Monday, November 28

Mini Cheese Balls

Thanksgiving is finally here!  Even before it arrived, I began fantasizing about all the different dishes we would enjoy at our family’s houses….turkey, cranberries, stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, macaroni, and PIE!  Oh my god PIEs!  Lucky for my husband and I we were fortunate enough to have 3 Thanksgivings!  How were we so lucky?  We celebrate at the grandparent’s houses on Thanksgiving Day (one for lunch, next visit for dinner) and the following day we celebrate with my family.  It’s a whirlwind of traveling but in the end the memories we have to look back upon are priceless.

Every year, though, I find myself asking the same question….What should I make?  It seems like such a simple thing, but my options are limited when all the main dishes and desserts are taken care of by the rest of the family.  I typically find something to make by browsing my favorite online recipe sites, but this year I came across a really fun appetizer in one of my cooking magazines.    Mini cheese balls!  The article pictures are what really drew me in but then I also saw how short the ingredient list was and that was the final stamp of approval. 

The recipe below is quite simple.  All the ingredients are mixed together, made into balls, refrigerated, and then rolled in your favorite topping.    Have some fun with this recipe and experiment with different cheeses and toppings.  I divided the recipe into 2 batches.  One I made using cheddar cheese while the other I made using pepper jack cheese.  I chose a variety of toppings to make an even more colorful appetizer tray.  I rolled the cheese balls in chopped pistachios, roasted sesame seeds, and chopped almonds.  

Fresh lemon zest

 Pepper Jack (left)  & Cheddar Cheese (right) mixtures

Chopped toppings

Roll balls in chopped toppings

I brought the cheese balls to each family’s house we visited and they were a hit.   I think what people enjoyed most about these is that they’re mini.  It’s much easier to pick up a small cheese ball and place it on your plate vs. digging into a large cheese ball.   The best part about this appetizer is that you can prepare it a day ahead of time.  And, if you’re taking them to a party, they’re so easy to transport!  And besides who wants to go to a party and burden the host with using their oven to heat up a dish?  Simply refrigerate and serve with crackers.  Enjoy!

Mini Cheese Balls
Adapted from Mini Cheese Balls featured in the Food Network Magazine (November 2011, Volume 4, Number 9)
Serves: 25 – 30
Prep Time:  10 mins.
Total Time:  4.5 hours (NOTE: refrigeration time of 4 hours included)

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (like cheddar, pepper jack, parmesan or gouda)
  • salt
  • pepper

Suggested Topping/Outside Coatings:
  • chopped pistachios
  • chives
  • bacon and paprika
  • chopped almonds
  • black & white sesame seeds

1.       Mix cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, lemon zest, and cheese.
2.      Season with salt and pepper.  Mix until well combined.
3.      With moistened hands form into small balls (approximately 1/2 to 1 inch thick).  When all balls have been formed, refrigerate for 4 hours before adding outside coating.
4.      Roll balls in your favorite topping/coating.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. 
5.      Serve with crackers.


  1. I nearly had you. In your article you say "rolled in your favorite topping". But surely that makes it a coating.

    Then you redeemed yourself in the recipe with "Roll balls in your favorite topping/coating."


  2. Haha, yes! Almost got me. The original recipe calls it a 'topping' but I think 'coating' works just as well.


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