All your cheesy, bacon-filled dreams are about to come true. Made from three cheeses and covered in fragrant toasted pecans, this ultra creamy bourbon bacon jam cheese ball instantly elevates any charcuterie platter. Each decadent bite is full of savory, smoky bacon with the perfect hint of sweetness for just the right balance.
Look, I'm not here to hate on other cheese balls. We're talking a ball of creamy, cheesy goodness. I can't get mad at that.
But a cheese ball flavored with bourbon bacon jam? Oh, my. Forget everything you thought you knew about cheese balls because you've never tasted one this good.
That sweet and savory bacon jam with the smooth bourbon takes this cheese ball to a whole other level. Honestly, after one bite, you won't need another cheese ball recipe again. I served this bacon jam cheese ball on both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and after seeing how quickly and happily people gobbled it up, I consider this recipe cheese ball perfection.
Bold statement? Maybe. But it's true.
Bonus: If you adore this bacon cheese ball, you'll also love my smoked jalapeño poppers.
And now to gather our ingredients. Here's what we need.
- Cream cheese
- Shredded Gouda (preferably smoked but the unsmoked variety is also tasty)
- Bourbon bacon jam
- Chopped pecans
Some cheese balls use just cream cheese, but I love the extra decadent, rich touch that the mascarpone adds. Mascarpone is even creamier, despite cream cheese's namesake, so it gives our cheesy snack the perfect texture.
While I highly recommend making my bourbon bacon jam for this cheese ball, you can find bacon jam at some speciality stores. I actually first fell in love with bacon jam when I picked up a jar at a local cheese shop, so you can definitely scoop up some high-quality bacon jams out there. If you find a good store-bought bacon jam without bourbon, you can always stir in some to taste.
This process couldn’t be easier. We take our softened cream cheese and mascarpone, add them to a mixing bowl, beat until light and fluffy, and then add our shredded Gouda and bacon jam. The bacon jam already comes with all the flavor we need, so we don’t have to worry about extra ingredients.
I used my stand mixer for this, but you can also use a sturdy wooden spoon to mix the cheeses and bacon jam. While I prefer to throw it in the mixer and let the machine do the work, it's certainly not necessary.
How to Shape
Now that you have this big blob of cheesy, bacony goodness, you might wonder how in the world do you make this into a ball. We take a large piece of plastic wrap and plop the cheese mixture on top. Try your best to spoon it on in a ball-like shape.
You don’t need to perfectly shape your cheese at this point. Something like this will do.
Now we wrap the cheese mixture in the plastic and roll it around and shape with our hands like so.
From here, we pop the cheese ball in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow it to firm. After it has time to firm, we roll it in toasted pecans and serve. It doesn't get much easier than that, huh?
How to Serve
Cheese ball spreads are thick and hearty, so we want a serving vessel that can hold the weight. Sturdy crackers, crostini, bagel crisps or mini toasts are all good options. In the photos, I used pita chips, which were perfect.
If you’re looking for a healthier dipper to balance all that decadent cheese and bacon, you could smear it onto carrot sticks, celery or broccoli. I get it. Life is about balance, right?
Can I Make the Cheese Ball Ahead of Time?
You sure can! That's one of the reasons cheese balls are great for entertaining. You know, besides that creamy deliciousness.
Simply shape your cheese ball and keep it in plastic wrap for about four to five days. When you're ready to serve, remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to guests arriving to allow the cheese ball to soften for easy spreading and roll it in toasted pecans. You're now ready to go.
Do I even need to say it? Bourbon is the obvious choice here. Any of these options are delicious: peach-maple bourbon smash, chai-cranberry bourbon smash, apple cider old fashioned, gingered bourbon-apple cider cocktail or cherry bourbon smash.
Looking for a beer instead? No problem. A coffee stout is always tasty with bacon to play up that classic breakfast combo, especially if you're serving this with brunch, or you can go with a doppelbock. The sweet malt matches nicely with the maple and brown sugar in the bacon jam.
If wine is your go-to drink of choice, you'll love a pinot noir with this bacon cheese ball. Earthy pinot noir is one of my favorite go-to wines when bacon is involved, and while it's a light red, it can still stand up to our Gouda.
When you need a guaranteed crowd-pleasing snack, I hope you try this bourbon bacon jam cheese ball. I promise this is unlike any other cheese ball you've ever tried.
Need More Party Food?
- Ahi nachos with wasabi crema
- Crab cake sliders with basil-avocado aioli
- Whipped ricotta dip
- Beer mussels in chorizo-tomato sauce
- Baked Brie with fig and Kahlua sauce
- Gouda and chorizo pretzel bombs with bourbon honey-mustard
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Bourbon Bacon Jam Cheese Ball
- Large mixing bowl
- Plastic wrap
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 8 ounces mascarpone softened
- 1 ½ cups shredded smoked Gouda
- 1 cup bourbon bacon jam preferably homemade
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- In a mixing bowl, beat or stir the cream cheese and mascarpone until combined. Scrape any cheese off the side of the bowl and stir in the shredded Gouda and bourbon bacon jam.
- Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter. In the center, spoon the cheese mixture into a rough ball shape. Wrap the plastic wrap over the cheese mixture so that it's completely covered. Shape into a ball with your hands. Place in the refrigerator for several hours or up to four to five days.
- While the cheese ball chills, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and toast until fragrant. This should only take two to three minutes. Remove the pecans from heat and set aside.
- Before serving, roll the cheese ball in the pecans to coat. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
- If you can't find smoked Gouda, regular Gouda will work as well.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Liz @ Books n' Cooks says
This sounds incredible. I wish I was entertaining so that I had an excuse to make it (and so that I don't indulge in the whole thing!)
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
I don’t blame you! That’s definitely the challenge. You can always cut the recipe if need be. ?
This combination sounds amazing. I can't wait to try it.
This really is a game changer when it comes to cheeseballs. It's so good, I'm not sure if I really want to share, haha!
Um, these are all my favorite things!!! I'm definitely making this for Super Bowl weekend!
Pam Greer says
Bourbon, bacon and cheese - three of my most favorite words all together in one recipe! Soooo good!
Sherry Brubaker says
This is totally happening next time I host! I know everyone will just love this recipe!
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
I bet they will! You can't go wrong with bacon and cheese.
Bourbon bacon jam folded into a cheese ball crusted with pecans... Sign me up, definitely trying this recipe - looks scrumptious and the ingredient line up is just too tempting to miss out on.
Amanda McGrory-Dixon says
Thanks, Milena! I think you'll love it!