This classic party snack might be retro, but it is by no means out of date (right?!). A basic cheese ball is a delicious addition to any party and it is super easy to make: cream cheese, grated sharp cheddar (or other cheese), spices and herbs are shaped into a ball and rolled in chopped nuts or seeds. It can be served with either crackers, pita, sliced baguette, crudités, apple or pear slices, or anything you fancy.
Even better: a homemade cheese ball is very versatile and can be customised with any other flavourings and seasonings you love (read below for suggestions). It’s also a creative way to turn any little bits of leftover cheese into a great party snack and they can be made a day or two ahead of serving to save time.
The dairy-heavy orbs featured in this post seem to be mainly a Northern-American ‘delicacy’ that were popular in the 50’s through the 70’s and which I had previously only seen on television. While they may have lost some popularity since then, I believe they might still be quite popular in a retro/nostalgic kind of way for many… or at least they should be! I mean, who doesn’t like to scoop globs of cream cheese and more cheese into their mouth? I do.
Being from The Netherlands, I didn’t grow up eating these types of cheese balls, though there were plenty of similar herby and/or garlicky cheese spreads and dips available that you could find at parties in the past – sadly, nearly all of them store-bought, bar perhaps for some compound butter. I find a homemade cheeseball far superior despite it’s perhaps dated or as some (not me) would say ‘tacky’ image. When I brought this cheese ball to a New Year’s party in The Netherlands a few years back, everyone really liked it and the ball quickly disappeared despite most people not knowing what a cheese ball was ánd after giggling at the idea of a ‘cheese ball’ initially. Really, you might want to consider bringing at least two of these to a party.
My recipe below is for a pretty basic cheese ball with cream cheese, mature cheddar and a few spices, but you can add other ingredients and use flavours that you like!
Other cheeses to consider:
blue cheese such as Stilton, Danablu , or Roquefort, soft goat’s cheese or mature or smoked Gouda instead of cheddar, feta
Avoid cheeses that remain too hard or crumbly and won’t be easily spreadable.
Other ingredients or flavourings to add:
Sun-dried tomato and basil, crispy bacon, green or black olives, pickled jalapeños or fresh chilies, bell pepper, green onion, dried dates or apricots (especially nice with goat’s cheese), dried cranberries, or replace the almonds and hazelnuts for chopped pecans, walnuts, or pistachios.
All extra ingredients should be cut up as small as possible to make them easily spreadable.
Cheese Ball (For Crackers and Crudités)
- 300g cream cheese
- 120g mature cheddar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 50g almonds
- 50g hazelnuts
MethodNote: preparation time does not include time needed to chill the cheese ball.
- Add cream cheese, smoked paprika, onion powder, chili flakes and freshly ground pepper to a mixing bowl and stir to combine slightly.
- Grate the cheddar (or cheese of your choosing) and very finely chop the chives and stir into the cream cheese until all ingredients are combined well.
- Scoop cheese mixture on some cling film and bring all sides together then twist ends together to form a tight ball. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly shaped ball yet as you can slightly adjust the shape when you are applying the nuts later.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour or until ready to serve to allow the cheese to firm up.
- On the day of serving, place nuts in a dry skillet over high heat. Allow nuts to toast and brown slightly, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Finely chop up the nuts and place in a bowl or deep plate.
- Once ready to serve, remove cheese ball from the refrigerator and unwrap. Roll cheese ball through the chopped nuts. Press the nuts into the cheese slightly to make sure they stick well.