Game Day Cheese Ball - The Pigskin

Game Day Cheese Ball - The Pigskin

Remember the nut-covered, pink-colored cheese balls served at grandma’s house for the holidays? Well, these are not your grandma’s cheese balls. Updated for contemporary tastes, Michelle Buffardi’s cheese balls come in both savory and sweet flavors, like cheddar, blue cheese, and Buffalo wing sauce, or Bing cherry, rum, and pecan. And cheese balls are just part of the story. Many of the recipes, photographed in gorgeous full color, are in adorable shapes for all kinds of occasions, such as an Easter egg, Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ornament, or a football for a Super Bowl party. Other designs are just plain fun, like the Nacho Cat, a Wise and Cheesy Owl, or one that looks like a pizza fresh from the oven. There is so much interest in bringing old-fashioned foods back into style, and this is no exception. Perfect for food lovers with crafty flair or anyone who loves to entertain, this book, with more than fifty inventive recipes and designs, is sure to be turned to again and again.


The Pigskin

Pig out.  This football is thrice infused with bacon- the jalapeño is cooked in bacon grease, there's bacon mixed into the cheese, and bacon covers the football.


  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon

  • 1 medium jalapeño, cored, seeded, and finely chopped (if you want extra heat in your cheese ball, retain some of the seeds)

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, plus 1 tablespoon, for decorating

  • 1 tablespoon chopped scallions

  • Crackers for serving

Cook the bacon.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Lay the bacon slices in a single layer on 2 baking sheets.  Bake until crispy, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels and let cool.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the pans, and discard the rest.  Once the bacon has cooled, coarsely chop and set aside.

Cook the jalapeño in the reserved bacon grease in a small skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.  Using a stand mixer or a bowl and a spatula, mix together 1 cup of the chopped bacon, the sautéed jalapeño, cream cheese, 1 cup of the cheddar, and the scallions until combined.  Form the mixture into a ball and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Before serving, form the ball into an oblong football shape and roll in the remaining chopped bacon to coat.  Decorate the top of the football cheese ball with the remaining 1 tablespoon cheddar to resemble laces.

Serve with crackers

Michelle Buffardi is the author of Great Balls of Cheese and a writer and editor at and  @mbuffardi

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  • Nancy Leoni
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