Holiday Cheese Ball Recipe

Try this make-ahead spread at your next seasonal soiree.
Nut-crusted cheese balls served with crackers are a favorite at holiday gatherings.

Nut-crusted cheese balls served with crackers are a favorite at holiday gatherings.

Nut-crusted cheese balls served with crackers are a favorite at holiday gatherings.

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When one pictures the hors d'oeuvre table at any given holiday party, it’s hard not to place the ever-present cheese ball front and center. And with good reason. Although its origins are unclear, the softball-sized ball of cheese blended with a wide variety of fruits, nuts, meats or spices has been a standard at holiday gatherings since before Rudolph guided Santa’s sleigh.

Whether sweet or salty, spicy or mellow, the common element is a blend of soft, mild cheese blended with firmer and more flavorful varieties. The result must be firm enough to hold its shape, yet soft enough to be easily spread on crackers. Often coated in a crust of chopped nuts or fresh herbs, no holiday gathering is complete without the decorative and delicious classic.

This flavorful take on the holiday cheese ball is easy to make and can be prepared a few days in advance and refrigerated until ready to serve. Combining sweet caramelized onions, fresh parsley and tart cranberries in a blend of velvety cream cheese and sharp cheddar, make sure to have plenty of crackers on hand. This one goes fast.

Holiday Cheese Ball

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

In a small skillet, cook onion in olive oil over medium heat, stirring frequently until soft and browned.

In a stand mixer, combine cream cheeses, sour cream, salt and paprika and mix until smooth.

Add onion, cheddar cheese, cranberries and parsley to mixer and mix until fully combined.

Wrap in plastic wrap and shape into a ball.

Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove plastic wrap and roll cheese ball in chopped pecans to coat.

Wrap in fresh plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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