Football Cheese Ball
Add this delicious football cheese ball recipe to your Super Bowl party or game day gathering. It’s an easy make-ahead appetizer that’s full of cream cheese, cheddar, bacon and pecans. The football shape is perfect for tailgating and themed birthdays too.
Are you looking for Super Bowl party food ideas? I’ve got you covered with this must-have appetizer for your seasonal game day party, a potluck watch party, or a tailgating get-together.
This football shaped cheese ball is right on theme, and the brown color of the nuts and bacon coating, along with white cheese “stitching” make it look just like a football. That makes this recipe a Touchdown!
Why You’ll Love It For a Football Party
- Simple Ingredients. Loaded with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, green onion, pantry spices, chopped nuts, and a slice of white cheese singles.
- Make Ahead. One reason to love a cheese ball is that you HAVE to make it in advance so the flavors can meld together. That means there’s no last minute cooking or prepping. Just keep it covered and chilled until it’s game time.
- Crowd Pleaser. Cheese balls are a classic party food that serves a crowd. I’ve been making this recipe for years because the flavors blend well together and are pleasing to most palates. And there’s just enough texture from the nuts and bacon.
- Room Temperature. This is an ideal cold appetizer that can sit on a buffet table for a couple of hours.
- Easy Travel. It doesn’t get much better for travel or a potluck party. Just wrap it and pack it for game day snacking.
Ingredient Tips and Substitutions
- Cream Cheese. Use an 8-ounce block and make sure it’s at room temperature to make it easier to mix. If you need to soften it more, just microwave it for about 10 seconds.
- Cheddar Cheese. Use sharp cheddar cheese or extra sharp for best flavor. Buy a block and shred your own so it combines better with the other ingredients. The pre-packaged stuff has a non-clumping agent that can keep it from fully integrating. You can use white cheddar too. For a spicy kick use Pepper Jack cheese instead of cheddar.
- Bacon. Cook 8 or 9 slices of bacon on a rack in the oven for easy cleanup. It’s the best way to make a large amount of bacon at once. Use regular slices or Center Cut slices and cook to a crisp so it’s easy to crumble.
- Seasoning. The recipe calls for celery salt and garlic powder. If you find yourself in a pinch without the celery salt, you can use more garlic powder or onion powder in its place.
- Nuts. Make sure you chop them well. I like to buy the little packages of chopped nuts (on the baking aisle) to save a step. Toast them before using to bring out their flavor and crunch. You can also use chopped walnuts or almonds.
- Additions: If you want to add even more to this cheese ball, feel free to include chopped celery, diced jalapeno, a few dashes of hot sauce, chopped olives or pimentos.
PARTY TIP: Let the cheese ball sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. That way it’s easily spreadable.
How to Make a Football Cheese Ball
First, make sure you have toasted the pecans. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, place nuts on a sheet pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.
- Combine the ingredients together using a food processor, mixer, or clean hands.
- Turn out the mixture onto a layer of wax or parchment paper.
- Form the mixture into an oval or oblong shape and taper the ends to a point, in the shape of a football.
- Combine the pecan and bacon coating together and begin adding it onto the cheese ball with your hands or roll the cheese ball in the mixture to coat. Gently press the toppings in so they adhere to the cheese.
- Cut a slice of white cheese (I used Swiss singles) in thin strips to form football laces, and lay them on top of the cheese ball just before serving.
How to Serve It
For a football party I like to set the scene with a green table covering such as turf grass. Your football cheese ball will look like it’s on the field! Add a cheese spreader for serving.
Place the cheese ball on a platter and surround it with crackers and vegetables, like carrot and celery sticks.
I think thinner crackers are best so they don’t overpower the cheese spread. My favorites are Pretzel Crisps, Wheat Thins, Club Crackers, and these cute football themed crackers from Town House.
Can I Make It a Day Ahead?
Yes! I like to make it at least 24 hours in advance, but you can make it up to 3 days ahead, cover and chill. As far as the coating, you have two options.
NOTE: The pecan and bacon bits will adhere to the cheese ball much better if you add them while the cheese is soft and at room temperature. If you try to add them after the cheese has chilled, it will be too firm for the coating to stick properly.
Option 1: Go ahead and roll the cheese ball in the coating when you make it, and then cover and refrigerate. The toasting of the pecans early on will keep their texture firm and delicious.
Option 2: If you really want to wait on the coating, I suggest chilling the cheese ball mixture (without shaping it) so the flavors can marry. When you want to serve it, let the mixture come to room temperature, shape it into the football, and add the nuts and bacon topping. While shaping it, the heat from your hands will help warm it and soften it enough so the topping sticks.
Either way, make sure to add the cheese stitching when you’re ready to serve.
Wrap the prepared cheese ball tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. You can place it on a small piece of wax paper or parchment paper first, to make it easy to transfer to a serving platter later.
To freeze, wrap it as described above and add an additional layer of aluminum foil, or place it in an airtight container or Ziplock bag. Freeze for up to a month. When ready to use, thaw in the fridge overnight.
EXPERT TIP: Make a football cheese ball using this alternative cheese ball recipe with Ranch seasoning mix.
More Football Party Foods
You can see lots more football party food ideas to complete your menu, but here are some to get you started.
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Football Cheese Ball
Add this football shaped cheese ball to your game day or Super Bowl party. Cheddar cheese, bacon and pecans add tons of flavor and texture to this delicious recipe.
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 3 Tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 Tablespoon chopped green onion
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
- 1/4 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 or 2 slices of white cheese singles for stitching
- Using clean hands, a food processor or mixer, combine the first 6 ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined.
- Stir in bacon and onion and mix well.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
- Remove chilled cheese mixture and let it warm up to room temperature. Meanwhile, combine chopped pecans and bacon crumbles together.
- Form the cheese ball into a football shape and cover with topping mixture.
- Cut thin strips into white cheese slices and add to the middle and ends for football stitching, and serve with crackers and pretzel crisps.
You'll need about 8 or 9 slices of bacon to get the half cup crumbled needed.
Toast the chopped pecans at 375 degrees F for about 5 to 7 minutes to bring out their flavor and add more crunch.
Love the cheesball with the crackers around it! Going to make that this weekend. Thanks!
These look like terrific ideas!
– The Tablescaper
I’ll be making that cheeseball and jalapeno appetizers! Thanks for sharing!