Don’t let your Game Day appetizers fall flat! These spicy, cheesy olive balls are pumped full of flavor and go great with beer or cocktails. This retro recipe is all over the internet (and in several of my cookbooks), though usually it calls for paprika instead of cayenne pepper. Boring! Also, all of the recipes I looked at failed to mention the key step of drying the olives before wrapping in the cheese dough. If your olives are wet, your dough will get slimy and sticky. You do not want sticky balls!
This recipe can be doubled, and balls can be made ahead (baked or unbaked). I like a mix of white and orange (for color) aged cheddar, but you can use whatever you like as long as it’s sharp. Buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself will make the dough come together easier. Finally, a word on cayenne pepper: it’s hot! So be careful not to get it in your eyes. (And definitely don’t sprinkle it on a stick JuicyFruit gum and lovingly offer it to your younger sister.)
Spicy Cheddar Olive Balls Click here to print recipe only
Makes 30 balls
- 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated & at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened/at room temperature
- ½ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 30 small or medium stuffed olives from a jar
Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain olives from brine and arrange on paper towel to dry slightly.
In the bowl of a food processor (or in a mixing bowl), cream together cheese and butter.
Add flour and cayenne and pulse until a dough forms. (Or, blend with a mixer until smooth.)
Shape dough into 30 small balls (about a teaspoon). Make an indent in the balls with your thumb, and then place an olive in the indent and press around dough to enclose. Roll ball between palms to smooth.
(Balls can be frozen at this point, or chilled for up to an hour to minimize the spread when baking.)
Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Baked balls can also be frozen. Reheat at 325F for 5-10 minutes or until warmed through.
PS – If you’re due for a spice refresh (and most of us are), check out my friend Kaina’s line of organic spices: Kaina Organics. Love her cute little spice jars!