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Appetizers & Snacks

Make-Ahead Holiday Appetizer: Cranberry-Walnut Stuffed Dates

When a meal is too much, but chips and salsa aren’t enough food (or festiveness), give this delicious starter a try.

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You’re looking forward to showing off your mad kitchen skills at a festive, friend-filled holiday soirée. But the day of the event finds you frazzled and frantic, too stressed to enjoy your own celebration and with a kitchen that looks like a disaster zone. And then there’s the end-of-meal clean-up—plus enough leftovers to feed a small country, and no room in the fridge. Looking for a better way to celebrate the season? Try Better Nutrition’s selection of make-ahead holiday appetizer recipes.

Hearty enough for a full meal and festive enough for a proper party—they’re designed with minimal last-minute prep in mind. So you can greet guests with a clean kitchen and relaxed attitude, ready to ring in the holidays. For starters—pun intended—try this delicious meat-free twist on bacon-wrapped dates. Then check back all month long for more make-ahead appetizer recipes.

Cranberry-Walnut Stuffed Dates Recipe

This fast, festive no-cook app features holiday-forward cranberries and walnuts. Mascarpone is an Italian triple-cream cheese with a rich, luxurious texture and mild, sweet flavor. If it’s hard to find, a blend of cream cheese and heavy whipping cream is a decent substitute. For a vegan version of this appetizer recipe, swap agave for honey and use vegan cream cheese or raw cashew butter instead of Mascarpone.



  • 3/4 cup Mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 36 pitted Medjool dates
  • Finely minced chives for garnish, optional


  1. In small bowl, combine Mascarpone cheese, walnuts, cranberries, honey, and vanilla extract. Stir with spatula until well-blended.
  2. Split one date lengthwise with small, sharp knife. Stuff with about 1 Tbs. cheese mixture, and transfer to platter. Repeat with remaining dates. 
  3. Cover platter with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 24 hours. Just before serving, garnish with finely minced chives, if desired. Serve chilled.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 260
  • Carbohydrate Content 29 g
  • Cholesterol Content 25 mg
  • Fat Content 14 g
  • Fiber Content 3 g
  • Protein Content 4 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 5 g
  • Sodium Content 5 mg
  • Sugar Content 25 g