THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY
ALDI, who I’m proud to partner with & share with you throughout 2022! This month, ALDI is hitting the rewind button to 2019 by dropping prices* on 50+ Thanksgiving essentials – just one of the many reasons why ALDI is my favorite one-stop shop for the holidays! All thoughts & opinions are my own.
A Pumpkin-Shaped Cheese Ball is The Cutest Thanksgiving Appetizer!
As a born & raised Wisconsinite, you can pretty much always find an epic cheese ball on my holiday snack table. This year I’m taking our festive snacking to a whole new level with the cutest pumpkin-shaped cheese ball. It’s perfect for Thanksgiving & I’m totally obsessed!
This autumn-inspired cheese ball is a savory blend of cream cheese & sharp cheddar cheese with just the right amount of natural sweetness & warmth from pumpkin & fall spices. You can get everything you need to make it at ALDI, something I especially appreciate during the holiday season. You can’t beat their high-quality ingredients & seriously affordable prices when you’re hosting a crowd!
This year, ALDI is rewinding its prices on over 50 Thanksgiving essentials – including a few of the ingredients in this pumpkin cheese ball recipe! – to make it the most affordable holiday since 2019. What’s not to love about that?!
And I’m telling you, your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving guests will love how ADORABLE this cheeseball is. 🥰🎃 Shape it into a large pumpkin for a show-stopping centerpiece OR prep a few mini pumpkin cheese balls to create a little pumpkin patch for your holiday snack table. It tastes just as good as it looks & will absolutely steal the show!
Thanksgiving Cheese Ball Recipe Highlights
You will love serving a pumpkin-shaped cheese ball this Thanksgiving because it’s…
THE ULTIMATE SHAREABLE. Cheese balls are always a crowd-pleaser! This pumpkin-shaped version is savory, spiced, super cheesy, & perfect to serve alongside crackers.
SERIOUSLY FESTIVE. I honestly can’t get over how charming this pumpkin cheese ball is! Shape it into a large pumpkin or make a little pumpkin patch for the cutest holiday snack ever.
MAKE-AHEAD FRIENDLY. Thanksgiving cheese balls are easy to prep & make in advance so you have less to do on the day of. Simply take it out of the fridge & enjoy!
The cutest pick of the patch! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make a Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cheese Ball, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
You only need a handful of simple ingredients to make an epic Thanksgiving cheese ball, & it’s all available at unbeatable prices at ALDI. Here’s what you need:
- Cheese – Of course! Whenever I make a cheese ball, I like to use a combination of cheeses to create the best flavor & texture. This recipe uses Happy Farms Cream Cheese for creamy texture & sharp cheddar for added flavor. I really like Happy Farms Shredded Sharp Cheddar, which is one of the items ALDI is rewinding this Thanksgiving by dropping its price as low as it was in 2019!
- Pumpkin – Baker’s Corner 100% Pure Canned Pumpkin is perfect here!
- Nuts – While they’re not a traditional cheese ball add-in, I like the little bit of texture that nuts add to this Thanksgiving cheese ball. Feel free to use walnuts or pecans, or a combination of both. Be sure to chop them up fine so they don’t overwhelm the cheese ball or go ahead & grab a bag of Southern Grove Chopped Walnuts or Pecans at ALDI.
- Spices – Stonemill Chili Powder, garlic powder, & paprika give the pumpkin cheese ball savory flavor, while a bit of cinnamon & nutmeg complement the pumpkin with classic fall warmth. Feel free to spice it up with whatever you have on hand – onion powder & ground cumin are great too!
- Crackers – Every cheese ball needs crackers, chips, or pretzels! I love serving this particular cheese ball alongside Savoritz Sea Salt Pita Crackers, another ALDI product I’ve loved for a long time. As a bonus: its price is also on rewind right now!
How to Make A Pumpkin Cheese Ball
Making a pumpkin-shaped cheese ball is pretty simple. It happens in 3 easy steps: combining the cheese mixture, rolling it into a ball, & forming it into a pumpkin.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Prep & Assembly
Combine the cheese ball mixture. Cream the pumpkin & cream cheese until smooth & creamy, then fold in all the add-ins – shredded cheese, spices, & nuts. Mix until combined. Tip! ⇢ While you can certainly mix by hand, making use of a hand mixer or stand mixer makes this process much easier & ensures a silky-smooth result. For an even creamier cheese ball, use a food processor!
Chill the cheese ball mixture. Transfer the pumpkin cheese ball mixture to the freezer to chill for about 30 minutes. Why? ⇢ Room temperature is ideal for combining everything into a smooth mixture, but it’s a lot easier to handle & form into a ball after a quick chill.
Form the cheese ball & coat. Transfer the chilled pumpkin cheese ball mixture to a large piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to start forming the mixture into a ball shape. There’s no precise method here – just have fun with it! Place a little shredded cheddar in a shallow bowl or on a small plate, then roll the cheese ball around in it to coat it well.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
How to Make A Cheese Ball Look Like A Pumpkin
At this point, the Thanksgiving cheese ball has a beautiful orange coating & a cheesy pumpkin taste, but 2 finishing touches give it an especially festive presentation: creating a gourd-like pumpkin shape & adding a stem.
Make pumpkin ribs. Cover the assembled cheese ball with a clean sheet of plastic wrap. Tie kitchen twine around the wrapped cheese ball, securing it tight enough to create vertical grooves. Repeat 2-3 times to create 6-8 pumpkin ribs, or whatever you think looks best. Tip! ⇢ No kitchen twine? No problem. Feel free to use rope, ribbon, or even rubber bands to create pumpkin ribs.
Finishing touches! Just before serving, snip off the twine & unwrap the plastic to reveal your pumpkin-shaped cheese ball. Take it over the top with a pumpkin stem – simply press a halved pecan into the top of the pumpkin cheese ball. A jalapeno or bell pepper stem will work great, too!
Serving Idea: Create a Pumpkin Cheese Ball Patch!
Why have one irresistible pumpkin cheese ball when you could have a whole patch?! 🥰 For a show-stopping Thanksgiving snack table, use the cheese ball mixture to make various-sized cheese balls, creating an edible pumpkin patch. Add pumpkin ribs & stems to each, keeping in mind you will need to use smaller pieces of twine for the ribs & smaller pecan for stems. The cutest whimsy & abundant look for a holiday snack table!
Serving your pumpkin cheese ball at a Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or Halloween party. ⇢ Your holiday crowd will love digging into this pumpkin cheese ball this time of year – it won’t last long once it hits the snack table! A couple of quick serving tips:
- If it’s been chilling in the fridge, be sure to let the cheese ball warm slightly before serving so it’s easier for your guests to dip into & enjoy.
- Snip off the kitchen twine, carefully remove the plastic wrap, add your stem, & transfer to a serving platter, surrounding it with whatever sturdy crackers you love (more suggestions below!).
- If you’ve made a pumpkin patch, try serving a variety of pumpkin-shaped cheese balls on several plates scattered around the table. That way everyone can easily reach a pumpkin & dig in!
What to serve with a cheese ball? ⇢ Something crunchy & dippable, like sturdy crackers, tortilla chips, or pretzels. The Savoritz Sea Salt Pita Crackers from ALDI are a longtime fave at our house. When I’m entertaining, I also love the Savoritz Six Cracker Assortment from ALDI. You get 6 gorgeous types of crackers all for the price of 1 box! Raw vegetables like carrots or mini bell peppers work beautifully too!
Make-Ahead Tips & FAQs
Make-ahead pumpkin cheese ball. ⇢ Cheese balls are a fantastic sharable to prep ahead of time because they hold really well in the fridge. To make ahead of time, assemble & shape your pumpkin cheese ball(s) up to 3 days in advance. Keep them wrapped in plastic wrap with the kitchen twine. Remember to take the pumpkin cheese ball out of the fridge about 1 hour before serving, as it needs a little time to soften & bring its flavors back to life. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance!
Cream cheese is ideal for giving a cheese ball its perfectly round shape & creamy, spreadable texture. To take the flavor up a notch, mix in other types of shredded cheese. I love sharp cheddar – yellow or white cheddar work great, whatever you love! – but other flavor-forward hard cheeses work well too.
If the pumpkin cheese ball mixture is too soft to form a round ball, it just needs to chill a little. Pop it in the fridge to help it set up, or pop it in the freezer for an even quicker chill!
Yes! For best results, wrap the pumpkin cheese ball mixture in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. When you’re ready for assembly, thaw until it’s slightly chilled & then finish shaping it into a ball (or a pumpkin!).
You can store a leftover pumpkin cheese ball in the fridge for up to 3 days. Perfect for enjoying with other Thanksgiving leftovers!
I can’t wait for you to try this Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cheese Ball recipe! It’s seriously so easy to make, & its festiveness will absolutely charm your holiday guests – adults & kids alike!
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! ♡ Happy cooking!
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Festive Holiday Appetizers
A cheese ball is a holiday snack table staple at my house, & this festive Pumpkin Cheese Ball is perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or any fall celebration!
The cheese ball mixture itself is completely savory thanks to cream cheese & sharp cheddar cheese, but pumpkin & a few warm spices lend the kind of fall-inspired warmth that is downright crave-worthy this time of year!
To form it into a pumpkin shape, you’ll also need plastic wrap & kitchen twine to create indentations that resemble a pumpkin’s ribs (though ribbon, rope, or rubber bands work well, too!). So cute & so simple!
Feel free to prep one large pumpkin cheese ball for a show-stopping centerpiece, or use the cheese ball mixture to create a handful of pumpkin-shaped cheese balls in varying sizes – it’s like an edible pumpkin patch, & your guests will go crazy for it!
If prepping cheese balls is new-to-you, be sure to check out the blog post, above, for lots of tips & tricks from a born & raised Wisconsinite. ♡ Enjoy!
- 8 ounces Happy Farms Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup Baker’s Corner 100% Pure Pumpkin
- 3 cups Happy Farms Sharp Cheddar Shredded Cheese, divided
- ½ cup Southern Grove Chopped Walnuts or Pecans
- ½ teaspoon Stonemill Chili Powder
- ½ teaspoon Stonemill Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Stonemill Paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Stonemill Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon Stonemill Ground Nutmeg
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- for assembly: plastic wrap, kitchen twine
- for serving, as desired: pretzels & crackers of choice, such as Savoritz Sea Salt Pita Crackers
- Mix the pumpkin cheese ball mixture: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese & pumpkin. Use the paddle attachment to mix until smooth & creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 3-4 minutes on medium speed. (Alternatively, you can use a mixing bowl & a hand mixer, or a heavy-duty spatula & some elbow grease.) Once combined, fold in 2 cups of the sharp cheddar, nuts, & all listed spices. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Mix to combine well. Transfer to the freezer to chill 25-30 minutes.
- Cheese ball assembly: Place the remaining 1 cup sharp cheddar on a large plate or in a shallow bowl & set aside. Prepare 2 large pieces of plastic wrap & 3-4 8-inch pieces of kitchen twine – set aside. Transfer the chilled cream cheese mixture one piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to help you form the mixture into a ball – this may be a little messy, just be patient & keep working until it comes together. Roll the ball in the reserved cheese, coating it well.
- Form the pumpkin cheese ball: Transfer the cheese-coated ball to the clean piece of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic around the entire surface of the cheese ball, covering it well, then place the cheese ball on your work surface, seam side facing down. Tie a piece of twine around the cheese ball, securing it as tightly as possible without popping the plastic wrap, to create indentations that resemble a pumpkin’s ribs. Repeat with the remaining twine, creating 6-8 indentations as desired. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill well before serving, 1-2 hours.
- Serve: Carefully snip the twine away from the cheese ball & unwrap the plastic. Transfer to a plate or serving platter. If desired, create a stem by inserting half of a pecan halve in the center of the pumpkin cheese ball. Serve alongside crackers or veggies of choice. Enjoy!
- Serving Suggestion: Create a pumpkin patch of pumpkin cheese balls! If you have a little extra time on your hands & want to create a whimsy & abundant look, use the pumpkin cheese ball mixture to form a few different pumpkin cheese balls, varying in size. Divide the cheese ball mixture from Step 1 into a few different portions, working each into a separate pumpkin cheese ball according to Steps 2-3 of Recipe Directions, above.
- Make-Ahead & Storage: Once assembled, this pumpkin cheese ball stores well, so it’s a really make ahead-friendly Thanksgiving snack or appetizer.
- Make-Ahead Instructions: Prep & form the pumpkin cheese ball according to Steps 1-3 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Pull it from the refrigerator about 1 hour before you wish to serve, letting it soften & warm slightly.
- Storage Instructions: Store any pumpkin cheese ball leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Keywords: thanksgiving appetizer, cream cheese ball recipe, cream cheese recipe, easy appetizer recipe, halloween appetizer
Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.
*2019 Thanksgiving Price Rewind on select ALDI products based on average retail at ALDI from November 2–29, 2019. Available in store and online from November 2-19, 2022. Taxes and online and delivery fees not included. Products with reduced prices are marked with the Thanksgiving Price Rewind icon. Prices for other Thanksgiving-related products may be higher than 2019 prices at ALDI. Wine and beer available at select ALDI stores.