This football cheese ball is thrice infused with bacon. The jalapeño is cooked in bacon drippings, there’s bacon mixed into the cheese, and bacon covers the football. Pig out. [Editor’s Note: You may have noticed that the serving size for this football cheese ball is rather all over the place. Intentionally so. It all depends on just how piggish you care to be. And we don’t mean that in a bad way.]–Michelle Buffardi
Football Cheese Ball FAQs
You might be surprised to learn this but, basically, the difference is just about the visuals. The original Cheddar cheese, dating back to 17th century England, was made from milk that was quite rich in beta-carotene, giving it a warmer shade. Most Cheddars now start out in varying shades of creamy ivory but annatto (from the fruit of the achiote tree) is added to get that beloved orange shade. In this recipe, if you’re not hung up on pigskin lace accuracy, go ahead and use whichever sharp Cheddar you prefer.
As always, we’re pleased to defer to our testers on this. We heard from a number of them that not only is this tasty right away, but it tastes even better after a night in the fridge. The flavors get a chance to meld deliciously. Wait until just before serving to add the bacon garnish if you want it to stay crisp.
Football Cheese Ball
- 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon
- 1 to 2 medium jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped (if you want extra heat, retain some of the seeds)
- 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped scallions, light green and white parts
- Crackers, for serving
- Rev up the oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Place the bacon slices in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets lined with foil. Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels. Spoon 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings into a skillet and reserve the rest of the drippings for another use. Once the bacon has cooled, coarsely chop it.
- Heat the bacon drippings in the skillet over medium heat. Add the jalapeño and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Using a stand mixer or a bowl and a spatula, mix together 1 cup chopped bacon, the sautéed jalapeño, the cream cheese, Cheddar, and the scallions until combined. Scrape the mixture onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and, using the plastic wrap to keep your hands from getting messy, shape the mixture into a round ball. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
- Just before serving, with the cheese ball still wrapped in plastic, form it into an oblong football shape as best you can. Unwrap the cheese ball and roll it in the remaining chopped bacon to coat it completely. Strategically place a few strands of Cheddar cheese on the football to resemble laces. Serve with crackers and be ready for cheers.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Fair warning: This football cheese ball is disturbingly good. I would normally shy away from a cheese ball, but the lure of bacon, jalapeño, and cream cheese seemed to be far too good to let pass. (Forgive the pun.)
We tried this after it was in the refrigerator for 2 hours and it was wonderful. The next day? Simply the greatest cheese ball ever! It’s very easy to make and an absolute touchdown. Make it the day before. Heck, make two. You won’t be able to let it alone.
We don’t even watch football, but we may have to start just to have an excuse to enjoy this cheese ball every weekend!
The only reason this recipe doesn’t merit a “10” in my mind is that I believe it would benefit from the addition of another scallion and another jalapeño. I think if the cheese ball had been chilled overnight the flavors may have been more pronounced; we were only able to resist shaping and eating it for an hour. Perhaps adding a bit of toasted, chopped pecans to the outside would also be good.
My family and I loved this football cheese ball. My son is a big fan of cheese balls, and I think this just might be his new favorite. Bacon, cheese, and jalapeños are three of his favorite foods.
I’d never thought of using the stand mixer with the paddle attachment to mix a cheese ball, but this method worked perfectly. Making the cheese ball into a football was a nice idea and would be great for a tailgating or Super Bowl party. We’re not much for watching football here, but we had no problem eating a football that was this good.
We’d disagree with this cheese ball serving 20, though. At least in this house.
What a fun cheese “football” this is to make. It’s perfect for watching the big game. It’s simple to put together, yet truly unique and festive. Its mild flavor is great on crackers or on vegetables. The heat could be adjusted for the more adventuresome with another jalapeño. The recipe works just as written. It was simple to shape and the bacon adhered perfectly to the “football.” It came out looking just like the picture.
This bacon and jalapeño cream cheese ball was a serious hit for our hors d’oeuvres date night. I mean, what’s not to love here? Simple, good ingredients brought together with a touch of whimsy. While we’re not sports fans by any stretch, it was fun to transform the ball into the iconic oblong shape and adorn it with more bacon and more cheese.
I did find a few places for improvement along the way. Normally, I cook bacon starting out in a cold oven set for 400°F and in 20 minutes I have beautifully rendered, incredibly crisp bacon. Seeing that there were 2 baking sheets full of bacon, I decided to have a test to see which one came out better, the cold oven method or the method described in the recipe. Both turned out crisp and delicious; however, the recipe method had a few slices of bacon stuck to the pan.
Forming the ball was actually fun. And just so you know, this cheese football is pretty huge. Even the 2 of us barely dented this behemoth of cheese. So for dinner, I’m going to make baked potatoes then put a few slabs of the cheese ball onto the potatoes instead of using sour cream and onions. I mean, really, your “loaded” baked potato has bacon, cheese, and green onions, so cream cheese and jalapeño can only make it better!
This was the most wonderful, flavorful twist on a boring cheese ball. The ingredient list is short, accessible, and usually in my fridge at any given time. It took no time to put together, and when I served it to my guests, they pounced on it like starving wolves. The bacon gave it a nice crunch and the heat level was perfect. The most interesting comment I heard was that this should be bar food since the heat made everyone’s drinks go down so much faster. Everyone thought that it would double liquor sales!
While I loved the idea of forming it into a football shape, in my less-than-artistic hands, it took on a rather unappealing shape that didn’t incite warm feelings of yummy. So I made it a second time and put it in pretty crocks with the bacon on top. This was so popular that after the first round was consumed, I could safely bring out my misshapen football and it was devoured, too.