Jalapeno Popper Cheese Ball
This Jalapeno Popper Cheese Ball is an easy flavour packed appetizer that’s perfect for feeding a crowd, and best of all no one will know that it’s dairy free! It’s loaded with jalapeno, scallions, red onion plus loads of spices. This Vegan Jalapeno Cheese Ball is Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo and Specific Carbohydrate Diet Legal.
When it comes to summer entertaining I love easy make ahead appetizers that you can pull out and serve at a moments notice. This Jalapeno Popper Cheese Ball is a real crowd pleaser that is smooth and creamy in texture and has a wonderful spicy kick of flavour. Although it’s dairy free and paleo, no one would ever know it truly tastes just like a cheese ball made with cream cheese. You can adjust the flavours to make it as spicy or mild as you like, and if there are no vegetarians in the group, feel free to add finely chopped crispy bacon to the outside coating.
Why you are going to love this Jalapeno Popper Cheese Ball:
- It’s Dairy Free: but you would never know! Soaked cashews blend into a thick consistency that closely resembles goat cheese. After blending it with spices and putting it in the fridge to firm up, you would swear that it is made of cheese.
- It’s got a wonderful kick of heat! Diced jalapeno give this cheese ball a spicy kick which you can adjust to make hotter, or more mild depending on your preference.
- Make it ahead: this cheese ball can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the fridge. Before serving simply flip it onto a plate and enjoy, so easy!
- It’s perfect for a party: everyone loves this cheese ball, even those who don’t realize it’s vegan because its flavour packed and so creamy.
What’s in this Vegan Cheese Ball:
- Cashews: soaked cashews are the base of the cheese ball. Be sure to use raw cashews (not roasted or salted) as they are best for blending into a smooth consistency. I recommend soaking the cashews in hot water for 10 minutes to make them blend easier. Macadamia nuts can be substituted for cashews if you have a cashew allergy.
- Jalapenos: the key ingredient that helps give this cheese ball a real kick. Feel free to add more or less jalapenos depending on your tolerance/preference for spice.
- Scallions: Feel free to swap the scallions for fresh chives or finely diced red onion
- Apple Cider Vinegar: adds a tang to mimic that of cream cheese. White wine vinegar works as a substitute.
- Nutritional Yeast: it’s what gives this cheese ball its “cheesy” flavour without adding dairy. You can find nutritional yeast at Whole Foods, most health food stores or even Amazon. If you are not on a dairy free, paleo or vegan diet, feel free to swap the nutritional yeast for grated sharp cheddar cheese. Anyone on the specific carbohydrate diet should use cheddar cheese in place of cream cheese.
Tips for making this Jalapeno Popper Cheese Ball:
- Don’t skip soaking the cashews, it is key to ensuring the cashews blend into a smooth consistency. You can put them in a bowl with tap water and leave them to soak for 4+ hours, or for a quicker method put them in a bowl with boiling water from the kettle. If the water is boiling you only need to soak the cashews for 10 minutes.
- If the cashews aren’t blending smoothly, add a splash of liquid such as almond milk or water. Only add a teaspoon at a time to ensure that you don’t add too much liquid.
- Line a bowl with cling film before adding in the mixture, this makes it easier to pack in all of the cheese and form a dome shape.
- Once you have flipped the bowl onto a plate, wet your hands and run them around the outside of the cheese ball to smooth it out if there are any creases or uneven bumps.
- Make sure that the coating is very finely chopped and press it down firmly on the outside of the cheese ball so that it sticks. Using plastic wrap to press the coating intto the cheese ball works well.
- Store the coated cheese ball on a plate in the fridge and only bring it out right before serving to ensure that it stays firm.
What to serve this Vegan Jalapeno Cheese Ball with:
- Veggies – sliced carrots, cucumber, radishes and celery are all great veggies to serve with the cheese ball because you can use them to scoop up the cheese.
- Depending on your diet, store bought crackers are an easy option. Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers are one of my favourites, or you could also use homemade like the ones in my cookbook or these salt and pepper crackers.
- Not on a grain free diet? Lucky you! Serve the cheese ball with crusty baguette or cubes of bread.
- Tortilla chips are also great for scooping up the cheese.
How to store leftovers:
Unlike normal cheese, one great thing about this cheese ball is that not only can it be made well in advance and stored in the fridge, it also freezes well! Leftovers will last in the fridge for up to 5 days and can be frozen for up to 3 months. Allow the ball to thaw at room temperature for a few hours, and if there are some chunks that have been eaten from the ball, the cheese can be reshaped into a ball before serving.
Here are a few more vegan appetizers that you might enjoy…
- Grilled Lime & Chipotle Watermelon Skewers
- Dairy Free Tzatziki
- Spiced Baked Okra
- Portobello Pizzas
- Butternut Squash Tots
- Salt & Pepper Crackers
- Roasted Zucchini Hummus
If you make this recipe let me know in the comment section below, I would love to hear what you think or take a photo and tag me (@everylastbite_) on Instagram, I love seeing your photos!
Jalapeno Popper Cheese Ball
- 1 1/2 cups raw unsalted cashews soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/3 cup finely chopped jalapeno
- 1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
- 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cooked bacon (optional) omit if vegan/vegetarian
- To make the cheese, drain the cashews and place them in a food processor orr nutribullet along with the lime juice, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, water, nutritional yeast, cumin, paprika, pepper, salt and chili powder. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Add in the chopped scallions, jalapenos and red onion and stir with a spoon to incorporate them well into the mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired by adding more spice, cumin, salt, lime juice etc.
- Line a bowl (approx 1 cup in size) with plastic wrap so that the wrap folds over all of the edges of the bowl. Spoon the cheese mixture into the bowl and use a spatula to flatten out the top so that it's smooth. Put the bowl in the fridge for approximately 3 to 4 hours to become firm.
- Place a large piece of plastic wrap over a small plate, add the chopped scallions and pecans (and bacoon if using) onto the plate and stir so that it's well mixed.
- When the cheese ball is firm to the touch, place a plate upside down over the bowl and flip. Remove the bowl and peel off the plastic wrap. Gently place it upside down onto the plastic wrap plate with the topping ingredients and lightly press the topping into the ball, using the plastic wrap to help coat the sides in the crunchy pecan, scallion and bacon mixture. Once the ball is well coated, place it no a plate with veggies, crackers or tortilla chips and serve.
1/3 tbsp of nutritional yeast or 1/3 cup?