One of my favorite appetizers at parties are cheese balls. I love this recipe because it's so cute, and it also has a wonderful onion flavor and creamy texture. It keeps fantastically in the fridge for up to a week, and leftovers can even be frozen for later!
This cheese ball is perfect for a boy's baby shower, a woodland themed first birthday party, church potlucks or casual parties with friends or colleagues. It's not spicy, so kids love it. With only 35 minutes of prep time, plus some chilling time, it's super easy to make ahead, and bring to your next party.
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What can you serve with this?
Try crackers, toast, or just spread on bread for a special sandwich. It's even perfect by itself, so be warned that you just might get addicted, like I did when I was developing this recipe!
Is it gluten free?
Yes, they are gluten free because they don't contain wheat flour. Just as a precaution, make sure your ingredients say gluten free on the package. Be sure to serve it with gluten free crackers or gluten free bread.
Can you make this ahead of time?
- Absolutely! It can easily be made ahead of time.
- Make up the mixture and chill it until ready to serve.
- You can shape the hedgehog in advance and keep him in the fridge until needed.
- Don't put the nuts, dried bean eyes, or raisin nose on the hedgehog until right before serving. The nuts go soft when they're in the fridge.
What to do if your hedgehog doesn't look as cute as you want?
- Don't panic! It should be easy to fix.
- Don't like how the face looks? Take off the eyes, nose, and nuts if necessary and reposition them as desired.
- Is the body the wrong shape? Re-shape the hedgehog, making his body round and head pointed.
- Is the mixture too sticky? Chill it until firm and wrap it in plastic wrap as you shape it.
How long will it last in the fridge?
It should last for a week in the fridge. Make sure to keep it tightly covered with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to seal out fridge odors and to keep it fresh.
Can you freeze it?
- Yes, you can!
- Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, place it on a piece of clean cardboard, then wrap in aluminum foil.
- Seal it inside a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
- Defrost the it in the fridge overnight before serving.
How to Make This Healthier
- Use the homemade onion soup mix instead of store-bought to reduce preservatives and sodium.
- Use low fat cream cheese or the American version of Neufchâtel cheese.
- Reduce the amount of nuts on the hedgehog.
- Serve it with carrots and celery instead of crackers and bread.
How to Use up Leftovers
- Crumble up a leftovers and sprinkle over hot pasta. Stir until melted and combined.
- Cut into cubes and toss with a green salad.
- Spread on bread and make a sandwich.
- Melt it in a saucepan and serve as a warm, cheesy dip.
- Add to omelettes or frittatas.
- Stuff chicken breasts or pork tenderloin with the cheese mixture.
- Serve with crudités.
How to Display the Cheese Ball
Here are some creative ways you can serve the hedgehog for a first birthday party or baby shower. The guests will love this adorable snack!
- Place the hedgehog on a slice of wood, wooden cutting board, or a piece of thick cardboard.
- Decorate the hedgehog with rosemary sprigs to look like pine branches.
- You can also decorate the serving plate with candied cranberries to look like frosty winter berries.
- Serve with rustic crackers or artisan bread chunks.
- Serve the crackers in a rustic bowl made of ceramic, metal, or wood.
- Use a wooden-handled knife for serving.
- Make a cute sign to go beside it on your food table.
- Surround it with fresh pine boughs, pinecones, fabric, and wood stumps.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients for the homemade onion soup mix.
Mix all the spices together, then grind them smaller with a mortar and pestle. If you don't have one, use a spice grinder or blender.
Gather the ingredients for the cheese mixture.
Beat together the cream cheese and grated cheddar until fluffy and smooth.
Add all the other ingredients, including the onion soup mix to taste. Scrape down the sides and mix until well blended.
Chill the mixture for 2 hours, then place the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a ball. Shape part of the ball into a point to make the hedgehog's body. If you need to re-do the shape, don't worry about it--the mixture is very forgiving.
Unwrap the hedgehog and put him on the serving board. Stick rows of pecans and walnuts on his back to create his spines, then add dried beans for eyes and a raisin for the nose.
Garnish the hedgehog with sprigs of fresh rosemary, then serve with crackers. Everyone will be impressed with this adorable appetizer!
- Make your own soup mix. It's a lot tastier and healthier than the store bought packet!
- Grate the cheddar yourself. The pre-grated kind will make the cheese ball gritty.
- Keep your hands clean by shaping the mixture when it's wrapped in plastic wrap, then peeling it off when you're done.
- Want a spicy version? Add more cayenne.
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week, or freeze them for up to 1 month.
- Silicone Spatulas: these flexible spatulas make scraping out bowls so easy.
- Hand Mixer: one of the best small appliances you could ever own.
- Measuring Spoons: we use these measuring spoons every day!
- Cutting Board: this cutting board with a mezzaluna is very similar to the one we own and use.
Other Delicious Appetizers
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Woodland Hedgehog Cheese Ball
For the Homemade Onion Soup Mix (⅓ cup, 42g)
- ¼ cup dried minced onion
- 1 ¼ teaspoons onion powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon celery salt
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
For the Cheese Ball
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
For the Decoration
- 1 cup pecan halves
- ⅓ cup walnut pieces
- 2 dried black beans for the eyes
- 1 raisin for the nose
- Few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Crackers of your choice
Making the Homemade Onion Soup Mix (5 minutes)
- Stir together all the spices in a small bowl until well combined.
- In a few batches, grind the spices a little smaller using a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
Making the Cheese Ball (10 minutes + 2 hours chilling)
- Beat the cream cheese and cheddar with a hand-held electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and additional spices. Add the homemade onion soup mix to taste.
- Blend until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides for an even mix.
- Chill the cheese mixture in the fridge for about 2 hours to firm up the mixture. You can keep it in the fridge for a few days at this point if you want to make it ahead.
Shaping & Decorating the Cheese Ball (15 minutes)
- Once the mixture has chilled enough to handle, place the mixture on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold the wrap around the cheese, then shape it into a smooth ball. Use your hands to shape one end into a point to make the hedgehog's head.
- Unwrap the hedgehog and place him on the serving board. Make any adjustments to the shape, smoothing holes or creases with the back of a spoon.
- Once you're satisfied with the hedgehog's shape, stick on the two dried beans for eyes and the raisin for a nose. Decorate the hedgehog's back with rows of pecan halves and walnut pieces to look like spines.
- Curl a few sprigs of fresh rosemary around the hedgehog to look like pine branches in a forest. Serve with crackers.
- Make your own soup mix. The store bought kind contains preservatives and extra salt.
- Grate your own cheese. The pre-grated kind will have a gritty texture in the cheese ball.
- Wrap the mixture in plastic wrap as you're shaping it to keep your hands clean, then peel it off when you're done.
- Want this spicy? Add additional cayenne pepper to taste.
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week, or freeze them.
This post was originally published on November 23, 2017.