I didn’t grow up with cheese balls at any of my family functions, but apparently they were/are a thing found in the homes of many across the country. I first experimented with them a couple of years ago at my roommate’s and my annual Christmas party. I can’t really recall what it was made of, but I do remember that I shaped it into a cone, covered it in herbs, and put a dried apricot cut into a star on the top to make it resemble a Christmas tree.
With this experience in tow, I made this cheddar bacon ranch cheese ball the following year—though I guess the term “ball” is not technically applicable in this case. You can really shape it into whatever you want, and this year I opted for a festive Christmas wreath. As for the flavor combo, we have the campus Subway restaurant from my college days to thank: one of my standard orders was the chicken bacon ranch sandwich and this recipe reminds me of that (minus the chicken, of course).
A version of this recipe was recreated for Tasting Table, but here’s the original that I served last year.
- 6 pieces bacon, diced
- Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 8 ounces finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1-ounce package ranch dressing seasoning
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Crackers or crudités, for serving
- Add the bacon to a skillet and cook over medium heat until crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate layered with paper towels to drain.
- Add the cooked bacon, cheeses, sour cream, hot sauce, and ranch dressing seasoning to a bowl and stir until evenly combined. Season with some salt and pepper.
- Form the cheese mixture into the desired shape and cover with the parsley. Serve with crackers or crudités. (If making ahead, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.)