My Sandra Lee semi-homemade alter ego comes out when I make things like cheese balls. As I squash seasonings into cream cheese, it doesn't look pretty at first. But I know that the result will look as refined as fancy French cheeses, and my peppered cheese ball will be the first snack item to be scraped clean at the party. I mean, who can resist a good cheese ball?

For years, I grew up eating my Aunt Elaine's cheese ball during the holidays, but a cheese ball is appropriate for any sort of gathering. They're seasoned with a ranch dressing packet, and I thought I'd attempt to make a similar cheese ball but with fresh herbs and ingredients.

I opted to stick with the pepper seasoning coating, but beware: this cheese ball is slightly spicy and garlicky (in the best way possible, of course!). This cheese ball is like spreading spicy ranch cream cheese atop crackers. If that's not your thing, coat the cheese ball in dried fruit like cranberries and toasted nuts like pecans or almonds.

Learn to make this easy cheese ball.

Peppery Ranch Cheese Ball

Peppery Ranch Cheese Ball

Notes

Use Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper to coat the cheese ball if you can find it. My grocery does not carry it, which is why I used a combination of different spices. Letting the coated cheese ball sit for several hours or overnight will give the seasonings adequate time to rehydrate and infuse the garlic and pepper flavors into the cream cheese.

Cheese Ball Recipe

Ingredients

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 clove garlic
1/2 bunch chives, thinly sliced
1/3 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 ounce (1/3 container) McCormick Perfect Pinch Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper, or more to taste
1 package crackers

Directions

  1. Mince garlic, and then add a generous pinch of salt. Mash the garlic and salt mixture with the flat side of your knife until a paste forms.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, stir garlic paste, chives, parsley, lemon juice, and cream cheese together until well combined. Use a spatula to form a ball out of the cream cheese. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until the texture has firmed up slightly.
  3. In a small casserole dish or another dish with a flat surface, mix McCormick seasoning with pepper. Add more pepper if you want it to be spicier. Take the cheese ball and roll it in the spice mixture, patting the spices into the ball, until the ball is completely covered.
  4. Place cheese ball on a small plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Serve cheese ball with crackers.

Serves 5.