The TASTIEST Pumpkin Cheese Ball! This savory-sweet twist combines Swiss cheese, maple syrup, dried cranberries, and bacon in a delicious cheese ball that’s shaped like a pumpkin!
Every year, when fall rolls around, I see SO many ideas for cute fall foods. Things like ghost meringues and spiderweb cupcakes, Frankenstein Cookies and… of course… pumpkin cheese balls.
And as much as I always want to try my hand at them, the truth is I’m not very good at “cute” foods. But I can do my own version of them, which is exactly what I did here with this cheese ball.
With maple syrup and dried cranberries on the inside and chopped pecans on the outside, I like to think of it as a sophisticated twist on the orange jack-o-lantern version. As my friend said, it’s like “Home Goods decor you can eat.” And I’m all for it!
This cheese ball is simple to make (just be sure you leave enough time to refrigerate it) and one of those appetizers you’ll keep coming back to for more. It’s the perfect blend of savory and sweet… and classy enough to land on any Thanksgiving dinner or holiday party table!
what you’ll need for this recipe
Cream cheese – Cream cheese is the main ingredient in this cheese ball. I used 16 ounces of plain cream cheese, softened to room temperature. For a smaller cheese ball feel free to cut the ingredients in half.
Maple syrup – I use 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup to sweeten the cream cheese. I would definitely recommend pure maple syrup, NOT pancake syrup, in this recipe. *For extra maple flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon maple extract.
Pumpkin pie spice – In addition to the maple syrup, I added 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to the cream cheese mixture. (It can’t be called a pumpkin cheese ball without pumpkin pie spice!)
Swiss cheese – I added 2 cups of finely shredded Swiss cheese to the sweetened cream cheese for extra flavor and texture. You can either use pre-shredded or shred your own.
Bacon – For extra flavor and fun, I added 6 pieces of cooked, crumbled bacon to this recipe. I cooked mine extra crispy, but feel free to cook yours according to taste.
Craisins – I also added 1/2 cup of Craisins (dried cranberries) to the mix to balance out the savory and the sweet. As a substitute, use dried cherries or golden raisins.
Green onions – For the final savory ingredient I added 2 chopped green onions, or scallions. Feel free to substitute finely chopped shallots or red onion OR omit the onions altogether.
Pecans – I used 2/3 of chopped, toasted pecans to coat the cheese ball. You could substitute another kind of nuts if you prefer.
how to make a pumpkin cheese ball
Make the cheese ball. In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well. Add in the Swiss cheese, bacon, Craisins and green onions. Mix well.
Wrap and refrigerate. Transfer the cream cheese mixture to plastic wrap. Wrap tightly into a ball. Use twine or rubber bands to create 6-8 segments for the “pumpkin.” Refrigerate 1 hour or more, then untie and unwrap.
Roll in pecans and serve. Roll in chopped pecans to coat, being careful not to disturb the segments. Transfer to a serving plate and add a pretzel rod “stem.” Serve with crackers, bread, or fruit.
- Use another white cheese, such as mozzarella or white cheddar, in place of Swiss
- Omit the maple syrup or substitute honey
- Use chopped pistachios instead of pecans
- Substitute dried cherries for cranberries
- Omit the bacon for a vegetarian appetizer
Tips for Success
For best results, start with cream cheese that’s at room temperature but not TOO soft. This will ensure easy mixing while also allowing the cheese ball to keep its shape. To create segments, use either rubber bands (the easiest method if you have the right size) or twine/yarn/string. Be sure to refrigerate for at least one hour before attempting to coat in pecans.
more fall appetizer recipes
- Pumpkin Pecan Baked Brie
- Apple Brie Crostini
- Chicken Cranberry Brie Tartlets
- Cranberry Pecan Baked Goat Cheese
- Smoked Salmon Dip
- Holiday Cheese Board
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon maple extract (optional)
- 2 cups finely shredded Swiss cheese
- 6 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1/2 cup Craisins
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2/3 cup chopped, toasted pecans
- In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well.
- Add in the Swiss cheese, bacon, Craisins and green onions. Mix well.
- Transfer the cream cheese mixture to plastic wrap. Wrap tightly into a ball. Use twine or rubber bands to create 6-8 segments for the "pumpkin."
- Refrigerate 1 hour or more, then untie and unwrap.
- Roll in chopped pecans to coat, being careful not to disturb the segments. Transfer to a serving plate and add a pretzel rod "stem." Serve with crackers, bread, or fruit.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 149Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 115mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 5g