mini cheese balls recipe & a holiday grazing board

by | Dec 7, 2021 | a slice of life, Recipes, Winter | 12 comments

Disclosure:  This mini cheese balls recipe & holiday grazing board post is sponsored by Walmart.  As always, all words and opinions shared are honest and my own.

As a lover of cheese-and-crakers and grazing foods in general, I am a big fan of the charcuterie board/grazing board trend.  Not only are they beautiful and visually impressive, but they are simple to put together and require little or no cooking.  It’s just about arranging things together in a way that looks appetizing and inviting.  So, I headed to my local Walmart to pick up all of the ingredients I would need to make my favorite recipe for mini cheese balls, a holiday grazing board, and even a kid-friendly grazing board for pickier eaters.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

While I was picking up ingredients, I found this $20 Thyme & Table baking and board set.  It is a really cute set at a great price, so I bought it to test it out and review.  It comes with a wooden cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, cheese knives, a sifter, pastry cutter, silicone spoon & basting brush, a whisk, a mise en place bowl, a pair of wood tongs, and a small rolling pin.  The rolling pin really is child-sized, but this would be a great gift for someone just setting up a kitchen whether it’s in a home, apartment, RV, or even a play kitchen.  I’m going to use a lot of the pieces for paint-making and other things in my studio.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

Anyway, I thought it was a cute set and a good buy, so I wanted to highlight it.  Now, onto the mini cheese balls recipe!  The printable recipe is at the bottom of this post if you want to make it.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

This mini cheese ball recipe was my first favorable introduction to goat cheese.  It’s always been a little too funky for me but mixed with cream cheese and cheddar it’s just perfect.  Some extra flavor is added in the form of dried cranberries, pecans, and chives.  It’s simple and tasty.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

This can be stirred by hand, of course, but I find that cheeses are easier to thoroughly combine in my mixer with the paddle attachment.  THIS is the model mixer I’ve had for almost 20 years.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

Mix all three kinds of cheese together…

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

…until they are combined and soft.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

Gently fold in the dried cranberries, pecans, and fresh chives, all chopped.  You can swap out any of these three ingredients for nut allergies, to make the recipe low carb, etc.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

Roll 1 T-sized scoops of cheese mixture into balls and coat in the remaining toppings (either chopped cranberries, pecans, or chives.)

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

I put mine on 4″ sticks (made for candy or cake pops) to make them easy to grab off the grazing board.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

If you don’t want to fuss with rolling all of the mini cheese balls, you can adjust this recipe to suit your serving style or timetable.  Just make one large cheese ball or put it in a dish and sprinkle with chopped extras to serve as a spread.  Or you can do a little bit of both.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

Again, the printable recipe for the mini cheese balls is at the bottom of the post along with the measured amounts of all of the ingredients.

Now, let’s talk about the holiday grazing board.  These are obviously great for little get-togethers, but I also like this idea for Christmas day.  You can just put out a yummy spread and then point to it when anyone asks when the big meal of the day will be ready!

I had a great time walking around Walmart to look for good cheeses, fresh fruits & vegetables, and unique crackers to add to the spread.  I was very impressed with the variety of specialty cheeses and meats they carried in addition to some fresh local produce.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

Babybels | Salami Tuscana | Italian Dry Salami | Marketside Blue Cheese | Le Gruyère | Creamy Havarti | Blueberry Cobbler Cheddar | Crystal Farms Variety Pack

I also scoped out Walmart.com for parchment and white muffin liners and mini paper loaf pans.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

parchment liners | white liners | mini paper loaf pans

I like to use these to divide the dry ingredients, like crackers, from the wet ones like fruit, sliced veggies, and cheeses.  It also just looks really pretty!

I started with a large antique breadboard, but you can create your spread on just about anything!  Even a clean table or countertop will do the trick.  Even if I’m using a board, I put some parchment paper down just to make clean-up easier.  Since the cheeses and meats bring the strongest flavors to the spread, I started with those.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

I then worked intuitively to fill the rest of the board with veggies, fruit, mini cheese balls, and crackers.  The board is garnished with walnuts in the shell, fresh cranberries, and herbs.  Even though my intention is for those to be garnishes, they are all edible and I think that’s important to note.  You can make a board beautiful with all edible items.

I think other keys to creating a beautiful grazing board are abundance and composition.  Mix colors, textures, and try to balance it all out.  Fill in empty spaces with garnishes.

Jeff walked up from the basement and his eyes widened when he saw this grazing board.  “Oh, wow!  Can I eat that?”  I had my camera out and put him to work holding a reflector, but as soon as I had the shots, he dug in.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

The cheese knives are from the $20 Table & Thyme set I purchased and I bought THIS SET on Walmart.com before I knew I’d find cheese knives that are almost identical in a huge set.  I ended up using all of the cheese knives, though…

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

See how the muffin liners and mini loaf pans help provide some separation and also keep the crackers from leaning/falling.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

And the mini cheese balls look perfect tucked into the grazing board…

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

I felt pretty proud of myself!  I’ve put together a lot of grazing spreads but never one all on a single large board and I love how it turned out.

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

mini cheese ball recipe & holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

While I was shopping for the grazing board, I thought about kids who might not think a spread like that looks delicious, but like a minefield.  Will I like that cheese?  Is that cracker just a normal cracker or some weird cracker that adults put out at Christmas parties?  I want a strawberry but it’s touching that piece of meat… 

I was that kind of kid, so I get it.  I would eat crazy things for a little kid like a whole artichoke, but I was spooked by funky cheeses.  So, I put together a kid-friendly/picky-eater grazing board with fruit, pretzel thins, animal crackers, kisses, and other things that are familiar.

kid-friendly holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

It still looks so yummy and inviting.

kid-friendly holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

kid-friendly holiday grazing board | miss mustard seed

I hope this gives you some ideas for your holiday entertaining this year whether you’re putting together a shindig, taking a dish to an event, or just making your family feel extra special while you put together puzzles and watch Christmas movies at home.

I linked to items you can purchase at your local Walmart Supercenter and some can be purchased online & shipped.  You can even order most of these products online and have them delivered or schedule a local pick-up.

 

Mini cheese balls with pecans, chives, and cranberries

5 from 3 votes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 4 ounces plain goat cheese
  • 16 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 4 ounces mild shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

Instructions
 

  • Mix together softened cream cheese, goat cheese, and shredded cheddar until combined.
  • Fold in 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and 1/4 cup chives
  • Roll into 1 tablespoon-sized balls.
  • Roll each ball in either remaining chopped pecans, chives, or cranberries. As an alternative, create one or two larger cheese balls or mix everything together and serve as a spread.
  • Refrigerate before serving.
Keyword cheese ball, christmas snacks, cream cheese, goat cheese, holiday, party food

12 Comments

  1. Mary

    Looks AMAZING ! Going to try to combine the cheeses in my mini food processor !

    Reply
  2. Julie Ritter

    5 stars
    Thanks so much Marian We had to do this for a baby shower in October, and it was very stressful figuring out what to include, and how to place on the board etc. I didn’t think it was gonna be that difficult. : ) Beautiful display !!! Love the recipe

    Reply
  3. Babs

    The board looks so inviting and delicious…I love the use of the 4″ sticks for the cheese balls. I have always found WalMart to have a nice assortment of cheeses and Italian salami with which to work. The gift cutting board set would be perfect for someone just starting out as it includes so many wonderful things.
    Perfect for this upcoming holiday season for all to enjoy!

    Reply
  4. cabrini rudnick

    Beautiful! Do you have an Aldi’s near you? They have some great cheeses and meats that would be perfect and the prices are very good.

    Reply
  5. kggrace02

    Very nice!!! I made one for Thanksgiving . I have an Aldi’s around us with some fabulous things for your boards. But your little Cheese balls look wonderful!! Giving them a try for Christmas!

    Reply
  6. Irene Kelly

    Yes Marian I agree with you I too love grazing. I have been making charcuterie boards for years when I entertain at home. So last year I bought some really nice wood boards to give to friends for Christmas and included some olives,canned fish crackers all packaged. Then covered it all with cello tied with a pretty bow. This year I bought pretty small spoons,seafood forks and pretty dishes to give to the same friends as gifts. I tend to give “to be continued gifts” One year give the base next year something to add etc. A few years ago I gave pretty trays the next year a candle to go on the tray. It’s a lot of fun for me and friends to guess what is coming next. Everyone loves the idea since many have a difficult time deciding how to put it all together but for me like you it’s easy !

    Reply
  7. Lottie

    What a nice email!!! I love your arrangement of everything-so colorful!!! I’m going to try your cheese ball recipe too. My family will absolutely dive in to all the goodies. I appreciate the food ideas & the other items you mentioned .

    Reply
  8. Lola

    These little cheese balls are adorable and would make a handy dandy appetizer for the holidays! Thanks! I’ll be giving them a try for Christmas Eve. Your charcuterie board is gorgeous! Thanks for the tips on arranging all the goodies. It’s a bit overwhelming for me so this will inspire me to give it a whirl!

    Reply
  9. Kim Price

    5 stars
    I love everything about your grazing boards! The whole fruits, the paper for the crackers, the mini cheese balls are so perfect, I know I always have trouble trying to serve myself a portion off a big cheese ball. The kids board is another genius idea!

    Reply
  10. Kris

    I love the idea of using paper baking cups on a charcuterie board. I’ve slowly been picking up items from Aldi for Christmas and will definitely be incorporating this when I do a grazing board.

    Reply
  11. Irene Kelly

    Oh and Trader Joe’s has the best small crackers they are simply called “Everything Crackers” a take off of the everything bagel ! DELISH !

    Reply
  12. Julia

    5 stars
    My kind of food. Looks wonderful I’ll definitely give this a try at Christmas

    Reply

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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