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!
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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!
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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.
I love a good cheese ball, but this one was perfection! So tasty and such a fantastic blend of flavors. I “tried” it out for my Super Bowl Party, and YEP, it made the cut!! So excited for my friends to give this one a try too!
This cheese ball is incredibly good and pleasing! It is appetizing and enjoyable. Worth saving!
Used this last night, it was so impressive! My guests loved this cheese ball. Glad it was so easy to make and turned out delicious and satisfying. We’ll surely have this on repeat!
Can you please tell me the name of these crackers with the sesame seeds in your picture? Thank you ??
Could this mixture be rolled into small individual balls and served with a pretzel?
Hi! How much as far as measurements is one serving of the cheese ball?
I’m so sorry for the delay in replying. About an ounce of cream cheese plus relevant mix-ins, so maybe 2-3 tablespoons.
Made this & added my own fresh herbs (thyme, baby dill and scallions)….. my family has eaten two this holiday season! Thank you for sharing an easy & awesome recipe!
Yay!! Thanks for coming back to let me know, Andrea.
I prepared this for a Christmas Eve party we went to. It was a huge success! We loved it. It was also SUPER effortless to make. I put in a spoonful of freeze-dried chivesas well.
I’m glad everyone loved it, Megan. Thanks for the 5 star rating.
My Family Loved this Cheeseball!! I used Spicey Ranch dip mix and accidentally left out the sour cream…But…it was a Huge hit?
Nice save! Glad you all enjoyed it.
I made this today for a party tomorrow evening! It is really good. I did do a bit of altering the recipe. I used half the cheddar cheese, the other half was Irish Vintage cheddar, a little parm cheese grated from a block and about 2 ounces of goat cheese. Ohhhhh my!!! it is soooo gooood!!!!
It sounds amazing!! Enjoy!
If I don’t have onion powder what could I use or could it go without it
Go without, not a biggie. Or if you have garlic salt, sub that and pull back on the regular salt.
I don’t see salt in the recipe. Am I missing it or does it just not call for any?
It does not call for any but you are welcome to add a pinch or two.
A classic go to cheeseball that is wonderfully easy and simple to make, delicious, and best of all…NO RANCH DRESSING MIX!!!!
easy to half this recipe if not serving a crowd, I am asked by my office to make this all the time! I’m going to email all of my coworkers this recipe so they can make it themselves!
I’m so glad you enjoy this recipe so much, Laura.
Would it be okay to use sharp cheddar cheese? Don’t mean to ask a stupid question, but wondered if there was a reason. 🙂
Of course, you can use that. It just gives a different flavor. Enjoy!
What kind of pepper? Can you add pineapple?
Black pepper in the recipe. You can add hot pepper if you prefer. I think pineapple would taste lovely, make sure to drain well.
I made this for our party and it was fantastic! Love a good cheese ball!!
I am all about cheeseballs and this one is top notch! I liked it even more when I let it set overnight!
I always make this cheese ball for parties! Everyone loves it!
We love this as a snack or appetizer for parties!! Who doesn’t like cheese & crackers?! So tasty!
This is such a fun and tasty appetizer; can’t wait to enjoy this while we watch football this weekend!
Mmm, I have a weakness for cheese balls, and this one looks delicious!
I have been making a similar cheese ball for over 30 yrs!! Have never used sour cream or seasoning in your recipe but sounds good. Going to give it a try. Love all things cheese!!
I make this for friends at Christmas. In winter, I warmed a section in microwave for 30 seconds with crackers and hot tea makes a warm snack.
I need more friends that make me cheeseballs for the holidays – yours are lucky to have you! Let me know how you like my recipe!