Mini Cheese Balls
We all could use a few crowd-pleasing party snack ideas this time of year, and this Mini Cheese Balls Recipe served in crispy little fillo shells is fun to serve and even more fun to eat!
Why We Love These Mini Cheese Balls
Cheese balls, the quintessential holiday party snack.
I could probably count on one hand the times I’ve been to a holiday party and the Cheese Ball was not represented. They are perfect for any holiday! Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve parties would all be even better with these mini cheeseballs.
After all, what’s not to love about a big ball of soft cheese rolled in nuts?
If a good cheese ball recipe is your thing, I am going to make you supremely happy today by offering you itty-bitty, cherry-stuffed, white cheddar, cheese balls rolled in pistachios… Or bacon.
You’re welcome. These teeny-weeny cheese balls are the perfect finger food, each with a soft savory interior and a crunchy exterior to keep your fingers clean.
The base of this mini cheese ball recipe is equal parts shredded white cheddar and cream cheese. It’s then mixed with lemon zest, herbs and spices, and a little punch of cherry flavor from tart dried cherries. The cherries provide color, sweetness, and a touch of holiday flair without overpowering the cheesy essence.
After rolling the cheese balls in a nutty coating, this mini cheese balls recipe is perfected by pressing each ball into its own crunchy fillo (phyllo) shell. Crackers-shmackers, who needs’em.
In fact, Athens Mini Fillo Shells are a great choice for holiday party snacks because they are fully baked and ready to fill, so you can open the box and use them immediately.
Plus they make all your party nibbles look so cute!
My mini cheese ball recipe fills each fillo shell like it’s holding a little pearl of holiday cheer. Plus they provide a crunchy contrast, to boot.
Ingredients You Need
Homemade mini cheese ball bites are super easy to make and so delicious! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cream Cheese – softened to room temperature
- Shredded White Cheddar – Also try smoked cheddar or gouda.
- Zest of a Lemon
- Fresh Chopped Thyme Leaves – You could even use dried thyme leaves as well.
- Cayenne Pepper – for a little bit of heat
- Dried tart cherries – Or dried cranberries
- Chopped pistachios – Or Chopped Cooked Bacon and Pistachio combo
- Athens Mini Fillo Shells
How To Make Mini Cheese Balls
Place both cheeses in the food processor and puree until smooth. Add the lemon zest, thyme, cayenne, and cherries and pulse until the cherries are chopped and evenly distributed.
Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Place the pistachios (and bacon) in small bowls. Scoop a 2-teaspoon portion of cheese mixture into your hands and roll into a smooth ball. Use a cookie scoop, if you have one! Then place the ball in the pistachios and gently shake until the ball is covered in nuts. Press the cheese ball into a mini fillo shell and place on a platter. Repeat with the remaining cheese mixture.
If making ahead, cover the platter well and refrigerate until ready to serve. They can be made 1-2 days ahead.
Get the Complete (Printable) Mini Cheese Balls Recipe Below. Enjoy!
- Cheese: I used cream cheese and white cheddar cheese for my mini cheeseball, but you can throw in other shredded cheese like smoked cheddar, gouda, parmesan cheese, or fontina cheese! Just make sure to use cream cheese since that is what makes the balls stick together well.
- Fruits: The dried cherries here offer a hint of tart freshness, but you can use other dried fruits, instead. Try using cranberries or dried apricots!
- Herbs: Instead of thyme and cayenne pepper, try adding some chives and rosemary.
- Crunchy Outside: Bacon and pistachios are my personal favorites for the outside layer, but you can use a variety of chopped nuts like cashews, chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds! Or, try layering the outside with crushed pretzels!
- Fillo Cup: You technically do not have to serve these with a fillo cup. You can serve mini cheese balls on their own with a side of your favorite crackers, pretzel sticks, pita chips, and veggies!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can! Just make sure to cover the platter well with some plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until you are ready for it to be served. You can prepare the filling and coating, then leave them in the refrigerator until ready to roll. Or you can make this recipe from start to finish, then refrigerate for several days.
A homemade cheese ball can stay fresh in the fridge for at least 3-5 days as leftovers, and up to two weeks depending on how fresh the ingredients you bought were and the expiration date on the packaging of your cheeses. Just make sure to store them in an airtight container.
Yes, you can keep the cheese portion in the freezer for up to 3 months, but I do not encourage keeping the fillo shells in the freezer with the cheese. You can always assemble them before serving, after you let the balls and fillo shells defrost.
Looking for More Holiday Appetizers? Be Sure to Also Try:
- Pomegranate Cheese Ball Recipe
- Broccoli Cheese Casserole Mini Pies Recipe
- Chorizo and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe
- Spicy Roasted Chickpea Recipe
- Crispy Polenta Fries (Baked) Recipe
- Crispy Mashed Potatoes with Queso Fresco Recipe
Mini Cheese Ball Recipe
- Place both cheeses in the food processor and puree until smooth. Add the lemon zest, thyme, cayenne, and cherries and pulse until the cherries are chopped and evenly distributed.
- Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Place the pistachios (and bacon) in small bowls. Scoop a 2-teaspoon portion of cheese mixture into your hands and roll into a smooth ball. Then place the ball in the pistachios and gently shake until the ball is covered with nuts. Press the cheese ball into a mini fillo shell and place on a platter. Repeat with the remaining cheese mixture.
- If making ahead, cover the platter well and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made 1-2 days ahead.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Athens Foods. All opinions are, of course, my own.