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Celebration Cheese Balls

A handful of simple ingredients that go together in minutes, three fun flavorful options…these creamy cheese balls from our Test Kitchen are a darling, do-ahead delight for busy holiday hostesses! Why not whip up several batches? —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. + chilling
  • Makes
    3 cheese balls (1 cup each)


  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 10 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, divided
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno pepper
  • Assorted crackers


  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and garlic until blended. Divide into three portions.
  • For Pine Nut-Pesto Cheese Ball: Beat one portion of cream cheese mixture and pesto until blended. Stir in basil. Chop 2 tablespoons pine nuts; stir into cheese mixture. Shape into a ball; roll in remaining pine nuts. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm.
  • For Horseradish-Bacon Cheese Ball: Beat one portion of cream cheese mixture and horseradish until blended. Stir in bacon and onion. Shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm.
  • For Salsa Cheese Ball: Beat one portion of cream cheese mixture, tomato paste and salt until blended. Stir in cilantro, onion and jalapeno. Shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm.
  • Can refrigerate up to two weeks. Serve with crackers.
Editor's Note
Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.
Nutrition Facts
1/4 cup: 57 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated fat), 16mg cholesterol, 98mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 2g protein.

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  • pollytaylor
    Nov 26, 2017

    I used to be in charge of making the cheese balls every year for the combo openhouse/Christmas party at a place I used to work. One year I made individual truffle sized cheese balls that went over quite well. But I bought several different types of cheese and each cheese ball was a different flavor cheese mixed with the cream cheese, and were then rolled in different things like herbs, nuts and spices.

  • pants11
    Dec 15, 2014

    I've made these several times and they are always a hit. I frequently get asked for the recipe. Delicious, festive and very easy to make!

  • BlessedOut
    Jun 20, 2009

    EVER since I first made this, I have gotten a request (actually, a DEMAND) to bring these to that holiday event ever since. I have not found a single person who has not enjoyed these. :)In fact, I'm kinda getting tired of making them! :) But the end product always makes me grateful that I did. SO yummy!

  • peth1s
    Mar 10, 2009

    No comment left

  • chrismmcmaine
    Jan 18, 2009

    I only made the Pine Nut-Pesto ball and it was wonderful.

  • debigs
    Dec 15, 2008

    No comment left

  • Ann
    Feb 17, 2008

    No comment left