This jalapeño popper cheese ball is a delicious party snack that’s a little bit kitschy, a lot delicious, and sure to be a crowd pleaser!
To me, Christmas season is cheese ball season. Woe is the holiday gathering that does not have at least one cheese ball for me to dip a zillion crackers into. Have I told you the story about the work Christmas party where my BFF and I ate approximately 3/4 of the mango chutney cheese ball so that we could avoid uncomfortable interactions with our coworkers? I’m pretty sure I have. I am definitely a “linger by the refreshment table” sort of girl. It’s a blessing and a curse, really.
I certainly do not need a holiday or a party to enjoy a cheese ball, though. Show me any random Saturday night and I will show you a cream cheese based snack that Philip and I can enjoy in front of our favorite shows on Hulu. Actually, we enjoyed this jalapeño popper on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, when I had been cooking all afternoon and just couldn’t quite bring myself to assemble a full meal. And then again for a mini-lunch on Thanksgiving day, because my family ate late in the day.
Cheese balls seem pretty kitschy, and I’m sure that you could dig around in your mom or grandma or even great-grandma’s recipe file and find a few cheese ball recipes. You know what, though? Kitschy food can still be darn tasty, and I promise you that I’m only on board for flavor. I don’t care too much about trends (though I’ll hop on board if they’re delicious). You probably won’t catch me posting any aspics on here, but I will never apologize for my cheese balls.
My jalapeño popper cheese ball has all the flavors that I think that a perfect jalapeño popper should have: jalapeños (duh), cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon, and ranch. There’s no stuffing, roasting, grilling, or frying involved, though, and that makes this jalapeño popper cheese ball approximately 1 million times easier and less mess than an actual jalapeño popper. I used canned diced jalapeños, which meant that I didn’t have to slice and dice a bunch of peppers, but you could definitely sub in 1/2 cup of diced fresh jalapeños, or add them to the canned peppers to increase the spice level if you’re brave. Me, I found the faint tinge of spice provided by the canned peppers to be perfect for my wimpy taste buds.
- 2 8- ounce packages cream cheese at room temperature
- 8 ounces 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 6 strips bacon cooked and crumbled
- 4 ounce can diced jalapeños drained
- 4 ounce can diced fire-roasted green chilies drained
- 1 cup chopped pecans
For the ranch seasoning (can sub in 2 packages of ranch dressing mix, like Hidden Valley)
- 3 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried dill
- 1 tablespoon dried chives
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Place all ingredients, including ranch seasoning ingredients, EXCEPT pecans, in a large bowl. Stir until well combined (I used my Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed to do this). Form into a ball and roll in the chopped pecans until thoroughly coated. Chill for at least an hour. Serve with crackers.
Mary Haymaker is a teacher by day and a cook, food writer, and photographer by night. She has lived in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area her entire life and is dedicated to supporting the growing local food movement there. You can read more of Mary’s writing at her blog, chattavore.com.