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Nothing says a party like a classic Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball! This easy-to-make recipe with creamy, smooth cream cheese, sharp cheddar, salty bacon, and crunchy toasted pecans is perfect for putting out at a gathering with fun crackers for everyone to enjoy!
We especially like to make a cheese ball during the holidays when we make a meal out of appetizers while playing games with family. Be sure to check out some of our other favorite party appetizers like Homemade Egg Rolls, Refried Bean Dip, Slow Cooker Little Smokies, and How to Make a Fruit and Cheese Platter.
Easy Cheese Ball Recipe
In the run-up to the holiday season, there are usually so many events where a cheese ball would be perfect. It's one of those vintage recipes that isn't super fancy but everybody loves it anyway. I remember enjoying them at church Christmas parties, family reunions, and neighborhood gatherings as a kid.
Everybody's mom has a go-to cheese ball recipe. Some are covered with pecans, some with almonds, some with pine nuts, and some are naked cheese balls and not covered on the outside at all. Of course, you could always just buy a cheese ball at the store, but they are never as good as a fresh one that is homemade.
A bacon cheddar ranch cheese ball isn't exactly covering new ground, but has always been one of my favorite flavor combinations for this savory appetizer. I use the same flavors when I'm making slow cooker crack chicken.
You can serve your cheese ball with any crackers you like, but these buttery little Pepperidge Farms butterflies are the best! Set out a couple of knives for people to attack the cheese ball with. It's super spreadable when you let it sit out on the counter for a bit, but not quite soft enough to dig into it with your crackers without them breaking.
Another option is to serve up celery and carrot sticks with the cheese ball. They have a great crunch and offer something a little healthier and lighter than crackers.
Cheese Ball Ingredients
- Cream cheese: I have used both the full fat cream cheese and the reduced fat neufchatel variety and both work. Be sure it's at room temperature to make it easier to mix all of the ingredients together to avoid ending up with lumps of plain cream cheese in the middle of the ball.
- Bacon: I like to chop up the bacon first and cook it in a skillet with a wooden spoon rather than cooking it first and chopping it up after. Either approach works.
- Sour cream: A little sour cream helps make the cheese ball a bit more spreadable.
- Garlic powder: I definitely prefer garlic powder to fresh minced garlic in this recipe because it blends in better with the other ingredients.
- Green onions: Chop up both the white and green parts and add them to your cheese ball for a kick of fresh flavor that cuts through the richness of the other ingredients.
- Cheese: I use a mix of freshly grated sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheeses in my cheese ball. But all cheddar would be great too!
- Ranch seasoning: This stuff comes in a packet and it adds so much fabulous flavor without overpowering the cheeseball and making it taste super "ranchy".
- Creole seasoning: This is my secret ingredient that makes this the best cheese ball ever!
- Dried herbs: A little parsley and oregano rounds out the flavor of this cheese ball.
- Salt & pepper: Just a bit, as needed. Go ahead and taste the mixture before adding any salt since the bacon and cheese might be salty enough on their own.
- Chopped pecans: We love, love, love the slightly sweet crunch of pecans coating the outside of the cheese ball. But sliced almonds, chopped pistachios, walnuts, or pine nuts would also be delicious!
How to Make a Cheese Ball
- Mix cream cheese until smooth. If your cream cheese is really soft, this can be done by hand, but I find it's just easiest to do it with a hand mixer.
- Mix in remaining ingredients. Add ¾ of the chopped, crispy bacon, all but two tablespoons each of the green onions and cheddar cheese, sour cream, pepper jack cheese, ranch seasoning, creole seasoning, parsley, garlic powder, oregano. Mix well, then taste and add the salt and pepper, as needed.
- Shape into a ball. It helps to use a spatula to first scrape everything away from the sides of the bowl, then to spray your hands with cooking spray and shape the ball by hand.
- Coat in nuts, cheese, and bacon. On a shallow plate or cutting board, combine the chopped pecans with the remaining 2 tablespoons of green onions, cheddar cheese, and bacon.
- Serve with a spreading knife. A cheese ball goes great with crackers, pretzels, veggie sticks, etc.
Make-Ahead, Storage, and Freezing Instructions
You can make this cheese ball about a week in advance, although I don't recommend coating it in the nut mixture on the outside until close to when you plan to serve it. Instead, just wrap the ball up in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge until the day you plan to serve it. Remove and roll in the pecan mixture, then let sit on the counter for an hour or so to soften.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days ad are delicious stirred into pasta or added to scrambled eggs!
You can even freeze a cheese ball without the pecan coating for up to 1 month. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge, then sit on the counter to come up to room temperature before serving.
More Recipes Like This
- Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
- Baked Brie in Puff Pastry
- Greek 7 Layer Dip
- Bacon Green Onion Deviled Eggs
- Greek Tzatziki Sauce
- Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball
- 8 ounces chopped bacon cooked and crumbled
- 16 ounces cream cheese softened
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2-3 green onions chopped (about ¼ cup)
- 1 ½ cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated pepper jack cheese
- 3 Tablespoons Ranch seasoning
- 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅔ cup chopped pecans
- Cook the bacon first, then drain well.
- In a large bowl, mix the softened cream cheese until smooth. Add ¾ of the bacon, all but two tablespoons each of the green onions and cheddar cheese, sour cream, pepper jack cheese, ranch seasoning, creole seasoning, parsley, garlic powder, oregano. Mix well using a hand mixer or a sturdy spoon, then taste and add the salt and pepper, as needed.
- Shape into a ball, by using a spatula to scrape everything away from the sides of the bowl, then spray your hands with cooking spray and shape by hand.
- On a shallow plate or cutting board, combine the chopped pecans with the remaining 2 tablespoons of green onions, cheddar cheese, and bacon.
- Roll the cheese ball in the pecan mixture to cover on all sides. Wrap up in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up a bit.
- Unwrap the cheese ball and place on a plate with crackers, pretzels, veggie sticks, etc. to serve. It helps to let the cheese ball come up to room temperature a bit so it's easier to spread and to include a couple of spreading knives since the cheeseball is too firm to just dip crackers into it.
- Can be made a week in advance and kept in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap. Just wait to coat the cheese ball in nuts until the day you plan to serve it. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.
- Can be frozen without nuts up to 1 month.
Also, be sure to keep scrolling to check out some other great savory holiday recipes from some of my food blogging friends!Grab one of these delicious recipes for your holiday celebration! Pull Apart Cheesy Bread from What’s Cookin’ Chicago Cranberry Goat Cheese Roll from Savory Experiments Loaded Cauliflower from Devour Dinner Caramelized Onion and Pear Bites from Chipa by the Dozen Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball from House of Nash Eats Old Fashioned Green Beans with Bacon and Brown Sugar from Rose Bakes Pear and Brie Crostini from Tastes of Homemade Breakfast Charcuterie Board from Hoosier Homemade Hasselback Potato Gratin from The Flour Handprint Beef Wellington from Fresh Coast Eats