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Cranberry Pecan Cheese Balls

Soft, creamy cheese is formed into balls then rolled in a mixture of chopped cranberry, nuts, and fresh herbs. This Cranberry Pecan Cheese Ball recipe will be a holiday showstopper!

cranberry cheese balls on a white plate with a gorgeous star in the background

The only thing better than a Cranberry Pecan Cheese Ball is mini Cranberry Pecan Cheese Balls.

Serving individual cheese balls is just as simple as making one large one, but it not only looks prettier to serve, it makes it easier for guests to take one for their plate.

Plus, everyone knows that the outside of a cheese ball, coated with fruit, nuts, and herbs, is the best part. No more sad-looking middle-of-the-cheese-ball remnants left on the serving plate.

closeup of mini cranberry cheese balls

What is a cheese ball made of?

The main ingredient in cheese balls is cheese, whether that be a semi-soft cheese such as goat cheese or a crumbly blue. It’s often mixed with cream cheese, especially when using a semi-firm cheese like cheddar.

Other ingredients are sometimes added, such as garlic, grated or green onions, or even crumbled bacon. The mixture is then whipped until it’s smooth and creamy, formed into a ball (or balls), and rolled in a mixture of dried fruits, chopped nuts, and/or fresh herbs.

The end result is a spreadable cheese that’s absolutely gorgeous to serve. The fact that cheese balls are so simple to make have made them a popular appetizer over the holidays.

cranberry pecan cheese balls on a white plate

How long will a homemade cheese ball last?

Homemade cheese balls will easily last a week or longer if stored properly in the refrigerator. You can make the cheese balls in advance, pop them into the fridge, then roll them just before serving. If you’re not using fresh herbs, they can be prepared completely in advance.

Variations for a Cranberry Pecan Cheese Ball

  • Use walnuts instead of pecans
  • Use dried cherries in place of cranberries
  • Use crumbled blue cheese instead of shredded sharp white cheddar
  • Add crispy, crumbled bacon to the cheese ball or to the outside coating (or both)!
  • For a sweet & slightly spicy version, add a seeded and minced jalapeño to the cheese ball or to the outside coating
  • Add the zest from an orange to the coating (or add some to just half the coating and serve two kinds of cheese balls)

What do you eat with a cheese ball?

Cheese balls are typically served with crackers for spreading. Crostini is also a great choice, as well as fresh, crunchy vegetables. An assortment of all of those is a great way to make sure everyone, even those with dietary restrictions, can enjoy your Cranberry Pecan Cheese Ball!

If you’re looking for appetizers to serve alongside your cheese balls, Baked Camembert with Cranberry & Walnuts, Oysters Rockefeller, Beef Wellington Bites, and this Easy Spanakopita make a nice assortment.

cranberry pecan cheese balls on a white plate on top of a table with a white tablecloth
cranberry pecan cheese balls on a white plate

Cranberry Pecan Cheese Balls

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Soft, creamy cheese is formed into balls then rolled in a mixture of chopped cranberry, nuts, and fresh herbs. This Cranberry Pecan Cheese Ball recipe will be a holiday showstopper!

Ingredients

  • 2 blocks (16 oz) full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups shredded white cheddar or crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 cup dried cranberries, chopped (divided)
  • 2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped green onions
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped chives (or flat-leaf parsley)

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, cheddar or blue cheese, half of the cranberries, half of the chopped pecans, chopped green onions, salt, garlic powder, and pepper until it's well-combined and very smooth.
  2. Scoop out a small amount of the cheese mixture (about 2-4 tbsp, depending on what size you're going for) and roll it into a small ball, then place it on a sheet pan. Continue rolling into balls until all of the mixture has been used. Cover the sheet pan with saran wrap, then place the cheese balls into the refrigerator to firm up, about 2 hours or until you're ready to serve.
  3. Combine the remaining pecans, cranberries, and the chopped chives in a small dish. Gently roll each ball in the mixture and place on a serving platter. Either serve them as-is (with small tongs) or add a small pretzel stick to each ball to allow for easy pickup.
  4. Serve the balls with crackers, crostini, crunchy vegetables, or all three.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 234Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 278mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 2gSugar: 15gProtein: 5g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Kristy Bernardo
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