This post is sponsored by my friends at Sprouts Farmer’s Market! As always all opinions are completely my own! 

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away?! I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it {and plan our menu}! However I absolutely love November, and I am thankful to usher in this season of gratitude and celebrations!

And what’s a celebration without some killer food?! This Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans might just be the longest recipe title in the history of ever!  However, I couldn’t bring myself to leave out one element of this show-stopping spread!

The rich flavor of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup bring out the sweet tang of the cranberries. Then, pecans swoop in to add some spice and crunch! And the goat cheese completes the whole shebang with it’s irresistible creaminess. One bit of this spread on a salty cracker and you will start to wonder if you really need to save room for all that Turkey later on.

This Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans is simple yet elegant! Perfect to serve at your holiday parties! It's ready in 20 minutes and is gluten-free! #appetizer #thanksgiving #christmas #cranberries #glutenfree

I know, it’s hard to think about serving appetizers when your mind is consumed with preparing the main dish and sides. However, if your family is anything like ours, having some delicious snacks to much on before dinner, like this Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans, is an absolute must.

Thanksgiving is a day-long event for us. My entire family gets up early to run the 5K race in our hometown! Then we spend time together sitting by the fire watching football while my dad cooks a phenomenal meal. However, due to the whole waking up early & running component of our day, we get hungry and can’t wait until 4 PM to eat.

Thankfully there are always plenty of appetizers at our celebrations! This Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans is the perfect way to stave off hanger {yes, hanger} without getting too full. Literally as I was typing this Ritch said, “OH I remember when you made that. You need to make it again, soon!” He, {and everyone else who has tried this recipe}, absolutely loves it!

This Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans is simple yet elegant! Perfect to serve at your holiday parties! It's ready in 20 minutes and is gluten-free! #appetizer #thanksgiving #christmas #cranberries #glutenfree

Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans: Method

 I have just a few notes for you about making this recipe!

Divide the ingredients. If you’ve read the instructions, then you noticed that both the maple syrup and the cranberries are divided. This is because some of the cranberries are completely mashed, while others are left whole. The “saucy” mashed berries hold together the whole berries and pecans beautifully, so this is an important step!

Serve at room temperature. The mixture thickens as it cools. Be sure to wait at least 10 minutes after removing it from the heat before serving.

Storage. This Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer stores exceptionally well! Keep it in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 5 days! Snack on it after your guests have left, or use it on top of a salad {YUM}!

This Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans is simple yet elegant! Perfect to serve at your holiday parties! It's ready in 20 minutes and is gluten-free! #appetizer #thanksgiving #christmas #cranberries #glutenfree

Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer Cinnamon Toasted Pecans: Substitutions 

As always I recommend making this recipe exactly as written! However, if you must make some substitutions, here are a few possibilities!

Maple syrup. Honey can be used in place of maple syrup if desired!

Pecans. Walnuts also taste amazing in this recipe! However those are the only two nuts I recommend using!

Butter. Coconut oil can be used in place of butter!

Granulated Sugar. I used organic cane sugar but any granulated variety can be used with great results! Coconut sugar and maple sugar are also great refined sugar free options!

This Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans is simple yet elegant! Perfect to serve at your holiday parties! It's ready in 20 minutes and is gluten-free! #appetizer #thanksgiving #christmas #cranberries #glutenfree

Print

Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans

Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

Cranberry Balsamic Goat Cheese Appetizer

Toasted pecans:

  • ¼ cup pecans chopped
  • ½ TBS butter
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 8 oz log goat cheese
  • Gluten-free crackers for serving

Instructions

Toast Pecans:

  1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper, set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat
  3. Add pecans, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt and stir to combine.
  4. Cook, stirring consistently until the pecans are coated and begin to become darker brown, about 3-4 minutes
  5. Remove from heat and spread on wax paper to cool.

Cranberries:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat add 2 Tbsp. maple syrup and balsamic vinegar and heat until combined (about 30 seconds)
  2. Add ½ cup of fresh cranberries and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes until you begin to hear them pop, stirring occasionally.
  3. Mash the cranberries with a potato masher or fork.
  4. Continue cooking until the mixture begins to thicken and resembles jelly.
  5. Add the remaining 1 TBS maple syrup and ½ cup cranberries and stir to combine.
  6. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until the mixture becomes thick and the cranberries just begin to pop (do not mash them this time).
  7. Remove mixture from heat and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes or until ready to serve.

Assembly:

  1. Place goat cheese on a cheese board or serving plate.
  2. Gently stir pecans into the cranberry mixture.
  3. Carefully spoon the mixture on top of the goat cheese log, spreading it evenly.
  4. Serve with your favorite crackers!

Recipe Notes

Although I recommend serving immediately, this can be store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days! It won't look as pretty but it still tastes amazing!

This Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans is simple yet elegant! Perfect to serve at your holiday parties! It's ready in 20 minutes and is gluten-free! #appetizer #thanksgiving #christmas #cranberries #glutenfree

We won’t be traveling back to Chicago for Thanksgiving this year. As the holiday rapidly approaches I am feeling pretty bummed about missing this sweet time with our family and friends. However, we’re totally going to run a 5K here in Utah, with 4 kids in tow…so be on the lookout for a report on that! 🙂

Since we’ll be at home this year, I actually get to cook our family’s Turkey Dinner! YAY! You know I’ll be shopping at Sprouts for all the essentials! If you never miss a double ad Wednesday {like yours truly} then be sure to pick up the November Monthly Flyer…where you’ll find many great deals as well as THIS recipe! My kids thought it was super cool to see mommy’s recipe in print! 😉

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition or holiday appetizer? 

If you make something from JoyFoodSunshine I would love to see your creations! #joyfoodsunshine

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This Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans is simple yet elegant! Perfect to serve at your holiday parties! It's ready in 20 minutes and is gluten-free! #appetizer #thanksgiving #christmas #cranberries #glutenfree

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This post is sponsored by my friends at Sprouts Farmer’s Market! Thank you for allowing me to continue creating delicious recipes for you by supporting partnerships with amazing brands that I LOVE. As always, opinions are completely my own! 

This Balsamic, Maple & Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans is simple yet elegant! Perfect to serve at your holiday parties! It's ready in 20 minutes and is gluten-free! #appetizer #thanksgiving #christmas #cranberries #glutenfree