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

  1. #
    Becca @ Crumbs — December 5, 2013 @ 4:07 am

    So true, I never even really eat appetisers except for at Christmas time! This looks so good


  2. #
    mimi — December 5, 2013 @ 8:59 am

    so so pretty. i wish i could get my hands on fresh pomegranates. they’re just nowhere to be found where I live. Beautifully stunning photographs, as well as this appetizer. Merry Christmas!


  3. #
    Kim in MD — December 5, 2013 @ 9:17 am

    Wow…this looks so amazing!


  4. #
    Cate @ Chez CateyLou — December 5, 2013 @ 11:06 am

    This app is SO PRETTY! It looks like an ornament. This is the most perfect holiday party appetizer I have ever seen, and it sounds delicious!!


  5. #
    Abbe@This is How I Cook — December 5, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

    I never like the same thing and always want to try something new! i side with you on this! Cheese balls with fried sage and pomegranates… This is one app I could apply every day!


  6. #
    Barbara | Creative Culinary — December 5, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

    Great use of pom arils…makes a lovely cheeseball just when ones covered with nuts seem so dated! I am an apps girl. I prefer apps and it’s all I order when I go out. The food; not the software!


  7. #
    Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps — December 5, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

    So festive and pretty! I want to know what your hands looked like after covering that cheese in pomegranates!


  8. #
    Alex @ Kenzie Life — December 5, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

    Ok, this looks incredible. So incredible that I’m really very tempted to buy all the ingredients and just make it for dinner….you won’t tell on me right? :) But in all seriousness, definitely making this for an upcoming Christmas party!


  9. #
    Larry — December 5, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

    I seriously SERIOUSLYYYYYYYYYY wanna face plant into that ball of heaven right there! FEED ME ALL OF THE BALLS (of cheese)!!!!


    • Bumpkyns — December 25th, 2014 @ 2:29 am

      My kinda guy! :)


  10. #
    Vanessa — December 6, 2013 @ 8:30 am

    Just put this on the meal plan for the boyfriend’s family’s Christmas Eve shindig. Can’t wait! (Aaaand linked to it here:


  11. #
    savannah — December 7, 2013 @ 11:49 pm

    Yay! That is GORGEOUS!! It makes my festive spirit soaR! And my family would adopt you if they could,because we are butter fanatics,adding butter to cheese sounds right up our alley. :) p.s. i Love your blog. You always know how to make me laugh.


  12. #
    Bri | Bites of Bri — December 8, 2013 @ 8:32 am

    Jessica, this cheese ball was AMAZING! We made it for company last night and everyone loved it, plus it is beautiful.


  13. #
    Meg — December 8, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

    I made this yesterday for a party and it was a hit! Also shared this link on the blog – thanks for a great recipe! :)


  14. #
    Amanda — December 9, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

    Brilliant! Do you have a recommendation for a substitute nut for an almond allergy? I usually substitute cashews, but I feel like that would completely change the taste.


    • Carli — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:46 am

      I guess any nut would change the taste? But I made this last week and after tasting it, I think pecans or hazelnuts would be a good and yummy fit.


  15. #
    Christine (CookTheStory) — December 9, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

    I’m making this, it is absolutely gorgeous.


  16. #
    Alysa (InspiredRD) — December 10, 2013 @ 11:29 pm

    Beautiful! And YUM. Christmas is pretty much the only time I allow myself to go crazy with the dairy. This looks so worth it.


  17. #
    Ronda — December 13, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    I made this yesterday for a small gathering of 8 people at a friend’s house. It was gone in a matter of minutes. Delicious! Only change I made was I added about 1/4 of dried cranberries. I will be making this again.


  18. #
    Two Red Bowls — December 14, 2013 @ 1:17 am

    I want this all in my face. All at once.


  19. #
    Gabrielle — December 15, 2013 @ 11:36 am

    I’ve made this twice in recent weeks and it’s a knockout. It is gorgeous, obviously, and it makes people think that I’m a kitchen goddess. For last night’s party I bought a plain white plate at the dollar store and nestled the cheeseball in the middle, surrounded by fresh sage and bunches of parsley. I put three clementines on the plate too because I can’t control myself.


  20. #
    Carli — December 19, 2013 @ 6:43 am

    I just made this Sunday and took it to a party. Everyone loved it! Thanks for a great, Christmassy recipe. Next time I will add a bit more sage, but that’s just me.


  21. #
    Veronica — December 23, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

    I just put this in the fridge to set. Oh my goodness, words can not describe how delicious this is, it may possibly be one the best things I have ever eaten !! I made it up in advance for our Christmas eve party tomorrow. It seemed like a good idea, now I don’t know , it will be a miracle if it makes it to the party ! If I had the ingredients to make a second batch, we would so be having this for dinner tonight ! Im almost afraid to add the pomegranate, for fear it will mess up how delicious it is !


  22. #
    Katherines Corner — December 23, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

    I featured your wonderful recipe at Katherines Corner today Hugs!


  23. #
    Debby Sheff — December 23, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

    OMG I just made this for Christmas and I can’t stop eating it. This is by far the BEST cheeseball recipe I have made in YEARS. And it hasn’t even had time to sit in the fridge. Thank you so much for this one…I can’t wait to put the pomegranate on it!! NOM NOM


  24. #
    peggy — December 24, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

    Just made this for a couple of parties tonight. I doubled the recipe and easily made 3 good size cheesecakes. So score one for tomorrow too!


  25. #
    BreeAnn — December 27, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

    I made a couple of substitutions based on what I had, but the pomegranate seeds really made this amazing! (Yellow sharp cheddar instead of white, becuase my husband does the grocery shopping and it’s all he could find and pinenuts instead of almonds… but YUMMO!)

    This is now on my list of holiday staples.


  26. #
    Jenifer Winterbine — April 27, 2014 @ 6:30 am

    I made this today to take to a neighbour whose birthday it was. It looked great with a single candle on too! lol
    It tasted great too.
    I substituted yellow cheddar as white cheddar is not available is not available here, but that made it taste too cheddar-ish so I added a couple of tablespoons of Parmesan. Next time I make it I think I will reduce the cheddar to 4 or even just 3 oz. The almonds I used were smoked almonds as that is what I had on hand, but they made it taste wonderful, perhaps even better than ordinary toasted almonds would have done
    Thanks for a great recipe!


  27. #
    Joy — November 8, 2014 @ 1:03 am

    Can’t wait to try this! Would dried cranberries (like Ocean Spray Craisins) work instead of pomegranate arils? Thanks :)


    • Stephanie — November 11th, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

      I think so. I made this last year. it’s killer.


  28. #
    Michelle Hill — November 19, 2014 @ 10:09 am

    I CANNOT stop staring at the screen- this looks ridiculously delicious and so dang pretty too!! I need to make this next week…for me. all by myself. Everyone else can watch :)


  29. #
    Kay — December 12, 2014 @ 10:21 pm

    made this once last year and twice so far this year. It is truly delicious. The flavor combination is fantastic!


  30. #
    Erin Jones — December 14, 2014 @ 10:52 am

    Made this last night for a holiday party and it was DESTROYED! The kids and the adults were loving it. I followed the recipe exactly because it sounded so good, and only changed the shape of the ball into a round disk, for easier car travel and pomegranate application. Thank you for sharing this recipe! (I found it on Pinterest via Huff Post).


  31. #
    Betsy — December 16, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

    Can’t seem to find anyone concerned about the seeds in the red fruit jewels. Is everyone just eating them or do you have to spit them out like you usually would with pomegranates?


    • Jilian — December 18th, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

      I’ve never heard of spitting out the “seeds”. I’ve always just eaten them. No problem.


  32. #
    Carol Lou — December 17, 2014 @ 2:10 pm

    looks so festive and delicious. Beautiful photography


  33. #
    Jen — December 19, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

    Wondering how this would taste with basil substituted for the sage? I don’t love sage and have successful subbed with basil in my sage and brown butter sauce for butternut squash ravioli. Thoughts?


    • Bea — February 6th, 2015 @ 3:01 am

      Did you try it with basil? i, to, and wondering about a substitute for sage. I cannot find the fresh leaves in my area.


      • Jessica — February 6th, 2015 @ 3:45 am

        basil should work fine bea! as long as it’s an herb you enjoy, you’re good to go. just don’t cook the basil – add it in fresh.

  34. #
    Teiq — December 27, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

    Made this as an appetiser for Christmas Day lunch, was a huge hit! Thank you for the great recipe.


  35. #
    Emily — October 7, 2015 @ 12:49 am

    I made this tonight for a church get together and everyone loved it! It was a Halloween spread and fit in nicely. I will be making this again and again I’m sure… perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas too!


  36. #
    Tuti Maroni — November 26, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

    This was perfect. The only change I made was to add 1 Tbsp of honey. And next time I would consider more sage.



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