This Cranberry Herb Goat Cheese Ball with Nuts and Cream Cheese sits perfectly at the intersection of sweet, savory, and creamy with a delicious and eye-catching coating. It makes an impressive appetizer for your next gathering!
Cream Cheese: This is the creamy and smooth base you need to make the cheese ball spreadable. Adding only goat cheese is too crumbly!
Goat Cheese: The mild tangy flavor is mellowed even further by the cream cheese, but it is still present! I don't buy anything fancy for this appetizer since it is being mixed up with so many other flavors.
Garlic Powder: Just a bit of garlic flavor compliments all of the earthy nuts and sweet fruits in the coating.
Black Pepper: I like a bit of heat the mix, but feel free to increase the amount you add to your taste.
Dried Cranberries: These are added to both the cheese mixture and to the coating for sweet-tart flavor and that jeweled appearance.
Dried Apricots: Their sweet flavor and golden hue are perfect additions to the goat cheese ball.
Pepitas: You'll also see these sold as pumpkin seeds in stores. Pepitas are the green center of the white seeds you'd scoop out of a pumpkin. The white part is the hull of the seed. You'll find raw and roasted varieties, but I'd re-toast any seeds before adding to the cheese ball.
Pecans and Pistachios: Toasted pecans are one of my favorite aromas, and they add such a nice flavor to savory foods. The vibrant green pops of color in the pistachios are a pretty addition to the cheese ball coating. Buy both nuts raw or roasted and don't worry if they are already salted.
Thyme or Rosemary: Just a bit of fresh herb goes a long way in adding that special touch to make the cheese ball shine.
Prepare the Cheese Mixture
Add the cream cheese, goat cheese, garlic powder, and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. There's no need to soften the cream cheese ahead of time, let the food processor do the work for you. Process until the mixture is very smooth.
Add in the cranberries and pulse until the cranberries are chopped up (but not pureed) and the mixture is well blended. Don't forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl before the final pulse.
Lay two long sheets of plastic wrap on your work surface, crossing them at right angles to form an "x" or cross. Pile the cheese mixture up in the center of the plastic wrap and gather the plastic up around the cheese. Twist the ends together, forming a tight ball. Refrigerate the ball for one hour.
Prepare the Nuts, Seeds, Herbs, and Fruit Coating
Toast the pecans, pistachios, and pepitas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. You'll want to watch them carefully and keep the skillet moving so they don't burn. The pepitas will turn golden and start to pop and the pecans will become fragrant. Remove them from the heat to a cutting board to cool.
Chop the pecans and the pistachios. I prefer to leave the pepitas whole, but you can chop those as well if you choose. Transfer the chopped nuts and seeds to a dinner plate. Try to leave behind any of the "dust" or nuts and seeds that are chopped too fine on the cutting board to create a clean coating for the cheese ball.
Chop the cranberries and the apricots in a similar size and transfer those to the dinner plate as well. Finally, add the herbs to the mixture. If you are using rosemary, chop it finely before adding it. For thyme, you can simply strip the tiny leaves. Give the coating a good mix to distribute the ingredients evenly.
Finish the Cheese Ball
Remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator and unwrap it. I save the outer layer of plastic wrap for the next step. Place the cheese ball on the coating mixture and carefully rotate it to cover. Flip it over, roll the sides, and press the coating gently to make an even layer.
Transfer the coated cheese ball to the plastic wrap from the first trip to the refrigerator (or get a new sheet of plastic wrap) and twist to keep the spherical shape. You can kind of mold the ball to the desired final shape at this point and then refrigerate for at least one hour to help it firm up.
Serving Your Cranberry Goat Cheese Ball
This cranberry goat cheese ball makes a beautiful centerpiece to a snack board. Add in crostini, crackers, apples, grapes, and anything else you can think of. Provide a cheese spreader or knife to serve the cheese ball.
The cheese ball has a nice proportion of garlicky cheese to coating so you can get some nuts, seeds, and fruit in each scoop for the perfect bite.
Substitutions and Alternatives
Don't forget, this cheese ball can be served as a cheese log instead! Simply roll the cheese mixture into a log in the plastic wrap when you remove it from the food processor. I think a cranberry goat cheese log can make a dramatic centerpiece to a long table-length grazing board.
Don't want to bother with the coating process at all? Make a cranberry goat cheese spread by mixing the nuts, seeds, herbs, and fruit into the cheese mixture once you've processed it. Do this by hand to avoid breaking the coating into pieces that are too small. This will speed up the prep time, as you won't need that additional hour to firm up the shape. You can then transfer the spread into a serving bowl before chilling. Serve the cranberry goat cheese spread with pretzel thins and crackers for a more casual appetizer.
Feel free to substitute or omit any of the nuts or fruits in the recipe to suit your tastes. You can also use only two nuts or only one fruit, just keep to total amount of coating the same so you have enough to cover the cheese ball.
Try It and Share
This Cranberry Herb Goat Cheese Ball with Nuts and Cream Cheese will be the hit of the party. I want to see your results! Tag your photo with #planeatpostrepeat and mention me @planeatpostrepeat on Instagram or Facebook. I can give you a virtual high five and thank you for cooking one of my recipes! Comment below with any questions and please leave a review so others can find this recipe more easily.
Cranberry Herb Goat Cheese Ball with Nuts and Cream Cheese
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 4 oz. goat cheese
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Cheese Ball Coating
- 2 tablespoon dried cranberries
- 4 dried apricots
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or rosemary leaves
- 3 tablespoon pecan halves (about 1 oz.)
- 3 tablespoon pistachios (about 1 oz.)
- 3 tablespoon pepitas (about 1 oz. )
- Add the cream cheese, goat cheese, garlic powder, and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add in the cranberries. Pulse the processor until the cranberries are chopped into smaller pieces (but not pureed).
- Place two 18"-long sheets of plastic wrap on your work surface so that they form a cross in the middle, overlapping in the center. Pile the goat cheese mixture in the center and gather up the sides so that you can twist the plastic wrap around the cheese into a ball shape.
- Twist the ends of the plastic wrap to secure and place the cheese ball in the refrigerator for one hour to firm up.
- While the cheese is chilling, toast the pecans and pistachios in a dry skillet over medium heat until they are aromatic. Remove them to a cutting board. Toast the pepitas in the same way.
- Chop the pecans and pistachios into small pieces and leave the pepitas whole. Move the nuts and seeds to a dinner plate.
- Chop the apricots and the cranberries into small pieces and move to the dinner plate along with the nuts and seeds.
- If you are using thyme, strip the leaves and add them to the dinner plate. If you are using rosemary, strip the leaves and dice them finely before adding to the dinner plate.
- Toss all of the coating together to mix it and then spread it evenly over the dinner plate. Remove the cheese from the plastic wrap and carefully turn it on the plate to coat it evenly with the seeds, nuts, and fruit.
- Move the cheese ball to a sheet of plastic wrap and twist to secure, patting the coating into the cheese to get it to adhere well. Shape the cheese ball into the desired shape. Chill for one hour or more before serving.
- Remove the cheese ball to a serving tray and serve with crackers or crostini.
Nutrition facts are sometimes provided below and are calculated using an online calculator. With specific brands of ingredients and additions, omissions, or substitutions the nutrition facts may change. We encourage you to use your own nutrition facts caculator to obtain the most accurate nutrition facts for your meal.