Looking to pass around a scrumptiously cheesy appetizer? This cheese ball recipe blended with a touch of blue cheese and rolled in candied walnuts, pomegranate seeds and herbs is what you're looking for!
A Cheese Ball Recipe for All Occasions
The term “cheese ball” kind of makes me laugh.
Sometimes my hubby and I jokingly call ourselves a couple of “cheese balls”, especially when we're being extra silly and in a particularly goofy mood, coming up with all sorts of ridiculousness for our own amusement.
So when I had the thought to create a tasty cheese-centered appetizer recipe that'd be fun to share this season, one with some festive colors and super delicious yet slightly sophisticated flavors, I figured a simple, classic-style cheese ball recipe would be a perfectly fitting way to go! 😉
This particular recipe is kissed with a generous hint of blue cheese and rolled in a scrumptious crumble of ingredients that are both sweet and savory, and even loaded with lots of pretty color.
It's the perfect cheese appetizer for all occasions, holiday or not!
What Makes a Cheese Ball Recipe So Cheesy and So Delicious?
Well, it’s the cheese, of course! But that's not all...
I use a couple of types of cheeses in my cheese ball recipe, one of them being cream cheese (the base for this recipe), and the other being blue cheese.
What I love about this cheese ball is that the flavor of the blue cheese doesn't over power. So even those who aren't necessarily the biggest fans of eating blue cheese straight-up will find this appetizer absolutely delicious.
The combination of these two rather creamy cheeses creates a slightly sophisticated flavor profile, one that is a bit on the savory side and that will benefit from a couple of sweeter ingredients to balance things out.
And for the sweeter touches (and also for the crunch that a classic cheese ball typically has), I love the combination of finely chopped candied walnuts, plus a hint of fresh parsley for a touch of green, and some pretty pomegranate seeds for a pop of red and some sweet juiciness.
It's perfect combination to plunge a buttery cracker or even a slice of apple into, creating a flavor that is simply irresistible and worthy of plunging into again and again!
And isn't this what a scrumptious cheese ball appetizer is all about?
How To Make Cheese Balls
Preparing a cheese ball recipe is a pretty easy process, with only a few simple steps.
The only thing to keep in mind is that you will need to allow for at least a few hours for the cheese mixture to chill in the fridge and become firm so that it can be shaped into a ball (or even a log, if desired) before being rolled in the walnut, herb, and pomegranate seed mixture.
Here's a quick overview of my cheese ball recipe:
- To a large bowl I add softened, room temp cream cheese (very important); and using a spatula, I blend it to make it slightly creamy.
- Then, I add in the blue cheese and the rest of the ingredients and fold those in until completely combined. (There should be little chunks of blue cheese throughout.)
- I spoon this mixture out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gather it up with the plastic to shape it into as much of a ball shape as possible (it will be quite soft at this point), wrapping tightly.
- Next, I place the mixture into the fridge and chill for at least 4 hours until firm (or even overnight)
- When ready to serve, I unwrap the cheese ball and again make it as round as possible using my hands.
- Finally, I roll the cheese ball in the mixture of chopped candied walnuts, herbs, and pomegranate seeds to coat it well, then place it onto a platter surrounded by buttery crackers and crisps, and serve!
Tips & Tidbits for My Homemade Cheese Ball Recipe:
- Room temp cheeses: Be sure to leave your cream cheese blocks and your blue cheese out for about an hour or two before mixing them together. You want them soft enough to easily blend, and to incorporate into one another.
- The blue cheese: I used a “cave aged” raw cow's milk blue cheese (in wedge form) from Trader Joe's for my recipe. It has a softer consistency. I simply crumbled off small chunks of it until I got the desired amount for the recipe. You can also use blue cheese crumbles for convenience, or your favorite kind.
- Other cheeses to add in: If you're not a fan of blue cheese, you can substitute goat's cheese, or even use a grated white cheddar or gruyere. (Parmesan and Cotija are not very good options, as they'll likely crumble.)
- Go nuts: I love to use candied, roasted walnuts for this cheese ball recipe, but you can substitute plain toasted/roasted walnuts, or even pecans. Another good option is toasted pine nuts, or roasted pistachios!
- Pomegranate seeds, or other sweet bits: That little burst of juice from pomegranate seeds is something that I really enjoy with this appetizer, but you could substitute dried cherries, dried cranberries, or even dried currants.
- Prepare ahead and make it an easy cheese ball recipe: You can cream together your cheeses, wrap and shape in plastic, and keep chilled in the fridge for even several days before you plan on serving the cheese ball. Then, just roll it in the outer coating before serving, and your good to go!
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
Cheese Ball Recipe
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 16
Nutrition Info: 161 calories
Prep Time: 4 hours (this includes “chill” time needed to firm the cheese mixture)
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Cheese Ball Ingredients:
• 2 (8 ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened at room temperature
• 2 tablespoons sour cream
• 6 ounces blue cheese (about a full, slightly packed cup), crumbled into small pieces/chunks
• 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
• Pinch salt (about 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon)
• Pinch black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
Coating Mixture Ingredients:
• 3/4 cup candied walnuts, chopped finely
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
• 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
-To a large bowl, add the softened cream cheese and the sour cream; using a spatula, cream these together just to make them softer and smoother, and more pliable.
-Add in the remainder of the cheese ball ingredients—the blue cheese, onion powder, salt, pepper and chopped parsley—and fold everything together until very well combined (you should still have little chunks/streaks of blue cheese throughout).
-Scoop the cheese mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap, and using the wrap to help, shape the mixture (which will be quite soft at this point) into a ball as best as you can, wrapping the plastic around it tightly.
-Place into the fridge for at least 2-4 hours (or even for a couple of days if making ahead), or until the mixture firms up.
-Prepare your coating by mixing together the chopped candied walnuts, the parsley and the pomegranate seeds in a bowl; then, place a large piece of wax paper or parchment paper on a work surface, and sprinkle this coating mixture evenly over that.
-Unwrap your chilled/firmed cheese ball, shape a little bit more with your hands if you'd like it to be a bit rounder (or shape into a log, or oval), then gently roll it in the coating mixture until well coated.
-Place the coated cheese ball on a platter surrounded by a your favorite crackers (even apple slices), and serve! (You can also cover it in plastic wrap at this point if you need to have it ready, and keep it chilled for a little longer; but don't do this too far in advance so the coating stays fresh/crunchy.)