Cheese balls make the perfect holiday appetizer and can be conveniently made into individual, bite size version. I have three different flavors for you to make and you decide which is the best. This recipe features cranberry pistachio cheese balls, bacon chive, and flavor-packed Italian cheese balls. This holiday appetizer will be the hit of the party!
Mini Cheese Balls Trio
‘Tis the season of entertaining! Whether you’re hosting a party for your friends and neighbors or trying to impress some particular in-laws from out of state, this quick and easy appetizer is sure to do the trick. The best part is that there are three distinct different flavors, so there’s something on the serving tray for everyone to enjoy! At parties, it’s fun to see which cheese ball everyone prefers, as they’re all so different.
Personally, I really don’t think I have a favorite. They’re all so good, and my favorite one changes each time, as it’s dependent on what I’m craving at that particular moment. When I’m craving a little something sweet, I reach for the cranberry pistachio cheese balls. When I want something more savory and salty, the bacon chive cheese ball does the trick. And if it’s herbs and spices on my mind, the Italian cheese ball always hits the spot.
While each cheese ball in the trio differs in flavor, they all share the same core ingredients that include cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and more! These basic ingredients ensure that all of the cheese balls have the same creamy, cheesy consistency that makes them so luscious and addictive. Trust me – it’s impossible to have just one of these decadent appetizers, but I dare you to try!
Ingredients for Mini Cheese Balls
The base for the cheese balls:
- Cream Cheese – It needs to be full fat and have no additional flavors.
- Sour Cream – This also needs to be full fat and free of any added flavors.
- Cheddar Cheese – Use sharp white, not yellow cheddar cheese. There is no difference in flavor between the colors but it won’t look as festive.
- Worcestershire Sauce – This provides a splash of umami flavor that make the cheese balls so much more flavorful.
- Salt – Coarse kosher salt is perfect.
- Black Pepper – freshly ground would give you the best aroma.
- Cranberries – Use dried, not fresh cranberries.
- Pistachios – You can use salted or unsalted, the choice is yours.
- Rosemary – It should be fresh and aromatic, not dried.
- Bacon Bits – cook the bacon at home, don’t use store-bought bacon bits.
- Chives – fresh chives will give the best flavor.
- Parmesan Cheese – For the best flavor, use freshly grated parmesan.
- Italian Seasoning – This is what really provides that authentic Italian flavor!
- Parsley – Use dried parsley or fresh if you wish.
- Red Pepper Flakes – Add a little extra if you want more spice.
- Dried Minced Garlic – Feel free to also add more of this for an extra garlicky flavor, but don’t go overboard.
How to Make Mini Cheese Balls
Combine the softened cream cheese with all of the other ingredients in the cheese base. Then, divide that base mixture into three separate mixing bowls equally. (Use a kitchen scale if you have one to make sure equal amounts of all parts.)
Mix in about 1/2 of the cranberry/pistachio mixture into one, about 1/2 cup of bacon/chive into another, and all of parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of Italian mixture into another. Save the rest of the mixes for rolling the cheese balls.
If you have a little extra time, cover the cheese ball mixtures and refrigerate them for about 2 hours. This will make rolling the mini cheese balls much easier.
Use a cookie scoop to help evenly roll out the cheese balls. Once rolled, place them on a serving dish and chill them for about 30-45 minutes.
Before serving, roll the mini cheese balls in the coating mixtures and stick them with pretzel sticks.
Can I double this recipe?
Feel free to double this recipe according to the amount of people that you’ll be serving. You want to make sure everyone can have way more than one!
Can I make mini cheese balls ahead of time?
You sure can! This is actually a wonderful recipe to make ahead of time, so it’s perfect for navigating the stressful holiday season. Prepare the cheese balls mixtures up to the step of rolling. You can roll them into individual balls or keep as three mixtures. Store them in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
When ready, simply roll each ball and place the pretzels sticks into each one. (You will need to warn up the bacon mixture for a few seconds before rolling.)
Can I freeze mini cheese balls?
Technically, you can but without the coating mixes. With that being said, I have noticed a difference in consistency between fresh and defrosted cheese balls. Personally, I do not care for the texture of previously frozen cream cheese. I don’t usually recommend freezing anything with cream cheese or other creamy dairy ingredients. Since cream cheese and sour cream both contain a high amount of liquid, the mini cheese balls don’t retain the same smooth consistency after being defrosted.
Storing Mini Cheese Balls
When storing, make sure to cover the cheese balls air-tight and keep refrigerated. When properly stored, these mini cheese balls should be good for 7-10 days. Just make sure they’re kept in a a truly airtight container in the fridge or wrap them well with plastic wrap.
More Holiday Appetizer Recipes!
Everything Bagel Cheese Ball – this cheese ball is made with homemade everything bagel seasoning, cream cheese, white cheddar cheese, and parmesan cheese.
Cocktail Meatballs – the meatballs are tender and juicy made with ground beef and ground pork, baked in the oven, and then, coated in outstanding sweet and spicy grape jelly sauce.
Baked Brie – it’s creamy and decadent, complimented so well with caramelized onions and pecans.
Bacon Wrapped Little Smokies – all you need is a package of smoked little sausage, a package of bacon, and maple syrup.
Mini Cheese Ball Trio
Cheese Ball Ingredients:
- 16 oz cream cheese full fat original
- 1/2 cup sour cream full fat
- 8 oz white cheddar cheese block
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp coarse kosher salt more or less to taste
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
- 3 oz shelled pistachios chopped
- 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
- 6-8 slices of crispy bacon bits
- 3 tbsp. minced fresh chives
- 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese divided
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp. dried parsley
- 2 tbsp. dried minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Cheese Ball Mixture:
- Pull cream cheese out of the refrigerator to soften 30-45 minutes before making the cheese balls.
- Combine cream cheese with sour cream, grated cheeses, and everything bagel seasoning in a bowl and mix until everything is completely incorporated.
- Divide the cheese ball mixture into three and place them into separate bowl to mix in the filling.
- Mix in about 1/2 cup of the cranberry/pistachio mixture into one, about 1/2 cup of bacon/chive into another, and all of Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of Italian mixture into another. Save the rest of the coating mixes for rolling of the cheese balls.
- If you have extra time, cover the cheese ball mixtures air-tight and refrigerate for about 2 hours. (Chilled cheese ball mixture will be easier to roll into mini cheese balls.)
- Use a cookie scoop to scoop out even amounts of cheese ball mixture and roll them out into balls. Place them on the serving dish or the cutting board and chill for 30-45 minutes.
- Before serving, roll the cheese balls in the coating mixtures and stick a pretzel stick into each one. (You can also use tooth picks or other serving sticks.)