These Mini Cheese Balls on a stick are one of the easiest make-ahead appetizers ever! These cheese ball bites are a perfectly balanced combination of cream cheese with blue cheese (or other sharp cheese) and sweet cranberries. Perfect for holiday gatherings!
Mini Cheese Balls on a Pretzel Stick!
Here's a quick and easy last-minute appetizer for your next party. I make these little bite-sized cheese balls often, especially at holiday time, and they are always snapped up!
Who can resist tiny bites on a stick? They're quick and easy to make if you use a food processor and you can make them ahead of time before your guests arrive. Pop in the pretzel stick (use gluten-free pretzels if necessary) just before serving.
These are the ingredients I use regularly when I make these cheese balls. For alternative suggestions, see the section on Possible Variations below.
cream cheese: either regular or low-fat, brick style, not the spreadable type
blue cheese: or other strong-flavoured cheese
pecans: or walnuts, or bacon crumbles
These Mini Cheese Balls on a Stick are so simple to make! Use a food processor or an electric mixer, if you have one. If not, make sure you start with softened cheese and use a spoon to mix the ingredients. Follow these easy, step-by-step instructions.
- Start by toasting the pecans in the oven, then finely chop them.
- Cut the block of cream cheese into cubes, then process in a food processor until softened.
- Add the dried cranberries, pulse a few times until chopped.
- Add softened blue cheese, and pulse until combined.
- Roll the mixture into little balls about ¾ to 1 inch in diameter.
- Roll in chopped nuts or bacon crumbles and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
- Just before serving, push a pretzel or a fancy toothpick in the center and bam! A fun finger food is ready for party time!
🔁 Possible variations
What other kind of cheese can I use? These cheese balls are one creamy bite, perfectly balanced with the sharpness of blue cheese and the sweetness of cranberries. Use cream cheese as a base, but if you don't care for blue cheese, substitute another strongly-flavored cheese, like aged cheddar or smoked cheese.
Can I use different dried fruits besides cranberries? Try chopped dried apricots or dried cherries. Roll the cheese bites in finely chopped salted pistachios or pumpkin seeds.
What else can I roll these cheese balls in? Try different nuts, like walnuts, almonds, or pistachios. Keep these nut-free by rolling them in bacon bits.
You might also like these Mini Cherry Almond Cheese Balls too. They're made with dried cherries instead of cranberries and rolled in finely chopped almonds. And if you can't eat regular dairy cheese, you might like these Mini Goat Cheese Balls instead.
Whichever flavor combination you choose, these mini cheese ball bites are guaranteed to disappear from your appetizer platter quickly!
⏰A make-ahead appetizer
Cheese balls are a great make-ahead appetizer. Combine the ingredients, roll them into balls, and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. These will stay fresh for 2 to 3 days. Insert the pretzel stick just before serving.
🥶 Freezing Instructions
Make and freeze, or freeze leftovers if you find you've made too many. Wrap the balls in plastic wrap, then overwrap in foil, or store in a tightly covered container in the freezer.
WATCH THIS VIDEO to see just how quickly you can make these fun mini cheese balls on a pretzel stick!
This recipe was originally published in 2014. It has been updated with more information and new photos.
🗒 More finger food recipes
Mini Cheese Balls on a Stick
- 1 8 oz. pkg light cream cheese
- 6 oz crumbled blue cheese (¾ cup, or other strong cheese--grated smoked cheddar is also good)*
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
- 12 - 24 pretzel sticks, gluten-free pretzel sticks, if necessary
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes, just until fragrant, watching carefully. Allow to cool, then chop finely in a food processor or by hand. Remove and set aside. Clean food processor.
- Cut the cream cheese into cubes and add to the food processor bowl. Process until smooth, scraping the sides with a spatula.
- Add the cranberries and pulse just until the cranberries are slightly chopped. Add the blue cheese and pulse until just combined. If you process it too long the cheese mixture will take on an unappetizing blue tinge.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dampen your fingers and roll balls of the cheese mixture about ¾ to 1 inch in diameter. They should be small enough for a single bite. Roll in the chopped pecans and place on the parchment paper. Chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
- Just before serving, insert a pretzel stick in the middle of each ball. If you insert it too early, it will turn soggy.