Tangy cream cheese, zesty ranch, shredded cheddar, and bacon make this Holiday Cheese Ball Wreath an addictively delicious appetizer! To top it off, each mini cheese ball is rolled in pecans, cranberries, or dried wasabi peas for gorgeous color and flavor.
A Festive Appetizer Perfect for Christmas!
Are you looking for a cute appetizer idea to make this holiday season? If so, I am sure you’ll love this easy cheese ball wreath! It has a little bit of everything: tangy cream cheese with ranch, savory cheddar, smoky bacon, and the crisp crunch of diced red bell pepper. And that’s just the inside!
While traditional cheese ball recipes make one or maybe two large cheese balls, this recipe makes lots of little bite-sized cheese balls, rolled in three colorful, zesty toppings: sweet cranberry, spicy wasabi, and classic pecan. From there, the mini cheese balls are arranged into a festive wreath shape and decorated with leaves and stems! So pretty!
Are you a cheese ball lover? Try out these other cheese ball favorites: Dill Pickle Cheeseball, Honey Pecan Cheeseball Truffles, and Cranberry Pecan Cheese Truffles.
What You’ll Need
Here’s the rundown of each ingredient you’ll need to make this easy, yummy, and beautiful recipe! (Note: For the full recipe card with amounts and nutrition facts, scroll down to the bottom of the post.)
- Cream Cheese: For this recipe, I really think regular (full fat) cream cheese works best, but you need to substitute low-fat, that will do! Soften it to room temperature.
- Cheddar Cheese: Shredded cheddar adds oodles of flavor! Colby is another good option, as is Dubliner.
- Bacon: You’ll need to cook the bacon until crispy, and then cool it down.
- Red Bell Pepper: Raw red bell pepper gives a crisp crunch, with just a little bite to contrast the richness of the cheese.
- Ranch Dressing Mix: Dry ranch dressing mix is an easy way to give the cheese ball mixture a balanced savory blend of garlic, onion, and herbs. You can use store-bought, or make your own!
- Pecans: Fresh pecans are a classic crunchy addition to cheese balls.
- Wasabi Peas: Dry wasabi peas make a colorful, crunchy topping with a spicy kick. If you would rather make a milder version, try using shelled pistachios!
- Parsley: Finely mince up some fresh parsley to go in with your wasabi peas.
- Cranberries: Dried cranberries, finely chopped, taste amazing with the cheese mixture and add a gorgeous dark ruby color.
- White Sesame Seeds: White sesame seeds add contrast and a sweet nutty taste to the cranberries.
- Black Sesame Seeds: These are an elegant finish to the wasabi peas mixture.
- Optional Decorations: To add a finishing touch, you can add thyme, sage, or rosemary sprigs; food-safe leaves and stems; real cranberries or faux cranberries on stems; etc.
How to Make a Cheese Ball Wreath
I use my food processor to make this recipe. It really makes the job of finely chopping everything so easy and fast! If you don’t have a food processor, you can definitely still make this recipe! Just be sure to budget plenty of extra time for chopping (and maybe grab a friend or two to help!).
- Make the Cheese Mixture. In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, shredded cheddar, cooked and cooled bacon, diced red pepper, and ranch dressing mix. Then stir it well to mix everything together thoroughly. Set aside.
- Process the Pecans. Next, add the pecans to your food processor, and process until they are finely chopped. Be careful not to overdo it! The goal is a crunchy topping, but if you over-process the pecans they’ll be soft like almond meal. When they are finely chopped, transfer the pecans to a bowl, and wipe out the processor.
- Process the Cranberries. Now, place the cranberries in the food processor. Process until finely chopped. They may clump together. If so, you can turn off the processor and poke them apart with a chopstick or butter knife to see how finely chopped they are. When they’re processed enough, transfer them to a separate bowl, add the white sesame seeds, and mix to combine. Set aside.
- Process the Wasabi Peas. Wipe out the food processor again, and add the wasabi peas. Process the peas until they’re finely chopped but not blended into a meal or puree. Transfer the chopped peas to another separate bowl, and mix in the parsley and black sesame seeds.
- Roll Up the Cheese Balls. To make the cheese balls, roll 2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture into a ball using hands (oil your hands lightly to prevent sticking, if needed.) Repeat with the remaining cheese mixture until you have rolled up about 45 cheese balls.
- Coat the Cheese Balls in the Toppings. Coat a third of the cheese balls in the chopped pecans, pressing the pecans into the cheese slightly to help them stick. Roll another third of the cheese balls in the wasabi mixture. Roll the remaining cheese balls in the chopped cranberry mixture.
- Make the Wreath Shape. Arrange the finished cheese balls in a circle on a large platter to make a “wreath.” Decorate the wreath with sprigs of fresh herbs, or other decorations, whatever you like!
- Enjoy! Serve the wreath with various dippers (see below for ideas!).
Tips for Success
Before you get started making your holiday cheese ball wreath, let me share just a couple of helpful tips for making the process easy and the result as delicious as possible:
- Keep It Clean: Always clean your food processor well between each batch of ingredients, so that the flavors don’t get mixed together. Each topping should be distinctive in appearance and taste!
- Soften Your Ingredients: Use room-temperature cream cheese and cheddar cheese, to avoid ending up with a lumpy or un-incorporated cheese ball mixture.
- Cool Them Down: It’s best to chill the cheese balls without their toppings until you’re almost ready to serve, and then roll them in the toppings and arrange the platter. The more fresh and cool they are when served, the better.
What Do You Eat with a Cheese Ball Wreath?
Honestly, the cheese balls are so tasty and so bite-sized, you could kind of just pop them on their own, like sausage balls or jalapeno poppers! However, I do find that serving them with some kind of crunchy dipper is great, too. Here are some good options!
- Crostini: Thinly slice a baguette and brush with olive oil. Toast the slices until they’re crispy and browned, and cool in a single layer. When they’re cool, serve them with the cheese ball wreath. Yum!
- Crudite: An arrangement of raw, cut veggies is perfect with a cheese ball wreath! Good options include carrots, celery, sliced radishes, broccoli florets, and cauliflower florets.
- Crackers: If you want to go with classic crackers, try water crackers, grain-free crackers (like my Low Carb Crackers), butter crackers… the options are endless.
- Apples: Crisp, fresh apple slices go beautifully with cheese. To keep them from browning, make a mixture of 2 tablespoons lemon juice in 2 cups of water. Then, soak the apple slices in the mixture for a few minutes, drain, and arrange on a platter.
- Bagel or Pita Chips
How to Store Leftovers
- Refrigerate: If you find that you have leftover cheese balls, just pop them in airtight containers, and refrigerate for 4 – 5 days.
- Freeze: You can also freeze leftover cheese balls for up to one month (unless you prepared them that far in advance—see the section below). However, keep in mind that the toppings may lose some of their texture after freezing and thawing. Wrap each cheese ball well in two layers of plastic wrap, and store in freezer bags.
- Serve: To serve leftover cheese balls, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, if frozen. Serve cold with dippers.
Can I Make a Cheese Ball Wreath in Advance?
Yes! You can make the cheese balls and the toppings, and store them separately in the refrigerator for up to three days in advance.
You can also make the cheese balls and freeze them for up to one month in advance. Just make sure to take them out of the freezer at least one day in ahead, and put them in the refrigerator, so that they have plenty of time to thaw before serving. It’s best to freeze the cheese balls individually, without toppings.
Holiday Cheese Ball Wreath
Tangy cream cheese, zesty ranch, shredded cheddar, and bacon make this Holiday Cheese Ball Wreath an addictively delicious appetizer! To “top” it off, each mini cheese ball is rolled in pecans, cranberries, or dried wasabi peas for gorgeous color and flavor.
- 3 boxes cream cheese (24 ounces total)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 ½ cups diced, cooked bacon
- ½ cup red pepper, diced
- ½ packet ranch dressing mix
- ½ cup pecans
- ½ cup wasabi peas
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced
- 1 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- Floral leaves and stems
- Real or faux cranberries
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, shredded cheddar, bacon, red pepper, and ranch dressing mix.
- Place the pecans in a food processor, and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
- Wipe out the processor and add the cranberries. Process until finely chopped. Transfer to a separate bowl, add the white sesame seeds, and mix to combine.
- Wipe out the food processor again, and add the wasabi peas. Process until finely chopped. Transfer to a separate bowl and mix with the parsley and black sesame seeds.
- Roll 2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture into a ball. Repeat with the remaining cheese mixture.
- Roll ⅓ of the cheese balls in the pecans. Divide and roll ⅓ of the cheese balls in the wasabi mixture. Roll the remaining cheese balls in the chopped cranberry mixture.
- Arrange the balls in a circle shape on a large platter to make a wreath. Decorate with thyme, sage, rosemary, or other leaves and stems as desired.
- Serve on a platter with various dippers.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 148Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 225mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 5g
More Holiday Appetizers
- Hot Spinach Dip
- Easy Bisquick Sausage Balls
- Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Truffles
- Cheesy Ranch Pigs in a Blanket
- Cranberry Brie Bites
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