Serves 8

  • 12 oz. bacon, approximately 12 slices
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. ranch dressing
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives


    Working in batches, cook the bacon in a large pan over medium heat, flipping occasionally, until crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside to cool.

    Combine the cream cheese, Gouda and ranch in a bowl. With an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until incorporated. Add all but 2 Tbsp. of the chives and beat on low speed until just combined. Form the mixture into a ball and refrigerate until set.

    While the cheese ball is setting, chop the cooled bacon into 1/4-inch pieces. Stir together the bacon and the reserved chives on a rimmed plate. (The bacon-chive mixture can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)

    About 30 minutes before serving, remove the cheese ball from the fridge. Roll the ball in the bacon-chive mixture, pressing the ingredients firmly to the ball, until completely covered. Let soften at room temperature for 30 minutes. Serve.

    Serve with: sliced crudits like celery, radishes and carrots; Ritz Crackers; onion jam; more bacon.

    Reprinted from Cheese Balls by Dena Rayess with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018.

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