Mini Cheese Balls are studded with dried cranberries and blue cheese, rolled in toasted pecans, and skewered with pretzel sticks for a fun and easy party appetizer!
'Tis the season for holiday get-togethers, potlucks, and parties! That means that this time of year, from Thanksgiving right on through New Year's Eve, there are ample opportunities for delicious and creative appetizers. And today I'm sharing one that's not only quick and easy, but also fun and just a little bit different...Mini Cheese Balls!
What are Mini Cheese Balls?
Everyone enjoys a good cheese ball, and this recipe simply miniaturizes that concept. After all, who doesn't love cute, bite-sized party food?
Skewering your cheese ball bites with pretzels makes these little gems easy to serve and eat.
Furthermore, you can always customize the flavors to your liking.
- Cream cheese. At room temperature.
- Blue cheese. Crumbled.
- Sweetened dried cranberries. Finely chopped.
- Toasted pecans. Also chopped. For the coating.
- Pretzel sticks. This is the ingredient that differentiates a regular ol' cheese ball from cute little cheese ball bites! 😉
These ingredients may seem simple but they balance each other beautifully. Cream cheese neutralizes the blue cheese so that it's a bit less overpowering, the cranberries provide a nice sweet contrast, and the pecans lend some toasty crunch.
How to Make Them
These fun and impressive Mini Cheese Balls are surprisingly quick and easy to make!
- Combine cream cheese, blue cheese, and dried cranberries until smooth.
- Dampen hands to prevent sticking and roll tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture into balls. Cover and refrigerate for a couple hours until firm.
- While the mini cheese balls chill, toast the pecans until fragrant. Allow to cool and finely chop.
- Roll your chilled mini cheese ball bites in the chopped pecans, pressing into the nuts so that they adhere. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Just before serving, skewer each mini cheese ball with a pretzel stick.
Mini Cheese Ball Variations
If you're not a fan of blue cheese, feel free to swap it out for a less pungent variety of cheese, such as feta or even grated sharp white cheddar.
For that matter, you can substitute different dried fruit and nuts as well! Dried cherries with pistachios would be tasty, as would dried apricots with almonds.
Another yummy alternative would be to scatter these Mini Cheese Balls (sans pretzel sticks) over a salad. I think that doing so would elevate a simple salad to something really special for a fancy holiday meal or dinner party!
So the next time you're asked to bring a munchie to a potluck or party -- or you're hosting a soirée yourself -- do yourself (and the other party guests) a favor and make these Mini Cheese Balls!
They require just a few ingredients and minimal effort for an impressive presentation and maximum flavor.
Now tell me...what more can you ask of an appetizer than that? 🙂
More Festive Recipes for the Holidays
- Christmas Ornament Cheese Balls
- Holiday Honeycrisp Salad
- Crockpot Brown Sugar Ham
- Cranberry Pomegranate Bellinis with Lime
Mini Cheese Balls
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (about 3 ounces) blue cheese crumbles
- ¾ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups pecan halves
- 2 dozen pretzel sticks
- In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, blue cheese, and dried cranberries until smooth. Dampen hands to prevent sticking and form cream cheese mixture into approximately 24 tablespoon-sized balls. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or until firm.
- In the meantime, toast the pecans by spreading out on a sheet pan and baking in a preheated 350°F oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, for 7 to 10 minutes. Allow pecans to cool and finely chop them.
- Roll the chilled cheese balls in the chopped pecans, pressing in the nuts so that they adhere. Keep the cheese balls refrigerated until ready to serve. Just before serving, skewer each cheese ball with a pretzel stick.
- Watch your pecans carefully, as they can go from toasted to burnt very quickly.
- You can make the cheese balls ahead of time, but don't insert the pretzels until just before serving or they will become soggy.
Recipe adapted from Family Fun magazine, December/January 2014.
Post originally shared on November 24, 2013, and updated on November 24, 2017, December 30, 2020, and December 15, 2022.