This easy cheese ball recipe with bacon and walnuts is so quick and delicious, and the variations are practically endless! Whip it up in no time for your holiday party or game day - everybody loves it!
Perfect appetizer to nibble on at Thanksgiving or Christmas while your main meal is finishing up. So easy to make, but looks impressive and tastes even better!
💖 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Easy: Basic ingredients and simple to put together, you could have your kids whip this up with instructions from you.
- Quick: Grab all your ingredients and get this cheese ball put together in about 20 minutes. You will likely want to make it ahead of time, a few hours up to a couple days in advance. But you can also make it right before serving.
- Variations are endless: You can change the cheeses, the meat, and the nuts - see below for variation ideas to tailor this classic cheese ball to your specific taste.
What You'll Need For this Bacon Cheese Ball:
- Cheese: This recipe calls for shredded sharp cheddar and pepper Jack cheese. If you want to use all cheddar, mild or medium, feel free to do so. The pepper Jack adds just a hint of spiciness, but not much. If you want to add more pepper Jack, feel free to do so. Just keep the quantities equal - meaning, a total of 1-½ cups shredded cheese of your choice.
- Cream Cheese: I use regular full-fat cream cheese. You can also use neufchatel or lower fat cream cheese, and it should work out the same.
- Bacon: I like to use a leaner bacon, as there's more meat and less fat. I have also used pre-cooked real bacon bits, but I like to heat it up before using it, as it firms it up and browns it a bit more.
(See recipe card below for ingredient quantities and full recipe instructions)
📖 Substitutions / Variations
Using the classic cheese ball recipe base of cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, and Worcestershire sauce, you can change up the outside of the ball according to your preferences.
- Pineapple with ham and pecans. Drain about ½ cup canned pineapple tidbits and pat with paper towels to get most of the excess moisture out. Add to the outside of your cheese ball, leaving space for the nuts and meat. Use ½ cup of chopped pecans and a few slices of deli ham torn into pieces or chopped into ½-inch pieces.
- Dried (or chipped) beef with dried cranberries. Use about ¾ cup beef with ¾ cup dried cranberries to cover the outside of the ball.
- Ranch seasoning mix. Add 1 Tablespoon of ranch seasoning mix to the cream cheese mixture before forming into a ball.
- Pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, luncheon meat torn in bits, crushed crackers or chips, or more shredded cheese - just use your imagination.
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
How to Make a Fabulous Bacon Cheese Ball!
Step 1: Add shredded cheeses and cream cheese to a large bowl.
Step 2: Combine with sturdy spoon or hands (I prefer using my hands).
Step 3: Add the Worcestershire sauce and green onions.
Step 4: Mix together with your hands until well incorporated, forming into a ball as you go. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
Step 5: Add crumbled bacon and walnuts to a large plate and mix together.
Step 6: Place the cheese ball in the center of the plate and begin to cover the ball with the walnut and bacon pieces until the entire ball is covered.
(Scroll down for full recipe and print capabilities)
💭 Expert Preparation Tips
- Use a large bowl, larger than what you need, so you have plenty of room to mix your ingredients.
- Use your hands to mix, as it is much easier than trying to use a spoon or other utensil. you will first combine the cream cheese and shredded cheeses.
- Use shredded cheeses of your choice - a total of 1-½ cups. The pepper Jack does add a bit of flavor, but you can use all cheddar if you wish, or you can use more pepper Jack.
- The Worcestershire and green onions are pretty necessary for adding flavor to your ball. I really like the bits of color that the green onions add to the ball as well. I believe your guests (or your family) will agree.
- I recommend you cover and refrigerate for about an hour before adding the outer ingredients. This gives time for the cheese ball to firm up a bit after all that handling and mixing.
- Gather the nuts and bacon up over the sides of the ball and press gently but firmly so the pieces stay. Continue rolling the ball around and adding the nuts and bacon until the entire ball is covered. (using a large plate or platter makes this easier).
Storing / Serving
- Storing: This cheese ball recipe keeps well for several days in the refrigerator, so it's easy to make ahead. Making it ahead actually improves the flavor, so you may want to plan for this. I like to store it in a large bowl with plastic wrap covering it, then place it on my special cheese ball board for serving.
- Serving: It would look also look great served on a large platter with your crackers and vegetables surrounding the ball. I like to have a small knife handy when serving (like in the pictures) for ease of getting a portion of cheese ball onto people's plates.
🧐 Recipe FAQs
I like to serve mine with crackers, celery, carrot sticks, bell pepper slices, or any other veggies your crowd would enjoy. Being able to scoop up the cheese ball with the veggie or add it to something like a cracker is ideal.
Any kind of cracker really. I like Triscuits, water crackers, Ritz crackers, Wheat Thins, or any other sturdy cracker you like. Offering a mix of different crackers along with some veggies would be a great idea in order to please more people.
Perhaps your cream cheese isn't softened. Make sure to soften the cream cheese a little while (up to 30 minutes) before making.
It's also possible that you added too many things to the cream cheese mixture. Feel free to change up the ingredients, but keep the basic amounts the same.
If necessary, you can always add more cream cheese in order to soften up your ball.
I like to use full-fat cream cheese. If you used a lower fat version, this might be why your cheese ball is too soft.
Alternately, you may have left the cream cheese out too long to soften. Refrigerating should firm up the ball. You can also add a bit more green onions and/or shredded cheese to help firm up your cheese ball.
🥙 More Appetizer Recipes
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Cheese Ball Recipe with Bacon & Walnuts
- 16 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup cheddar cheese , sharp, fresh shredded
- ½ cup pepper Jack cheese , fresh shredded
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup green onions or scallions (2 small bunches), sliced
- ¾ cup walnuts , chopped into smallish pieces
- 6 slices bacon , cooked and crumbled
- In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and shredded cheeses with your hands or a strong, sturdy spoon. (Using your hands is really much easier, in my opinion.)
- Add in the Worcestershire sauce and green onions and mix together with your hands until well incorporated, forming into a ball as you go. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
- Add crumbled bacon and walnuts to a large plate and mix together. Place the cheese ball in the center of the plate and begin to cover the ball with the walnut and bacon pieces. I like to gather the nuts and bacon up over the sides of the ball and press gently but firmly so the pieces stay. Continue rolling the ball around and adding the nuts and bacon until the entire ball is covered.
- Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve (up to 4 days).