Do you love cheese as much as I do? If your answer was “hell yes,” you have to try these holiday-inspired cheese ball bites. They are goat cheese balls stuffed with crispy, brown-buttered sage, and they’re rolled with half pomegranate seeds and the other half dusted with pistachio. These holiday cheese balls are an ode to those red and green ornaments hanging on your Christmas tree.
You can also mix them up by rolling them in chopped chives and slivered almonds, or smoky paprika, or chopped walnuts or pecans with dried cranberries. The possibilities are endless, so keep that holiday creativity rolling!
Roll up your sleeves and let’s get holiday cooking so you can bring these super easy, flavorful, and delicious cheese balls to your next holiday party! They can be done in very little time and every ball can show off your holiday style.
Holiday Cheese Balls
SERVES: 14 BALLS
2 tablespoons of butter
10 – 15 leaves of fresh sage
1 log of goat cheese (11 oz.)
1/2 cup of pistachios, shelled (I prefer the unroasted because they’re greener)
Zest of 2 small lemons and chopped into small pieces
1/2 pomegranate seeds only
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. The butter should be sizzling and if not, turn the heat up a little bit (but be careful the butter burns quickly). Add the sage leaves and let sit for about 1 minute, then flip them over and cook another minute.
Lay the sage leaves out on a paper towel to dry and save the butter.
Crumble the goat cheese into a food processor (you can do this with a mixer or even your hands if you need to – just chop up the sage leaves first if you do it by hand).
Add the sage leaves and sprinkle some salt and pepper.
Once the butter has cooled (since hot butter will melt the cheese), add it to the goat cheese mixture and pulse until it’s a smooth, creamy consistency.
Roll the goat cheese into 14 uniform balls (they’ll be a little smaller than golf balls) and arrange on a sheet of parchment paper. Cover in plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (or quick chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, layout the pomegranate seeds on a paper towel to make sure they’re extremely dry (the pomegranate juice will run into the goat cheese and it won’t look as nice).
Either pulse the pistachios in a food processor until they’re finely chopped, or chop by hand. Mix the pistachios and lemon zest together.
On two separate pieces of parchment paper, layout the pomegranates and the pistachio/lemon zest mixture.
Remove the goat cheese from the refrigerator and roll 7 in pomegranate seeds and the other remaining 7 in the pistachio and lemon mixture to evenly coat the cheese balls.
A FEW RECIPE NOTES:
The pomegranate seeds can be tricky to stick onto the cheeseballs, so you have to press the seed a little harder.
If you are planning on making the recipe the night before, form and refrigerate your cheese balls and prepare your toppings (don’t zest the lemon in advance and be sure to store the pomegranate seeds in the refrigerator). Then, all that’s left is assembling the toppings on the cheeseballs.
Recipe by guest contributor Lindsay Kinder, of Food La La, your go-to for the hows, whats, and whys of cooking healthy, but delicious food!
Photography by Erica Garlieb.
Depending on the expiration date on your cheese, your homemade cheeseball should last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
You can make the cheeseball up to 6 days in advance to keep its shape. Do not rush preparing the cheeseballs or else it will lose its shape.
Stone fruits, grapes, figs, and pears go the best with cheese.
A cheeseball is best served with crackers, fruit, or pretzels. The possibilities are endless, it is ultimately a taste preference.