Jalapeño cheese ball

Are you looking for a snack that feels festive and is easy to make? Then you need to check out this jalapeño cheese ball recipe! The cheesy inside of this jalapeño cheese ball is loaded with freshly roasted jalapeños. The outer crust of the cheese balls is packed with savory Mexican spices that compliment the spicy flavor of the jalapeño peppers. This cheese ball packs a lot of flavor for something that is so easy to make! 

The instructions for making this cheese ball can be reduced to 4 easy steps – roast the jalapeños, blend the ingredients for the cheesy inner core in a food processor (this is the one we use), mix the ingredients for the nutty outer crust, and roll the cheesy core in the outer crust. It’s as simple as that! In addition to being easy to make, this cheese ball recipe is also gluten free, vegetarian, egg free, and keto friendly. 

A jalapeno cheese ball on a blue plate with cheese crackers.

What is a cheese ball made of?

What is a cheese ball made of? The main ingredients that make up the inside of a cheese ball are cream cheese and grated cheese. You can use many different types of cheese to make a cheese ball but sharp cheddar is most commonly used. Other ingredients like mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder are often added to the grated cheese and cream cheese for extra flavor. The outer layer of a cheese ball is made of an array of different dry ingredients such as nuts, bread crumbs, and spices. 

The inside of this jalapeño cheese ball is made with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, hot sauce, and mustard. Roasted jalapeños are diced and scattered throughout the cheese ball to give it a little bit of a bite. The outer layer of this jalapeño cheese ball is made of a mixture of crushed pecans, Mexican spices, and minced green onions.    

Pecans and spices for the outer coating of a jalapeno cheese ball in a white bowl.

How do you make a cheese ball?

How do you make a cheese ball? It is very easy to make a cheese ball. In fact, most cheese ball recipes can be reduced to 3 smile steps. First you have to make the inner part of the cheese ball out of cream cheese, shredded cheese, and any other flavorings you want to include. Second, you have to make the outer coating of the cheese ball out of crushed nuts, spices, or bread crumbs. Finally, you roll the cream cheese mixture in the dried ingredients. 

It is easiest to make a cheese ball if you have a blender or a food processor. You should use a blender or food processor to blend the ingredients for the inside of the cheese ball together so that they get thoroughly mixed. 

What can I roll my cheese ball in?

What can you roll your cheese ball in? Cheese balls are most commonly rolled in a mixture of nuts and spices. The most common nuts used for the outer layers of cheese balls are almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Larger ingredients like chopped bacon, peppers, and green onions are sometimes added to the outer layer of cheese balls for extra flavor. 

This jalapeños cheese ball is rolled in a mixture of nuts and Mexican spices that complement the diced jalapeños on the interior of the cheese ball. Specifically, this cheese ball is rolled in a mixture of pecans, oregano, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Some diced green onions are added to the cheese ball coating to give it a little extra flavor. 

Ingredients for the inside of a jalapeno cheese ball in a food processor being blended together.

What can I roll my cheese ball in beside nuts?

What can you roll your cheese ball in besides nuts? If you are not a fan of nuts or if someone in your family has a nut allergy you have lots of other options for the outer layer of your cheese ball. Here are some examples of ingredients you can roll a cheese ball in that are not nuts. 

  • Cranberries
  • Chopped green onions or chives
  • Chopped bell peppers or jalapeños
  • Bacon or chorizo
  • Bread crumbs or cracker crumbs
  • Parsley, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, or other spices

How long do cheese balls last?

How long do cheese balls last? The amount of time a cheese ball will last depends on exactly what is in the cheese ball. If the cheese ball contains ingredients like green onions and bell peppers that go bad faster than cheese and cream cheese then the cheese ball will only be good for as long as these ingredients last. If your cheese ball is made only of cream cheese, cheese, nuts, and spices then the cheese ball will last up to 10 days in the refrigerator or 4 – 6 months in the freezer. You should try to eat this cheese ball within 3 – 4 days since it contains roasted jalapeños and green onions. 

A jalapeno cheese ball on a blue plate with cheese crackers. A bite has been taken out of the jalapeno cheese ball.

Is it okay to freeze a cheese ball?

Is it okay to freeze a cheese ball? Yes, you can freeze most types of cheese balls. The inner part of the cheese ball that is made of cheese and cream cheese freezes well and lasts 4 – 6 months in the freezer. The part of the cheese ball that might not freeze as well is the outer part of the cheese ball. If you want to freeze a cheese ball you should exclude toppings such as green onions that do not freeze well. Instead you should stick to a coating made from nuts and spices. 

Are cheese balls vegetarian?

Are cheese balls vegetarian friendly? As usual, the exact answer depends on who made the cheese ball and what ingredients they used. There are a few ingredients that are commonly added to cheese balls that are not vegetarian friendly. Here are the main ingredients to watch out for if you are trying to evaluate whether a cheese ball is vegetarian friendly. 

  • Bacon. This is an obvious one that should be easy to spot. Many cheese balls recipes incorporate bacon in their outer crust. 
  • Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire sauce is one of those sneaky ingredients that prevents dishes that seem like they are vegetarian friendly from actually being vegetarian friendly. This is because Worcestershire sauce is generally made with anchovies. Worcestershire sauce is used in a lot of cheese balls so if you are a vegetarian you should make sure your cheese ball does not contain Worcestershire sauce.
  • Non-vegetarian friendly cheeses. Many common cheeses are not vegetarian friendly because they use animal rennet. Some common cheese that use animal rennet are parmesan cheese, gorgonzola cheese, blue cheese, and gruyere. 

Are cheese balls gluten free?

Are cheese balls gluten free? Many of the core ingredients used to make cheese balls such as cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and nuts are naturally gluten free. That does not mean that cheese balls are necessarily gluten free and you should not assume a cheese ball is gluten free unless it is labeled as so. Cheese balls often contain Worcestershire sauce that is made from wheat or barley based vinegar. That means that many cheese balls actually contain significant amounts of gluten. On top of that, you have to worry about cross contamination with the ingredients that are used to make the cheese ball.

Jalapeño cheese ball

This tasty jalapeño cheddar cheese ball is gluten free, vegetarian, and keto friendly!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Keyword: egg free, gluten free, keto, vegetarian
Servings: 1 cheese ball


Cheesy inner core

  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tsp hot sauce

Nutty outer crust

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 stalks green onions (white and light green part)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Broil the jalapeño for 3-4 minutes on high then slice the jalapeño into small pieces.
  • Use a blender or food processor to crush your pecans into small pieces then slice the whites of your green onion stalks into thin slices. Mix the pecans and green onions with the rest of the ingredients for the outer coating in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Add all of the ingredients for the inner core of the cheese ball other than the jalapeños to your food processor. Blend the ingredients on high for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is fully incorporated into the cream cheese.
    Add the jalapeño pieces into the cheesy mixture by adding them to the blender or food processor and pulsing a few times or by mixing them in with a spoon. You do not want the jalapeño to blend and fully incorporate into the cheese.
  • Shape the cheese and cream cheese mixture into a ball then roll the ball in the dried ingredients so that it has a thick outer crust made out of nuts and spices.


Cream cheese that is too tough to blend. If the cream cheese is too tough and it is getting stuck in the blender or food processor you can microwave it for 30 seconds to soften it up a little bit. 
Cheese mixture that is too soft to shape. If the cheese mixture is so soft that it is hard to work with you can throw the blender bowl that contains the cheese into the refrigerator for 15 minutes prior to shaping the cheese into a ball. This will harden the cheese mixture up and make it easier to work with. 
Using block cheese. If you want to use block cheese rather than pre-shredded cheese you can use the food processor to shred the block cheese then dump the rest of ingredients into the food processor. 

Substitutions for jalapeño cheese balls

  • Mustard. If you do not have spicy brown mustard you can use another kind of mustard or dried mustard in this recipe. If you choose to use dried mustard you should reduce the amount of mustard used by half. 
  • Jalapeños. If you want to make a cheese ball that is a little less spicy you can use a less spicy pepper such as a poblano pepper rather than jalapeño. If you use a poblano pepper you should only use about a third of the pepper in your cheese ball.  
  • Pecans. If you do not have pecans you can also use almonds for the outer layer of your cheese ball. Pecans have a little bit of a warmer flavor so they work best, but a cheese ball coated in almond will also be good. 

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Vegetarian white bean buffalo dip

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