A classic party favorite, this cranberry pecan cheese ball is decked out in the most delicious coating of chopped chives, dried cranberries, and pecans. This is an easy make-ahead hors d’oeuvre that’s sure to please a crowd! Prep work takes only about 15 minutes.
There are many recipes out there for appetizer cheese balls, varying in flavors and ingredients, but this is my personal favorite version, and I hope you love it as much as I do!
This savory shareable cheese ball is like a magnet for snackers. I speak from experience; no one wants to leave the plate! I recommend you place it on its own pedestal serving table, and allow plenty of room for people to flock around it. Because flock they will, and pretty soon you’ll hear calls for more crackers. That’s right, this magic cheese ball has the power to turn your party guests into seagulls. LOL.
Here’s Why Everyone Loves a Cheese Ball
- Easy, low-maintenance, crowd-pleasing appetizer
- Delicious combination of flavors & textures
- Make-ahead recipe; 15-minute prep
- Simple serving presentation
- Tastes great with crackers & veggies
- Wonderful addition to a charcuterie board or appetizer spread
What Goes in a Cranberry Pecan Cheese Ball?
- Cream Cheese: This is the base of the cheese ball, so don’t skimp here—reach for the full-fat, brick-style cream cheese, like we use for cheesecake. Give it some time to soften to room temperature before you start.
- Sharp White Cheddar: Buy the block, not the pre-shredded, cheese and grate it yourself for the best taste and texture.
- Fresh Chives & Parsley: Finely chopped fresh herbs are the flavor superstars in this cheeseball.
- Brown Sugar: Just a tiny bit, a little sweet to balance the savory. Not many recipes call for this, but I swear by it because it pairs wonderfully with the sharp cheddar and tart cranberries.
- Garlic Powder, Salt, & Pepper: Mega flavor enhancers!
- Chopped Dried Cranberries: A little chewy sweet-tartness to coat the creamy, herby cheeseball.
- Chopped Pecans: Pecans pair wonderfully with cranberries, and they add so much great texture to the coating. If you want to make a nut-free cheeseball, you can use chopped pretzels instead—see recipe Notes.
Here’s How to Make It
Start by beating the room-temperature cream cheese until it’s nice and creamy. A stand mixer works best to beat the cream cheese. You can use a handheld mixer, but be warned that the mixture becomes very heavy and thick.
Beat in the remaining ingredients, saving half of the chives, cranberries, and pecans for the coating.
Use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and form the mixture into a ball. You can use your hands to help form; it’s only slightly sticky.
Roll the ball in the coating, and then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it, for at least 1 hour and up to 5 days.
That’s it, you’re done.
I take the cheese ball out of the refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes before serving, so it softens up a bit.
What to Serve With a Cheese Ball
I love serving this cranberry pecan cheese ball alongside a charcuterie board. But all you really need to go with it are some crackers or other edible vehicles that can transport a bite of cheese ball to your mouth.
The cheese ball tastes best within 5 days of making it, but it can be stored for up to 10 days. (If it lasts that long!)
You can shape the cheese ball and wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it, and then roll it in the coating just before serving. We also tested this recipe by rolling in the coating before refrigerating, and it was great this way, too. I find it easier to coat it, wrap it, and refrigerate it so it’s ready to serve. Refrigerate it, coated or not, for up to 5 days before serving.
The cheese ball is fine kept at room temperature for a few hours. After about 4 hours, I would refrigerate it.
Yes, absolutely! You can substitute chopped pretzels for the pecans. But if using pretzels, you’ll want to coat the cheese ball right before you plan to serve it, so that the pretzel coating doesn’t get too soft or soggy.
A classic party favorite, this appetizer cheese ball is decked out in the most delicious coating of chopped dried cranberries and pecans. This is an easy make-ahead hors d’oeuvre that’s sure to please a crowd! Prep work takes only about 15 minutes, and you can put it together up to 5 days in advance.
- 16 ounces (452g) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 3/4 cups (175g) shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup (108g) finely chopped dried cranberries, divided
- 3/4 cup (100g) finely chopped pecans, divided
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the softened cream cheese on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. (If using a hand mixer, be warned that the mixture gets quite thick. A stand mixer is a better choice, or mix everything together with a silicone spatula by hand.)
- Add the shredded cheese, 1 Tablespoon chopped chives, chopped parsley, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, half of the chopped dried cranberries (about 6 Tbsp), and half of the chopped pecans (about 6 Tbsp), and beat/stir until combined. Using a silicone spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and bring the mixture together, forming it into a ball as best you can. You can use your hands for this as needed; the mixture is slightly sticky.
- Make the coating: In a small bowl, stir together the remaining chopped chives, dried cranberries, and chopped pecans. Sprinkle the coating onto a large plate, and roll the cheese ball into the mixture to evenly coat.
- Wrap the cheese ball tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 5 days.
- To serve, let the cheese ball sit out at room temperature for 20–30 minutes to slightly soften up. Unwrap the cheese ball and place it on a plate or platter surrounded by crackers, along with a knife to spread.
- Cover/wrap leftover cheese ball tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. I find it’s best within the first 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the cheese ball up to 5 days ahead of time, see step 4. You can freeze the cheese ball, too. Wrap in a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw, still wrapped, in the refrigerator. Continue with step 5.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Box Grater | Stand Mixer | Silicone Spatula | Glass Mixing Bowl
- Nut-Free Version: If you’d like to make a nut-free cheese ball, replace the chopped pecans used in the coating (6 Tablespoons) with chopped/crushed salted pretzels. (Do not put any pretzel crumbs IN the cheese ball.) To prevent the pretzel crumbs from getting soggy, wait to coat the cheese ball with the cranberries/pretzels/chives until just before serving. Make the cheese ball through step 2, and then wrap the uncoated cheese ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate. When you’re ready to serve it, unwrap the chilled cheese ball and roll it in the coating.
Keywords: cranberry pecan white cheddar cheese ball