Festive Goat Cheese Balls Recipe

The festive season is all about coming together to celebrate with family, friends, and loved ones. Many of our holiday traditions involve enjoying delicious food with good company. However, sometimes all the parties, celebrations, and Christmas preparations make it hard to find time for much home cooking. If you're looking for a simple recipe that involves no cooking, is quick to assemble, and delivers on taste and elegance, look no further than these festive goat cheese balls — a perfect appetizer for a festive gathering. 

Devised by Tasting Table recipe developer Jennine Rye, the dish is comprised of soft tangy goat cheese, rich cream cheese, and a touch of honey, and the whole mixture is rolled into bite-sized balls. These are then coated in a coarse crumb-like mixture of crushed walnuts, dried cranberries, and chopped rosemary leaves, which gives them a lovely texture and celebrates some of the best-loved flavors of the season. 

These festive cheese balls can be served immediately. However, they can also be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge until serving. Guaranteed to please any cheese lover, these goat cheese balls will make an elegant appetizer for your holiday party.

Gather the ingredients for this festive goat cheese balls recipe

To begin this festive goat cheese balls recipe, first you will need to gather the ingredients. You will want goat cheese, cream cheese, honey, fresh rosemary, walnuts, dried cranberries, flaked sea salt, and black pepper.

Step 1: Begin the goat cheese balls

Add the goat cheese, the cream cheese, and the honey to a large bowl.

Step 2: Combine the cheeses

Mash the cheeses and honey to combine, then cover the mixture well and transfer it to the freezer for half an hour.

Step 3: Mince the rosemary

Mince the fresh rosemary leaves.

Step 4: Pulse the walnuts

Pulse the walnuts in a food processor to finely chop them to the consistency of coarse crumbs.

Step 5: Pulse the dried cranberries

Pulse the dried cranberries in the food processor to finely chop them.

Step 6: Combine the rosemary, walnuts, and cranberries

Mix the chopped rosemary, walnuts, and cranberries together in a bowl with the salt and pepper.

Step 7: Retrieve the chilled cheese mixture

Remove the chilled cheese mixture from the freezer.

Step 8: Roll the goat cheese balls

Scoop tablespoons of the cheese mixture and then roll it into balls between your palms.

Step 9: Coat the goat cheese balls

Gently roll the goat cheese balls through the rosemary, walnut, and cranberry mixture so that it coats them thoroughly.

Step 10: Serve the goat cheese balls

Serve immediately, or store in the fridge until serving.

How can these festive goat cheese balls be adapted?

This versatile festive goat cheese balls recipe can easily be adapted to suit various preferences and dietary needs. While the original recipe uses a combination of goat cheese and cream cheese, you can experiment with different types of soft cheese to find your favorite combination. Try using feta cheese for a tangier flavor, or you could substitute the cheese with a vegan alternative for a plant-based version.

Tweaking the ingredients in the rosemary, walnut, and cranberry coating is a great way to add different flavorings to these goat cheese balls. Instead of using walnuts, you could use a variety of other nuts for a different nutty finish, including pecans, almonds, or pistachios. Similarly, the dried cranberries can be substituted with your favorite dried fruit, such as dried cherries, blueberries, or apricots. You might like to get creative with herbs too. While rosemary adds a lovely, earthy flavor to this recipe, you can experiment with other fresh herbs such as thyme, basil, or parsley. Each herb will bring its unique aroma and taste to the cheese balls. 

How should these festive goat cheese balls be served?

These deliciously creamy festive goat cheese balls can be served in various ways, and make a great dish for a wide variety of holiday spreads. You could arrange the goat cheese balls on a platter and then sprinkle them with some extra chopped rosemary, walnuts, and cranberries to add a touch of elegance to their plating. You could include some crackers or crusty bread to allow guests the option of spreading the creamy goat cheese onto the crunchy base, although many might prefer to pop the whole thing into their mouth to enjoy by itself.

These goat cheese balls are ideal when served alongside other nibbles or hors d'oeuvres to make an appealing appetizer spread. To offer a variety of flavors and textures, combine the cheese balls with other complementary items, such as an assortment of salty olives, marinated vegetables, stuffed peppers, or bruschetta. To create a more substantial spread, serve the goat cheese balls alongside an array of sliced dried meats, such as prosciutto, salami, or smoked ham. The combination of creamy cheese, savory meats, and sweet-tart cranberries will make for a beautiful and festive grazing table. 

Festive Goat Cheese Balls Recipe
5 from 27 ratings
In these easy and festive goat cheese balls, creamy cheese is coated in crunchy walnuts, tart cranberries, and rosemary: The perfect no-bake holiday appetizer.
Prep Time
45
minutes
Cook Time
0
minutes
Servings
16
Balls
festive goat cheese balls
Total time: 45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • ⅓ cup whole raw walnuts
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¾ teaspoon flaked sea salt
  • ⅓ teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Add the goat cheese, the cream cheese, and the honey to a large bowl.
  2. Mash the cheeses and honey to combine, then cover the mixture well and transfer it to the freezer for half an hour.
  3. Mince the fresh rosemary leaves.
  4. Pulse the walnuts in a food processor to finely chop them to the consistency of coarse crumbs.
  5. Pulse the dried cranberries in the food processor to finely chop them.
  6. Mix the chopped rosemary, walnuts, and cranberries together in a bowl with the salt and pepper.
  7. Remove the chilled cheese mixture from the freezer.
  8. Scoop tablespoons of the cheese mixture and then roll it into balls between your palms.
  9. Gently roll the goat cheese balls through the rosemary, walnut, and cranberry mixture so that it coats them thoroughly.
  10. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge until serving.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 91
Total Fat 6.8 g
Saturated Fat 3.6 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 11.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 3.8 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Total Sugars 3.0 g
Sodium 103.7 mg
Protein 4.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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