Impress your dinner guests with this adorable Turkey Cheese Ball Thanksgiving Appetizer. Holiday flavors like cranberries and toasted pecans are mixed with organic dairy for a Thanksgiving cheese ball that looks as good as it tastes.
We are thrilled to be working with Horizon Organic, who paid us for this post and video. We choose to work with Horizon Organic because we love their products, and believe in their company values.
THANKSGIVING CHEESE BALL
In my ongoing pursuit of making cute food easy, I try to come up with a new idea for every holiday. A couple of years ago we went viral with our turkey veggie tray. Last year was the not at all healthy, but super easy, ten minute turkey cake.
So this year, of course, I had to make a Thanksgiving turkey cheese ball!
Cheese ball recipes are pretty limitless. There’s usually a creamy cheese, like cream cheese or goat cheese. This is the cheese “glue” that holds all the other ingredients together.
In this recipe I also used softened butter. Butter adds to the creamy texture, and gives a nice richness to the flavor. I decided to include a little whole milk as well to help make everything easier to mix.
The cheese mixture also typically contains a shredded cheese. In this case I went with cheddar because it goes so well with the dried cranberries and toasted pecans.
You can include any variety of fruits or veggies, herbs, nuts, spices, or even meat like bacon. Just make sure it’s all chopped finely to incorporate well into the mix.
OUR FAVORITE ORGANIC DAIRY PRODUCTS
As always, we recommend using organic dairy products whenever possible. We love Horizon Organic because of their fundamental belief that organic farming is the only truly sustainable agricultural production system in the world.
If you think about it, anything that is put into a cow’s body goes to the cow’s milk.
With organic dairy, cows must eat a diet of organic food including grass, grains, and feed. That means no toxic or persistent pesticides are used in their feed.
Our family also has a variety of medication allergies. So it’s especially important to us that organic dairy does not allow the cows to receive antibiotics.
By using organic cheese, milk, and butter, we know just what’s going into our bodies.
HOW TO MAKE A TURKEY CHEESE BALL
First of all, if you forget to let your butter and cream cheese get to room temperature, soften them faster by cutting into cubes. NEVER microwave them! See How to Soften Butter Quickly for more on why.
Start by mixing softened Horizon Organic Salted Butter, cream cheese, and Horizon Organic Whole Milk in a large bowl.
Add all your chopped and shredded mix in ingredients: dried cranberries, pecans, parsley, green onions, and Horizon Organic Shredded Cheddar Cheese. I also like to add a little salt to help bring out the flavors.
Mix well until everything is incorporated.
Shape the cheese mixture into a small (2.5 inch diameter) ball and a large egg.
Poke half of a pretzel rod into the ball and refrigerate. This will be the head for your turkey. The first I time I made this turkey cheese ball I wrapped the head in plastic. The second time I realized it’s not in the fridge long enough to need wrapping. You can just stick it on a plate in the fridge.
Place the larger cheese ball on your platter or plate, with the wider end at the back. Slip some matchstick carrots under the front on each side for turkey feet.
Poke pretzel rods and sticks into the back of the turkey, fanned out like tail feathers.
Next place square shaped whole grain crackers into the cheese. Notice how the crackers are point up, and each layer gets shorter toward the front of the turkey cheese ball.
Finally add a row of whole pecans. I like using toasted pecans for extra flavor but raw ones are great too.
To finish the turkey head, make two little balls of organic cream cheese and press them onto the round cheese ball. Press two olive ends into each ball for the turkey’s eyes. Use another pecan for its beak. Then peel off a strip of red bell pepper and press that in for the turkey wattle. Poke the other end of the pretzel rod down into the front of your larger turkey cheese ball.
I suggest mixing your turkey cheese ball at least a couple hours before serving to let the flavors meld together. You can wait to decorate your turkey until just before guests arrive.
You can also make the whole turkey the night before and refrigerate overnight. It’s a little tough to wrap the whole turkey cheese ball in plastic, so I place it in a large bowl and then cover the bowl with plastic.
Just make sure to pull the turkey out at least 30 minutes before serving so the cheese has time to soften. You can place more crackers and pretzels on the platter, or in bowls next to the cheese ball.
PIN THIS TURKEY CHEESE BALL TO SAVE FOR LATER
Don’t lose the recipe! Save the turkey cheese ball to Pinterest, then upload a photo to the pin when you make your own. We love seeing your creations!
MORE HOLIDAY CHEESE BALL RECIPES
Here are some more adorable cheese balls that would be great with Horizon Organic dairy products!
TURKEY CHEESE BALL PRINTABLE RECIPE
Cheese Ball Ingredients
- 8 ounces organic cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup Horizon Organic Salted Butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons Horizon Organic Whole Milk
- 6 ounces Horizon Organic Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped organic pecan halves, toasted or raw
- 1/2 cup chopped organic parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped organic dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup chopped organic green onions
- 1/2 teaspoon organic kosher salt
- 8 organic pretzel rods
- 1 organic baby carrot
- 11 organic pretzel sticks
- 10 square organic whole grain crackers
- 8 organic pecan halves
- 1 teaspoon organic cream cheese
- 2 organic olives, kalamata or black
- 1 organic red bell pepper
- Start by mixing cream cheese, butter, and milk in a large bowl.
- Mix in the remaining cheese ball ingredients.
- Form the mixture into two cheese balls. One should be a ball about 2.5 inches in diameter. Use the rest to make a large egg shaped cheese ball.
- Place half a pretzel rod (from the decorations) into the small ball and refrigerate it until ready to decorate the head.
- Place your large cheese ball on a platter. Cut the baby carrot into matchsticks and slip three under each side of the small end of your cheese ball. These are the turkey's feet.
- Poke the pretzel rods and sticks into the back wider end of the cheese ball. I broke the rods into different lengths to help fan them out like a turkey's tail.
- Poke crackers, point side down in front of the pretzels to create two more rows of feathers.
- Poke pecan halves in front of the crackers for your last row of turkey tail feathers. Make sure to save one pecan for the beak.
- Roll the cream cheese for decorating into two balls, slice the ends off of your olives, and use a vegetable peeler to peel a strip from your red pepper.
- Pull your turkey head from the fridge and decorate. Press the cream cheese balls toward the top of the head. Press the olive ends into them so they flatten out. Poke a pecan half under the eyes, then press the end of the red pepper strip above the pecan so it hangs to one side.
- You can serve immediately, or refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.
Serving Size:20 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 154Saturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 206mgCarbohydrates: 5gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g
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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.