This Cranberry Cheesecake Trifle is a semi-homemade dessert that is simply scrumptious! With a couple of store-bought ingredients, this Easy Trifle Recipe is a breeze to prepare!

Easy Christmas Desserts are ideal for the busy holiday season and when they look and taste as good as this Fruit Trifle, you’ll want to make it a holiday tradition.

an easy trifle recipe layered into a clear glass trifle bowl.

Why You Must Make

  • Last week, I brought this elegant, festive Cranberry Cheesecake Trifle to a holiday luncheon with some girlfriends. It got rave reviews!
  • A trifle makes a beautiful presentation with the layers showcased in a special glass serving dish.
  • This dessert recipe is perfect for Christmas entertaining. It’s elegant and delicious!!

My friends are excellent taste testers when it comes to recipes my family might snub. Cranberries are much lower on the popularity scale with my crew compared to chocolate. MUCH lower. Like at the bottom. Sigh. But I was in the mood for cranberries and, thankfully, this trifle was a hit!

Ingredient Notes

There are 3 layers that repeat when assembling this holiday trifle, pound cake cubes, cranberry sauce, and cheesecake filling. Each of the three components is dispersed across the bottom of the dish, then repeated again, making six total layers.

  • Kitchen Staples – Sugar, Real Vanilla Extract
  • Frozen Pound Cake –  I used 1½ of 2 Sara Lee pound cakes, defrosted
  • Sour Cream – Use regular, not low fat for the best flavor and texture
  • Orange Extract and Orange Zest – Plays well with the cranberry flavor. Zest your own oranges. The stuff in jars is not nearly as tasty!
  • Heavy Cream – 36% Butterfat (just look for “heavy whipping cream” on the label)
  • Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce – 2 cans. Don’t buy jellied cranberry sauce.
  • Grand Marnier – An orange liqueur. You can also use Cointreau or Triple Sec. Alcohol is a flavor enhancer, but if you can’t have alcohol, you can substitute with an equal amount of orange juice.
  • Fresh Cranberries and Fresh Mint – These make a beautiful red and green holiday garnish if serving this for company or the holidays.
Cranberry Cheesecake Trifle in a white bowl.

Recipe Tips

  • The typical English trifle is composed of sponge cake (like ladyfingers), fruit or jam, a bit of sherry to soak the cake, and custard. Whipped cream is another popular addition. 
  • This version is perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas when cranberries are on the menu to go with your holiday turkey.
  • Using frozen pound cakes and cans of whole berry cranberry sauce to help streamline the process. Shortcuts are great for the holidays!
  • As mentioned above, alcohol is a flavor enhancer so unless you avoid it, Grand Marnier is a terrific addition to this trifle.
  • PRO-Tip: For the most attractive presentation, you don’t want to smear up the inside of the trifle bowl. Take care when spooning on the cranberry sauce and spreading the cheesecake filling.
  • PRO-Tip: Making this the day before serving allows the cake to absorb some of the cranberry juices, thus giving the cake a beautiful color.
Cranberry Cheesecake Trifle in a white bowl with a fork.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Cranberries Popular for the Holidays?

Cranberries were readily available in the 1500s in the US and it’s thought the Pilgrims would have served them for Thanksgiving. They’re only one of three fruits that’s native to America. The other two are Concord grapes and blueberries.

Did the Pilgrims Eat Cranberries?

The Pilgrims would not have eaten cranberry sauce when celebrating the first Thanksgiving but they did make a dish with cranberries and dried meat that could have been part of their menu.

Where Did Trifle Desserts Originate?

Trifles are originally from England and the classic ingredients include spongecake, sherry, jam, custard, and whipped cream. Garnishes could be candied fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, or chocolate shavings.

overhead image of a semi-homemade Cranberry Cheesecake Trifle

You May Also Like

Stay in touch through social media @ InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest. Don’t forget to tag me when you try one of my recipes! And if you love the results, please give it a 5-star rating in the recipe card.

Cranberry Cheesecake Trifle in a white bowl

Easy Cranberry Cheesecake Trifle

Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 16

Cranberry Cheesecake Trifle is a delicious semi-homemade dessert that's a take on a traditional English trifle! This easy trifle recipe is a snap to prepare.


  • 2 10.75 ounce frozen pound cakes (I used 1½ out of 2 Sara Lee pound cakes), defrosted

Cheesecake Filling:

  • 2 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each), at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Cranberry Sauce Layer:

  • 2 cans whole berry cranberry sauce (14 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • Fresh cranberries and mint to garnish, optional


  1. Cut the cakes into bite-sized cubes. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth; add sour cream, vanilla, and orange extracts. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whip the cream, vanilla, and sugar to firm peaks. Fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Set aside.
  4. Combine the cranberry sauce, sugar, orange zest, and Grand Marnier.
  5. Layer in a large glass trifle bowl, starting with a single layer of cake, then half the cranberry sauce, followed by half of the cheesecake filling. Repeat, ending with the filling.
  6. Use an offset spatula to spread the cheesecake filling.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and chill well before serving (overnight is best).
  8. Garnish as desired. I used mint sprigs and fresh cranberries.


Letting the trifle chill overnight helps the flavors meld and some of the juices soak into the pound cake cubes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 299Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 104mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 2g


Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest