Tis the season to be holly jolly! With holiday parties and family gatherings galore, everyone needs an easy appetizer to bring with them.
This sweet and savory cheeseball is perfect for sharing with family and friends – and it comes together so quickly, you barely need to know how to actually cook to get it done!
What You Need for a FESTIVE Cheeseball
The red and green outer layer adds both crunch and sweetness to the cheeseball. Rolled in a combination of dried cranberries, pecans and flakes of dried garlic, it is just simply delicious.
- pan fried bacon – pro tip: reserve the grease to wilt the spinach
- fresh spinach – pro tip: wilt it down in a skillet and then let the heat melt the cream cheese for easy mixing
- mozzarella & cheddar cheeses – shredded is best for this recipe
- crushed pecans – add crunch and texture
- dried cranberries – for sweetness and chewiness
- dried garlic – everyone loves garlic!
- sesame seeds – add just a hint of sesame flavor to pull everything together
- fresh parsley – for pops of bright green
Chilling the Cheeseball
Once the cheeseball ingredients are all mixed together, I recommend laying out a sheet of plastic wrap on a large clean surface and then using a spoon to scoop the mixture into the center of the plastic wrap. If you have a round/half sphere shaped bowl, utilize it to hold the cheese mixture while wrapped in the plastic wrap. This will help get the shape more quickly.
If you don’t have a sphere shaped bowl, tightly wrapt the cheese mixture and shape it into a ball as best you can. Since it will be really sticky at this point, just shape it and then begin the chilling process. The ball will flatten on one side as it chills. After about an hour, you should be able to roll it into a better shape by using the plastic wrap to help you form a ball shape.
However you achieve the round shape, wait to add the toppings until after the ball shape is formed and the cheese has re-solidified. Let the cheese reharden for at least an hour or two before adding the toppings.
Adding the Toppings
Spread out a second sheet of plastic wrap and then sprinkle the mixed toppings in the center of the plastic wrap. I then unwrapped and placed the cheeseball in the center of the toppings and lightly rolled it around to cover it as evenly as possible. Continue to roll until there is a nice layer formed evenly on the ball and then tightly wrap it in the plasitc wrap and finish chilling for at least one more hour – or until ready to serve – for best results.
After that, I recommend letting the cheeseball sit out for at least 30-45 minutes prior to serving so that the cheeseball can be cut into easily.
Spinach Cranberry & Pecan Cheese Ball
- 8 oz fresh spinach
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 strips bacon
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- ¼ cup mozzarella shredded
- ¼ cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup crushed pecans
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons dried minced garlic
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the bacon and cook until it is crispy about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels. Do not clean the skillet. When cooled, crumble the bacon.
- Add the butter to the skillet and melt until frothy. Then add the fresh spinch. Saute until wilted, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, mozzarella and cheddar. While the spinach and bacon are still warm, add them to the bowl. Use a hand mixer to stir until well mixed. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Place a 12×12 piece of plastic wrap down on a large clean, flat surface. Dollop the cheese mixture into the center of the plastic wrap. Wrap the mixture in the plastic wrap tightly so that it forms a ball shape. Place the cheese ball into a small round bowl (if available) and then chill for at least one hour or until the cheeseball can hold its shape.
- Meanwhile, combine the crushed pecans, dried cranberries, dried minced garlic, sesame and parsley into a bowl and whisk together. Place a second piece of plastic wrap down and spread the crust mixture in the middle.
- Unwrap the cheeseball and place it in the middle of the crust. Roll it around gently to coat it completely in the crust. Discard any loose crust and then wrap the cheeseball tightly in the plastic wrap.
- Chill for at least one hour to set the shape of the cheeseball. Prior to serving, bring the cheeseball to room temperature over an hour so that the cheeseball can easily be cut into with a knife or cracker. Serve with your favorite crackers, veggies and more. Enjoy!