An Epic, Easy Cheese Ball Recipe for Any Gathering
As a born-&-raised Wisconsinite, cheese balls are simply part of who I am! There is nothing in life that excites me more than seeing cheese balls on a snack table during the holidays or for the big game. So, while some may consider them to be retro or passé, good ol’ cheese balls will never be out of style in my heart. A cheese ball is always a classic crave-worthy snack!
This particular cheese ball recipe is my take on my sister-in-law’s infamous Baco-Cheddar Cheese Ball (pronounced in your thickest Wisconsin accent, of course!). We always look forward to having it at our family gatherings.
My bacon cheddar cheese ball is equally as crave-worthy, made with a combination of sharp cheddar & luscious cream cheese, some spices, & thick-cut bacon for a touch of smokiness. But the real bold flavor comes from the addition of beer, which balances the richness of all the cheesy goodness.
There’s no way to describe how happy this cheese ball recipe makes me…my favorite spot at a party is at the snack table, dipping crackers in a bacon cheddar cheese ball. It’s the BEST cheese ball recipe, & you’ll love it too! Not only is this bacon cheese ball super flavorful, but it also only takes 15 minutes to make. Such an easy way to up the snacking game at a festive gathering!
Bacon Cheese Ball Recipe Highlights
You will love this bacon cheese ball recipe because it’s…
- EASY. – All you need is 15 minutes, one bowl, & 8 simple ingredients (most of which you probably already have on hand) to make an amazing crowd-pleasing snack. This is a seriously simple & easy cheese ball recipe!
- SERIOUSLY THE BEST! – The creamy texture & rich flavors of this bacon cheese ball are completely irresistible! I love the combination of smoky bacon, sharp cheddar, & rich beer (the secret ingredient that takes this cheese ball recipe over the top).
- THE PERFECT SHARABLE. – This cheese ball recipe is the centerpiece at all my gatherings. Perfect for holiday dinners, New Year’s Eve midnight snacks, game day watch parties – you name it. There’s nothing better than sharing a cheese ball with friends.
This shareable treat will shine on your party snack table! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball with Beer, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
So…What’s a Cheese Ball Made Of? Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball Key Ingredients.
A cheese ball is made with, you guessed it, plenty of cheese! But adding a few more simple staples makes this bacon cheese ball one of a kind.
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
You will need…
- Cheese – Of course! I suggest using a mix of cheese for any cheese ball recipe. This recipe uses sharp cheddar (for flavor) & cream cheese (for texture). It doesn’t get any better than a cream cheese ball loaded with extra cheese! Always grate fresh cheese for the best results.
- Bacon – Bacon adds a subtle smoky flavor, which cuts through the richness of all of the cheese & makes each cheese ball bite extra-delicious. Center-cut bacon is my fave for a bacon cheese ball because it’s typically a little leaner & meatier.
- Green onions – Fresh green onions give cheese balls a festive pop of color & some freshness to balance to all that rich cheese.
- Staple spices – Garlic powder & smoked paprika add some extra flavor to this cheese ball recipe. Add a dash of cayenne pepper if you want your cheese ball to have more of a spicy kick – it’s so good!
- Beer – My cheese ball recipe secret ingredient! Adding beer to the bacon cheese ball helps round out the flavor from the rich cheese & smoky bacon. Use whatever beer you love most! I find that the bold flavor of a big IPA works really well here, as would a heavier or darker beer like a nice porter. While I’m not a big beer drinker, I’m a big fan of using it in a classic cheese ball recipe. It adds an epic amount of flavor!
How to Make A Cheese Ball
Making a cheese ball could seriously not get any easier. The whole process, which takes just 15 minutes & only uses one bowl, consists of 3 super fast, super simple steps. It might be the easiest shareable snack ever!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Prep the cheddar bacon cheese ball coating. Start your cheese ball prep by mixing some crumbled bacon & shredded cheddar cheese on a large plate. This salty, smoky, cheesy mixture is the finishing touch on our cream cheese ball!
Mix the cheese ball mixture & set. Add the cream cheese, some crumbled bacon, & shredded cheddar to a mixing bowl. Season with green onions & spices, then spike it with a good splash of beer. Mix it all together, then transfer to the freezer to chill for a quick 10-15 minutes. Why? ⇢ While it’s helpful for the cream cheese mixture to be at room temperature to combine it into a well-mixed mixture, it’s a lot easier to handle & form into a ball once it’s chilled a little bit. A quick stint in the freezer is perfect!
Form the cheese ball & coat. This part gets a little messy, but it’s where the magic happens! Transfer the chilled cream cheese ball mixture to a large piece of plastic wrap, which helps you form the mixture without getting your hands too sticky or messy. Use the plastic to start shaping the mixture into a ball. There’s no precise method here, just be patient & keep working until everything comes together into a beautiful round ball. To finish it off, roll the cheese ball in the bacon & cheddar mixture. This coating makes the bacon cheddar cheese ball really pop! Tip! ⇢ You can serve your cheese ball right away, or store it in the fridge a bit to firm up more, which is especially helpful if you plan to set it out on the snack table for a few hours of grazing.
Serving Suggestions & Cheese Ball FAQs
Serving Your Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball
You can serve your bacon cheese ball right away – & trust me, it won’t last long after it hits the table! But what do you eat with a cheese ball? Cheese balls are best served with something crunchy & dippable. Crackers & veggies are two of the best options. There’s no need to get too fancy here – a cheese ball is a pretty casual, rustic snack. Butter crackers like Ritz or a bag of baby carrots are all you need. I personally love a hearty, salty cracker like Wheat Thins to scoop up a big bite of bacon cheddar cheese ball. There’s nothing better!
What is the best cheese for a cheese ball?
Cream cheese is ideal for creating the perfectly round shape of a classic cheese ball. A cream cheese ball is soft & easily shapeable, with the all-around perfect texture. But adding other cheese to your cream cheese ball will really take the flavor up a notch. I like cheddar since its sharp, slightly nutty flavor is a good contrast to the creaminess of cream cheese. Smoked gouda works great too! Whatever cheese you use, make sure to freshly grate it for the best flavor & freshness.
How do you firm up a cheese ball?
If your cheese ball is too soft to form into a round ball, it might need some more time in the freezer. Chilling your cream cheese ball helps all the ingredients mesh together & makes the cheese firm up so it’s easy to shape into a ball.
How long is a cream cheese cheese ball good for?
A cheese ball isn’t quite the same after it’s munched on compared to when it’s first served. Most of the fun is digging into that fresh, round, beautifully coated cream cheese ball covered in bacon & cheddar. But if you have any cheese ball leftovers, you can definitely keep them stored in an airtight container in your fridge for 2-3 days. I just suggest enjoying as much of this cheddar bacon cheese ball as you can when it’s fresh. If you’re hosting a party, this shouldn’t be a big issue – there are rarely any leftovers at our family gatherings!
What do you eat with a cheese ball?
A cheese ball is all about dipping! Serve your bacon cheese ball with a hearty, stable snack that can handle the rich, creamy, super loaded flavors & textures of the best cheese ball ever. Crackers & veggies are both great options for serving with any classic cheese ball.
Can I make my bacon cheese ball ahead of time?
Definitely! This easy cheese ball recipe is wonderfully make-ahead-friendly. After it’s shaped & coated, wrap the cheese ball with plastic wrap & store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When it’s time to serve, make sure you take the bacon cheddar cheese ball out of the fridge with enough time to warm up to room temperature. The best cheese ball is easiest to eat when it has a soft, dippable texture!
There ya go! The absolute best cheese ball party snack that your holiday or game day guests are sure to LOVE. I can’t get enough of this easy cheese ball recipe, & I bet it’ll be your go-to party app now too.
I can’t wait for you to try this Cheddar Bacon Cheese Ball! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!
Love easy festive appetizers? Same here! 🙌🏼 Try these Goat Cheese Balls with Tart Cherries & Walnuts, my Bejeweled Holiday Marinated Goat Cheese, crowd-pleasing Grilled Buffalo Chicken Poppers, or classic Easy Marinated Olives for your next party! Your guests will be obsessed.Print
This Cheddar Bacon Cheese Ball is a well-loved family recipe – I’m convinced it’s the absolute BEST cheese ball recipe! Sharp cheddar & cream cheese come together with smoky bacon, aromatic green onions, a couple of staple spices, & my super-secret cheese ball ingredient…beer!
It’s an easy creamy, dreamy cheese ball that bursts with smoky, cheesy flavor. Serve it with crackers & your bacon cheese ball is totally party-ready – perfect for holiday gatherings, game day parties, or any other festive get-togethers!
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked & crumbled
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup beer of choice (see Recipe Notes, below)
- 4 green onions, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- optional: pinch cayenne pepper
- Prep the cheese ball coating: Place half of the crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese on a large plate. Mix to combine. Set aside.
- Mix the cheese ball mixture: In a medium bowl, combine the remaining crumbled bacon & shredded cheddar cheese with the cream cheese, beer, green onions, garlic powder, smoked paprika, & cayenne pepper. Mix together until completely combined & smooth. Transfer to the freezer to chill for 10-15 minutes.
- Form the cheese ball: Transfer the chilled cream cheese mixture to a large piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to form the mixture into a ball – this will be a little messy, so just be patient & keep working until it comes together! Roll the ball in the bacon & cheddar mixture from Step 1, coating the entire surface with shredded cheese & crumbled bacon.
- Serve immediately, with crackers or veggies as desired. Enjoy!
- Suggested Beer: I’m the first to admit that I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I absolutely love using a full-flavored beer for this bacon cheddar cheese ball recipe. The bold flavor of a big IPA really helps balance out the richness of the cheese & bacon. That said, you can use whatever beer you love most. A lighter lager or ale (such as New Glarus Spotted Cow, Miller High Life, or PBR) would be great, as would a heavier or darker beer like a nice porter. If you do not wish to use beer, simply omit it for a non-alcoholic cheese ball.
- Make-Ahead & Storage: This bacon cheddar cheese ball stores really beautifully, so it’s wonderfully make-ahead friendly.
- Make-Ahead Instructions: Prep the cheese ball according to Steps 1-3 of Recipe Directions, above. Wrap it well with plastic wrap & store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. About an hour before you plan to serve it, pull it from the refrigerator to give it a chance to warm to room temperature.
- Storage Instructions: Cheese ball leftovers will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Keywords: cheese ball, holiday appetizers, party appetizers, bacon cheddar cheese ball, cheese and crackers
Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat