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Pomegranate Jeweled White Cheddar, Toasted Almond and Crispy Sage Cheeseball I

Appetizer season.

Oh yes that’s right. Is there any other time of year where we go crazy over appetizers and snacks and entertaining goodies? Not quite.

It’s pretty much one of my most favorite things ever.

So much so that about five minutes after I started this blog back in 2009, I did a holiday appetizers 101 entire MONTH. Yeah. Like as if people didn’t know what appetizers were. Cringe worthy and laughable and awesome.

Pomegranate Jeweled White Cheddar, Toasted Almond and Crispy Sage Cheeseball I

I’m all about apps. Uh, the ones you eat. Not the phone stuff. Remember ten years ago or so when we could say “apps” and people would automatically know we’re talking about cocktail hour?

Yeah. Now it’s like you mention that word to anyone under the age of 20 and you’re immediately discussing cell phone time-sucking things. Seriously. Why am I so old?

But whatever – not only am I all about apps but I’m all about calling them apps too. Drinks and apps! Let do it. Invisible internet friend happy hours. I mean hour. I think.

Now the thing is that this cheeseball is practically sacrilegious in my family’s eyes. See, my grandma (not Mother Lovett, my other one) always always always made a classic cheeseball that my mom still makes today. Their cheeseball is a classic staple – never a party goes by without the same cheeseball.

This is why they want to punch me in the face. Because I never want to keep things the same and always want to try new stuff. Or actually, if I could have it my way I’d love to have a combination of half of the same stuff and the rest new stuff.

New weird stuff.

New weird stuff like a ball of cheese covered in fruit gems.

It’s just so PRETTY.

Pomegranate Jeweled White Cheddar, Toasted Almond and Crispy Sage Cheeseball I

And it is not boring whatsoever. I jammed a lot of things that I love inside of this cheeseball. I mean, a lot.

First up, sharp white cheddar. Use a GOOD sharp white cheddar. It’s worth it. Use your favorite.

Next, toasted almonds. Obviously you know by now that I can’t stop eating the Trader Joe’s honey roasted almonds. When added to the cheeseball, they get crushed and boost the flavor. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, simply add sliced almonds to a saucepan and toast over low heat until golden and fragrant. There ya go!

And finally – some crispy sage with residual brown butter. GAH. Just stop me please.

I used a combo of cream cheese and mascarpone and practically had to handcuff myself from going at it with a spoon. The pomegranates aren’t just for show either – they add the perfect hint of sweetness. While this made it’s debut on Thanksgiving… I think it reigns supreme for the fancier holiday season. Even add a little green in there? Serve it with these margs?

Ugh I’m so done.

Pomegranate Jeweled White Cheddar, Toasted Almond and Crispy Sage Cheeseball I


Pomegranate Jeweled Cheeseball

Yield: serves about 4 to 6, possibly more with other appetizers

Total Time: 1 hour (mostly down time)


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 fresh sage leaves
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened
4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
6 ounces freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup pomegranate arils
crackers for serving


Heat a skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once it's sizzling, toss in the sage leaves and cook until crispy - flipping once and cooking about 1 minute per side. Remove the sage leaves and place them on a paper towel to crisp up a bit. Set the butter aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, mascarpone and cheddar cheese. Beat until combined, then add in the almonds, sage leaves, remaining butter, salt and pepper. Mix on low speed until combined, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides and the bottom if needed. Take the cheese mixture out of the bowl and mold it into a big ball as best you can. Roll it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the arils on a paper towel and pat them completely dry. Let them sit out while the cheese is chilling to remove as much liquid from them as possible. This will keep the cheeseball pretty!

After 30 minutes, mold the cheese into more of a smooth ball. Add the arils to a plate or baking sheet and roll the ball through them, using your hands to press arils into all the cracks and crevices. You will need to gently press so the arils adhere to the cheese. At this time, you can serve it immediately or keep it in the fridge until ready to use. If you want to make it ahead of time, you can rolls the ball 1 to 2 days beforehand. I'd wait until the night before or morning of to add the pomegranate arils, and you may need to let the cheese come to room temp a bit so it's sticky enough.

Pomegranate Jeweled White Cheddar, Toasted Almond and Crispy Sage Cheeseball I

Yeah. I did just put butter in cheese.

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164 Responses to “Pomegranate Jeweled White Cheddar, Toasted Almond and Crispy Sage Cheeseball.”

  1. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — December 4, 2013 @ 7:54 am

    This just screams Holiday Snacking! If this was at a party I was at, I would never leave it’s side. I would babysit this thing like nobody’s business :) Gosh, it is beautiful! And the pom arils. Love it! pinned


  2. #
    Taylor @ FoodFaithFitness — December 4, 2013 @ 8:21 am

    Oh my goodness – I never thought I would be dying over the beauty that is a ball of cheese! This is so perfect for the holidays, and just gorgeous. Screw the crackers, I want this all over my face!


  3. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — December 4, 2013 @ 8:26 am

    This looks SO pretty! I’m not a cheese gal, but I’d be that annoying person picking the pomegranate bits off because they are one of my favourite foods this time of year!


  4. #
    Belinda@themoonblushbaker — December 4, 2013 @ 8:27 am

    I am screaming at how pretty this looks! It can be the start of the show this festive season. However i think it might need to make two; one for me at a snack and one for the part!y!


  5. #
    Molly @ Yes to Yolks — December 4, 2013 @ 8:27 am

    Not only is this GORGEOUS, but it sounds delicious! I am all about the apps too. I could just eat apps all the time. That’s why I love tapas-style eating so much. You get to eat more things!!! I definitely have to try this cheese ball out. It’s stunning.


  6. #
    Pittsburgh Mama — December 4, 2013 @ 8:29 am

    I love this recipe and would love to make it for a party this weekend… But I have 2 questions! How long do you think this will hold in the fridge? Do you think I could make it Friday night for a 10am Saturday party? And that’s the 2nd question… Is this appropriate for a 10am party that will be mostly bagels and pastry? Thanks!


    • Jessica — December 4th, 2013 @ 9:36 am

      the cheese ball itself will definitely be good for a few days so yes, make it before! i would wait to add the arils until maybe the morning of though, or make it the last step you do at night. and i didn’t think about it before, but now that you mention it i think it would be awesome with bagels!


  7. #
    Jamie — December 4, 2013 @ 8:40 am

    Omg sounds and looks incredible! I love how festive it is.


  8. #
    Brie @ Entrée the Giant — December 4, 2013 @ 8:56 am

    I bought a tablet back in the summer and the only app I’ve downloaded is Tetris. True story. What can I say? I’m an 80s baby, all the way.

    About this app – it’s about the prettiest one I’ve ever seen. Sigh :)


  9. #
    Yankee Kitchen Ninja — December 4, 2013 @ 9:04 am

    Definitely prefer these kind of apps!!! And I never know what to do with pomegranate seeds so this is PERFECT.


  10. #
    Tieghan — December 4, 2013 @ 9:27 am

    That is the prettiest cheese ball I have ever seen!! LOVE the pomegranates!


  11. #
    Christine @ Gotta Eat Green — December 4, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    Oh my. This is a holiday app at its finest! And I could definitely sub in some vegan cheese/butter here!


  12. #
    Elizabeth — December 4, 2013 @ 9:50 am

    Beautiful and so festive! Most likely tastes amazing too… :-)


  13. #
    Jessica S — December 4, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    My eyes bugged out of my head cartoon-style when this picture popped up in my Facebook feed. Gorgeous!!! I can’t wait to try it.


  14. #
    Ashley — December 4, 2013 @ 10:07 am

    And for your next trick, you will turn this into a Christmas ornament! ;) The most creative cheeseball [not you, the app] I’ve ever seen!


  15. #
    Laurie {SimplyScratch} — December 4, 2013 @ 10:08 am

    Oh my word… you’ve done it again! LOVE IT!


  16. #
    Christine @ Cooking with Cakes — December 4, 2013 @ 10:11 am

    this is insanely GORGEOUS!!! saw it on my facebook feed and had to get on here immediately to oooh and aaah and envy – love this!!!


  17. #
    Niki — December 4, 2013 @ 10:22 am

    This looks incredibly delicious – and so festive!


  18. #
    Katie — December 4, 2013 @ 10:29 am

    Eeee, it’s gorgeous! I just want to look at it!


  19. #
    Kristina — December 4, 2013 @ 10:39 am

    you are the only other person distracted by sparkle as much as I am – it is so fitting that you would make a sparkly. bejeweled. cheese. ball.

    I CANNOT WAIT TO MAKE THIS. we are heading to the beach with my best friends tomorrow, I think I will bring this with!! squea!


  20. #
    Tracy | Peanut Butter and Onion — December 4, 2013 @ 11:12 am

    I looove cheese balls, I love that you put pomegranate on it… so festive.


  21. #
    Virginia — December 4, 2013 @ 11:13 am

    This looks exactly like the fake ball of mistletoe we hang up in our house each Christmas. Confusing, but looks delicious!!!!!


  22. #
    Southbourne Gardens — December 4, 2013 @ 11:17 am

    That looks so pretty.


  23. #
    Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen — December 4, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    I can’t handle this cheeseball!! So so beautiful. However, were you scrubbing pomegranate juice off your hands and countertops for years after making this?! I manage to stain everything when I touch it.


  24. #
    Megan {Country Cleaver} — December 4, 2013 @ 11:34 am

    Apps, not the phone ones ;) , are totally the center piece of every big holiday feast day ever. I couldn’t care less about the big meal – give me apps all day!! Esp trashed up cheesy ones like this beauty. You just get me.


  25. #
    allie@sweetpotatobites — December 4, 2013 @ 11:55 am

    so festive! I love pomegranate seeds!


  26. #
    DessertForTwo — December 4, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

    This is so beautiful. Almost too beautiful to eat, but I can’t wait to eat it. Can we hang out and eat cheese balls for breakfast, lunch and dinner one day? I hope you say yes.


  27. #
    Heidi — December 4, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

    Oh wow! I am definitely making this for Christmas! Thanks so much for the recipe. Pinned it!


  28. #
    Renee — December 4, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

    Think it would be just as tasty wtihout the almonds? I’m allergic….


    • Jessica — December 4th, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

      yes – maybe increase the sage or add something like sunflower seeds??


  29. #
    Kalliopie — December 4, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

    found your blog today and i love the recipes
    xo Kalli


  30. #
    Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate — December 4, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

    What a fun taking on a boring old cheese ball. The pomegranate seeds make this app so beautiful!


  31. #
    Dori — December 4, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

    Is sage necessary? I can’t have it. Will it be the same without it? Or can I substitute with something else?


    • Jessica — December 4th, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

      for this exact recipe it has a pretty big focus, but i’m sure you can add something like basil or rosemary instead?? you could def do just the cheese and almonds but i’m thinking another herb would be great.


  32. #
    collette — December 4, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

    We love appetizers so much that that is ALL we make on Christmas Eve- it has sort of become a tradition!


  33. #
    Rachel @ La Pêche Fraîche — December 4, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

    It’s like a pomegranate-cheese disco ball!! Gorgeous and ingenious, Jessica! Love it!


  34. #
    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — December 4, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

    The pomegranate coating is amazzzzing. I’ve never had a cheese ball!!!


  35. #
    Melissa @ Treats With a Twist — December 4, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

    Cheese covered in jewels is like princess cheese, right? So, I think we should definitely have that. Princess cheese. Please.


  36. #
    Jennifer in KS — December 4, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

    Wowzer! I am totally with you on the 50/50 ratio for traditional and wild crazy new dishes. In fact, my wild, crazy new dishes have now become the tradition! What?! I can’t wait to try this recipe. White cheddar is never wrong.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Jennifer in KS


  37. #
    Larissa — December 4, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

    Such a pretty cheeseball!! May have to try this one…


  38. #
    Anna — December 4, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

    Wow this looks amazing!


  39. #
    Sarah — December 4, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

    If I make this in advance, how long will it be able to remain fresh in the fridge?


    • Jessica — December 4th, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

      you can make the ball 1-2 days ahead of time but i wouldn’t roll in the arils until the morning of!


  40. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — December 4, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

    Why am I not making out with that thing right now?


  41. #
    Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie — December 4, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

    Every party and gathering is an excuse to try out something new. What better way to test it out than on scads of unsuspecting friends and family? White sharp cheddar is one of my favorite cheeses so this may need to happen.


  42. #
    LisaG — December 4, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

    This cheeseball is too beautimous to eat!


  43. #
    Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg — December 4, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

    This looks like a Christmas ornament. How beautiful! And the cheeses and herbs, oh my I’m pinning!


  44. #
    Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs — December 4, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

    The prettiest cheeseball I’ve ever seen!


  45. #
    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe — December 4, 2013 @ 7:18 pm

    That is the most gorgeous dang cheese ball I ever did see. It sounds delicious too!


  46. #
    wendy@chezchloe — December 4, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

    This is quite the festive cheese ball and a good reminder to check my freezer for any leftover cheese balls from 2012!
    It looks quite tasty and would be a lovely addition to the table. I just shot pomegranates for two hours yesterday. They are a lot of fun.
    I like the idea of apps for an entire month. And I’m sure I’ve got at least 10yrs on you so my first thought when I hear apps is food:)
    I’ve enjoyed perusing your site. Thx…wendy


  47. #
    Stephanie @cookinfanatic — December 4, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

    this is stunning!!! cream cheese is my kryptonite. and now mascarpone too. i die.


  48. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — December 4, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

    The pomegranate outside looks FAB! This is so festive!


  49. #
    Deena — December 4, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

    I made your white pizza dip for our neighborhood holiday party last year and it was literally gone before i blinked. This looks perfect for this year’s party. Thanks for sharing!


  50. #
    Wendee Riffe — December 4, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

    Oh–did I die and go to heaven!!! Mmmm–this looks like a little ball of heaven!! I have gotta give this a try for our Christmas party!!!



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