Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball

This Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball is sure to make a touchdown at your next game day party!

Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball

I couldn’t resist making another FOODball for college football season, they’re just so fun!

:: pin it for later ::

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!

Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball

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

Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball

We’re crazy in love with this game day favorite.

Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball
5 from 12 votes

Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball

This Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball is sure to make a touchdown at your next game day party!

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Servings 30 servings
Calories 95 kcal
Author Jenn Laughlin - Peas and Crayons


  • 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


  1. In a medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese, cheddar, pickled jalapeño, garlic powder, salt and around 2-3 TBSP chopped green onion.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a fork and some elbow grease (my method of choice), mix well.
  3. Use a silicone spatula to scoop out the cheese mixture and shape into a ball with your hands.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. While your cheese ball chills, chop the bacon into pieces and cook until crispy in a hot pan or skillet.
  7. 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.
  8. Remove the seeds, veins, and stem from your jalapeño and finely chop/mince.
  9. Sprinkle/cover your cheese ball with panko, the remaining green onion, parsley, fresh jalapeño, and bacon and press firmly into the cheeseball to coat.
  10. 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!
  11. Add all your favorite dippers from the list above and dig in!
  12. Leftovers taste deeeeeelicious spread on pretty much everything in sight the following day, especially buttery whole grain ritz crackers!
  13. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

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!

Serve with assorted pretzels, veggies, apple slices, and crackers for dunking/scooping/spreading/faceplanting.

Nutrition Facts below are estimated using an online recipe nutrition calculator. Adjust as needed based on dippers and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball
Amount Per Serving
Calories 95 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 26mg9%
Sodium 153mg7%
Potassium 44mg1%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 357IU7%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 72mg7%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball

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.


If you get a chance to try this Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball, let me know!

Leave some love in the comment form below or tag your photos with @peasandcrayons on Instagram so I can touchdown dance over your tasty creation.

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Recipe Rating


  • Dolores Castillo

    5 stars
    I made this for our Super Bowl party and it was a hit. I had some leftover the next day and it was even better!! Super simple to make!!

  • Angela H

    5 stars
    Super easy to whip up and instructions were perfect!! Super excited to serve this for Super Bowl tonight. Who is even playing? I’ll be eating!

  • Erin

    5 stars
    This looks great! I am planning to make this for the Super Bowl, but I have a couple guests who are gluten free. Should I use gluten free (non-Panko) breadcrumbs, leave it out, or use another GF substitute?

    • Hi Erin! GF panko breadcrumbs are pretty good so if you’d like, toast them up on a skillet until golden and use those instead. You can also certainly leave them off (instead of buying another ingredient) and it’ll still be fantastic! They’re just there for texture/visual and not really flavor so it’s easy to skip them and add extra of the other goodies!

  • Jackie Homan

    Can you freeze this cheese football?

    • Hi Jackie! The toppings will get soggy so I wouldn’t freeze it with the crispy bacon/panko topping but the internet says you actually can freeze the cheeseball itself! Wrap in plastic wrap twice, then in aluminum foil. Then place in a freezer-safe plastic bag or airtight container for up to one month. Allow to defrost in fridge for 24 hours. Then take out and allow to take the chill off and soften a bit at room temperature. Once softened enough to coat and spread, press toppings into the cheeseball and dive in!

  • Kathy Harrington

    Hi Jenn!
    I’m making this delicious sounding cheese ball right now. I have a question: It says 8 ounce grated/shredded sharp cheddar. Do I grate the whole 8 ounce brick of cheddar and add it or do I measure 8 ounces of grated cheese in a cup, which is a lot less? Many thanks and kind regards,

    • So excited you’re trying it Kathy. It’s 8 oz by weight – grate that brick girl! xoxo

  • Reshma

    Hi! So I by accident put too much salt in this recipe! Should I add more cream cheese? What else can I do to diffuse this situation?

    • Hey Reshma! Was it mixed in yet? If not you can always scoop out the salted area and go from there. If mixed, increasing the other ingredients should help and you’ll have an even bigger football to scarf (always a plus in my book, lol!) xo

      • Reshma

        Yeah it was mixed in I had another recipe up too and that one said 1 teaspoon of salt so I messed it up!

  • 5 stars

    Thanks for sharing your great Recipe.. YUMMM!

  • Meghan

    I pre made the football and tomorrow will add the final toppings… do those go into a bowl and mixed together and then put on? Or one ingredient at a time kind of thing?

    • Hey Meghan! So stoked you’re making the football! So what I like to do is put the toppings all together in a bowl and mix them up. Then I place the football on a cutting board and grab small handfuls of the toppings and press it into the sides and top of the football, giving it a firm press in before releasing. It’s even easier doing this once it’s thawed a little so letting it sit out for 15-30 min after pulling it from the fridge can help it really stick in there. Enjoy the game tomorrow!

  • Heidi

    Can you cut this recipe in half? It looks like its very large.

    • Hi Heidi, you can absolutely halve the cheeseball recipe! How many people are you serving?

      • Heidi

        Thank you for answering! Super Bowl 15-20 people. Everyone is bringing an appetizer to share. Hard to tell how large the full recipe is.

        • You could totally get away with half if everyone is bringing an app but I’ll warn ya – it’s gonna be a little, lol! Picture molding one 8 oz block of cream cheese into a football and that will give you the exact size of half the recipe. The full size is just two blocks of cream cheese for size reference. It looks a bit bigger in the zoomed in photos. Hope this helps and that you have a blast this weekend! xoxo

  • Nikki P.

    What can I use instead of bacon?

    • Extra breadcrumbs, green onion, and jalapeño works great! You could also use crushed nuts as a swap if you’d like.

  • Shawn

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!! Almost added a little Worcestershire (as I do in my go-to chesseball), but didn’t need it. YUMMY as is. 😉

  • Sarah

    5 stars
    This has the perfect combination of cheesy and heat!

  • Meagen Brosius

    5 stars
    This is such an awesome recipe to have on hand now that football is back in full swing! So delicious and easy but looks stunning and fun!

  • Mitzi Tollison

    5 stars
    I just made this for a super bowl party & it was a big hit! It was so easy to make and perfect for a football gathering. Thanks a bunch!

  • Katie

    5 stars
    I made this for a Thanksgiving APPETIZER and it was a huge hit! I was a little sketched out about the pickled jalapenos, but it tasted great. The right amount of spice too. Everyone loved it. I will DEFINITELY make this again for our next football party.

    • I’m kind of jealous I didn’t have this for Thanksgiving 😉 So super stoked y’all enjoyed it Katie, thank you!

  • Lauren

    This recipe was amazing! I made it yesterday for a party and everyone kept commenting about how amazing it was. I was out of bread crumbs so just used more bacon!

    • Woooooot! So glad it was a hit Lauren! xoxo

  • Elena

    5 stars
    It was perfect! Looked so cool and it was a huge hit! No one wanted to eat anything else! I foolishly doubled it and had way too much left over.

    • So glad it was a huge hit Elena! I’ll gladly come over and help you with the leftovers! <3 😉

  • Allyson

    5 stars
    Made this for SuperBowl….it was a hit!

  • Amy

    Making this for a get together tomorrow. Forgot panko at the store, I have seasoned bread crumbs, will that work, or should I leave them out?

    • Hey Amy! Totally just leave it out. The rest of the ingredients will carry it 🙂

  • Natalie

    Hi there, looking forward to making this for the Super Bowl! Can you make a ahead? A little worried that the Panko might get soggy. Not sure if it’s best served cold or slightly warmed?


    • Hey Natalie! So excited for you to try it! You can partially make this one ahead of time. You’ll make the cheese ball itself and store that in the fridge (on a flat surface and then plastic wrapped) and that can be done up to 2 days in advance. The panko can be toasted ahead of time and the bacon can be made and chopped as well. You’ll keep the crispy bacon crumbles in a container in the fridge, the greens chopped and measured in another, and the panko toasted/measured out in a container at room temperature to prevent it from getting soft. Then just bring your football out a little bit before you need to serve it so it softens enough to coat, mix your toppings all together, and press into the cheeseball. That being said, I’ve popped the leftovers in the fridge and eaten them (soft panko/bacon and all) and still adored it, but for guests it will be prettiest and have the best texture if you wait until the day of to press all the ingredients into the cheeseball. It takes just a few seconds since you have everything made ahead of time so it should be super easy on ya! Hope that novel of a response helped (lol!) and I’m here if you need me! XOXO

  • connie

    When do you add minced jalapeños?

    • Somehow I completely left the minced jalapeño out of the following step, thank you so much for pointing that out Connie! You add it with the bacon, panko, etc… as part of the cheeseball coating. Enjoy! 🙂

  • Nichole

    I’m going to make this for my football mom’s get together tonight. Thanks for the great idea for a fun appetizer.

    • Yay!!! Hope it’s a hit, Nichole! I’m already dying to make it again !:-) ?

  • jackie millican

    on #7 you mentioned panko bread crumbs. late in the directions you say to put panko and bread in skillet to brown.
    Did I miss something? I never did see bread as one of the ingredients.

    This looks really good and can’t wait to try it.
    Thank you

    • Hey Jackie! I totally see how that could be confusing when I said “add the panko and toast” so I reworded it to clarify. You’ll want to toast the panko bread crumbs in the pan/skillet until it’s golden brown for an extra delicious crunch. Hope that helps and that you adore the recipe as much as we do! xoxo

  • Nicole

    Just made this for football Sunday everybody loved it! Delicious with a little kick. Will definitely make again.

  • Adorable Jenn! I just saw it on FG and clicked right over! You made football cheese art…I wish I could do that! 🙂 Pinned!

    • Aw thanks girly! Any excuse to play with my food 🙂

  • Carolyn @ Cabot

    Great recipe! Can’t wait to make this for our next Sunday night football!~Carolyn @ Cabot Creamery

    • Thanks Carolyn! Hope y’all love it as much as we do!

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