Like deviled eggs, cheese balls are versatile can be flavored in limitless combinations depending on your choice of add-ins and seasonings. Cheese balls are also a snap to make, and can be prepared the night before, so they are ready when you are on party day, making them one of our favorite holiday party appetizers.
Cheese balls gained popularity alongside canapes, pigs in a blanket, and the aforementioned deviled eggs during the 1950’s, but it tuns out that cheese balls were making news in New England long before then.
In 1801 the town of Cheshire in western Massachusetts caused a stir when it sent a 1235-pound ball of cheese to Washington, D.C. as a gift for the new President, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was popular with the mostly-farming communities in the western part of the state, but eastern residents of the Bay State weren’t pleased to hear about the “mammoth cheese” gift, since it was Massachusetts’ own John Adams that Jefferson had defeated.
Today’s cheese balls clock in under two pounds, and are traditionally made with a mixture of softened cream cheese and shredded cheese, flavored with any combination of herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and even bacon.
Once the cheese mixture has come together in the mixing bowl, it is patted into a ball shape using a rubber spatula, then tipped onto a plate or pie dish, where it is rolled in whatever will be the outside of the cheese ball. Nuts work well, as seen here:
Once coated, the cheese ball can be covered in plastic wrap and chilled until it’s time to serve. Arranged on a platter with crackers and a knife for spreading, cheese balls are a holiday party classic that we just can’t seem to shake.
Are you a fan of the cheese ball appetizer?
This post was first published in 2011 and has been updated.