This Jalapeno Popper Cheese Ball combines the two appetizers that I always look forward to during the holiday season. The first is my Mom’s cheese ball. It’s nothing fancy and I’ve made a version of it on the blog. It’s a classic though and if I’m not careful I can eat an entire one while watching a movie or something.
The second appetizer is my Dad’s jalapeno popper recipe. He always makes huge batches of them and they are gone in minutes no matter how many people are there. I think I’ve eaten like ten before. No joke.
As an homage to both, I decided to smash them together into this Jalapeno Popper Cheese Ball recipe. It turns out sometimes that 1 + 1 = MAGIC.
“I made this cheese ball and it was delicious. Ilo bacon strips, I used the bacon in a jar (not the fake stuff) and covered it with almonds. I also made one without the jalapeños for the kids. Definitely a keeper.” – Helene L.
Roasting the Bacon and Jalapenos
The thing that makes jalapeno poppers (whole jalapenos wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheese) so delicious is the almost intoxicating combo of crunchy, salty, and spicy.
It’s very important to have both in this jalapeno cheese ball. You need really crispy bacon. I prefer to bake mine on a wire rack at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. I went ahead and tossed my peppers on to roast as well.
Crunch Time Tips
Line your baking sheet with foil for an easier clean-up and the bacon grease helps brown and flavor the jalapenos.
Removing the seeds in the peppers will make the heat more mild or you can leave them in for a spicier cheese ball.
Love bacon and cheese? Try my Baked Goat Cheese Dip with Bacon!
What kind of cheese works well for cheese balls?
The base of any good cheese ball is cream cheese. It’s important to have that base in there so the ball holds its shape and keeps everything together.
That said, you can add other cheeses for flavor. Sharp cheddar cheese works well with the bacon and jalapeno flavors for this jalapeno popper cheese balls.
The Cheese Ball Mixture
I kept my cheese ball mix pretty standard (because it ain’t broke). I just left out the green pepper since I’ll be adding a lot of jalapeno. I also usually add green onions to mine, but left that out as well for this version.
Normally, I just roll my cheese ball in toasted pecans but for this version I added some fresh jalapeno and crispy bacon to the coating and switched the pecans for almonds. This not only shows off the ingredients in this jalapeno popper cheese ball but really boosts the flavors.
When the bacon is crispy and the roasted jalapenos are blistered, just give them a rough chop. I didn’t even bother peeling the jalapenos (but do remove the seeds).
Whether you use one or two jalapenos for this is your call. I recommend tasting them after roasting them and adjusting. Remember that all the cheese will drastically cut down the heat. Personally, I like two but if I’m feeding others I’ll do one.
Finishing the Cheese Ball
Make a big ball of the cheese ball mixture and then roll it around in the topping until it’s really nicely coated.
This jalapeno popper cheese ball is an excellent appetizer to make in advance. It actually gets better if it sits in the fridge for a night.
But, if you’re me, you can’t wait that long. I dug in immediately. This Jalapeno Cheese Ball will disappear in a flash at your next party!
This Jalapeno Cheese Ball will disappear in a flash at your next party! Chomp time! CHOMP.
Substitutions and Ideas
As with any cheese ball, the substitutions here are pretty easy to imagine. Go crazy!
- Substitute the cheddar cheese for colby jack cheese, pepper jack cheese, or sharp cheddar cheese.
- Instead of garlic powder, substitute onion powder give it a nice onion flavor boost.
- To make this vegetarian, eliminate the bacon. You could add roasted slivered mushrooms as an option.
- Serve the cheese ball with pita chips, crackers, or even tortilla chips.
Want a classic Jalapeno Popper? Try this 3-ingredient jalapeno popper version!
Leftovers for cheese balls
The great thing about a cheese ball is that it actually get better if it chills in the fridge at least overnight. If you are serving this at a party or giving it away, make it at least a day in advance.
I would eat the cheese ball within five days in the fridge or the peppers start to break down and get kind of funky. But, I’ve never had a cheese ball make it anywhere need five days in my fridge!
Jalapeno Popper Cheese Ball
- 6 strips bacon, crispy
- 2-3 jalapenos, 2 roasted, 1 raw
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 4 oz. cheddar cheese
- ½ lemon, juice only
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- ½ cup pecans, chopped
- Lay out bacon on a wire rack or baking sheet. If you can fit it, you can put the jalapenos on the same sheet or just stick them on a smaller sheet. Bake the bacon and jalapenos at 375 degrees F. until bacon is crispy and jalapenos are blistered, about 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mash together cheeses, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, chili powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Dice ½ of a fresh jalapenos and mix it together with chopped pecans. When bacon is done and crispy, stir in one strip of crispy chopped bacon to the pecan mixture also.
- Chop rest of bacon and 1-2 of the roasted jalapenos (depending on your heat level) and mash that into the cheese mixture.
- Use a spoon to make a big ball out of the cheese mixture and then roll it around in the pecan mixture until it’s completely coated.
- Serve the cheese ball with crackers. Store extra wrapped tightly in the fridge. Cheese ball can be made a few days in advance without issue.