Football Cheese Ball featured image
This Football Cheeseball is filled with flavorful cheese, bacon and ranch. Easy to make and decorate, it's the perfectly fun food for football!
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Table of Contents
  1. Fan Favorite Football Cheese Ball
  2. Why We Love This Football Cheese Ball Recipe
  3. Ingredients / Shopping List
  4. Substitutions and Additions
  5. Recommended Tools
  6. How to Make a Football Cheese Ball
  7. Storage Tips
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. Other Easy Appetizer Recipes
  10. Football Cheese Ball Recipe

This winning Football Cheese Ball recipe is quick and easy to make with a simple seasoned mixture of creamy ranch, tons of cheese, chopped chives, and crumbled bacon that’s shaped, chilled, coated, and decorated to look like a football. Perfect for Super Bowl snacking or game day tailgate, this make-ahead appetizer is a fun way to feed a crowd and watch them go wild!

Football Cheese Ball hero image

Fan Favorite Football Cheese Ball

This Football Cheese Ball is so much better than your average appetizer that tastes like a flavorless concoction of cheeses and herbs molded into a ball before being jabbed and jolted with crackers and crudite. But this isn’t your ordinary finger food–it’s the ultimate combination of tangy and creamy flavors on the inside and nutty and crunch textures on the outside in every cheesy bacon-filled bite.

I love the sheer simplicity of this recipe, made with basic ingredients that mix together and shape into a flavorful football, then it’s coated with bacon to look like an authentic football, and decorated with laces. It’s always fun to transform a satisfying snack into a game-day football food, especially when you have hungry fans to feed and you’re hoping to score the winning touchdown!

For more Super Bowl snacks or tailgate treats, check out my Pull-Apart Pigs In A Blanket, Buffalo Chicken Sliders, Taco Ring, and my Million Dollar Dip. Delicious!

Why We Love This Football Cheese Ball Recipe

  • Quick and easy to make with basic ingredients.
  • Delicious flavor and texture combination.
  • Loaded with cheese, colorful chopped chives, crumbled bacon, and all dressed in Ranch. 
  • Every party needs a crowd-pleasing appetizer–this is a fun way to feed a crowd!
  • You can make it in advance leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
  • Gluten-free and low carb.
  • Perfect for football parties, potlucks, tailgating, and Super Bowl snacking.
Football Cheese Ball

Ingredients / Shopping List

  • Cream cheese blocks
  • Bottled ranch dressing: I used Hidden Valley Ranch original for this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite brand. My suggestion is to use a thick and creamy one.
  • Garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chives
  • Sharp cheddar cheese: I like using the bagged, pre-shredded, cheese for this recipe because you can buy the very finely shredded kinds and it tends to mix into the cream cheese better and not clump up. 
  • Center-cut bacon: Do Not use thick slice bacon for this recipe.  Center cut works best because it is less fatty and not too thick to mix with the cream cheese.
  • Walnuts
  • White cheddar cheese

Substitutions and Additions

  • Vegetarian Version: To make a vegetarian cheese ball, coat your football with extra nuts and finely chopped fresh parsley instead of the bacon bits.
  • Nuts: Chopped pecans or slivered almonds make a great alternative to walnuts for this recipe.
  • No Nuts: If you’d like to make this cheese ball nut-free, you can roll it in more bacon bits, pepperoni slices, or fresh herbs. Or you can coat your cheese ball in Everything Bagel seasoning. The pops of sesame, poppy seeds, onion, and garlic will work well too. For some crunch, you can also try toasted breadcrumbs.
  • Change The Cheese: Instead of cheddar, you can try jalapeño for a bit of a kick, Monterey Jack or Colby Jack cheese.
  • Flavor Factor: For extra flavor and heat, feel free to add some pimiento peppers, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or diced jalapeño peppers to your cheese mixture. 
Football Cheese Ball
  • Large skillet
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring tools
  • Rubber spatula
  • Large plate
  • Plastic wrap

SEE FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE CARD BELOW

How to Make a Football Cheese Ball

Even if you don’t love football, this easy-to-make Football Cheese Ball recipe will get you excited about feeding your friends and kicking back to watch the game. Perfect for any party or tailgate, this make-ahead appetizer is a fun way to serve a game-day snack.

  1. Cook your bacon on medium-low heat until crisp (about 10-15 minutes), drain, cool, and chop. Set aside.
    Pro-Tip: I like to pre-chop my raw bacon before cooking it. I find it cooks a little faster and also yields more evenly sized bacon crumbles. You can also use the Ready-Cook bacon. Just cook it according to package directions, in the microwave, and make sure that you have ¾ total bacon crumbles. This is a great option if you do not like to make a mess in the kitchen cooking your bacon on the stove top.
  2. Cream together the cream cheese, ranch dressing, garlic powder, kosher salt, black pepper and chopped chives until smooth.
    Pro-Tip: Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature. If it’s chilled, you’ll have a hard time mixing everything smoothly. Instead of bottled Ranch dressing, you can mix 3 tablespoons of sour cream with 2 tablespoons of dry ranch packet mix.
    cream cheese mixture
  3. Fold cheddar cheese and ½ cup of the bacon crumbles into the cream cheese mixture until completely combined.
    Pro-Tip: If you prefer to shred your own cheese, I suggest you place your block of cheese into the freezer about 20 minutes prior to shredding it. It helps the cheese shred better on the fine side of your box grater.
    add cheese and bacon to the cream cheese
  4. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on your counter surface and transfer the bacon cheese mixture to the center of the plastic, forming a rough ball.
  5. Pull up the two long sides of the sides of the plastic wrap to cover the cheese mixture and from it into a football shape. 
    Pro Tip: It is much easier to do this while the plastic wrap is covering the cheese mixture. As you shape the cheese football, tuck in the short sides of the plastic wrap to ensure that the cheese mixture is covered completely.
    shape into football
  6. Transfer the football shaped cheese ball, while still wrapped in the plastic wrap, onto a plate and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  7. Place the remaining bacon, chives, and walnuts onto a large plate or a large pie plate. 
    Pro-Tip: You can lightly toast your walnuts prior to chopping them. This adds a great elevated flavor but is not necessary.
    remaining ingredients on a plate
  8. Unwrap the football cheeseball, place it on top of the walnut mixture, and use your hands to coat the outside of the cheeseball.
    coat the football
  9. Transfer the coated cheese football to your serving plate.
  10. Garnish the football with “cheese” laces by slicing two thin strips, about ¾ inch thick, from the long edge of one piece of deli sliced white cheddar cheese.
    Pro-Tip: If you do not want to get your white cheddar cheese from the deli, you can use  a block of white cheddar cheese to make the “laces”. You will want to make sure to cut it thin enough so that the cheese is pliable. You can also use a string cheese stick the same way by cutting it lengthwise into long strips then into smaller strips. 
    slice cheese
  11. Slice another two thin pieces of deli white cheddar cheese, length-wise, ⅛ to ¼ inch thick. You will cut one of these very thin slices into four equal parts.
  12. Using the two thick strips of the white cheddar cheese, lay one strip on one end, making sure that it drapes all the way from one side to the other, and repeat with the other piece on the opposite side of the football.
    Pro Tip: You will want to place these pieces about 2-3 inches up from each point on the football shape.
  13. Using the very thin pieces, place the long one going lengthwise down the center of the middle of the football shape.
    Pro Tip: You may need to trim your piece slightly so that it does not go all the way end to end and touch the thicker strips. 
  14. Place the 4 smaller strips across the center strip of white cheddar cheese, making the laces pattern as seen on a football.
    football cheeseball
  15. Serve with butter crackers, like RITZ brand, and enjoy!

Storage Tips

  • To Store: This cheese ball can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time and can be stored, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days in total.
  • To Freeze: This will freeze well in the freezer in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to one month. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and place on a tray to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Once soft, serve and enjoy!
Football Cheese Ball

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this Football Cheese Ball in advance?

You can form the cheese ball up to 24 hours in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. If making ahead, I suggest coating the cheese ball right before serving.

Can I freeze this Football Cheese Ball?

You can freeze your cheese ball. I suggest you freeze it before you roll it in the outer coating. After forming the cream cheese mixture into a ball, add it to a freezer resealable bag, and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then roll in outer coating and serve

What can I serve with my Football Cheese Ball?

My favorite way to serve this cheese ball is with buttery crackers, (like RITZ brand), but pretzels, bagel chips, pita chips, or even some toasted baguette slices would be a nice accompaniment. For a healthier alternative, serve with carrots, celery sticks, or even apple slices.

Football Cheese Ball

Other Easy Appetizer Recipes

5 from 2 votes
Football Cheese Ball featured image

Football Cheese Ball

Serves — 18
This Football Cheeseball is filled with flavorful cheese, bacon and ranch. Easy to make and decorate, it's the perfectly fun food for football!
Prep Time 15 mins
Chill Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 15 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounce (2 8-ounce) cream cheese blocks room-temperature
  • 3 tbsp bottled ranch dressing I used Hidden Valley Ranch original
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp chopped chives divided
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese finely shredded
  • 12 ounce package center-cut bacon cooked & crumbled, divided. This will yield about ¾ cup bacon crumbles
  • 1 cup walnuts finely chopped
  • 2 slices white cheddar cheese from the deli and sliced thin
  • butter crackers like RITZ brand for serving

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet, on medium-low heat, cook your bacon until crisp (this can take anywhere between 10-15 minutes). Once cooked, drain your bacon on a paper towel lined plate. Once cooled, chop your bacon then set aside.
  • In a large bowl, with a rubber spatula, combine the cream cheese, ranch dressing, garlic powder, kosher salt, black pepper and 2 tablespoons chopped chives. Cream together until smooth and all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  • Add the finely shredded cheddar cheese and ½ cup of the bacon crumbles. Gently fold them into the cream cheese mixture until all the ingredients are completely combined.
  • Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on your counter surface. You will transfer all your bacon cheddar ranch mixture to the center of the plastic wrap in a rough ball.
  • Pull up the two long sides of the sides of the plastic wrap to cover the cheese mixture and gently shape the mixture into a football shape. It is much easier to do this while the plastic wrap is covering the cheese mixture. As you shape the cheese football you will just tuck in the short sides of the plastic wrap to ensure that the cheese mixture is covered completely.
  • Transfer the football shaped bacon cheddar ranch cheese ball, while still wrapped in the plastic wrap, onto a plate and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the cheese ball to hold its shape as a football.
  • Once your bacon cheddar ranch cheese football has refrigerated you can place the remaining bacon, chives and chopped walnuts onto a large plate (step 4), or a large pie plate works well also.
  • Unwrap your football cheeseball and very carefully place it onto the plate of chopped walnut mixture. Using your hands, gently coat the outside of the cheeseball with the nut mixture being careful to keep the football shape. Once your bacon cheddar cheese football is completely covered then transfer it to your serving plate.
  • You will garnish your football with “cheese” laces. To do this you will slice two thin strips, about ¾ inch thick, from the long edge of one of the pieces of the deli sliced white cheddar cheese.
  • You will then slice, length wise, another two  thin pieces, this time about an ⅛ to ¼ inch thick, of the deliwhite cheddar cheese. You will cut one of these very thin slices into four equal parts.
  • Using the two thick strips of the white cheddar cheese lay one strip on one end, making sure that it drapes all the way from one side to the other, and repeat with the other piece on the opposite side of the football. You will want to place these pieces about 2-3 inches up from each point on the football shape.
  • With the very thin pieces you will place the long one going lengthwise down the center of the middle of the football shape.You may need to trim your piece slightly so that it does not go all the way end to end and touch the thicker strips. Place the 4 smaller strips across the center strip of white cheddar cheese making the laces pattern as seen on a football.

Jenn’s Notes

Storage :
  • To Store: This cheese ball can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time and can be stored, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days in total.
  • To Freeze: This will freeze well in the freezer in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to one month. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and place on a tray to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Once soft, serve and enjoy!
Tips:
  • Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature. If it’s chilled, you’ll have a really hard time mixing everything smoothly.
  • I like to pre-chop my raw bacon before cooking it. I find it cooks a little faster and also yields more evenly sized bacon crumbles. You can also use the Ready-Cook bacon. Just cook it according to package directions, in the microwave, and make sure that you have ¾ total bacon crumbles. This is a great option if you do not like to make a mess in the kitchen cooking your bacon on the stove top.
  • If you prefer to shred your own cheese, I suggest you place your block of cheese into the freezer about 20 minutes prior to shredding it. It helps the cheese shred better on the fine side of your box grater.
  • Instead of bottled Ranch dressing, you can mix 3 tablespoons of sour cream with 2 tablespoons of dry ranch packet mix.
  • You can lightly toast your walnuts prior to chopping them. This adds a great elevated flavor but is not necessary.
  • If you do not want to get your white cheddar cheese from the deli, you can use  a block of white cheddar cheese to make the “laces”. You will want to make sure to cut it thin enough so that the cheese is pliable. You can also use a string cheese stick the same way by cutting it lengthwise into long strips then into smaller strips. 

Nutrition Info

Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 395mg | Potassium: 118mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 195IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 209mg | Iron: 1mg
Jennifer Fishkind

About Jenn

Jenn is a mom to three beautiful boys, wife to an amazing husband, social influencer and blogger. I love all things easy recipes, easy crafts, all things hacks, traveling EVERYWHERE and feeding my Pinterest addiction!

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