Classic Cream Cheese Ball

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If you're looking for a Classic Cream Cheese Ball with tons of flavor, look no further! This easy cheese ball recipe is made with three cheeses and zesty spices to create the perfect appetizer for your holiday party or special occasion! 

cheese ball recipe rolled in pecans with crostini on a green plate.
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Why This Recipe Works

Great Flavor: This is no boring cheeseball! You'll love the combination of sharp cheddar and shaved parmesan mixed with creamy horseradish and worcestershire sauce. 

Crowd Pleaser: Folks will give rave reviews about this cream cheese ball recipe that's loaded with intense flavor, then rolled in pecans for a crunchy finish.

Versatile: It's creamy, zesty and absolutely delicious! Slather it on buttery crackers or scoop it up with veggies. Add extras to make your own special recipe.

Make Ahead: Roll up homemade cheese balls ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If you need more than one, try my Holiday Cheeseball Trio

Quick and Easy: This recipe is so easy! It's the perfect party appetizer to throw together in a jiffy, and serves a large crowd. 

cheese ball after being rolled in pecans.

What You'll Need

The simple ingredients in this classic cheese ball recipe can be found in your local grocery store. See recipe card for quantities

  • softened cream cheese - choose full fat cream cheese for the base of this recipe, or use a less fat variety if making a spread
  • extra sharp cheddar cheese - purchase the block type since it's best grated by hand
  • shaved parmesan cheese - puts an extra layer of cheese inside 
  • onion powder - provides onion flavor without chopping onions 
  • garlic powder - adds a nice touch
  • dried parsley - for color and depth
  • creamy horseradish - adds zing and a zesty kick
  • worcestershire sauce - blends nicely with the other ingredients
  • chopped pecans - the perfect topper, but you can use almonds or dried fruit instead

Equipment

  • stand or hand mixer
  • mixing bowls
  • spoons and spatula
  • sheet pan
  • measuring cups and spoons
ingredients needed for cheese ball recipe.

How to Make a Cream Cheese Ball

1 - Start by mixing blocks of cream cheese with a hand or stand mixer until creamy and fluffy. Add parmesan and spices and mix on medium high for 2 minutes.

green stand mixer mixing cream cheese

2 - Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula and add hand grated cheddar. Mix on medium high for 2 more minutes until cheeses are well blended.

grating cheddar cheese into a bowl by hand.

3 - Add horseradish and worcestershire sauce. Scrape the sides again. Mix for one more minute on high speed until completely blended.

cheese ball mixture in a glass bowl.

4 - Use your hands to roll the cream cheese mixture into a tightly packed ball shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to set. Chop pecans and scatter them onto a half size sheet pan. Place the cold cheeseball on top of pecans.

cheese ball after being rolled and ready for pecan topping.

5 - Press pecans into sides of cheeseball and roll it around until pecans stick to the surface.

pecans being pressed into cheese ball on a sheet pan.

6 - Make sure pecans are sticking to the cheeseball on all sides. Let it sit out for about 30 minutes at room temperature. Now, it's ready to serve and enjoy!

cheese ball after it has been rolled in pecans on a sheet pan.

Recipe FAQS

Should I start with cold ingredients?

Surprisingly, it's best to start with cheeses that are room temperature so they will blend easier. Your goal is to mix everything together until it's smooth and creamy. It's possible to do it by hand, but much easier if you use a hand or stand mixer.

How long does it take a cheese ball to set?

After the ball has been formed, refrigerate it for at least 1 hour to set. Wait to add the pecans until after the ball has chilled. If you roll the ball in pecans beforehand, the nuts will get soggy in the refrigerator.

How far ahead can you make a cheese ball?

These delicious appetizers last at least 1 week in the refrigerator if you wrap them well with plastic wrap and store in an air tight container. Make sure you wrap the ball before the nuts have been added. Rolling it in nuts should be the last step before serving.

cheese ball recipe rolled in pecans with crostini on a green plate.

Variations

This homemade cheeseball is so versatile, you can make it dozens of ways! The variations are almost endless, so have fun experimenting with these ideas...

  • Herbal: stir in some fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, parsley and oregano
  • Bacon and Onions: add chopped bacon, chives, or green onions for additional flavor
  • Dried Fruit: try dried cranberries, blueberries, apricots or cherries for a sweet touch
  • Everything Bagel: add everything bagel seasoning for flavor and crunch
  • Feta and Olives: turn it into a Greek delight with feta cheese and sliced kalamata olives
  • Blue Cheese: add blue cheese crumbles for a real punch
  • Jam or Preserves: drizzle apricot or raspberry jam on top
  • Veggies: mix in some red bell peppers for holiday cheer
  • Mini Cheeseballs: roll it into small balls and make mini cheese ball bites
  • Ranch or Italian: add ranch seasoning or Italian if preferred
  • Jalapeño and Pepper Jack: crank up the heat with jalapeños and pepper jack
  • Mexican Fiesta: mix in a packet of taco seasoning and crushed tortilla chips

Pro Tips

  • It's best to use full fat cream cheese in this recipe. If you add sour cream, butter or mayonnaise, it can make the cheese ball too loose once it reaches room temperature.
  • Make sure to use creamy horseradish and not the raw type or the flavor will be too strong. If you don't like the taste of horseradish, substitute hot sauce or leave it out completely. 
  • There's no need to add salt because there's plenty of sodium in the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Shred the cheese by hand to get the right texture. If you use pre-shredded cheese, it has anti-caking ingredients which prevents creaminess. 

What to Serve With a Cheese Ball

Cream Cheese balls are fun to serve at parties and events during the holiday season. They also make great centerpieces for a baby shower or wedding reception.

Try these helpful suggestions and serving ideas...

  • Favorite Crackers: serve with crostini, Ritz crackers, pita chips, pretzel sticks or flatbreads
  • Tortilla Chips: set out a big bowl of tortilla chips or cheesy bread as dippers
  • Veggies: provide sliced vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumbers and cauliflower
  • Fresh Fruit: any type of fresh fruit like peaches, strawberries, blackberries and apples 
  • Chutneys and Tapenade: olive tapenade or onion chutney is a nice accompaniment, as well as pesto sauce on the side
  • Charcuterie Board: savory cheese balls are a great addition to your favorite charcuterie or cheese board
  • Serve it as a Spread: serve this appetizer as a spread instead. Simply spread it in a bowl and add the pecans on top if you don't want to shape it into a ball. It's great either way!
classic cream cheese ball being spread with a knife.

Storage and Freezing

MAKE AHEAD: You can store this appetizer for up to 1 week in the refrigerator before serving. Wrap it tightly (leave off the nuts) and place in an airtight container for best results. Coat in chopped pecans just before serving.

FREEZING: Cheeseballs can be frozen and thawed at a later date. This comes in handy if you're hosting a party and trying to make recipes ahead of time. 

If freezing, wrap the ball in plastic wrap without adding nuts. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator, then coat with pecans just before serving. 

More Easy Appetizers

Holidays like Christmas and New Year's Day are meant for gathering together with friends and family. If you serve this cheese ball with the following recipes, you'll host a party no one will ever forget!

 

Recipe Card

classic cream cheese ball being spread with a knife.

Classic Cream Cheese Ball

This Classic Cream Cheese Ball is made with three cheeses and zesty spices to create the perfect appetizer for holidays and special occasions.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings24
Calories: 65kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) block extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated by hand
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon creamy horseradish not raw
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ cups chopped pecans
  • crostini or crackers for serving

Instructions

  • Mix room temperature cream cheese with a hand or stand mixer until creamy. Add parmesan and spices and mix on medium high for 2 minutes.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and add hand grated cheddar. Mix on medium high for 2 more minutes until cheeses are well blended.
  • Add creamy horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. Scrape the sides again. Mix for one more minute on high speed until completely blended.
  • Use your hands to roll the mixture into a tightly packed ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to set.
  • Chop pecans and scatter them onto a half size sheet pan. Place the cold cheeseball on top of pecans.
  • Press pecans into sides of cheeseball and roll it around until pecans stick to the surface.
  • Make sure pecans are sticking to the cheeseball on all sides. It's ready to serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • It's best to use full fat cream cheese in this recipe. Adding sour cream, butter or mayonnaise can make the ball spread once it reaches room temperature.
  • Make sure to use creamy horseradish and not the raw type or the flavor will be too strong. If you don't like the taste of horseradish, substitute hot sauce or leave it out completely.
  • There's no need to add salt because there's plenty of sodium in the rest of the ingredients. 
  • You can store this appetizer for up to 1 week in the refrigerator before serving. Wrap it tightly (leave off the nuts) and place in an airtight container for best results. Coat in chopped pecans just before serving.
  • If freezing, wrap the ball in plastic wrap without adding nuts. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator, then coat with pecans just before serving. 

Nutrition

Calories: 65kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 38mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I like the idea of using horseradish in a cheese ball. I've never tried it, but I can't wait to do so.

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