Cheese Ball (AKA “Party Magnet”)

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Made with goat cheese, scallions, chopped dates, and roasted pecans, this cheese ball makes a delicious addition to any charcuterie board or appetizer spread.

This gourmet cheese ball appetizer is adapted from a recipe called “Party Magnet” in one of my favorite cookbooks, Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by chef Vivian Howard. Howard writes: “The cheese ball is a cliché. I believe, however, that like the pig in a blanket and the baked potato, cheese balls are so clichéd they’ve actually become cool…when this thing is put out at a party of any kind, people hover over it like it’s a crystal ball.”

Howard’s cheeseball is, of course, anything but cliché. Made with goat cheese, cream cheese, and softened butter – as well as scallions, chopped dates, and homemade salt-and-butter-roasted pecans – it’s a big upgrade from the classic party cheese ball made with Cheddar cheese. Go ahead and double the recipe; cheese balls freeze beautifully. And be sure to allow 30 minutes for the cheese ball to come to room temperature before serving so it has a spreadable texture.

What You’ll Need To Make The Cheese Ball

cheese ball ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the beaters or paddle attachment, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, butter, hot sauce, and salt. Mix on medium-low speed until evenly combined.

cream cheese, butter, goat cheese, hot sauce and salt beaten together

Add the dates and scallions.

adding scallions and dates to cheese and butter mixture

Mix on low speed until evenly blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. cheese ball mixture ready to chill

Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface, remove the cheese mixture from the fridge, and scrape the mixture onto the center of the plastic wrap.

cheese ball mixture on plastic wrap

Holding the four corners of the plastic in one hand, twist the cheese with your other hand to seal the plastic and shape the cheese into a rough ball. Don’t worry if the cheese is soft. It will firm up in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until the cheese ball is firm enough to handle.

twisty plastic wrapped cheese ball ready to chill

Combine the chopped pecans and parsley on a plate.

salted pecans and parsley on plate

Unwrap the cheese ball and roll it in the nut mixture until evenly coated.

coated cheese ball

Chill until ready to serve. Let the cheeseball sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving so that it has a spreadable texture.

Note: Howard’s original recipe, which can see here, calls for blue cheese. My family doesn’t love blue cheese, so I replaced it with more goat cheese. I also increased the dates and scallions and reduced the parsley.

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Cheese Ball (AKA Party Magnet)

Made with goat cheese, scallions, chopped dates, and roasted pecans, this cheese ball makes a delicious addition to any charcuterie board or appetizer spread.

Servings: Makes 1 large or 2 small cheese balls
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 20 Minutes, plus plus 15 minutes to make the roasted pecans and at least 1 hour and 15 minutes to chill

Ingredients

For the Cheese Ball

  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) log goat cheese (or 2 oz each goat cheese and blue cheese), at room temperature
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped dates (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions (white and green parts, from 2 to 3 scallions)
  • 1/3 cup Salt-and-Butter-Roasted Pecans, roughly chopped (recipe follows; alternatively, use store-bought roasted salted pecans)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the Salt-and-Butter-Roasted Pecans

  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. For the Cheese Ball: In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the beaters or paddle attachment, combine the goat cheese (and blue cheese, if using), cream cheese, butter, hot sauce, and salt. Mix on medium-low speed until evenly combined. Add the dates and scallions and mix on low speed until evenly blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface, remove the cheese mixture from the fridge, and scrape the mixture onto the center of the plastic wrap. Holding the four corners of the plastic in one hand, twist the cheese with your other hand to seal the plastic and shape the cheese into a rough ball. Don't worry if the cheese is soft. It will firm up in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until the cheese ball is firm enough to handle.
  2. Combine the chopped pecans and parsley on a plate. Unwrap the cheese ball and roll it in the nut mixture until evenly coated. Chill until ready to serve. Let the cheeseball sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving so that it has a spreadable texture. Serve with crackers.
  3. For the Salt-and-Butter-Roasted Pecans: Preheat the oven to 350ºF and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss the pecans with the melted butter and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Spread the pecans out in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the pecans are slightly darkened and fragrant. While still hot, sprinkle the pecans with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Let cool for 10 minutes. The nuts will keep for 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature.
  5. Note: Do not use pre-chopped dates from a bag, as they are sweetened. I use whole pitted Medjool dates; you'll need 4 to 6 dates to get 1/3 cup chopped.
  6. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cheese ball can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerated, or frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze, wrap the cheese ball well in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 193
  • Fat: 17 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Sodium: 117 mg
  • Cholesterol: 37 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • My son came for Thanksgiving and I sent him home with leftovers, and one of the two cheese balls that I had made. He called today raving over how good the cheese ball was. I followed the recipe exactly as written. I told him that I was going to order Jenn’s newest cookbook and he said he’d get it for me if I would make another cheese ball for him.
    Thanks, Jenn, for making this Mama look good in her adult son’s eyes!

    • — DCK on November 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sounds like a good trade — a cheese ball for a cookbook. 🙂 Glad he enjoyed it!

      • — Jenn on November 29, 2021
      • Reply
  • This cheese ball is so delicious. Savory and a little sweet. It was a big hit on Thanksgiving and shared the recipe. I even had the leftovers for breafast. I didn’t have any hot sauce so I used just a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. You have taught me how to improvise!

    • — Diane on November 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this for a Thanksgiving appetizer yesterday. It was delicious!

    • — Kim on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • Fabulous! Made exactly as written and it was delicious. We loved it. I made several small balls and froze them for later. This will be my go-to appetizer to bring to gatherings. Thank you Jenn.

    • — Kathie on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • So easy & so delicious! Once you start eating it, it’s hard to stop!

    • — Neen on November 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • Amazing! Went well with little bruschetta toasts or buttery ritz crackers. I added 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp sugar to make it more for the holidays, everyone loved it! Also used 3 oz goat cheese and 1 oz blue cheese, any more blue cheese than that would have been too strong in my opinion. And, the pecans were absolutely DELICIOUS!

    • — Ashley on November 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • Blocks of cream cheese are completely out of stock in my stores. Can I use cream cheese spread?

    • — NW on November 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes I think that should work well. I have noticed a shortage in my area as well!

      • — Jenn on November 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • The flavor of this cheeseball was delicious. I made two smaller cheeseballs. They were each the size of tennis balls. They were slightly dry and I was wondering if it was because I split the mixture. I would definitely make it again though.

    • — Susanne on November 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Susanne, Glad you liked it but I’m sorry you found it to be a bit dry. Did you make any chances to the recipe or the ingredients?

      • — Jenn on November 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • Is it okay to freeze the cheese ball with the pecans and parsley, or better to add those after it’s defrosted? Love your recipes and hope you and your family have a most happy Thanksgiving!

    • — Penny on November 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • It’s fine to freeze with the nuts and herbs, but it would be best if you can add them right before serving. ❤️

      • — Jenn on November 17, 2021
      • Reply
  • We are obsessed with your maple pecans (for salads etc.) – do you think they would work for this recipe rather than butter pecans?

    • — Jane on November 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yep 👍

      • — Jenn on November 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • Thank you for a goat cheese recipe! My husband is dairy intolerant, and misses cheese balls. Easy to sub dairy-free cream cheese, I’ll definitely make this over the holidays.

    • — Robyn on November 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • Is tabasco sauce the same as hot sauce?
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    • — Susan on November 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yep – hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • We have a goat cheese hater in the family. What can I substitute?

    • — Cathy on November 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Cathy, I think you could replace the goat cheese with equal parts cream cheese and blue cheese, or for a totally different flavor you could go with shredded sharp Cheddar or Gruyere. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 12, 2021
      • Reply
  • My family does not care for goat cheese, would you know a good substitute please? Thanks so much, I truly love your recipes and make many of them regularly.
    Thank you, Nancy

    • — Nancy on November 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Nancy, I think you could replace the goat cheese with equal parts cream cheese and blue cheese, or for a totally different flavor you could go with shredded sharp Cheddar or Gruyere. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it that way!

      • — Jenn on November 12, 2021
      • Reply
  • I’ve made this several times because IT’S DELICIOUS!

    • — Dee Reimer on November 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • Could you use almonds? My daughter is allergic to pecans and walnuts 🙁

    • — Lisa on November 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Lisa – thinly sliced toasted almonds would work nicely.

      • — Jenn on November 11, 2021
      • Reply
  • I’m going to try this cheese ball for Christmas and I have an inkling to use some of your Sweet and Spicy Pecans (chopped) instead of the salt and butter ones? I’m such a HUGE fan of the S&S Pecans—love munching on them, love them in salads and I think they’d taste great rolled outside this cheese ball (minus the parsley).

    • — Sandra on November 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’m not a big fan of dates. What substitute would you recommend? Apricots perhaps?
    This sounds very good. I may even be inclined to use some blue cheese as you said was part of the original.

    • — Mary Reiling on November 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, I think apricots would be perfect. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on November 11, 2021
      • Reply
  • Fantastic! I did add paprika on the outside since that’s what I grew up with. Came out beautiful. Thank you.~ Carmen

    • — Carmen on November 11, 2021
    • Reply

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