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cranberry white cheddar cheese ball cut open with crackers on plate.

Cranberry Pecan Cheese Ball Appetizer

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 20 reviews
  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: serves 24
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: American


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


  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. Wrap the cheese ball tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 5 days.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Box Grater | Stand Mixer | Silicone Spatula | Glass Mixing Bowl
  3. 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.