This Harvest Cream Cheese Ball is the perfect holiday appetizer- made with all your favorite fall flavors, it's seriously easy to make ahead and a total crowd pleaser!
Check out these other great recipes featuring pecans: Pumpkin Crunch Cake, Caramel Pretzel Turtles
Easy Fall Cheese Ball
See that? I just made a rhyme! Anyway, I don't really remember eating cheese balls at holidays and gatherings growing up. I'm sure they were there, but non really stick out in my memory which makes me sad, because they're delicious!
This recipe is a really great way to wow your friends and family with minimal effort- and its meant to be made ahead!I made sure to include all my favorite fall flavors for an appetizer that kills it at any gathering!
Tips for how to make cheese balls
- It's a good idea to soften your cream cheese- makes it much easier to mix together faster. I do this by taking it out an hour ahead of when I intend to make it. But if you forget, just zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds and you'll be good to go.
- A food processor will save you a ton of time in chopping the pecans, dried cranberries and fresh thyme. You can also do it by hand if you don't have a food processor.
- Be sure to chill for at least an hour so you get the right texture.
Helpful ingredient information
- Cheese: You wouldn't have cheese balls without cheese and for this one I used two 8 ounce blocks of cream cheese (you can totally use low fat if you prefer- it tastes the same to me!) and also shredded white cheddar cheese. Other shredded cheese alternatives could include Monterey Jack cheese or even Mozzarella and pre-shredded cheese works just fine for this recipe.
- Nut mixture: For this mixture, I chopped together pecans, dried cranberries and fresh thyme right in my food processor. I did roughly chop the thyme before adding it. Half of this mixture goes right into the cheese ball and the other half is used to cover the outside of it.
- Seasonings: To round out the flavor, I added salt, white pepper and onion powder. I personally feel that white pepper compliments the other flavors in this but if you don't have any, black pepper works in a pinch.
Can I mix it without a mixer?
You totally can, just make sure your cream cheese is nice and soft to make it easier and be sure to use a sturdy spoon like a wooden spoon and mix it well.
How do I shape a cheeseball?
I like to lay out a decent-size piece of plastic wrap onto a clean surface. Or even better, two pieces of plastic wrap crossed at the middle for an additional layer. Then I take a rubber spatula to scrape all of the cheese mixture together and out onto the center of the plastic wrap. From here I pull up each side of the plastic wrap and put my hand on the outside of it to smooth and shape each side into a ball without getting my hands dirty. Once the sides are smoothed and it's starting to resemble a ball shape, wrap it up in the plastic wrap and finish pressing it into a ball. You can always fix it once it's chilled and hardened a bit.
How long can it sit out?
I'd leave it out for no more than two hours due to the fact that it's got lots of dairy in it.
Can I make these individual cheese ball bites instead of one big one?
Sure! I'd make them around 1 Tablespoon per cheese ball bite (so around 1 inch in size) and chill them on a parchment lined baking sheet. When you're ready to serve, roll each one in the nut mixture and press a pretzel stick into it for a cute presentation! This should make between 20-25 bites depending on how large you make them.
Can I freeze a cheese ball?
Yes, but I'd encourage you to wait to roll it into the remaining nut mixture until you've thawed it and are ready to serve.
What should I serve with my cheese ball?
I think the best thing to serve it with is your favorite crackers but you can also serve it with toasted baguette slices or vegetables.
Leftovers and storage
This cheese ball will last for up to a week wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator.
- Chef's knife
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Mixing bowl
- Stand mixer or Hand mixer
- Food processor
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5 star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below ⬇️ and/or a review in the comment section further down. Check out my Amazon Store for all my favorite tools, including those used in this recipe. And follow @thelifejolie on Instagram and TikTok!
Harvest Cream Cheese Ball
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, roughly chopped
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened (2 blocks)
- 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Crackers for serving
- Place pecans, dried cranberries and thyme and pulse until everything is well mixed and ground into small pieces. Set aside.
- Mix both cheeses, salt, pepper and onion powder until well combined.
- Add half of the nut mixture and mix again until well combined.
- Lay out a sheet or two of plastic wrap (cross them) onto a clean surface and place the cheese mixture into the center of it. Pull up the sides of the plastic wrap to use as a barrier so you can shape it without getting your hands dirty.
- Shape into a rough ball shape and cover with the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Once chilled, remove plastic wrap and roll into remaining nut mixture. It helps to use your hands to press the mixture into the cheese ball so that it sticks to the outside. Serve immediately with your favorite crackers.