Freeze A Batch Of Cheese Balls For An Effortless Last-Minute Appetizer

Cheese ball on black slate with crackers
Cheese ball on black slate with crackers - Chinarius/Getty Images

Planning a party can be a stressful business, so life becomes a lot easier when you can accomplish a few of the nerve-wracking tasks ahead of time — and premade appetizers are a simple way to cut down on the work. So add a cheese ball (or three) to your appetizer list because they're one people-pleasing dish that doesn't require much day-of preparation.

Cheese balls do require preparation, of course, but that assembly can be done several days (or even weeks) before your event if you wrap them and put them in the freezer. So grab some cream cheese, your favorite softer cheeses, a few delicious additions, and your best cheese ball recipe to make your appetizer prep a little bit easier. The only extras that your cheese balls will need is a layer of plastic wrap and one of aluminum foil — plus a few tips to make sure the balls come out of the freezer fresh and delicious.

Read more: 11 Tips For Keeping Your Grill Shiny And Clean

Cream Cheese Helps Cheese Balls Keep

cheese ball with crackers
cheese ball with crackers - LauriPatterson/Getty Images

Cheese ball appetizers store so well in the refrigerator or freezer primarily because they have cream cheese as their main ingredient. Compared with other dairy products and other cheeses, cream cheese holds up very well to the cold when covered, and although it may become a little coarse or gritty over time, the consistency and flavor change should be fairly minimal. To help maintain the right shape and resiliency in the freezer, make sure (in addition to the crucial cream cheese) you're sticking to semi-soft or semi-firm cheeses with strong flavors like blue cheese and sharp cheddar as they won't be overly crumbly.

To keep the cheese balls fresh in the refrigerator or freezer, wrap them tightly in a layer of plastic wrap then again in a layer of aluminum foil. It's also helpful to keep the wrapped balls in a sturdy container so they don't get squished out of their spherical shape. Wrapped thusly, they should keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks (when you start with very fresh ingredients) or stay in the freezer for as much as four weeks.

When you're ready to take the cheese balls out of the freezer, just let them thaw in the refrigerator between six hours and overnight, still in the wrapping. Then, before your guests arrive, add the nuts, herbs, or other additions to the outside layer, just bring them to room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling in the toppings.

Secrets For The Perfect Pre-Freezing Cheese Balls

Bacon covered cheese ball
Bacon covered cheese ball - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Although cheese is the star here, the extras like bacon bits or nuts really add some flair to the appetizer. If you're planning to freeze your cheese balls, though, you want to stop one step short of completion — in other words, don't add the layer of nuts before you wrap and freeze them. The same goes for other toppings: Cover cheese balls with dried cranberries or add the herbs and caramelized onions to the outside on the day you plan to serve them, as that will save the texture, color, and freshness of the toppings.

Opting for an outer layer of tasty ingredients can also be helpful because too many additions to the actual cheese mixture will impact the structural integrity and consistency. It may be delicious to fold in nuts, meats, and dried fruit or to pour in lots of wine and lemon juice — but cheese has an adhesive quality necessary to maintaining the sphere. The mixture's ingredient ratio should always favor cheese.

If you do want to add fresh fruits, herbs, or vegetables to the cheese ball mixture instead of to the outer layer, freezing most likely isn't the best option. These ingredients can become watery after they thaw and will affect the consistency. Cheese balls are a crowd-pleaser, so perfecting this foundation before you turn to the freezer will mean that your appetizer will emerge intact and delicious a month from now.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal