This Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball is sure to make a touchdown at your next game day party!
I couldn’t resist making another FOODball for college football season, they’re just so fun!
Lucky for me my garden went on another jalapeño rampage this Summer. I had enough to pickle an entire mason jar’s worth, stock the freezer, and magically had enough over for several new jalapeño-flecked recipes. TOUCHDOWN!
Since I’m about to fridge pickle a second jar of homegrown jalapeños (love this method) I was jonesin’ for some jalapeño popper action. Game day wouldn’t be the same without some totally crave-worthy cheesy appetizer faceplantage, right? RIGHT!
Instead of going the traditional route (or even the untraditional route) I opted to get my jalapeño popper fix in cheeseball form. The result was a quick and easy appetizer that I’m crazy in love with. In fact I’m pretty sure this is going to make an appearance at our upcoming game night too. Board games and cheese balls FTW!
Of course we could have gone globular here, but festively shaping our cheese ball into a football is the ultimate way to appease the touchdown gods! My team was counting on me.
Football Cheese Ball to the rescue! Let’s do this!
Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball
15 minPrep Time
2 minCook Time
17 minTotal Time
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened
- 8 oz grated/shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4-1/3 cup chopped green onion, divided
- 1/2 cup diced pickled jalapeños, extra as desired
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- pinch of salt
- 3 slices of bacon
- 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2-3 TBSP fresh parsley
- 2-3 fresh jalapeños (approx. 1/4 cup finely chopped)
- 1 slice mozzarella or white cheddar cheese
- assorted pretzels, veggies, apple slices, and crackers for dunking/scooping/spreading/faceplanting
- one epic game day party
- In a medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese, cheddar, pickled jalapeño, garlic powder, salt and around 2-3 TBSP chopped green onion.
- Using a hand mixer or a fork and some elbow grease (my method of choice), mix well.
- Use a silicone spatula to scoop out the cheese mixture and shape into a ball with your hands.
- Place on a sheet of parchment paper or a cutting board and flatten the top of the ball, pinching and shaping it into a football. You'll want to press down on the middle and sort of pinch the sides while you press it into an edible football. I promise it's super duper easy, relive those play dough days and have fun with it!
- If cheese ball is too soft, cover with plastic and pop it in the fridge for 15-60 min. Mine was still firm yet soft enough to coat with toppings after 15 minutes so I went with it.
- While your cheese ball chills, chop the bacon into pieces and cook until crispy in a hot pan or skillet.
- Remove bacon from pan and wipe clean, leaving a teeny bit of the bacon grease behind. Add your panko and lightly toast it, stirring frequently for about a minute or two until golden.
- Remove the seeds, veins, and stem from your jalapeño and finely chop/mince.
- Sprinkle/cover your cheese ball with panko, the remaining green onion, parsley, fresh jalapeño, and bacon and press firmly into the cheeseball to coat.
- For the laces, snag a slice of mozzarella cheese (or any cheese really!) and use a sharp knife to cut it into thin slices. Cut one long slice for the center of the football and smaller slices for the laces. Place the long slice horizontally along the center of the football, then arrange the small slices horizontally on top. Again, super simple and you can basically use any cheese you'd like, if needed!
- Add all your favorite dippers from the list above and dig in!
- Leftovers taste deeeeeelicious spread on pretty much everything in sight the following day, especially buttery whole grain ritz crackers!
Need to soften your cream cheese in a hurry? Microwave for 30 seconds on high.
As written, this cheese ball is pretty mild, medium at most. For a spicier appetizer, feel free to up the jalapeño content and even employ a little hot sauce or red pepper flakes into the cheese mixture. Taste as you go and customize the heat to your preference.
The parsley is 100% optional if you don't have any handy. See post below for GF and Vegetarian swaps!
make ahead instructions:
Want to prep your party eats the day before? Perfecto! Make the cheeseball (minus the toppings) and refrigerate until 15 minutes or so before you’re ready to serve it. Allow it to come to room temperature a bit (this will help the toppings stick) and then press your toppings into the football. Commence faceplant.
so. . . how was it?
AMAZING!!! Dare I say that I might love this jalapeño popper football cheese ball more than actual jalapeño poppers? Hoooooomygosh it’s good!
I went the mild-medium route this time around but I’m thinking of going extra bold next time (just for kicks) and amping the spice factor up with some extra jalapeño. This is partially because I know it’s going to hurt sooooo good and partially because I love yelling “FIIIIIRE!” when eating something spicy.
What’s awesome about this jalapeño flecked recipe is that you can customize it any which way you’d like! Replace the panko with this GF version or with extra herbs/jalaps to make this recipe gloriously gluten-free and/or swap the bacon to serve it up vegetarian-style. Just whatever you do, make this right meow! Your team is counting on you.