These bite-sized cheese balls rolled in pecans and skewered with pretzel sticks are an easy appetizer perfect for any occasion with friends!
Christmas is already behind us and New Years Eve is on its way: it’s time to party again! We’re doing it with friends in Chicago this year, and it will be a giant potluck. So basically everyone is in charge of bringing something to eat. Small treats – and especially bite-sized treats – are always welcome in these kind of gatherings, as they are easy to grab anytime while partying. They are indeed a perfect easy appetizer for any get-together with friends or family.
As I’m French, small-bites often implies cheese for me! Instead of the classic pairing bread and cheese (and wine), there are many other ways to enjoy it. If you’ve been on the blog before, you probably noticed already my baked cheese pyramid with pomegranate and pistachio. It consists in melted cheese served with maple syrup and dried fruits that you enjoy with bread or crispy bread. A decadent treat for every cheese lovers and adepts of sweet and savory flavor.
Another cheese treat appetizer I have been making lately: these mini cranberry-pecan cheese ball bites! I found a similar recipe while scrolling on Pinterest a while ago, and found them very interesting. I kept them in mind, and eventually found my own version of the recipe. It’s an easy and fun recipe for which you can easily add your own twist depending on your tastes.
Here I paired cream cheese and goat cheese together, because I am a big fan of goat cheese (check here my goat cheese and sun-dried tomato madeleines, a huge hit on the blog!). I also made a few of them with cream cheese only, as some of my guests didn’t like goat cheese. Another possibility here would be to replace goat cheese with blue cheese for instance, or making half with goat cheese, half with blue cheese. Then you stir the cheese mixture with dried cranberries. I love cranberries so for me it was an easy combination. But if you are looking for something else, dried tomatoes, or chopped olives could do the job too!
Once your cheese balls are chilled, simply roll them into finely chopped pecans. The pecans in this recipe are entirely raw, but you could imagine to toast them in the oven for a few minutes before using it (if you do so, simply display them on a baking sheet and put in the oven on the grill position, watching out carefully to avoid from burning, and stirring regularly). Same here, if you want to add your own twist with the crunchy part of the cheese balls, replace the pecans with chopped walnuts, almonds, or pistachios. If you have even more ideas, just let me know, that will be fun!
To make the cheese balls easier to grab, simply skewer them with a pretzel stick, keeping in mind that it is best to add the stick just before serving only as they will become soggy if you add it too much in advance. And there you go: you get the perfect sized-bites appetizer everyone will be happy to grab at some point during the party!
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (about 3 ounces) goat cheese
- ¾ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
- 1½ cups pecans, finely chopped
- Pretzel sticks
- In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, goat cheese*, and dried cranberries until smooth. Dampen hands to prevent sticking and form cream cheese mixture into approximately 24 teaspoon-sized balls. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or until firm.
- Roll chilled cheese balls in chopped pecans, pressing nuts so that they adhere. Keep cheese balls refrigerated until ready to serve. Just before serving, skewer each cheese ball with a pretzel stick**.
** You can make the cheese balls ahead of time, but don't insert the pretzels until just before serving or they will become soggy.