Cheese Ball: an easy party appetizer made with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and pecans that is quick and perfect for any holiday party!
There are lots of fun recipes for Party Appetizers that are great for sharing and dipping your favorite snacks in, likeShrimp Cocktail, Cranberry Meatballs, and Ultimate Queso Dip, but you’d definitely be missing out if you never try a Cheese Ball.
Say you’re going to a holiday party or trying to whip something up for game day that you can snack on while you cheer. You don’t want to have to spend hours making something but you also want to impress your friends. There are few appetizers that look as fancy but take as little work as a classic cheese ball recipe.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can also make it before hand and keep it in the fridge so that you can spend the day of your party worrying about more important things than the appetizers, like how to keep the dog away from said appetizers.
You can serve up a cheese ball with pretty much any dipper you want, but pretzels, chips and crackers tend to work the best. If you want something cheesy and crunchy that will wow you and all your guests, you can make Parmesan Crisps to serve with this recipe.
How to Make a Cheese Ball
The process for making a homemade Cheese Ball for your party is SO EASY! It’s literally just mixing it all together, cooling it, shaping, and then digging in!
- Mix: Mix all the ingredients together. You can do this by hand or, if you don’t feel like doing a crazy arm workout, use a hand held electric mixer. You want the mixture to have a smooth, creamy consistency without any huge lumps.
- Chill: Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge to cool.
- Shape: Once the cheese mixture has firmed up enough that you can shape it, sculpt it into a ball first with a rubber spatula and then with clean, greased hands. It’s easier to do the heavy lifting with the spatula and the finishing touches with your hands or you’ll be at it all day.
- Coat: Pour the chopped pecans into a medium sized mixing bowl and roll the cheese ball in them until the outside is thoroughly coated. You also want to make sure that the nuts are evenly spread across the surface without bald spots and clumps.
- Enjoy: Serve it up and be amazed at how fast it’s gone!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can finely chop green onions or chives and stir them into the cheese mixture before you refrigerate it. This adds a ton of flavor and a satisfying crunch.
Mix ranch and crispy bacon bits in with the cream cheese, sour cream, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper and stir well. The savory ranch and crunchy bacon are sure to be a hit.
You can use parmesan in your cheese mixture if you want to mix up the flavor a little bit.
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Key Ingredients in a Cheese Ball
The ingredients are pretty simple. It is a completely dairy-based recipe, besides the seasonings. Everything will be available at your closest grocer.
- Cream Cheese: This is the thick base that will help hold the shape of the cheese ball. You can buy big tubs of cream cheese at some super markets.
- Cheddar Cheese: This is what gives it a sharp cheese flavor and adds a fun depth of rustic orange color flakes to the mix. You can use pre-shredded cheese like sharp cheddar cheese, mild, or even smoked cheddar for this dip.
- Sour Cream: Sour cream helps to make the Cheese Ball easy to use as a dip. Its creamy texture helps you get the perfect scoop.
- Seasonings: Garlic and onion powder are what give this recipe the energy and flavor of a game-day or holiday party dip.
Can this Recipe be Made Ahead of Time?
Yes! Making this dish up to 2 days before the party is totally acceptable. It will last longer in the fridge, but to impress your guests, we recommend only making it a day or two in advance. Just store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready.
Variations on a Cheese Ball
This recipe is a basic recipe using simple ingredients that you can use as a platform to make a whole lot of varieties of your dip. Once you try the base, you’re going to love these varieties for your next homemade cheeseball recipe! These are the perfect party appetizers!
- The Englander: Add two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and a few chopped green onions to give it a spritely kick with incredible depth. It just might become your new favorite recipe!
- Jalapeño Cheese Ball: Are you the person who brings hot sauce to every get together? In that case, you should try chopping up jalapeños and adding them to the mix. The cheese counteracts most of the heat from the peppers without diluting the sweet, tangy flavor so even people who aren’t crazy about hot food can still enjoy it.
- Winter Cheese Ball: For a more holiday themed cheese ball, mix chopped apple slices into the cheese mix and then mix dried cranberries with the chopped pecans and roll the cheese ball through the mix. Not only will they taste amazing, they will also add a splash of color to your appetizer. This is a classic holiday appetizer!
How to Serve a Cheese Ball
This is a party dish, holiday appetizer, or anytime snack! Get creative on how you can serve it to your friends and family. Just make sure to make extras because this stuff is one of the first things to go at a party, especially if it is homemade!
- Whole Cheese Ball: Place your finished product onto a hard plate and surround it with an assortment of crackers and chips. Provide a spoon or cheese knife for guests to be able to easily scoop with.
- Smaller Portions: Another great idea is to make smaller single portioned globules that can be scooped just as easily. Take a spoonful and roll them into little spheres and dip them in the pecan topping as you normally would.
- Tapas Style: You can also prepare a plate of crackers that have a small scoop of your mix already portioned on top of each cracker, like tapas!
How to Store a Cheese Ball
- Serve: because the whole thing is a ball of dairy products, you should never leave it out for longer than 2 hours at room temperature. If you’re serving this up in a place that’s hotter than average, you should put it away even sooner.
- Store: your cheese ball will be fine in the fridge for up to 3 days if you keep it in an airtight container (and if you can stop stealing bites of it).
- Freeze: If you seal it up in a bag or plastic wrap, you can keep the leftovers for up to 1 month, but it will taste better if you eat it fresh.
- 16 ounces cream cheese , softened but still slightly firm
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 8 ounces medium cheddar cheese , shredded
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1 cup pecans , chopped small
- To a large stand mixer add the cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, garlic powder and onion powder and black pepper, then beat on low speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
- Put mixture in the refrigerator for 1 hour to chill.
- Lay a large plastic wrap square on your counter and put the mixture on it, then gather the sides and bunch them up to help shape the mixture into a ball.
- Add the chopped pecans to a large bowl and roll the cheese ball into the chopped pecans then serve with crackers.
Photo used in a previous version of this post.