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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_5921.jpgAt our house, a cheese ball is synonymous with the holiday buffet table.  I it’s perfect holiday food…best made ahead, keeps well and is just plain delicious.  Have you ever really tasted a bad cheese ball?  I haven’t, but this one is stellar.  I’ve been making this for decades.  Seriously…decades.  This is my basic cheese ball, but with options.  I usually make the bleu cheese, bacon and port or brandy version, but on occasion I make several different types…a smörgåsbord of options, if you will. 

Also, keep in mind how delicious it is as a topping for baked potatoes or smeared on a bagel!  I told you there were options!!

This is incredibly easy, but oh! so delicious!  This makes a lot, and I’ve given you the base which is delicious as is.  But, you can divvy it up into thirds and have three differently delicious options.  In recent years, I tend to plop the mixture into a decorative container, preferably with a lid, and then it can live in the fridge until you want to serve.  But, the ball is a nice, too.  Do bring either version to near room temperature or room temp.  The flavor is just better.  Also, I prefer to use dried herbs in the actual cheese mixture, as you can keep it longer and in better condition.  The method is pretty simple:  Make certain the cheeses are at room temperature before starting. 

You may mix the ingredients together in large bowl.  If you want a lighter, slightly fluffy  version, beat the cream cheese for a couple of minutes in a mixer, then proceed as indicated.After you mix everything together, taste the mixture.  The flavors will be very subtle, but you should be able to taste a hint of cognac or Port, and a hint of the bleu and the cheddar cheese.  But, letting the mixture sit overnight in the fridge, will make a world of difference.  I mean night and day.  If I’m making this into a ball,

I plop the cheese mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap, bring up the side and twist the plastic tightly around the cheese mixture, which pretty forces it into a ball!  Also, rather than making a perfectly round ball, I usually flatten it slightly.  It sits on the plate/board, much better.  No one wants a cheese ball rolling onto the floor!  It’s also easier to eat.  Rolling it in nuts is a great way to go.  Make certain to toast the nuts…so much better.  I usually use toasted pecans or walnuts, but I’ve used cashews and pistachios, as well.  Very tasty!

For the Curry with Dried Fruit Cheese Ball, use about one-third of the Basic Cheese Ball mixture and add the dried fruit, orange zest and seasoning, mix it up and chill it.  The other variations go together pretty much the same!

I’ve never frozen this, but I know people who swear (okay, we all know people who swear!!!) that you can…but, do that at your own risk! I don’t really see a reason, as it’s so quick and easy to mix up and it keeps for at least 7-10 days.

Holiday Cheese Ball

  • Servings: Makes about 3-4 cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • Basic Cheese Ball:
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup Greek-style plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup very finely minced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons finely snipped chives or garlic chives
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I use Aleppo)
  • Chopped curly parsley, toasted pecans, walnuts or cashews

For the Basic Cheese Mixture: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl; mix together (you can use an electric mixture if you wish) until they are well-combined. Place the mixture in the fridge to chill and become firm, at least 2 hours. When firm, form into a ball and roll in parsley or chopped nuts. Wrap in plastic and chill until about 1 hour before serving. If you are using the mixture to prepare one of the variations, add the mix-ins before chilling.


  • Bleu Cheese and Port:
  • 1 cup of the Basic Cheese Ball
  • 3 tablespoons Ruby Port
  • 1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • Toasted nuts, for garnish

Stir the ingredients together and either pack into a crock or form into a ball and roll in toasted pecans.  Chill for at least 2 hours.

  • Curry with Dried Fruit and Orange Zest:
  • 1 cup of the Basic Cheese Ball
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped dates
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dried apricots (California is best)
  • Toasted nuts (and/or coconut), for garnish

Stir the ingredients together and either pack into a crock or form into a ball and roll in toasted cashews. Chill for at least 2 hours.

  • Herb and Sun-Dried Tomato:
  • 1 cup of the Basic Cheese Ball
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil (or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano)
  • Chopped curly parsley or toasted pine nuts for garnish

Stir the ingredients together and either pack into a crock or form into a ball and roll in chopped curly parsley. Chill for at least 2 hours.

  • Horseradish and Bacon:
  • 1 cup of the Basic Cheese Ball
  • 4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh horseradish
  • Toasted pecans, chopped for garnish

Stir the ingredients together and either pack into a crock or form into a ball and roll in toasted pecans. Chill for at least 2 hours.

  • Liptauer Cheese Ball:
  • 2-3 teaspoons capers, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh dillweed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seed
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Stir the ingredients together and pack into a crock. Chill for at least 2 hours.  Serve with dark rye toasts points.

Holiday Cheese Ball Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020  All rights reserved.