Cheese Balls

Cheese balls: the ultimate appetizer

Is there a cheese recipe that's quicker, easier, and cheesier than cheese balls? These classic appetizers were ultra-popular in the 50s through the 70s, but in the 80s and 90s were considered a bit, well, cheesy. In the 21st century, however, cheese balls are all the rage again, as inventive home chefs have upped their cheese ballgame with terrific and tasty variations on this couldn't-be-easier appetizer.

Here in Wisconsin, we'll whip up cheese balls for every holiday gathering, movie night, and big game party. And we know from experience when made with Wisconsin cheese, you better make two, because it will disappear before you know it.

How to make great cheese balls

The basic ingredients of cheese balls are simple:

  1. Mix cream cheese with another grated semi-soft or semi-hard cheese.
  2. Add herbs, spices, or other ingredients for flavor.
  3. Combine the ingredients well and roll the mixture into a ball.
  4. Chill it in the refrigerator.
  5. Roll the ball in a mixture of nuts and other crunchy ingredients.
  6. Serve with crackers or crudités.

Of course, making a great cheese ball depends on your choice of cheese and the other ingredients you choose for flavor and texture. Here are a few of the terrific recipes for cheese balls on our website:

  • Bacon and Cheddar Cheese Ball, with cream cheese and cheddar cheese mixed with bacon, green onions, and red pepper flakes, and rolled in more bits of crispy bacon.
  • Pimiento Cheese Ball with Salted Pecans, featuring sharp cheddar cheese, diced pimentos, and a bevy of seasonings rolled in unsalted pecan halves.
  • White Cheddar and Chive Cheese Ball, with natural white cheddar, fontina, and baby swiss mixed with mascarpone cheese, chives, and garlic, and rolled in roasted sunflower seeds.
  • Pomegranate Blue Cheese Ball, a mix of blue cheese crumbles and cream cheese mixed with walnuts and sage and rolled in pomegranate seeds.
  • Bacon Pepper Jack Football Cheese Ball, with pepper jack cheese, green onions, and soy sauce, shaped like a football, covered with brown sugar-lacquered bacon bits, with mozzarella strips for the laces.

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

FAQs: What are cheese balls?

What are cheese balls?

Cheese balls are a mixture of soft cheeses shaped into a ball about 4 inches round, refrigerated, and covered with a mixture of nuts and other crunchy ingredients. Cheese balls are typically served with crackers or crudité.

How do you make cheese balls?

Cheese balls are traditionally made with two kinds of cheese – cream cheese (or another soft cheese like quark cheese, mascarpone or ricotta) and a grated semi-soft or semi-firm cheese like cheddar, colby cheese, monterey jack cheese, or muenster. Most any kind of cheese will work as long as it's not strictly a grating cheese like parmesan or cotija. While at room temperature, the cheeses are combined with other ingredients for flavor and then mixed or whipped until smooth. Once blended, the mixture is shaped into a ball and chilled. Once hardened, the cheese ball can be rolled in nuts and other crunchy stuff.

Who invented cheese balls?

Legend has it that a Massachusetts farmer created the first cheese ball in recorded history in 1801 and presented to President Jefferson at the White House. It is said to have weighed 1,235 pounds. The appetizer-sized version of this dish became popular in the late 1940s after a recipe was published in a well-read cookbook.

How long do cheese balls last?

The answer depends on the expiration date of your ingredients, of course, but generally, cheese balls can last 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Wisconsin: where great cheese balls are born

Cheese balls may not have been from around these parts originally, but here in Wisconsin, we think of cheese balls as one of our own. It could be because we've scarfed down so many of them over the years, or because they're our go-to recipe for whenever we need an appetizer that will impress. But the most likely reason the best cheese balls are Wisconsin-born: we are simply fanatical about all things cheese.

We've been making cheese for 175 years – since before we were even a state – and today we produce more flavors, styles, and varieties of cheese than anywhere else on earth. We've also won more cheese awards than any other state or country. So, whether it's making some of the best artisan cheese you'll sink your teeth into, or perfecting a retro, spherical cheesy appetizer, in Wisconsin, we're always keeping our eye on the (cheese) ball.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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