A Spicy Perspective

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!

cheese balls

THE Party Snack of the Season

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.

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.

bacon and pistachio

A New Kind of Cracker?

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 crunchy contrast, to boot.

cheese ball recipe

What You Need To Make The Recipe

Ingredients

  • Cream Cheese
  • 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
  • Dried tart cherries – Or dried cranberries
  • Chopped pistachios – Or Chopped Cooked Bacon and Pistachio combo
  • Athens Mini Fillo Shells

How To Make Cheese Balls

  1. Puree both the cheeses in the food processor until they are smooth and evenly combined. 
  2. Then add in the lemon zest, cayenne, and cherries and then pulse them all together until the cherries are slightly distributed and chopped evenly. 
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and then let the mixture chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. 
  4. Then grab a bowl and place your pistachios (or bacon and pistachio combo) in a bowl. Take a small scoop of the cheese and roll into a ball with your hands until it is smooth. Take that cheese ball and roll it in the pistachios until it is evenly coated. 
  5. Place the coated cheese ball into the fillo shell and repeat until all the cheese is balled up. Enjoy! 

Get the Complete (Printable) Mini Cheese Balls Recipe Below. Enjoy!

mini cheese balls

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

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 the recipe from start to finish, then refrigerate for several days.

How long does this appetizer last in the fridge?

A homemade cheese ball can stay fresh in the fridge for at least 3 to 5 days, and up to 2 weeks, depending on how fresh the ingredients you bought were and the expiration date on the packaging of your cheeses. 

Can you keep cheese balls in the freezer?

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. 

What are some other popular ingredient swaps or add-ins? 

Some great substitutions or add-ins could be

  • Smoked Cheddar 
  • Gouda 
  • Fontina
  • Cried Cranberries 
  • Dried Apricots 
  • Chives 
  • Rosemary 
  • Chopped Cashew  
  • Pecans

fillo shells

Other Great Appetizer Dishes

Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes
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Mini Cheese Ball Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
This Mini Cheese Ball Recipe served in crispy little fillo shells is fun to serve and even more fun to eat!
Servings: 40 bites

Ingredients

Instructions

  • 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 teaspoons 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bite, Calories: 68kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 70mg, Potassium: 54mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 165IU, Vitamin C: 0.5mg, Calcium: 54mg, Iron: 0.2mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

Making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Athens Foods. All opinions are, of course, my own.

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52 comments on “Mini Cheese Balls”

  1. I love cheese. These are such yummy little appetizers, perfect for parties and get-togethers.

  2. These look so delicious and tasty! I can’t wait to make these! So excited!

  3. Such an amazing appetizer when I have a friend or two over 

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  5. Love these!

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  9. Very innovative receipes .I am a foodie & lk to Mk different things.I lkd the receipe of Thai coconut hummus.

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  21. What a great idea! Quick, adorable, make ahead, and flexible. You nailed the perfect holiday party food, Sommer.

  22. So darn cute, is what these are! I love the idea of doing a mini cheese ball. That way, you don’t have to commit to just one flavor!

  23. These are super cute and creative, Sommer! I know I’d gobble up more than a few myself!

  24. Thank you for all your delicious recipes and your generosity with the giveaways throughout the year. Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year to you and yours.

  25. I love the idea of these mini cheeseballs. Can’t wait to make a vegan version!

  26. Mmm what an awesome appetizer idea!

  27. i cannot think of one thing i do not like about a cheese ball!

    then again, i’m not lactose intolerant. (how sad for them…)

  28. This recipe contains two words I’m extremely fond of: cheese and fillo. Everything else is just gravy. :)

  29. great idea – I love finger food for parties

  30. So CUTE!!! And delightful :) Loving this cheese ball idea, Sommer!

    Hugs <3

  31. The bacon and cheese balls might be my new favorite food! I wish I had the ingredients to make them for a party tonight. Next time for sure!

  32. yum! perfect to bring to a holiday party!

  33. These look lovely. I love recipe. I have to pin it :D

  34. These are definitely a crowd pleasing treat. I love everything about these!

  35. I was looking for these tart shells in my small-town grocery store and couldn’t find them, so I had to make my own shells. Not as easy, but definitely still delicious! Love fillo! :)

  36. These look so fun for a party! And they’re cheese ball so they’re obviously delicious!

  37. Sommer … these are such a wonderful creation of the old favorite cheese ball. I have a special adaptation I’ll have to try, and yes, my Spicing Pecans web page is coming soon and I hope I can link to your work often. Again, these Mini Cheese Balls in the Filo Cups are great! Thanks.

  38. I’m in love with cute food, too. And these are definitely cute. And they look fabulously delicious, AND perfect for the holidays!!

  39. These are so clever! Absolutely love this idea!

  40. How cute and with pistachios!! Love this!!

  41. I adore the little cups! So cute – and perfect for parties!

  42. Ok… these aren’t JUST cheese balls. I was expecting a big hunk of orange something in the middle. These are so much more.

  43. These are just about the cutest little appetizers ever!

  44. Sommer these lok fabolous!! Everytime I go to a [arty and they have cheese, it’s brie and it hardens up, so it’s hard to cut and breaks on a cracker! I love this idea with cheese balls! Your photos look fabolous!!

  45. This is flippin’ brilliant, Sommer! I HAVE to make these when my family visits this Christmas…or maybe for New Year’s Eve…or maybe both.

  46. How cute are these Sommer! I love bite size appetizers and those little fillo cups definitely make it easier to pull off for a big party. We’re having a big holiday open house this year – these mini cheese balls would be perfect!