In my family, it’s not a party until the cheese ball arrives. This Hawaiian-inspired Pineapple Cheese Ball is a sweet and savory version that makes a unique, crowd-pleasing addition to any appetizer spread.
Growing up, every New Year’s Eve, my mom had special snacks for my sisters and me to make the night feel festive (hello, Cheese Fondue).
While she changed up the mix every year, one item that never left the menu was a cheese ball.
My sisters and I revered cheese balls as the epitome of fancy and gourmet (I present these elegant mini Goat Cheese Balls as further evidence).
Whether or not you agree with us on the “gourmet” front, it cannot be denied that cheese balls have magical powers.
Set this sweet pineapple cheese ball down at a party and watch it disappear!
My usual go-to recipe is this Cream Cheese Ball, which is based on the stellar cheese ring my Grammy makes every Christmas Eve.
Pineapple cheese ball is more laid back and slightly quirky, but in the best possible way.
Guests love it, always ask me for the recipe, and they don’t stop talking about it long after the party has ended.
How to Make Pineapple Cheese Ball
This easy recipe can be made up to a full day in advance and has a refreshingly short ingredient list.
As written the recipe is not at all spicy, but if you want to play on the wild side, you can certainly add in a few (or more) dashes of hot sauce or up the amount of cayenne.
- Pineapple. Sweet and juicy pineapple is the perfect addition to our creamy, savory cheese ball. It adds an unexpectedly refreshing flavor and subtle texture.
- Cream Cheese. The key to the cheese ball’s decadent flavor and velvety texture. Cream cheese works well for cheese balls because it adds a hint of tanginess and holds everything together.
- Pecans. Creates the irresistibly crunchy and toasty exterior.
- Red Pepper. Crisp, fresh, and sweet. It adds beautiful color and subtle sweetness.
- Garlic Powder. Adds a hint of garlicky flavor.
- Cayenne. To balance the sweetness of the pineapple. The cayenne does not make the cheese ball spicy.
- Green Onion. Color, freshness, and zip.
For another Hawaiian cheese ball recipe variation, stir in ¼ cup cooked and crumbled bacon or very finely minced ham.
- Toast and chop the pecans.
- Mix the cream cheese and spices together.
- Stir in the pineapple, pepper, and onion.
- Add half of the pecans.
- Transfer the mixture to a large sheet of plastic wrap, forming it into a mound.
- Wrap the plastic around it. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Coat it in the remaining pecans. Transfer it to a serving plate and DIG IN!
- To Store. Cover and refrigerate leftover cheese ball for up to 3 days.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, prepare the cheese ball as directed through Step 6. Refrigerate it in the plastic wrap. Coat the cheese ball in pecans within a few hours of serving.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Mixing Bowls. Perfect for making pineapple cheese ball.
- Chef’s Knife. A high-quality, sharp chef’s knife makes all the difference.
- Baking Sheet. One of the most versatile tools in my kitchen.
The pineapple cheese ball is in the building.
Let the party begin!
Frequently Asked Questions
I don’t recommend freezing this cheese ball, as it will negatively impact the texture.
While I used reduced-fat cream cheese to keep things lighter, you can certainly swap in regular cream cheese if you prefer.
This recipe includes a pinch of cayenne, which does not make the cheese ball spicy. If you want your cheese ball to have a kick, increase the amount of cayenne to taste or add hot sauce.
Pineapple Cheese Ball
- 2 cups raw pecan halves
- 2 (8-ounce) packages reduced fat cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
- 1 small red bell pepper finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup minced green onions plus additional for garnish
- Crackers (our family loves Triscuits or Ritz)
- Toasted baguette slices
- Toast the pecans: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until toasted and fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through. DO NOT WALK AWAY. Nuts love to burn at the last second. Let cool, then chop go for a medium chop, a little bit finer than rough chopped (but they certainly don’t need to be microscopic pieces).
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with the garlic powder, salt, and cayenne until smooth and combined.
- By hand, stir in the pineapple, bell pepper, and green onion.
- Add half of the chopped pecans.
- Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Scrape the cheese pineapple mixture into the center in as globe-like of a mound as you can. It will not be a perfect sphere at this point.
- Wrap the edges of the plastic around it to seal and encourage it to form a round ball. Place the wrapped cream cheese in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- When ready to serve, remove the chilled cheese ball from the refrigerator. Place the chopped pecans on a plate. (I find it’s easiest to use a plate with edges that curve up a little. A pie dish works well too.) Unwrap the cheese ball and place it on the plate with the pecans, coating well. The cheese ball won’t roll like a real ball. Gently lift and turn it, patting the pecans all over the outside. Carefully transfer it to a serving plate. Serve with crackers or baguette slices and a sprinkle of additional green onion for garnish.
- TO STORE: Cover and refrigerate leftover cheese ball for up to 3 days.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: Up to 1 day in advance, prepare the cheese ball as directed through Step 6. Refrigerate it in the plastic wrap. Coat the cheese ball in pecans just before serving.
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