The Make-Ahead (Or Last-Minute) Wonder That's All Cheese, All Heart

December 15, 2017

When people refer to me as “cheese ball” (and they often do), I respond by saying: “Thank you so much!” After all, a cheese ball is an amazing dish with so many wonderful attributes, I can only assume someone is bestowing me with a very kind compliment, even if he or she is alluding to my resembling this decadent treat. Now, am I a Midwesterner? Yes. Could this have something to do with my affinity for cheese encased in more cheese and formed into a ball? Maybe. But I also think it goes deeper than that.

Hear me out. Cheese balls are extremely easy to make. If you can mix stuff, you can make a cheese ball. You can make them ahead of time, which I always love. Or you can throw them together last minute. They travel like a dream. And I AM TELLING YOU there is nothing more crowd-pleasing, more attention-getting, and more quickly disappearing at a party with than a cheeseball. Any kind of party: from my mom’s retired teacher Christmas party in Ohio (go, Bucks!) to the hipster dinner party in Brooklyn—ceramics, tapered candles, artfully rumpled linen napkins and all. First thing gone? The cheese ball. Every time. At every party.

Not convinced? All you need to do is take one taste of this cheeseball and you will be. I start with cream cheese—and I think we can all agree that any recipe with a cream cheese base is going to be so good you don’t even feel guilty for finishing it solo. Then, I mix in cheddar cheese, Gruyere, and Parmesan. Next, I add parsley, chives, and dill. Finally, my once-secret ingredient that I now feel comfortable sharing with the world, for the sole purpose of getting everyone on-message about cheeseballs: prepared horseradish. The crucial finishing step that seals, beautifies, and often adds crunch, is a nice roll in maple-roasted chopped walnuts.

Serve with Ritz crackers, and once everyone stops gagging over your extremely on-point 80s throwback, which they claim to only like because it’s ironic (but actually like because it’s dope AF), start the timer and see how long it takes to disappear. Then, pat yourself on the back for pulling such a baller move.

How do you cheese ball? If you haven't yet, will you give it a shot? Let us know in the comments!

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Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning producer, recipe developer and food writer. His favorite food is chocolate chip cookies (with salt.)


FrugalCat August 25, 2018
My mother in law would make them individual sized (about a marble) and put a pretzel stick in each one. That way, there were no errant toothpicks to dispose of.
Suzanne D. December 17, 2017
I'm going to make one of these next week! Thanks for the fun idea.
Ham December 16, 2017
I am proudly from the Midwest and my family makes our cheese balls out of cream cheese, corned beef bits, and green onions. It is not healthy, it is not beautiful (well, it is to me), but it brings heaven closer to earth.
Grant M. December 19, 2017
My Mom used to make a cheese ball with corned beef bits when I was a kid. Very nostalgic and always incredibly delicious. Happy Holidays! -Grant
BerryBaby December 16, 2017
Classic fron the 70's that I still make and, yes, it goes fast!
Cream cheese, green pepper, green onion, crushed pineapple, Lawry's seasoning salt, cover ball with finely chopped pecans. And it is best served with Ritz crackers.
Grant M. December 19, 2017
Crushed Pineapple sounds like an interesting addition. I'll have to try that sometime. -Grant
HalfPint December 15, 2017
Nothing screams "Holiday" or "Party" quite like a cheese ball. I'm all over this ;)