Turkey Cheese Balls for Thanksgiving Dinner—Only 5 Ingredients, Totally Make-Ahead!

/ Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thanksgiving is a little over a week away—how did that happen!? What are your plans this year: Are you hosting? Spending it with friends? Going out to a restaurant? I'd love to know! 

For a minute there, I thought we were going to host our 1st Turkey Day in Brooklyn for boyfriend's parents. It would have been a blast—cozy and small with way too much pie—and I planned to make these individual cheese balls as double duty snack/place settings.

You may have noticed, my cheese balls look like turkeys. GAH! Yes, that's correct. I had this idea a few months ago and I couldn't wait for November to arrive so I could share it with you. It's like a miniature T-day meal for your plates when guests arrive. 

Here's the deal: Since hand-shaping turkeys can be time consuming, I'm keeping the actually cheese ball recipe as simple as possible. First, we'll mix some shredded cheddar, hot sauce and parsley into softened cream cheese...

Then we'll roll 'em in Cheeze-It dust. "What's that," you say? Oh just some very finely ground Cheeze-It crackers that'll add another intense, colorful layer of cheesiness to your hilarious turkey cheese balls. No biggie. And seriously, no fuss. 

For live-action instruction and a full turkey-shaping tutorial, I uploaded this video to my YouTube channel for you all. 

Otherwise, let's move right into the recipe. One feature that I love—besides the fact that it's shaped like a teeny, tiny turkey (eeks!)—is that the cheese balls are totally make ahead. You can prepare this Thanksgiving snack up to 2 days ahead; tightly wrap with plastic wrap and stick 'em in the fridge until you're ready to use. I'd let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before guests arrive.

As I said, my recipe is super simple but you can swap in ingredients (or add to it) to tailor it to your personal Thanksgiving style...

  • Want something more Ina-esque? Replace the cheddar with crumbled blue cheese, add a few chopped pecans and snipped chives. 
  • Love a Southern T-Day Feast? Just add chopped pimientos to my original recipe for a Pimiento Cheese Spread variation. Get down with your cheesy self! 

SERVES: 6 to 8

1 (8-ounce) block reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, plus leaves for serving
2 cups Cheeze-Its 
PANTRY STAPLE: Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Beat the cream cheese, cheddar, hot sauce, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste with a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth and combined. 

2. Pulse the Cheeze-Its in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment until very finely ground—almost like dust! Transfer to a shallow bowl. 

3. For each turkey, roll about 1 tablespoon cheese mixture until a flat, oval-ish shape to be the turkey breast. Roll about 1/2 teaspoon each into the legs, then make two little pinches of cheese mixture for the wings. Roll each piece in the Cheeze-It dust and arrange on a small serving plate. Roll two ting balls cheese mixture and place at the ends of the legs to look like bones. Repeat with remaining cheese and Cheeze-It dust.

4. To serve, surrond each cheese ball with a few parsley leaves. Serve with miniature crackers (I used Triscuit Minis because they're the perfect size...and totally amazing). You can make these cheese balls and store in the refrigerator, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, up to 2 days ahead of time. 

Leave a comment or send me a Tweet if you try the recipe, I'm dying to know what you think! xoxo - Erin

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