Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Balls
These 5-ingredient, mini goat cheese balls are made with pecans, dried cranberries, fresh thyme, and honey. Rich in flavour and festive, holiday colours – this party appetizer is easy to make and can be prepared in advance. Recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, and NOT fried!
How could you possibly go wrong with these delicious, bite-sized balls of cheese?! They’re perfect for a Christmas holiday appetizer.
While the idea for these cheese balls is not revolutionary, here are some things that make them different to other recipes I’ve seen:
- They’re made with ONLY goat’s cheese – no need to purchase OR mix these with cream cheese or other cheeses. You can scoop the cheese straight from the log, no mixing bowl required. Plus, you get that pure and rich goat cheese flavour that I LOVE.
- They’re made with fresh thyme rather than parsley. I personally think thyme has SO much more flavour than parsley. Plus, it feels more seasonal and festive!
- They’re not fried, baked, or breaded – simply pop them in the fridge to harden slightly, no real cooking required. This also makes them a gluten-free option, for anyone who needs that.
- They’re only 5 simple ingredients!
For more dietitian-designed goat cheese appetizer ideas, you may also love these reader-favourite goat cheese stuffed mini peppers, these goat cheese stuffed dates, or these herby goat cheese stuffed mushrooms!
About the ingredients + substitutions
- Goat cheese: I used a regular (unflavoured) goat cheese log for this recipe. I would avoid using pre-crumbled goat cheese, as that may not stick together as well.
- Dried cranberries: You can use any type of dried cranberry for this, looking for an unsweetened variety if you can find it.
- Pecans: I used raw, unsalted pecan halves for this recipe. As goat cheese is salty enough, I recommend steering away from salted varieties. If preferred, you could also try this with walnuts or pistachios.
- Fresh thyme: Thyme is my FAVOURITE herb to pair with goat cheese – it’s a festive winter herb that has SO much flavour. Plus, the green adds to the festive colours of this appetizer!
- Honey: A drizzle of honey is added before serving. While optional, honey pairs so well with goat cheese and really rounds out the flavours 🙂
TO SERVE: While these goat cheese bites are perfect on their own, I recommend serving them alongside some of your favourite crackers and some crusty, toasted baguette. Your guests are welcome to cut into the cheese balls or sandwich them between the bread and/or crackers!
Full ingredient measurements and detailed instructions are located in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Visual guide: how to make goat cheese balls
STEP 1: You’ll want to start this recipe by chopping the pecans into very small pieces.
STEP 2: Then, chop up your dried cranberries into small pieces as well.
STEP 3: Next, remove thyme leaves from their woody stems. I like to do this by holding the top end of the stem in one hand, then gliding my other hand down the stem so that the leaves come off in one fell swoop!
STEP 4: Place the chopped pecans, dried cranberries, and thyme leaves on a baking sheet (or plate/bowl). Toss together to combine and distribute the ingredients.
STEP 5: Next, you’ll want to scoop the goat cheese into your hands. You can use a regular spoon OR a cookie scoop (if you have one). Aim for the balls to be about 2 teaspoons in side.
STEP 6: Roll the goat cheese into balls using your hands.
STEP 7: Then, roll the goat cheese ball into the pecan-cranberry mixture, pressing the ingredients into the cheese until they stick.
STEP 8: When done, place each ball on a lined baking sheet. Repeat until each of the balls are coated, then pop the balls in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let them firm up a bit.
Can you make these in advance?
You bet! These cheese balls can be made a day in advance. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
When ready to serve, simply take them out of the container and place on a serving tray or cheese board. Drizzle with honey and dig in!
Nutrition benefits of goat cheese
A one-ounce serving of goat cheese provides 6 grams of complete protein and 8 grams of fat.
Goat cheese is also a good source of micronutrients, like:
- vitamin A
More easy appetizer recipes
- Pear & Brie Cheese Salad Skewers
- Canned Salmon Dip With Cream Cheese
- Easy Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip
- Herbed Cottage Cheese Dip
- Smoked Salmon Bagel Bites
Did you give this Goat Cheese Balls Recipe a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!
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Get the Recipe: Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Balls (Appetizer!)
- Line a small-medium sized baking sheet or a large plate with parchment paper.
- Chop both the pecans and dried cranberries into small pieces, using a sharp chef's knife.
- Then, remove thyme leaves from their woody stems. I like to do this by holding the top end of the stem in one hand, then gliding my other hand down the stem so that the leaves come off in one fell swoop!
- Place the chopped pecans, dried cranberries, and thyme leaves on a separate baking sheet (or plate/bowl). Toss together to combine and distribute the ingredients evenly.
- Next, scoop goat cheese into your hands. You can use a regular spoon OR a cookie scoop (if you have one). Aim for the balls to be about 2 teaspoons in side (the 10 ounce log should make 15 balls). Roll the goat cheese into balls using your hands.
- Then, roll the ball into the pecan-cranberry mixture, gently pressing the ingredients into the cheese until they stick. Place balls on the lined baking sheet and repeat until all the balls are coated.
- Place the balls in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This will allow the balls to firm up slightly.
- Remove from the fridge when ready to serve. Drizzle with a bit of honey, and plate with crackers and/or toasted baguette slices. Enjoy!
As a dietitian, I create recipes with whole food ingredients that provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. My nutrition philosophy does not focus on numbers; however, I understand that this information can be helpful.
Do note that the nutrition info provided is an estimate and I cannot guarantee correctness of the displayed values. These numbers will differ depending on brands used, recipe modifications, and amount eaten. If you require specific nutrition information due to medical reasons, please consult with your dietitian or physician.