Mini Smoked Cheese Balls

Mini Smoked Cheese Balls

Learn to make this delicious mini smoky cheese ball recipe featuring a variety of festive and fun flavors for the perfect party or holiday appetizer.

If you love to grill and BBQ you are probably aware by now of the smoked cream cheese trend (I love my smoked cream cheese with pepper jelly). It’s a simple appetizer that is always a huge crowd pleaser and of the first to be eaten when I serve this at parties and holiday events.

I recently found this adorable mini cheese ball Christmas tree on Pinterest and wanted to recreate something similar by smoking the cheese first to add a deeper delicious smoke flavor.

This recipe is a fun and festive way to celebrate and enjoy the holidays, make for game day, and to get creative with a variety of toppings and flavor profiles.

Why This Recipe Works:

  • Cream cheese takes on a light smoky flavor but isn’t overpowering.
  • Smoking it ahead of time and then cooling it allows it to be made into individual cheese balls.
  • This can be prepped ahead of time and is perfect for creating a more elevated version of smoke cream cheese.
Mini Smoked Cheese Balls

“School” Supplies:

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Shallow Bowl
  • Spoon

“Class” Notes:

Welcome to my virtual classroom! Use the guided notes below where I often answer commonly asked questions I get from readers and cooks just like you. 

This information is meant to help you have a stronger understanding of this recipe and the process so you can find success all on your own. 

Ready to begin cooking? Simply jump to the recipe card below and begin.

Smoked Cream Cheese Ball Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Cream Cheese: Use two blocks of cream cheese, it does not need to be at room temperature for smoking (in fact it’s better placed on the smoker when it’s cold).
  • Shredded Cheese: I like a more neutral cheese like shredded cheddar cheese or mozzarella. You can also get smokier cheese as a smoked gouda.
  • Sour Cream: A small amount creates a less dense cheese ball texture.
  • Dry Rub: I use a BBQ dry rub to place over the actual bricks of cream cheese during the smoking process to season the cream cheese. You can also do a simple homemade rub with other spices like salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.

Toppings:

The fun part of this party appetizer is creating different toppings that you can roll each cream cheese ball in. Here are some of my favorite toppings I used:

  • Cooked Bacon Bits
  • Everything But The Bagel Seasoning
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Chopped Nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans work great)
  • Pistachios
  • Bread Crumbs (like panko)
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Fresh Chives or Herbs
Mini Smoked Cheese Balls

Smoking & Assembly:

Smoking the Cream Cheese:

  1. Start by preheating the smoker to 225-250 F. Set it for indirect heat.
  2. Add the two cold blocks of cream cheese into the base of a cast iron skillet. You can score the top if you want (this is more just for visual appeal) and then coat it in a dry rub.
  3. Place the cream cheese onto the grill grates and smoke for 2-2.5 hours. It should slightly puff up when heated and take on a slight golden color from absorbing the smoke.
  4. Remove the cream cheese from the smoker and let it rest for 30 minutes. Store in a plastic container or covered in plastic wrap for 4-5 hours or overnight to fully chill before making into the mini cream cheese balls.
smoking the cream cheese for cheese balls

Making Mini Smoked Cream Cheese Balls:

  1. Remove the cooled smoked cream cheese from the fridge. Let it soften at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to make it easier to mix. Add it to a shallow bowl.
  2. To the smoked softened cream cheese, mix in the shredded cheese and some sour cream to create a slightly softer cheese mixture that can be formed into a ball.
  3. The key to making these cheese balls is to slightly wet your fingers (it makes it easier to roll) and use a small spoon for scooping to keep the sizes of the cheese ball on the smaller side.
  4. Scoop out a teaspoon-sized amount and roll it in your hands to form a ball. Do not make the cheese balls too large because you want them to fit on individual crackers for serving.
  5. Roll each cheese ball into the desired topping so it’s fully coated on the outside. Place on a board for serving. Style in a Christmas tree shape or other desired shapes for a fun and festive look.
  6. Add crackers and cheese spreaders to the board and serve and enjoy!
Making cream cheese balls

Expert Tips:

  • Smoke the cream cheese ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to make the cheese balls. This can be done several days in advance.
  • Avoid making the smoked cheese balls too large. This is easy to do (they will seem very tiny), but otherwise you will be giving guests too large of an individual piece to easily eat (it can be a bit overpowering otherwise).
  • Store the pre-made balls in the fridge in an airtight container if you aren’t serving right away.
Mini Smoked Cheese Balls

More Smoked Cheese Recipes:

Mini Smoked Cheese Balls

Mini Smoked Cheese Balls

Learn to make this delicious mini smoky cheese ball recipe featuring a variety of festive and fun flavors for the perfect party or holiday appetizer.
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Course: Appetizer, Grilling
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Mini Smoked Cheese balls, Smoked cream cheese ball
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 36
Calories: 54kcal
Author: Bon Appeteach

Ingredients

Smoked Cream Cheese

  • 1 lb. Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Cheese cheddar, mozzarella, or gouda are great options
  • 2 tbsp. Dry Rub

Toppings For Cheese Balls

  • Cooked Bacon Bits
  • Pistachios
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Everything But The Bagel Seasoning
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Diced Nuts walnuts, pecans, or almonds

Instructions

Smoking the Cream Cheese

  • Preheat the smoker to 225-250 F. Set it for indirect heat.
  • Add two (cold) blocks of cream cheese into a cast iron skillet or foil pan. Cover each one with a tablespoon of the dry rub of your choice.
  • Place the cream cheese onto the smoker and smoke for at least 2-2.5 hours. The cream cheese should maintain it's shape but slightly puff up and take on a golden brown color on the outside.
  • Remove from the smoker once its retained smoke flavor and let it rest 30 minutes. Transfer to a container and place in the fridge to fully cool, about 4-5 hours or overnight.

Making Smoked Cheese Balls

  • Remove the cooled smoked cream cheese from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes (this makes it easier to mix and roll into balls).
  • Add the cream cheese, sour cream, and shredded cheese to a bowl and mix it all until fully combined.
  • Prep any toppings to roll your mini smoked cheese balls in and set them aside.
  • Lightly wet your hands (this helps with rolling the cheese balls) and scoop no more than a teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Roll into a ball and set aside. Because this is a bit messy, I encourage rolling everything before tossing into the toppings. You should get 30-36 cheese balls.
  • Toss each cheese ball into any desired toppings so they fully stick on the outside of the ball. Place each ball onto a platter individually or into a fun and festive shape (like the Christmas tree).
  • Serve immediately with crackers or keep covered and stored in the fridge 1-2 days in advance.

Notes

Prep your smoked cream cheese in advance and keep it stored in the fridge until you’re ready to make the cheese balls to save time. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 50mg | Potassium: 25mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 211IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 0.3mg

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