Imagine this with us: creamy cheese, smoky bacon, and spicy jalapeño.
If your mouth isn’t watering…why not? We’re about three seconds away from grabbing packs of crackers to get them ready for when we make this amazing recipe.
Got a party coming up and you’re wracking your brain trying to figure out a new appetizer to wow your friends and family? Well, worry no more because we’ve got you covered. This might even become your new favorite appetizer to make because it just ticks all the boxes:
Easy to make? Check!
Gorgeous to look at? Check!
Just darn yummy? Double check!
What are you waiting for? This recipe is really easy to make and will impress and delight your friends and family when you serve it to them. Sounds like a win-win situation to us!
How do you serve a cheese ball?
There are two ways that you can approach this question: what you serve the cheese ball WITH, and what you serve the cheese ball ON.
The most popular accompaniment for cheese balls are crackers, as the salty and crunchy texture of the crackers pair well with the creamy cheese ball. You can easily scoop up as much cheese as you want on a piece of cracker too! However, you shouldn’t just limit yourself with just crackers. Other options can include crostini, pretzels, potato wedges, pita triangles, vegetable sticks, and even apple or pear slices! Play around with different flavor profiles (sweet, savory, sour…almost anything pairs well with cheese and bacon, after all) and see which ones work for you.
For serving, you can just a chilled plate to serve the cheese ball to help preserve its shape and firmness for as long as possible. Simply put in a place in the fridge for 10 minutes before placing the cheese ball on it and serve. You can also look at other ways to serve the cheese ball, such as on a clean chopping board (for a rustic look) or a large serving tray surrounded by the different accompaniments.
What are the best crackers for cheese ball?
Since you’re working with soft cheese, you want a sturdy cracker that can serve as a base for spreading the cheese. You also want a cracker that’s plain or has minimal seasoning so that you can really taste all the spices and ingredients that you place in your cheese ball. Some good choices include wheat and oat crackers.
How long do cheese balls last?
The main ingredient in a cheese ball is cream cheese, which generally lasts around 7-14 days in the fridge after it’s been opened and kept plain. However, if you’re going to add perishable ingredients such as the jalapeño and bacon, it can significantly shorten the shelf life of the cheese ball to around 36-48 hours as long as it’s kept in the fridge. As for leftovers, the safe window is only about 12-24 hours.
In general, cheese balls are appetizers that should only be made a few hours ahead of serving time for optimal taste and texture.
Can you freeze a cheese ball?
Unfortunately, we can’t really recommend that you freeze a cheese ball. Imagine freezing a block of cream cheese! After thawing it, the texture of the cream cheese will change, becoming crumbly and difficult to spread.
Can you use this recipe to make cheese ball bites?
Yes, definitely! If you want your guests to be able to enjoy their own little cheese ball bites, you simply shape the cheese balls into small pieces. Each piece would be a delicious morsel on its own, and you can even put them straight on top of the crackers themselves so that people can just pick them up and immediately bite in!
Each cheese ball bite should be approximately 1 inch in diameter. You can measure out the cheese balls with a melon baller so that they are about the same size. If you don’t have a melon baller, you can also use measuring spoons. In fact, since measuring spoons come in different sizes, you can experiment to see how small or big you want the cheese ball bites to be.
Pro tips for making cheese balls
01 Start with room-temperature ingredients
Have you ever tried working with cream cheese straight from the fridge? It’s really difficult to slice through the cheese, never mind trying to form it into balls! You can let the cream cheese warm up to room temperature before using it; that way, the cream cheese is easy to mold but not too runny.
02 Use gloves when molding the cheese balls
Whether you’re making one huge cheese ball for sharing or you’re making a whole bunch of small cheese ball bites, you don’t want to end up with sticky cream cheese all over your hands afterwards. Use a pair of gloves to protect your hands before handling the cream cheese. You can even put a light layer of non-stick cooking spray on your gloves to further prevent the cream cheese from sticking
03 Wait Until the last Minute to Add the Toppings
If you’re planning to make the cheese balls a few hours ahead of serving time, make sure to add the toppings right before you serve it. If you leave the bacon on the cheese ball for a long period of time, the bacon will get soggy and unappetizing. All your hard work making crispy bacon will have been for nothing!
04 Let it Soften Before Serving
If you are serving the cheese ball from your fridge, leave it for around 10 minutes at room temperature so that the cheese ball can soften. No one wants to bite into a hard, crumbly cheese ball straight from the fridge, and your crackers are just going to break off before you scoop anything on top.
Cheese Ball with Bacon
One of the hallmarks of a great appetizer is it’s “scoopability”! There’s just something really fun about dipping crackers, veggie sticks, or even fruit slices into a cheese ball and scooping up a loaded bite of cheese and toppings. This amazing recipe will definitely be the star of your next party; be ready for friends and family asking for it next time too!
- 8 thick-cut slices of bacon
- 1 large jalapeño pepper
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ c. Mexican-blend cheese
- ½ t. smoked paprika
- ½ t. Mexican oregano
- ½ t. chipotle powder
- ½ t. garlic powder
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Vegetables of choice (we recommend carrots, cucumbers, and celery)
- Line a large paper plate with paper towels and place 4 slices of bacon on top. Make sure that the bacon is flat and laid side by side. Cover with additional paper towels. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy. Remove plate from microwave and discard used paper towels. Repeat process with fresh paper towels and remaining slices of bacon.
- While last batch of bacon is cooking, finely dice the jalapeño pepper. Divide into two equal portions.
- Place crispy bacon in a food processor and pulse briefly until bacon is roughly chopped.
- Place bacon crumbs into a bowl and mix with one portion of the diced jalapeño pepper. Stir until combined, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the remaining jalapeño pepper, cream cheese, Mexican cheese, smoked paprika, Mexican oregano, chipotle powder, and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix vigorously until well-mixed.
- Shape the cheese mixture into a ball with your hands (don’t forget your gloves) and transfer to a serving plate. Place the cheese ball into the fridge to firm it up just a little bit, around 5-10 minutes.
- When ready to serve, remove cheese ball from fridge and roll in the bacon- jalapeño pepper mixture until thoroughly coated. Return to serving dish and serve immediately with your choice of accompaniments!
What Kind of Bacon Would Be Best?
For this recipe, the best kind of bacon would be thin, smoked bacon from the belly. It has the right amount of fat to make it crispy, and the right amount of salt to complement the creamy cheese and spicy jalapeño pepper.
How to Make Sure That The Bacon Gets Crispy?
The key to getting bacon crispy is making sure that they lay flat during cooking! If possible, place a small microwave safe plate on top of the bacon while cooking. The weight of the plate will keep the bacon nice and flat, resulting in crispy bacon.
Should I Get Pre-Shredded Cheese or Shred it Myself?
This is honestly a matter of preference. Some people like shredding the cheese themselves, especially if they are going to use the remaining cheese for other recipes. Others prefer the convenience of pre-shredded cheese. As long as you get high-quality cheese, the taste and texture won’t really have much difference.
How to Handle and Cut Jalapeño Pepper Properly
Cutting jalapeño peppers can be a bit of a challenge if you’ve never handled spicy peppers before. Here are some tips:
Can I Use Plain Paprika?
Yes! Smoked paprika can be a bit much for some people, so you can definitely substitute plain paprika for smoked paprika. You’ll still get that mildly sweet and pungent flavor without the smokiness.