Smoky, garlicky, and cheesy, this cheese ball is perfect for any football Sunday or as the ultimate Super Bowl snack. It comes together in less than 30 minutes total—even with the chilling time—and only contains nine ingredients. Serve it up with crackers and pretzels and watch everyone start digging in immediately.
There are tons of variations listed below, too. You can completely customize the cheese ball to your liking. Leave out the jalapenos if you don't want it spicy or add in some Sriracha if you want take the heat level further up a notch.
- 1/2 pound bacon (diced)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 16 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 scallions (chopped)
- 1 jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed and diced)
- 1 slice cheddar or mozzarella cheese
Gather the ingredients.
Cook the bacon bits in a frying pan until brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel and set aside. Leave the bacon grease in the pan and set it aside as well.
Leave about half of the bacon grease in the frying pan. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan and toast over low heat until evenly browned. Shake the pan frequently to prevent the breadcrumbs from burning.
Add the cream cheese, jalapenos, scallions, cheddar, salt, and garlic powder to a large bowl. Make sure the cream cheese is soft enough to stir.
Mix together the ingredients with a spoon or hand mixer until they are completely incorporated and evenly distributed. Taste to make sure it's salty and spicy enough to your liking.
Form the cream cheese mixture into a ball and then flatten the top and pinch the sides into a football shape. Using slightly damp hands will prevent the cream cheese from sticking to your hands too much.
Cover the cheese ball with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to firm up slightly.
Cover the cheeseball with the toasted breadcrumbs and then press in the bacon bits.
Cut the cheese into strips to make the football laces. Place the smaller strips horizontally with a half inch in between them. Then lay the longer strip vertically over the horizontal strips.
For a more vibrant look (and so people know it's spicy!), add the chopped fresh jalapenos and some scallions to the top of the football.
Serve with pretzels and crackers.
- Be careful when toasting the breadcrumbs so that you don't burn them. Medium to low heat works the best and shake the pan frequently while toasting.
- Serve with a soft cheese knife so you don't break the cracker, or use firmer varieties or pretzels for scooping.
- Try leaving out the garlic and adding in 2 tablespoons of fig jam for a sweet, spicy, and smoky cheese ball.
- Replace the bacon and breadcrumbs with mini pepperoni for a almost real-life leather football look.
- Instead of breadcrumbs, try crushed up walnuts or pecans—they'll add a nice nuttiness while still keeping your football brown.