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Just about every Friday night in the fall and winter, my husband and I get together with our friends to play co-ed park district volleyball. We’ve been doing it for years and it’s one of the reasons I’ll be in Illinois (rather than Michigan) most of the fall and winter. Our team is terrible. Like really, REALLY BAD. Last year there was a team that was even worse, which was great for us because at least we won once in awhile. This year we’re definitely the losers. Our team name is “Hit Happens” and it couldn’t be more appropriate.
Since we clearly don’t excel at volleyball it’s become obvious that we use it as an excuse to get together afterward. And no good get together starts with salad and water, so we eat yummy appetizers and drink. The other day I was out to dinner with my friend and she mentioned being in the mood for a cheese ball. Hmmm. I’ve never made a cheese ball, but agreed it sounded good. The nice thing about weekly volleyball after parties is that I get to experiment with new appetizers, which brings me to this post.
Bacon, Ranch & Cheddar Cheese Ball
Having never made a cheese ball, I wasn’t really sure where to start. I knew the base is cream cheese, and I’ve eaten cheese balls before, so I know cheddar is a natural option. Some have nuts, some have cranberry… Eh. I looked around through All Recipes at a few recipes and nothing tripped my trigger. My husband asked for Ranch dip recently and I’m sooooo sick of Ranch dip. It’s his favorite, but we have it so often…
So I decided to wing it. We like cheddar. We like bacon. We like ranch. It seemed like this should work!
This is a super quick appetizer recipe- cooking the bacon is the longest part. (You can read how to make perfect bacon every time, with NO MESS, here.) The bacon will take about 20 minutes and then it needs to cook. To cool it quickly I used kitchen scissors to cut it into crumbly little pieces, then spread it out on a paper plate and put it in the freezer for a few minutes. I think you could use pre-cooked bacon and this woud be a super quick appetizer to put together. We love Black Label pre-cooked bacon. The flavor is great- *almost* as good as coking it fresh.
While I was making this appetizer I realized it’s a great appetizer for all sorts of occasions- not just get-togethers with friends: game day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, any holiday, really, even just snacking around on the weekend while watching Netflix with your favorite person. It was so easy I can totally see bringing this to holiday gatherings.
Are you ready to make a cheese ball? Let’s get started!
A Cheese Ball Appetizer Perfect for Every Gathering
While the bacon is cooking you can work on the cheese ball mixture. Start by gathering and portioning your ingredients.
Finely slice the onions and add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with a hand mixer or a stand mixer. I bought this Kitchen Aid hand mixer a few weeks ago and I am surprised by how much I love it! I have never had a hand mixer before, but have had a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for years. I was expecting to be disappointed, but I’m not! It does a great job for being a little mixer.
I used a mix of triple cheddar for this because I had some on hand. You can use all cheddar, cheddar jack or any cheddar blend. I like using up what we have in stock! I also used a “generous” 1 cup because, well, I like cheese.
Once the mixture is thoroughly combined it’s time to form it into a ball. Using a spatula, kind of ball it up in the bowl and then turn it out onto a length of plastic wrap.
Wrap the cheese ball mixture in the plastic wrap and form it into the shape of a ball.
Once the ball is formed, leave it in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to two days. Serve with crackers and enjoy!
It’s loaded with cheese and bacon and the ranch gives it a great flavor!
This recipe is definitely going on my short list of quick, easy & yummy appetizers! This recipe makes a very large cheese ball, so there will be plenty to go around. It’s actually so big that I was able to steal a little to save for Sunday football. 😉
Looking for more appetizer ideas? Then be sure to check out these posts!
Be sure to take a look at our Snacks & Appetizers board on Pinterest! There are hundreds of appetizers to choose from!
Still need more ideas? One of my favorite sources for appetizer recipes is A Taste of Home. So many appetizers, so little time!