Cranberry Bacon Cheese Ball

December 14, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 18 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

I’m excited about this recipe because I decided I’m not going to make a full-on holiday meal this season, but I'm going to live out one of my holiday fantasies instead. Basically, whenever I go to holiday parties, or Thanksgiving parties, I always am the one that is tasked with bringing the main dish. Or they ask me to cook the whole thing. or they ask me to just host and do everything. Obviously, I love cooking but I kind of have this fantasy about just doing an appetizer and playing bartender all night.

A little thing about cheese balls: I think why I associate cheese balls with the holidays is because I remember, growing up, my mom—whenever we would go to a holiday party or host one—she would always make cheese balls and everybody in the family loved her cheese balls. Part of it could be attributed to the fact that my dad had a pecan orchard. And so we actually grew our own pecans so we could harvest them every November and then she would make the cheese balls coated with these toasted, freshly-picked pecans. And so that is something that I think was just really, really incredible and special.
Rick Martinez

Test Kitchen Notes

Bring your favorite dipping vehicle of choice here: crackers, saltines, a freshly-toasted baguette slice, freshly-sliced hearty fruits (like apples, suggested below); maybe even a potato chip! Anything that pairs well with creamy, tangy cheese. We recommend a hearty spread of multiple options. The possibilities are endless. —Food52

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Cranberry Bacon Cheese Ball
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 cup pecan halves, untoasted
  • 4 ounces bacon, preferably thin cut
  • 2 chile morita, cut into thin strips with kitchen shears
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 scallion, root end trimmed and thinly sliced
  • Crackers, sliced apples, and sliced pears for serving
  1. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F. Mix cream cheese, cheddar, onion powder, and garlic in a large bowl until completely combined. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Let sit uncovered and set aside until ready to assemble.
  2. Place pecans on a rimmed sheet tray and bake until very fragrant and browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool on the tray and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the bacon. Arrange bacon in a dry, cool, large heavy skillet—preferably cast iron—heat over medium and cook bacon, turning once until the fat has rendered and the bacon is very crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.
  4. Pulse chile morita in a food processor until very finely ground. Add bacon, pecans, cranberries, orange zest, rosemary, and a pinch of salt. Pulse until cranberries and pecans are finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside until ready to assemble.
  5. Assemble the cheeseball. Add half of the pecan/cranberry mixture to the cream cheese mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Reserve remaining pecan/cranberry mixture for presentation. Place two large pieces of plastic wrap slightly overlapping on a clean work surface. Scrape cheese mixture into the center and fold the sides of the plastic over to completely cover. Shape into a ball using the plastic to help you and twist the end to compress the ball. Chill for at least 1 hour, and up to 48 hours.
  6. Remove plastic wrap and roll chilled ball into reserved pecan/cranberry mixture, pressing it firmly into the cheese. Transfer to a serving board, sprinkle with scallion and jalapeño. Arrange crackers and sliced fruit around the ball.

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Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

1 Review

cattyk January 1, 2023
What a fun and festive recipe! Made this for a NYE party and it was exactly what I wanted. The bacon cranberry pecan chile crumble is banging. I halved the recipe and that was plenty of cheeseball to go around.