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.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.
This post was originally published on November 23, 2017.
I made this for our daughter’s wooodland baby shower and it was a big hit. It is delicious. We had to travel for the shower and it was easy to pack up and take. Our daughter ended up having influenza and missing her shower. She saw pictures of it and got to eat the leftovers. She loved it. I made it a different time for her since she had to miss her shower. It is really cute!
We're sorry to hear that your daughter wasn't feeling well, Sharon! We're really glad to hear that the hedgehog cheese ball was popular anyway.
Are you able to make the cheese ball ahead of time and freeze it? I have to travel to my sister’s baby shower and would like to make this and finish it when I arrive.
Yes, you can make the cheese ball in advance and freeze it. I would wait to decorate it until after it's thawed. I hope your sister and those at the shower will enjoy it!
Nine members of our family met at my daughter's home, in the midst of Covid, for Orthodox Easter last Sunday. Because we all have more time right now, I was able to unhurriedly enjoy putting my little hedgehog together. You should have heard the squeals of delight from both grandkids and adults when I uncovered it! A huge hit. I think next time I will use a stronger grated cheese (I accidentally purchased sharp instead of extra sharp cheddar), or perhaps add a little shredded Parmesan. Another brilliant recipe, team!
Aww, I'm so glad that you and your family enjoyed the hedgehog so much, Colleen! It's always popular with our family and friends, too. Hope you are staying safe!
This recipe is brilliant! We’re hosting a bday party for our little boy and it fits so good with the woodland theme we planned!
I must have missed it in your recipe, the hedgehog you’ve posted pictures of - is it from 1x ingredient measurements? How many cheese nibblers would you say this serves?
Wow, Casper! I'm so glad that this cheese ball is working for your baby shower! Yes, all of our recipes default to the 1x measurements. The 2x and 3x measurements are simply if you'd like to double or triple the recipe. 1 cheese ball should serve about 20 people--although it depends how many seconds people take. Have fun!
Thank you, Emma for sharing this idea and the cheeseball recipe. Yours is one of the recipes I used for my daughter-in-law's baby shower yesterday! It was a big hit! Her baby shower was a woodland creature theme and this Hedgehog Cheeseball was so adorable. So adorable, no one wanted to be the first to mess it up (kept calling it a work of art), but once someone did, there wasn't much left! We had soooooo much food. Everyone wanted your recipe, so I directed them to you! The only thing I did differently was to make the eyes and nose out of black olives instead of using dried black beans for the eyes and a raisin for the nose. Worked out great! My husband, after having some of the leftover cheeseball, told me this recipe is a keeper! Note: I also made and used your Homemade Onion Soup Mix Recipe in the Hedgehog Cheeseball. Absolutely delicious piece of art!! Again, thank you Emma for helping to make the baby shower for my precious daughter-in-law and my first grandchild coming soon, a huge success!!! All the best to you and yours!!
Congratulations to you and your daughter! I'm honored that you made the cheese ball for the baby shower and that it turned out so well! Thank you so much for your kind review.
Making this for a woodland animal baby shower that I'm hosting tomorrow! I will definitely post a review once it's done, but for now....I don't have any minced dried onion. Do you have any recommendations for a way to make it without? Not even sure if you'll see this tonight, but if you do and can answer, thank you!
I'm sorry I didn't back to you sooner, Kim! I just saw your comment now. You can substitute onion powder to taste if you don't have minced onion. Hope you enjoyed the cheese ball!
No worries at all--I ended up using some fresh diced red onion which added some nice texture and flavor. It was a huge hit and really yummy so thank you so much for sharing this!
You're very welcome, Kim! 😃 I'm so glad that the cheese ball was a hit. It's been gobbled up by our family and friends too!
I made it for a baby shower. It was really cute and delicious. I’m not crafty but this recipe made me proud. Thanks
You're very welcome, Willie! I'm sure your hedgehog was adorable!
Should we toast the nuts?
You can totally toast the nuts if you would like, but you don't have to! 😊
Made this for an autumn potluck and it was a big hit! Very tasty! I also used the DIY seasoning-so easy! I used raisins for eyes & nose as I had no dried beans. I plan to do for a baby shower app. (woodland theme)
Thank you so much for your kind comment, Christine! I'm thrilled that you found the hedgehog cheese ball to be easy and tasty! 🦔😊
I got so many compliments on this cheeseball at my daughters baby shower! My daughter took the little that was left over home with her she liked it so much! I decorated with almonds just because I prefer the flavor of them more. Thank you for your easy to follow instructions.
Thank you so much, Margo! I'm tickled pink that you and your daughter loved the cheeseball!!!
What a delightful way to serve cheese! Anyone would be pleased to see this cute creature on their dinner table! I love cheese too.
Thank you, Grandma! It's fun making cheese balls for parties.
Enjoyed it. Loved the look and taste. Yum!
Thank you, Patricia! So glad that you enjoyed it!