce, so you want to use stick cinnamon.
- Fresh ginger - Just like with the cinnamon, you’ll need to remove the ginger after the sauce is done, so don’t use ground ginger. Peel the fresh ginger before you use it to keep out the bitter flavor.
- Fresh rosemary - Do not use dried rosemary. You’ll need to remove the sprig of rosemary from the syrup, which is all but impossible unless it’s still attached to the stem.
- Candied pecans or walnuts - You can buy these in the snack aisle at the grocery store or you can make your own. Try these recipes for sweet and spicy candied pecans or sweet bourbon candied pecans.
How to Make Phyllo Brie and Cranberry Bites
Place phyllo cups on a baking sheet and bake according to package directions. Set aside.
In a small pot over medium heat, combine fresh cranberries, sugar, maple syrup, and orange juice.
Cook until the cranberries begin to burst and the mixture starts to foam. (About 5 minutes.)
Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in the salt, cinnamon stick, fresh ginger, and fresh rosemary sprig.
Continue to simmer on low for 20 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
Remove from heat.
Using a fork, carefully remove and discard the cinnamon, ginger, and rosemary.
Allow the cranberry mixture to cool until it’s warm, but no longer hot. (It will continue to thicken as it cools.)
While the cranberry mixture is cooking, cut brie cheese into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.
Chop the candied nuts into small pieces. Set aside.
To Assemble the Spiced Cranberry and Brie Bites:
Place a piece of brie cheese into the baked phyllo cup.
Top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce.
Sprinkle with chopped nuts.
Serve immediately while warm or at room temperature.
Can I Make This Holiday Appetizer Ahead of Time?
To save time the day you’re serving this appetizer, make the spiced cranberry mixture up to 3 days ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Warm in the microwave or on the stove over low heat before assembling the brie and cranberry bites as instructed.
Do NOT assemble the entire appetizer more than an hour before serving. The phyllo cups will lose their crispness if you refrigerate them, and the cranberry sauce will seep through the cups if you assemble them even four or five hours in advance. While this doesn't ruin the flavor or texture, it does make them considerably more messy to eat and less pretty.
Why Use Phyllo Shells for These Cranberry Brie Bites?
While I love puff pastry, I tend to overuse it during the holiday season so I wanted something different for these.
I made this recipe with crescent roll dough instead of the phyllo shells. I also tried slicing up a sheet of puff pastry to use as the base. But in both cases the buttery flavor of the dough overwhelmed the brie. It also lacked texture for me, which the phyllo cups add so nicely.
I also wanted a recipe that didn't require any special tools - like a mini muffin pan or a pizza cutter, that people might not readily have on hand.
Looking for More Holiday Appetizers?
I love making party foods and these delicious appetizers are the perfect little bites to serve at your next holiday party! Try my vegetarian stuffed mushrooms, salty-sweet bacon wrapped dates, or grab another pack of phyllo shells and whip up my honey and goat cheese phyllo cups.