Enjoy a Healthy Cheese Ball recipe this holiday season by combining three kinds of cheese with a secret healthy ingredient (white beans!). This holiday crowd pleaser has classic flavor, texture, and look but is higher in protein, lower in fat and more nutritious!

Include this healthy cream cheese ball as part of a party food platter with other favorite party dips, like healthy French onion dip, healthy spinach dip, healthy veggie dip, and healthy buffalo chicken dip!

healthy cheese ball recipe with cream cheese pecans green onion and boursin

As the holidays are upon us, many people give up all notions of healthy eating entirely. However, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy lighter versions of your holiday favorites, like healthy mashed potatoes, healthy Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, and this healthy cheese ball recipe.

Cream cheese balls aren’t exactly known as a healthy party snack, however, with the addition of protein, fiber, and nutrient dense white beans, this crowd pleasing appetizer gets a healthy makeover, without sacrificing on flavor, so you can enjoy it guilt free at potlucks, parties, and gatherings!

Why Make Easy Cheese Ball Recipe?

  • Super easy: Blend, chill, shape, and roll in the toppings. It’s that simple!
  • Fuss free: Just a few minutes of hands on prep, then leave to chill until serving.
  • Make ahead: Up to 5 days in advance- perfect for busy holidays and parties.
  • Extra nutrients: Swap out fat heavy dairy for low fat, protein, fiber, and nutrient dense white beans.
  • Affordable: Made with a combination of pantry and fridge staples for a budget friendly party appetizer.
  • Flavor: With a combination of cream cheese, Boursin, and sharp cheddar, no one can tell beans are there.
  • Crowd pleaser: For potlucks, parties, Christmas, New Year, book clubs, game days, Superbowl, and any large gathering. There’s never a wrong time to enjoy this easy cheese ball recipe.
  • Easy to adapt: Keep reading for optional mix-ins and recipe variations.

Interested in more cheesy party food recipes? You may also like stuffed dates, parmesan mushrooms, cheesy cauliflower breadsticks, healthy 7-layer dip, or cheesy black bean nachos!

healthy holiday cheese ball on a cracker

Ingredients for Healthy Cheese Ball Recipe

  • White beans: Use low-sodium canned white navy beans, cannellini beans, or even chickpeas (drained and rinsed).
  • Boursin cheese: I use the garlic and herb flavor, but the chive flavor will also work well.
  • Cream cheese: Use regular or low-fat plain cream cheese. I haven’t tried fat free cream cheese, as it’s softer, so it may not hold its shape.  
  • Hot sauce: I used Frank’s Red Hot sauce, but you can use any hot sauce (like sriracha). This is used to add depth of flavor without actually making it spicy.
  • Sharp cheddar: Use freshly grated for the best quality. Use a reduced fat option if preferred.
  • Green onions: (aka scallions) finely chopped. Chives would also work.
  • Pecans: You need finely crushed pecans to coat this holiday cheese ball. Slivered almonds or walnuts would also work. You can use seeds like sunflower seeds or pepitas for a nut free version.
  • Everything bagel seasoning: To add extra crunch and flavor to the cream cheese ball.
  • Salt & pepper: Adjust the amount used to taste.
ingredients for healthy cheese ball recipe with cream cheese cheddar and boursin

How to Make Cheese Balls

Preparing this Boursin cheese ball couldn’t be simpler and requires just 4 simple steps.

  • Combine the base cheese mixture: In a large mixing bowl, combine the beans, Boursin cheese, cream cheese, hot sauce, and salt and pepper. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

You can also do this in a blender or food processor. Working with room temperature ingredients makes it easier to blend.

  • Add the mix-ins: Stir in the shredded cheddar and green onion until well combined. Then, using a silicone spatula, form the mixture into as much of a ball shape as you can manage. Transfer to the fridge to firm up for 2 hours (at least).

If you need help forming the cheese ball, you can transfer the cheese mix to a piece of plastic wrap and use that to help you wrap it into a ball shape.

  • Prepare the pecans: Preheat a medium skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the pecans and toast until golden brown and fragrant, stirring often. Watch it closely, as they will burn quickly otherwise. Then remove from the heat and allow to cool before chopping finely and adding to a wide bowl/plate with the Everything Bagel seasoning.
  • Assemble the healthy cheese ball: Using your hands, quickly shape the chilled mixture into a ball and roll it in the nut mixture to coat. Finally, the healthy cheese ball is ready to serve! I like to serve it on a platter surrounded by crackers and other dipping foods.

Keep reading for my top recommendations for what to serve with this popular party appetizer!

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

If you want to add any mix-ins to this easy cheese ball recipe, I don’t recommend adding more than around ¼ cup, so the mixture is still easy to form it without falling apart.

  • Worcestershire sauce: A generous splash helps to add depth to this garlic cheese ball recipe.
  • More heat: Since the hot sauce doesn’t actually provide a lot of spice in the base recipe, you can increase the heat with finely chopped chili (jalapeno), chili powder, or red pepper flakes.
  • Alternative shredded cheese: Monterey Jack, Havarti, other cheddar, Fontina, gouda, etc., would work.
  • Other herbs: You can experiment with fresh herbs added to this easy cheese ball recipe, including dill, parsley, chives, etc. You could also use dried herbs, including dried dill weed, basil, chives, thyme, parsley, etc. Add ¼ tsp dried herbs of any to begin, then increase to taste.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: Chop them finely and optionally combine them with parmesan.
  • Garlic: Mix some roasted garlic or garlic powder into the cheese mixture to increase the garlic flavor. It tastes fabulous!
  • Dill pickles: This is a love/hate mix-in. However, feel free to add some finely chopped pickles to the cheese mixture.
  • Dijon mustard: To add depth of flavor and cut through the creamy richness.
  • Cranberries: Add some finely chopped cranberries to the healthy cheese ball for a holiday twist. Other dried fruit may also work like apricots, figs, or dates.
  • Pomegranate: Can be used as a coating alongside or instead of the nuts.
  • Olives: Finely chopped and mixed into the healthy cheese ball mixture.
  • Meat: Bacon crumbles or ham could be used (sparingly) within or as a coating.
  • Vegan: If you live somewhere lucky enough to get vegan Boursin, it’s very simple to sub alongside another plain dairy free cream cheese. If not, use your favorite vegan garlic and herb cream cheese, plain cream cheese, and shredded ‘cheddar’ style cheese.

As well as mix-ins, feel free to experiment with what to roll the cheese ball in. You can use chopped herbs, dried fruit, nuts/seeds, crushed crackers/pretzels, etc.!

Tips for Best Results

  • Supply a spreading knife: Crackers are likely to break if dipped directly into the cheese ball. It also allows guests to cut off a portion to add to their plate.
  • Don’t eat straight from the fridge: Cheese balls tastes best when left to sit out for 15-20 minutes before serving (not to mention the texture is a little softer for dipping/spreading).
  • To make mini cheese balls: I like to use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the portioned pieces onto a baking tray before chilling. That way, they’re easier to roll quickly by hand afterward. Otherwise, the recipe and method remain the same.
  • Avoid dry, crumbly cheeses: If you want to experiment with other cheese varieties, I recommend avoiding crumbly cheese like feta, cotija, etc., or hard, dry cheese like parmesan. Instead, use semi-soft cheese is best, like goat cheese, cream cheeses, blue cheese, etc.
  • Ensure you leave time to chill: The mixture will be soft after it’s freshly mixed; it needs the chilling time to hold its shape. So chill it for at least two hours, or even longer if needed.
  • Use high quality ingredients: There aren’t many ingredients used in this garlic cheese ball recipe, so every ingredient counts. Use high quality cream cheese, freshly grated block cheese, etc.

FAQs

Can I mix the cheese ball by hand?

In terms of actually combining the base ingredients, the white beans need to be blended into a creamy consistency, which would be hard to do by hand. However, for shaping it into a ball after blending, I usually find a silicone spatula works well (and room temperature cream cheese!) and then lightly greased hands for the final shaping.

How long can it sit out?

It’s best to only leave a cream cheese ball out for two hours at a time. I recommend making two smaller cream cheese balls if you want to serve them over several hours at an event/party.

Are cheese balls gluten free?

As long as the Everything bagel seasoning is certified gluten free (which most are), this healthy cheese ball recipe is naturally gluten free.

How to make cheese balls dairy free?

Thanks to an abundance of dairy alternatives, this healthy cheese ball recipe isn’t too complicated to turn vegan. Simply use your favorite plain vegan cream cheese, cheddar style cheese, and garlic and herb cheese (vegan Boursin is even available in some locations now!)

Can I make a nut free cheese ball?

Absolutely, just substitute the nuts for seeds like pepitas or sunflower seeds. If you can’t eat either, then you can coat the ball with some fresh herbs or possibly crushed crackers/pretzels (if you still want crunch).

How do you make healthy cheese ball firmer?

You can either add more cream cheese or add an ingredient like butter or coconut oil that firms up in the refrigerator and will help firm the entire mixture.

How far ahead can I make cheese balls?

You can make this healthy cheese ball recipe up to 5 days in advance and store it wrapped tightly in the refrigerator. Read the storage section for all the details.

Can you freeze a cheese ball with cream cheese?

Yes, for up to a month wrapped tightly. Read the storing section below for more details.

Can you shape the cheese ball in other ways?

Absolutely, there are several ways to shape this holiday cheese ball based on the theme and season. For example, at Christmas, you can stack it to create a snowman, Christmas tree, wreath, Santa’s hat (with pomegranate or cranberries to top), or even a reindeer (using pretzels as antlers). Other shapes include a pumpkin, turkey, football, or even simply a log instead of a ball.

holiday cheese ball with cream cheese on a platter with crackers

What to Serve with a Healthy Cheese Ball?

This Boursin cheese ball is a great year round party appetizer to serve alongside:

  • Bread: Melba toast, soft pretzel bites, focaccia, crusty baguette, etc.
  • Crackers: Use a combination of crackers that are hard, soft, multigrain, plain, fairly flavored, etc.
  • Pretzels/tortilla chips/pita chips
  • Crudites: Such as cucumber, celery sticks, carrot sticks, bell pepper, baby corn, radish, etc. I also like blanched veggies like broccoli, asparagus, or green beans.
  • Apple and pear slices

You can also serve this Holiday/ Christmas cheese ball as part of a charcuterie board with sliced meats, pickles, nuts, fruits, preserves, etc. Check out all my top tips for assembling a charcuterie board with several ideas for themed holiday boards!

How to Make Ahead and Store Cheese Ball?

Make ahead: Cheese balls make for a great make ahead party appetizer, as they can be stored for up to 5 days in advance! Store it without the nut coating, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Add the nuts before serving.

Store: Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week. The nuts will soften over time, but it will still taste great. Also, the white beans will keep the consistency soft enough, so It doesn’t require heating in any way before serving again.  

Make sure to allow it to come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes for the best flavor and texture, though!

Freeze: It’s best to freeze without the nut topping. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place within a Ziplock bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. Then allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Add the nuts once it’s fully thawed.  

More Healthy Appetizers

healthy cheese ball recipe on a party platter with green onion and crackers
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Healthy Cheese Ball Recipe

Enjoy a Healthy Cheese Ball recipe this holiday season by combining three kinds of cheese with a secret healthy ingredient (white beans!). This holiday crowd pleaser has classic flavor, texture, and look but is higher in protein, lower in fat and more nutritious!
5 from 2 votes
Servings 24 servings
Calories 70
Prep Time 20 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients 
 

  • 15 oz can low sodium white navy, cannellini beans or chickpeas rinsed & drained
  • 1 round Boursin cheese garlic and fine herbs
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese regular or low fat
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 2 green onion sprigs finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 1 tbsp Everything bagel seasoning

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, add beans, Boursin cheese, cream cheese, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
  • Add cheddar cheese and green onion; stir, form into a ball with spatula inside the bowl, and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow cheese mixture to firm up.
  • Preheat medium skillet on medium heat, add pecans and toast until golden brown or fragrant, stirring often and watching closely not to burn.
  • Transfer on a cutting board, chop finely, add to a wide plate and mix with Everything bagel seasoning.
  • Using your hands, shape chilled cheese mixture into a ball and roll in chopped nuts.
  • Serve with crackers, pretzels, vegetables or anything else you'd love to dip in cheese!

Notes

  • Store: Refrigerate covered (in airtight container) for up to 1 week. 
  • Freeze: Wrap in plastic wrap (without nuts) and place in a freezer safe Ziplock bag.  Freeze for up to 1 month.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and add nuts once completely thawed.
  • Serving tip: Serve the cheese ball with a spreading knife. If you dip your cracker straight into the ball, chances are it will break.
  • Hot sauce: Hot sauce addition is for flavor, it doesn’t make cheese ball spicy.
  • Alternative shredded cheese: Monterey Jack, Havarti, other cheddar, Fontina, gouda, etc., would work.
  • To make mini cheese balls: I like to use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the portioned pieces onto a baking tray before chilling. That way, they’re easier to roll quickly by hand afterward. Otherwise, the recipe and method remain the same.
  • Use high quality ingredients: There aren’t many ingredients used in this garlic cheese ball recipe, so every ingredient counts. Use high quality cream cheese, freshly grated block cheese, etc.
See recipe post for additional notes and FAQs.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tblsp | Calories: 70kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 102mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: North American
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Cheese ball brings back so many memories of growing up having cheese ball on holidays. This one tasted amazing and was an upgraded one for sure compared to back then, definitely a keeper!

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