Cheese Ball (AKA “Party Magnet”)

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A gourmet twist on a classic party favorite, this cheese ball combines two types of cheese, scallions, chopped dates, and roasted pecans, making it a delicious addition to any charcuterie board or appetizer spread.

Cheese ball on a plate with crackers.

This cheese ball appetizer, adapted from chef Vivian Howard’s beloved cookbook Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South, transforms a retro party favorite into a gourmet delight. Aptly nicknamed “Party Magnet,” this cheese ball is a world apart from the typical Cheddar-based versions. It’s prepared with a blend of goat cheese, cream cheese, and softened butter, and flavored with scallions, chopped dates, and salt-and-butter-roasted pecans. My advice: double the recipe as these cheese balls freeze exceptionally well, and you’ll be glad to have an extra one on hand. Just remember to allow the cheese ball about 30 minutes to reach room temperature before serving, to ensure a perfectly spreadable texture.

“The title of this recipe is so true! I’ve made the cheeseball twice and it’s definitely been a party magnet! No one can believe it’s homemade and that it’s just so darn delicious!”

Teresa

What You’ll Need To Make A 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.

Cheese ball on a plate with crackers.

Note: Howard’s original recipe, which you 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)

A gourmet twist on a classic party favorite, this cheese ball combines two types of cheese, scallions, chopped dates, and roasted pecans, making it 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 (½ 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
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup chopped dates (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions (white and green parts, from 2 to 3 scallions)
  • ⅓ 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
  • ¾ 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 ¼ 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 ⅓ 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 (if freezing, wait until you thaw the cheese ball to roll it in the nuts). 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

  • When Jenn says, “Party Magnet”, she’s not lying! I made this recipe to bring to a dinner party, without ever trying it before. When making it, and licking the spatula, I knew it would be a hit. It wasn’t just a hit, it was THE appetizer of the night. There’s just enough heat from the hot sauce (I used sriracha) to balance out the sweetness of the dates. I followed the recipe to a T, including making the pecans. Served with Trader Joe’s Multigrain crackers and Cotton Candy grapes. Phenomenal! Thanks, Jenn for another outstanding recipe!!

    • — Lauren T on August 22, 2023
    • Reply
  • Always a Hit! Every time I make this recipe I receive multiple requests for the recipe. When I make it for the family and it seldom lasts a day. The combination of the tang of goat cheese and the saltiness of the nuts is awesome. Then, you get the extra depth with the hit of hot sauce. Yum! This is my go-to recipe to bring to parties. I always come home with an empty dish!
    (I do use 8 oz of cream cheese instead of the butter & cream cheese. I like the texture better.)
    Joan

    • — Joan on July 31, 2023
    • Reply
  • I wanted to bring something to my daughter’s Easter brunch and decided to make this cheese ball. It was a big hit! My daughter (who is a big fan of Once Upon a Chef) requested I make it for Thanksgiving, too. Honestly, I will make it for any occasion that I can. I found the recipe easy to follow and prepare. I didn’t change a thing. It is really a winner! Thank you, Once Upon a Chef!

    • — Diane Bronico on April 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • Amazing recipe and so unique compared to the usual cheese ball! I have made this several times and all of my friends have asked for the recipe. Definitely a keeper!

    • — Laura J Ahlberg on February 12, 2023
    • Reply
  • Really was a party magnet. Doubled recipe using half goat cheese and half blue cheese. The dates add just the right sweetness—toasted pecans just the right crunchiness. Great appetizer enjoyed by all.

    • — Lowcountry Cook on January 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • The title of this recipe is so true! I’ve made the cheeseball twice and it’s definitely been a party magnet! No one can believe it’s homemade and that it’s is just so darn delicious! I followed the recipe with no alterations. Thank you, Jenn, for another fabulous recipe!

    • — Teresa Valeri on January 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • My family loves this cheese ball. I know I could never get my husband near a date so I have been making it with dried cranberries. Very festive for the holiday season.

    Made the ricotta cheesecake yesterday. Another big hit.

    • — Nanct on January 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi again. If I make ahead and freeze the cheese ball, should I wait until it thaws the day of the party to roll it in the nuts?

    • — Kelly on December 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Kelly, I’d wait until you thaw the cheese ball to roll it in the nuts — will add that to the recipe. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • What brand of crackers did you use for this?

    • — Jeannie on December 29, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jeannie, They’re Carr’s Water Crackers.

      • — Jenn on January 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious!!! Made last Christmas and am about to make another for this year due to rave reviews, even from picky in-laws who would not normally eat chevre or blue cheese, or at least eat them plain, but they could not get enough of the flavor combination in this cheese ball- a Christmas miracle!

    • — Amanda on December 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • I failed to read your note about NOT getting chopped dates from a bag. 🙁
    Would it work if I just added a lesser amount? I do love dates! Looking forward to serving this on Christmas Eve.

    I love your recipes and just got your cookbook! 🙂

    • — Maureen on December 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Oops! I think you can use the ones you have — I’d just cut back on them a bit. (And thanks for your support with the cookbook 💗)

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • How could this be adapted for a cranberry cheese ball for the holidays? I’d prefer to use fresh cranberries, but maybe that complicates it? We buy the best cranberry cheese ball at a local store, and I really want to make it at home.

    • — Kasi on December 16, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Kasi, Unfortunately, this won’t work with fresh cranberries but you could use dried.

      • — Jenn on December 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • Yep, this is amazing. My in-laws and my picky family family all loved these! Served one cheeseball at Thanksgiving and the other 2 days later, held up great.
    My only changes were to up the cream cheese by maybe an ounce or two because I was worried there wouldn’t be enough. I also used more dates but got one comment about it being too sweet so next time will stick to recommend amounts!

    • — Liz B. on December 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this for thanksgiving and it was fantastic. Everyone loved it. I will be making this again for sure. I did the combo Jen suggested of blue cheese, goat cheese and cream cheese. I ended up adding more cream cheese and goat cheese to make a larger cheese ball for my family. Fantastic like all of Jen’s recipes I have tried. This would be perfect to put out at your NYE gatherings. Cheers everyone!

    • — Jennifer on November 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this cheese ball for our Thanksgiving celebration today and the family loved it! They all said this recipe was a winner and there wasn’t a crumb left! One of my sister-in-law’s relatives wanted the recipe and when I told her about the website she said “Jenn Segal, I use her recipes all the time!” She even has one of your cookbooks, but I told her I have both!! What a fun coincidence. There were three cooks present today who really appreciate your recipes. Thank you, Jenn!

    • — Ruthie on November 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on November 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made this for a Thanksgiving app, and it was delicious! The closer it got to room temp, the better it tasted. So easy, such a crowd pleaser, and looks great. I’ll definitely be making this again!

    • — Katie R. on November 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is a 5 star recipe!! Simply delicious and very easy to make!! Certainly a crowd pleaser and will go directly into my book.
    Thanks again Jenn!!!

    • — Florence on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    Such a fabulous recipe!! It is a real hit everywhere I bring it! I always have one in my freezer— it was still excellent after 2 months!
    Question: how do you think dried figs would work as a substitute for the dates??
    I love the dates— just have a lot of figs on hand!
    Wishing you & yours a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season to follow!
    Princess Barb

    • — Barbara on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Barb, I think they’d be delicious. Happy Thanksgiving! ❤️

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I would like to make this cheese ball, but my son has a nut allergy. He can safely eat peanuts and pine nuts. Would you suggest replacing the pecans with either of these? Or do you have a non-nut suggestion for coating the cheese ball? Thanks so much!

    • — LM on November 11, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi LM, I think either peanuts or pine nuts would work here. I’d recommend just purchasing alredy roasted salted versions (though not sure if pine nuts are sold that way). Another good option is sunflower seeds. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on November 11, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thank you for the Nut Free Recommendation. I want to make this but my daughter has a nut allergy. Sunflower seeds will work perfectly! Going to make it for a family BBQ next Sat! Love your recipes, first time commenting!

        • — MaryV on September 4, 2023
        • Reply
  • I made this cheese all last Thanksgiving and it disappeared pretty darn quick!

    • — Glynis Olson on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Excited to try this – I don’t like dates and was wondering if there was a substitution or if it could be left out entirely? Thanks!

    • — Mm on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • You could replace the dates with chopped apricots or omit them. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2022
      • Reply
  • Jenn, thank you for your amazing recipes.
    I don’t usually look for substitutions, but wondering what other cheese I can use as I do not enjoy goat cheese or blue cheese.
    Thank you.

    • — Suzanne on October 8, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Suzanne, Glad you like the recipes! You can replace the goat cheese with cream cheese and the blue cheese with shredded sharp Cheddar or Gruyere. It will have a different flavor, but will still be great – I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on October 10, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made this recently for a neighborhood girl’s night. Now this crew doesn’t usually eat a lot – I typically put out a nice spread, but it largely goes ignored as we get engrossed in conversation (and wine!) but this cheeseball changed all that! People were going back for seconds and thirds. Perfect nosh!

    • — Terri F on June 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! It looked beautiful and everyone loved it, even my 81 year old dad who doesn’t like goat cheese! Only issue…it is hard to stop eating, you are right about that! Thanks again for another wonderful recipe.

  • Will the texture be fine if I make mini cheese balls? Thanks, these sound delicious

    • Sure, Chris – that will work.

  • This was just amazing. I used your sweet and spicy pecans for the outside since I had just made 4 batches. (Everyone loves them). I loathe goat cheese so substituted 2oz cream cheese and 2oz blue cheese as you suggested and it was a hit!!! The combination of the savory and sweet was just so good. Thanks for another hit!

  • Hi Jenn, your salt and butter pecans recipe calls for 2 cups pecans, but this recipe only calls for 1/3 cup. I have a lot of leftover salty pecans. What would you recommend for these? Also, it it possible to turn these into sweetened pecans (as per your other recipe) once already baked?

    • Hi Colleen, I like them just for snacking or adding to salads, but you can definitely use them to make the candied pecans – just omit the salt.

  • I went with the original version with only a tablespoon of butter and it’s delicious! Easy to adjust to your tastes. My mom really liked it Jenn!

  • I made this for a party and it was a huge hit! There was leftover pecans and parsley mixture. How long will this last in the frig?

    • Glad it was a hit! I would guess the nut parsley mixture would last for 4 to 5 days.

  • Absolutely fabulous!! Guests kept coming back for more!

  • This was super easy to make and absolutely delicious! I made this for a Christmas party and will definitely be making it again. Thank you for the fantastic recipe!

  • 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!

    • Sounds like a good trade — a cheese ball for a cookbook. 🙂 Glad he enjoyed it!

  • 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!

  • Made this for a Thanksgiving appetizer yesterday. It was delicious!

  • 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.

  • So easy & so delicious! Once you start eating it, it’s hard to stop!

  • 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!

  • Blocks of cream cheese are completely out of stock in my stores. Can I use cream cheese spread?

    • Yes I think that should work well. I have noticed a shortage in my area as well!

  • 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.

    • 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?

  • 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!

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

  • We are obsessed with your maple pecans (for salads etc.) – do you think they would work for this recipe rather than butter pecans?

  • 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.

  • Is tabasco sauce the same as hot sauce?
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    • Yep – hope you enjoy!

  • We have a goat cheese hater in the family. What can I substitute?

    • 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!

  • 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

    • 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!

  • I’ve made this several times because IT’S DELICIOUS!

  • Could you use almonds? My daughter is allergic to pecans and walnuts 🙁

    • Sure, Lisa – thinly sliced toasted almonds would work nicely.

  • 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).

  • 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.

    • Hi Mary, I think apricots would be perfect. Please LMK how it turns out!

  • Fantastic! I did add paprika on the outside since that’s what I grew up with. Came out beautiful. Thank you.~ Carmen

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