Cranberry Cheesecake Pastry Braid
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This pastry braid combines creamy cheesecake with tart and sweet cranberry sauce in a crisp, golden pastry. It's gorgeous but comes together with no fuss at all (and can even be prepared in advance!), making it the perfect appetizer for your Thanksgiving table.
Serves: 8 to 10
Cranberry Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Cheesecake Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 (8-ounce) package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened (but not quite room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
Pastry Braid Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, plus extra for topping
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling braid
  • Extra honey for drizzling
  1. Make the cranberry sauce: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring cranberries, orange juice, water, honey, cinnamon, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the cranberries break down and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Allow this to cool completely. I set mine in the fridge to chill after a few minutes.
  2. Make the cheesecake filling: Cream the softened cream cheese in a medium bowl until fluffy before adding sugar, orange extract, and the egg. Mix together until well combined. Set aside on the counter while you prepare the rest of the braid.
  3. Make pastry braid: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt to combine. Add the butter and cream cheese into the flour mixture and pulse to cut the fat into the flour (about 6 to 8 pulses). Add the milk and almond extract and blend until it’s just starting to come together into a loose dough. Turn the dough out onto a big sheet of lightly-floured parchment paper and press it into a rough rectangle. (Be careful not to overwork the dough or it’ll be tough! Don’t worry about getting it smooth — let it stay a little rough.) Very lightly flour the top of the dough and roll it out to a 10- by 12-inch rectangle. Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds. Fill the middle third with the cream cheese mixture, leaving a small border at the edges. Top this with your chilled cranberry sauce and 1/2 cup of toasted pecans.
  4. Continue assembling the braid: (Remember, there are photos below to help visualize this step!) Make diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals on each of the long sides. Do not cut into the center filling area. Fold strips, first one from one side and then one from the other side in an alternating fashion, over the filling, brushing off excess flour as you go. It will now resemble a braid. Use the sheet of parchment to carefully transfer your braid to a baking sheet. At this point you can cover and refrigerate the braid overnight, or you can continue to the next step.
  5. Bake the braid: Brush the pastry braid with the egg-wash mixture and sprinkle granulated sugar over the surface. Bake in the 425 degree oven for 20 to 22 minutes until the dough is cooked through and golden brown. Don’t worry if a little filling oozes out. Let the braid cool for 30 minutes before generously drizzling honey over the top, sprinkling some extra pecans, slicing, and serving.
Recipe by Willow Bird Baking at