Cranberry-Citrus Parfaits

Cheesecake lovers, take note: This recipe delivers all the flavor of your favorite dessert without the fuss. The compote is also great for spooning over pound cake or yogurt.

Cranberry-citrus parfaits in glass stemware

Antonis Achilleos; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Lydia Pursell

Active Time:
20 mins
Chill Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
5 hrs 20 mins

You’re in luck—you may have just found one of the easiest (and surprisingly most impressive) holiday desserts on the internet. These adorable little Cranberry-Citrus Parfaits are like mini trifles, combining everything you love about cheesecake with the festive pop of cranberries and the ease of a crumbled cookie crust.

The crust is simply store-bought gingerbread thins, crushed into bits and sprinkled in your favorite fancy glass. Next comes the cheesecake part—again, simple—a mix of cream cheese, sugar, and just enough lemon to make it interesting without it being overpoweringly citrusy. Finally, the coup de grace: a quick and easy cranberry compote that’s equally tasty spooned over yogurt for breakfast or pound cake for dessert.

But the best part is that every single component can be prepped ahead of time, then assembled at the very last minute with the most minimal effort. If that’s not holiday magic, I don’t know what is!



  • 1 cup fresh cranberries

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 large lemon)

  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest plus 1/4 cup fresh juice (from 1 large orange)

Lemon Topping

  • 1 1/2 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

  • 1 Tbsp. sour cream

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 1 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 large lemon)

  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest

Additional Ingredient

  • 1 (5.25-oz.) pkg. almond or ginger thin cookies, crushed (such as Anna’s Swedish Thins)


  1. Prepare the Compote: Combine cranberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium. Boil, stirring often, until cranberries burst and mixture thickens, 8 to 9 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

  2. Prepare the Lemon Topping: Beat softened cream cheese and sour cream with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add sugar, lemon zest and juice, and orange zest; beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.

  3. Assemble the parfaits: Spoon about 4 1/2 tablespoons cookie crumbs into each of 6 (1-cup) glasses or ramekins; top each with about 1/3 cup Lemon Topping. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Just before serving, uncover and top each glass with about 2 tablespoons chilled Compote.

Related Articles