These delicious cheese balls are an ideal party snack because they are made in advance and you don't need to heat them up.
They are so flavorful! The combination of cream cheese, cheddar, parmesan, garlic and bacon is amazing.
These little savory appetizers are so delicious! A mixture of cheeses, spices, and crumbled bacon - why wouldn't they be?
When I entertain, I like to start the evening off with a few simple party appetizers and cocktails. Ideally, the appetizers can be made in advance and I can serve them at room temperature. So these cheese balls are perfect!
You'll only need a few ingredients to make this tasty appetizer. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Cream cheese: I use full-fat cream cheese in this recipe.
- Shredded cheddar: I like to use sharp or even extra-sharp cheese.
- Grated Parmesan: Make sure you use finely grated parmesan and not coarsely shredded - there's a difference.
- To season: I like to use kosher salt, black pepper, dried parsley, and cayenne pepper.
- Minced garlic: You can also use garlic powder (just ½ teaspoon).
- Bacon: I use store-bought bacon bits. If you'd like, you can cook bacon until crispy and crumble it very finely.
This is a truly easy recipe. Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps for making these cheese balls:
- You start by mixing together some softened cream cheese, shredded cheddar, grated Parmesan, and spices.
- Next, briefly freeze the mixture to make it easier to work with.
- Form the mixture into balls and roll them in crumbled bacon. That's it!
Freezing the mixture briefly before shaping the balls makes it much easier to shape them. Make sure to freeze it in a shallow layer so that the mixture sets evenly. The edges will still be harder than the center.
Even after freezing the mixture, shaping the balls is a bit messy, but not too bad. You can always use disposable gloves. Personally, I don't bother.
Frequently asked questions
I believe you could, although it's softer than full-fat cream cheese and might be more difficult to work with.
Absolutely. I love cheddar and parmesan, but another good combination would be provolone and pecorino romano.
Yes! That's why I like it so much. You can make them in advance, refrigerate, and take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before your guests arrive.
Here are a few ideas for varying the basic recipe:
- Use smoked cheddar or smoked gouda instead of regular cheddar.
- Garlic powder can successfully replace the fresh garlic in this recipe. Try using ½ teaspoon.
- Experiment with different spices and herbs! While I like to use dried parsley and cayenne, other tasty options include dried oregano, dried thyme, smoked paprika, ground cumin, and onion powder.
The leftovers work well as a quick snack. I even like them for my lunch, making myself a plate of them plus a salad or some cut-up veggies.
You can store the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to four days. They keep very well and taste great even on the fourth day.
Do remember to take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before you plan on serving them, to allow them to get to room temperature. Some foods are simply not very good when chilled. Cheese and chocolate are prime examples.
You can also freeze the leftovers. Start by placing them on a parchment-lined large sheet or tray. Place in the freezer for 1-2 hours, until they are frozen, then transfer them to a freezer bag. You can keep them in the freezer for up to three months.
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- 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 3 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese (¾ cup)
- 1 oz grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ¼ teaspoon of fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 oz bacon bits or cooked and crumbled bacon
- Place the cream cheese, cheddar, Parmesan, garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, parsley, and cayenne pepper in your food processor. Process until well blended. You can also mix these ingredients by hand.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into a shallow bowl, cover, and freeze for 15 minutes.
- Shape the mixture into 12 balls, using a measuring tablespoon to scoop them out of the bowl.
- Roll the balls in the bacon bits to coat them.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove them from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.