My first experience with Goat Cheese Balls—creamy portions of softened goat cheese rolled in breadcrumbs and cooked until golden and crisp outside and meltingly creamy inside—was in France, where they are a common addition to salads. Today’s recipe has the same level of splendor, done in mini, easy baked form!
The fact that the French put fried goat cheese balls on salads is one of the many pleasures you’ll find on their café menus.
I’d long had the idea to recreate the experience at home.
Instead of the large coins of goat cheese I was served in Paris, I opted for these highly devourable mini goat cheese balls.
- The mini size gives you a more balanced ratio of crispy breadcrumb exterior to creamy goat cheese interior.
- The smaller scale also makes this goat cheese recipe ideal for appetizers. You can prep them ahead, and the presentation is exceptional.
This baked goat cheese ball recipe further ups the appetizer ante (aside my Pineapple Cheese Ball) with cranberries in the filling and toasted pecans in the coating.
A final drizzle of honey makes these bites a complete show-off, which is part of the fun.
When serving something as sublime as golden, warm goat cheese balls with cranberries, a little showmanship is more than appropriate—it’s a right and necessary thing to do!
How to Make Baked Goat Cheese Balls
While fried goat cheese balls are more common in France, I like to skip the mess and bake the goat cheese balls in the oven instead.
- Making baked instead of fried goat cheese balls offers easy cleanup.
- Baked goat cheese balls are a more healthy way to eat goat cheese than fried, since they skip the oil.
Nuts, cranberries, and honey go well with goat cheese, and this recipe takes advantage of all three.
With their crispy, nutty coating and warm, creamy interior, goat cheese balls are one of the best ways to eat goat cheese.
- Pecan Panko Mixture. The outsides of these balls are coated in a scrumptious panko pecan mixture with thyme and salt. It’s a crisp and savory complement to the creamy and sweet interior of the balls.
- Egg. Helps the pecan panko mixture stick to the goat cheese balls.
- Dried Cranberries. Their pop of sweetness goes beautifully with goat cheese, and they add festive bursts of color.
- Goat Cheese. Creamy and luscious goat cheese makes for the ideal cheese ball. Its slight tanginess is addictive, and it can be purchased in a variety of fun flavors.
- Honey. A finishing drizzle of honey makes these special. Honey complements the salty coating and lightly tangy goat cheese.
- Mix the goat cheese and cranberries together.
- Roll the goat cheese mixture into balls. Lay them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Grind the pecans in a food processor, then combine with the panko, salt, and thyme together in a bowl.
- Roll the goat cheese balls in the beaten egg mixture.
- Roll the balls in the panko mixture. Return the balls to the baking sheet.
- Freeze the balls for 30 minutes.
- Bake the balls at 470 degrees F for 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate, drizzle with honey, and ENJOY!
How to Serve Goat Cheese Balls
- As an Appetizer. Poke a toothpick through the center of each goat cheese ball to make an easy, bite-sized appetizer.
- On a Salad. Enjoy these goat cheese balls as a fun, cheesy addition to your favorite salads. They would be tasty tossed with this Apple Walnut Salad, Winter Salad, or Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad.
- With Soup. Dice these into bite-sized pieces, and enjoy them with a bowl of soup (like this Acorn Squash Soup or Instant Pot Tomato Soup).
Make Ahead Tips
For those (like me) who prefer to make party appetizers in advance, you might be wondering, “can you make goat cheese balls in advance?” Thankfully, the answer is yes!
- To Make Ahead. Prepare the goat cheese balls as directed through Step 8. Transfer the frozen goat cheese balls to an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to bake the cheese balls, finish the recipe steps as directed.
- To Store. Refrigerate goat cheese balls in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Mixing Bowls. These stackable bowls are a must-have item in my kitchen.
- Baking Sheet. Ideal for freezing and baking these goat cheese balls.
- Food Processor. The one I own and love!
Baked goat cheese balls with cranberries: this is bliss in a bite!
Goat Cheese Balls
- 10 ounces goat cheese at room temperature (plain, honey, or herbed goat cheese are all yummy!)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup raw pecan halves
- 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large egg
- Honey for drizzling
- Line a baking sheet or plate that will fit in your freezer with parchment paper (and clear out some space in your freezer to hold it).
- Place the goat cheese and cranberries in a mixing bowl. With a sturdy spoon, break up the goat cheese and stir it together with the cranberries. Continue to stir and "smush" the cheese, until the cranberries are fairly evenly distributed (it doesn't need to be perfect or hold together at this point).
- Portion the goat cheese mixture and roll into 18 balls, distributing the cranberries evenly. (To get 18, I find it easiest to divide the mixture into 3 portions, divide each of those portions in half, then divide each half into 3). The balls will be about 1 1/4 inches or so each. Place them on the prepared baking sheet.
- Place the pecans in a food processor and pulse until they are finely ground (don’t over blend and turn them into pecan butter). Alternatively, you can place them in a thick ziptop bag and crush them with a rolling pin (or wine bottle).
- Transfer the ground pecans to a shallow bowl and stir together with the panko, salt, and thyme.
- In a separate medium bowl, thoroughly beat the egg.
- Working one or two at a time, roll a goat cheese ball first in the egg mixture, then the panko mixture. Lightly pat to adhere the crumbs to all sides. I find it easiest to use one hand as the "wet hand" (this is the one you use for the eggs) and one as the "dry" hand (for adhering the crumbs). Place the ball back on the parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining balls.
- Freeze the balls for 30 minutes to harden. After 30 minutes, they are ready to bake, or you can transfer them to a ziptop bag for longer freezer storage.
- When you are ready to bake, place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 470 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the goat cheese balls on top.
- Bake the goat cheese balls until the crumbs are lightly golden and crisp, about 7 to 10 minutes depending upon your oven. Keep an eye on them as they cook to ensure the coating doesn’t burn. If your oven doesn’t bake evenly and you notice the ones in the pack browning before the ones in the front, rotate your pan 180 degrees F.
- With a thin, flexible spatula (or by lifting up the sheet of parchment—be careful, they roll!) immediately transfer the balls to a serving plate (if you leave them on the sheet, they will melt).
- Let cool 1 to 2 minutes, then drizzle with honey. Enjoy immediately!
- TO STORE: Refrigerate goat cheese balls in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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