Easy holiday cheese balls

Easy holiday cheese balls

Enjoy one of these classic appetizers this New Year’s Eve.

If you want to be a hit at your next party, or to serve up an appetizer that will make guests sing your praises, you’ve got to make a cheese ball. Even if you don’t like cream cheese, you could still like the cheese ball—I have family members who do this—and who says you have to eat your own cooking anyway? Just make it and bask in the praise.

A cheese ball is super simple, and you can alter it in any way you like to create custom snacks for any gathering. My mother always makes them for holidays—always using the same recipe—so I started making different flavors for family gatherings and both ideas remain a hit. People always want something to dip when they gather—what is it about dipping?—and a cheese ball gives them this pleasure without making a mess in your carpet.

All you need is some cream cheese and whatever flavors you want to put in it (I know this is vague; stay with me here!). My mom uses five to six sticks of cream cheese in her cheese balls since she likes to make big ones; I like to make different flavors of smaller ones, so I use two to three packages per ball.

You dump your cheese, rather unceremoniously but there you go, into a mixing bowl. Then add your flavoring agents. My mother likes to put chopped green onions, chopped corned beef, and Worcestershire sauce in hers. I like to splash some lemon in my cheese balls to brighten them up if I make them like this, and I usually skip the onions—we don’t like them!—and add in some onion powder and garlic.

I also like to make them with curry, and I had a really successful one a few years ago with diced up cucumber and dill in it. It was like a big cucumber sandwich! Once you have your ball made with whatever you like, you roll it up and serve it with crackers, celery sticks, or whatever else you’d like to serve it with.

For the holidays, you can always shape it into something else—like a Christmas tree, wreath, or star—to help set the mood and go with the décor, of course. Garnish it with some sliced fruit or tomatoes for a display that not only pops, but offers additional snacks in the process.