Bacon & Cheddar Cheese Balls
Cheese balls put us in a partying mood. The very thought can inspire us to put on a swingy skirt and pour a martini, or spontaneously invite a few friends for cocktails in the backyard. Given their celebratory essence, it made sense for us to create a cheese ball recipe to mark our 70th anniversary, but we also think there’s no reason to wait for a special occasion to enjoy it. Life is short, these cheese balls won’t last when there’s other people around, and it’s too good to simply share it politely.
The flavor is mild and smoky, thanks to the bacon, while the bright tasting chives, garlic, and onion perk things right up. Crunchy pecans on the surface provide texture and a touch of sweetness. The sour cream and hot sauce add tang. All together, it tastes much more like a luxurious cream cheese than the bright orange cheese balls of yore. We really like it paired with a sleeve of Ritz crackers and a pile of celery — but also melted over baked chicken or pasta, or as the heart of the best grilled cheese of your life.
Finally, these cheese balls are easier to put together than a breakfast smoothie. The recipe makes three balls, so you’ll have plenty to share. You’ll likely be remembered as a hero if you bring one as a host gift or offer one to a neighbor, especially if you pair it with a bottle of bold cabernet.
Yield: 3 8-oz cheese balls
1 ½ cups chopped Gelson’s pecans
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup sour cream, room temperature
½ tsp Gelson’s onion powder
½ tsp Gelson’s garlic powder
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp Red Hot red pepper hot sauce
Gelson’s cayenne pepper, to taste
8 oz Gelson’s sharp cheddar cheese, grated
6 slices Gelson’s bacon, cooked crispy and finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped Gelson’s organic fresh chives
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground Gelson’s black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant, tossing halfway through. Transfer to a large plate to stop the cooking process. Let cool.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, onion powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper hot sauce, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir until thoroughly combined and smooth.
Stir in the cheddar cheese until evenly distributed.
Stir in the bacon and chives until evenly distributed.
Divide the mixture into 3 portions and gently press them into smooth balls. Transfer one cheese ball to the plate of pecans, and roll to coat it completely. Repeat with the remaining cheese balls.
Wrap the cheese balls in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, or until firm. Serve with your favorite crackers. Cheese balls can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.