Chopped dill pickles mixed with crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and seasonings make this dish the life of any party!
We are a house divided when it comes to pickles. I love pickles like it’s my job while Mr. Fantabulous isn’t a fan at all. However, it’s that very thing that makes our marriage work. When we go out for burgers he simply just gives me his without my even having to ask.
He, as he’ll tell everyone, tolerates them in small quantities. Not me, give me all the pickles!
I was that kid that obsessed over actual bread and butter pickle sandwiches. Mom’s white bread, butter, and a layer of pickles is something she’d make me when I’d eat nothing else. Yep, I was SUCH a picky eater.
Now, I’m like ‘bring it on!’. I’m foodie adventurous. Well okay, maybe not as adventurous as Andrew Zimmern but you get the idea.
Life of the Party Cheese Ball
With it being the holiday season, cheese balls are a must-make thing. Now the holidays are anything but typical this year but that doesn’t mean that we have to give up celebrating with those we love. We just do it virtually.
Gather around your favorite screen, put on your ugly sweaters, turn on some holiday music, and share virtual plates of food. This recipe would be the star of any gathering (real or virtual).
This dish is one that has been a family favorite for eons. It combines all the great flavors of a traditional cheese ball but with the addition of pickles and pickle juice. Trust me, it’s AMAZING!
This recipe only needs a few basic pantry ingredients to ROCK YOUR TASTEBUDS!
- Softened Cream Cheese
- Crispy Bacon
- Shredded Cheddar
- Minced Garlic
- Black Pepper
- Onion Powder and green onions
- Chopped Dill Pickles and Dill Pickle Juice
When it comes to this recipe you want to use dill or sour pickles. That tang helps make this cheese ball zing.
You can use other types or flavors of pickles but if you’re looking for a keto version, stick with the dill or sour ones. To mix it up a bit, try the hot pickles that are spicy.
Chef’s Tip about Pickles
When you make this recipe, after you chop the pickles, make sure you pat the pieces dry as you do not want to add any more liquid than the recipe calls for.
Let’s Make This!
- In a bowl add the softened cream cheese, pickles, pickle juice, garlic, onions powder, and black pepper.
- Using a spatula, mix to combine. You can use a mixer with the paddle attachment if you want but watch how much you mix it as you want to keep the pieces of bacon and pickles in tact.
- Add in the crumbled bacon, and mix to incorporate.
- Once combined, add in the shredded cheese and mix.
- Lastly, add in the green onions and mix to combine.
Can I mix it all in at once?
You can if you want but I found doing it in stages as written helps keep the pieces intact and it makes it a lot easier to stir in stages than all at once.
Shape, Coat, Cover, & Chill
- With damp hands, shape the mixture into that classic cheese ball shape.
- Plate and then sprinkle on the remaining cheese, bacon, and green onions.
- Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
You can make this up to 3 days in advance.
Can I freeze it?
I wouldn’t as cream cheese, once frozen, can become dry and crumbly. The flavors of this will be amazing however it won’t be as spreadable. However, if you do freeze it, allow it to thaw fully in the fridge.
I would then place it in an oven-safe dish and heat it up just until warmed through. This will help with spreading it out. It just won’t be as pretty.
Keto-Friendly and Gluten-Free
This dip is both keto-friendly and gluten-free. To ensure this, you want to make sure you pay attention to the types of pickles you use.
In general, you want to choose either dill or sour pickles. While we all love bread ‘n butter pickles (as I LOVE them), those have sugar in them.
To keep them gluten-free, just watch what you serve with it (veggies instead of carb-loaded crackers for example).
When you’re ready to serve this, let it sit out for 30 minutes to warm up just slightly. This will make it easier to scoop and spread/dip.
Besides a spoon (and yes, I totally ate this straight off of the spoon), here are some ways to serve this:
- Crackers or crostini
- Veggies – carrots, celery, peppers
- Flour tortillas
- Tomatoes – hollow out a tomato and stuff some inside for a great snack
- Burger topping – hear me out on this. It already has amazing flavors for a burger. Just let it warm up a bit and place some on top of a cooked burger for a killer burger topping!
Dill Pickle Cheese Ball Substitutions and Add-Ins
This has to be one of my favorite things about any recipe – the changeup. When I create a recipe, I create a master or base recipe that is tried and true; perfected. Once I have that, I then love to play with it and tweak it as to not have the same ol’ same ol’.
- Pickles – you can use other types of pickles (even bread and butter) but those are higher in sugar and will make the dip sweeter
- Capers – if you really wanted to mix it up, skip the pickles and add capers
- Pickle-less – okay so you hate them. You can still make this recipe. Just add heavy cream in place of the pickle juice. You can then add in caramelized onions, toasted pecans, or a cooked protein.
- Nuts – many cheese balls are coated in toasted, chopped pecans. This works so well on this recipe so try that!
- Cheese – You can use shredded pepper jack for some heat or swiss for a lighter flavor
- Bacon – while this breaks my heart, you can omit it OR you can use dried beef, crispy pancetta, or chorizo in place of it
- Cream Cheese – you can use all mascarpone or half cream cheese and half mascarpone for a less tangy flavor
- Veggies – caramelized chopped onions or shallots are great in this
- Coating – crispy onions or toasted, buttered panko would also make a great dip coating
- 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup chopped dill pickles, patted dry
- 2 tablespoon dill pickle juice
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic, fresh or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 slices cooked bacon, chopped small, divided
- 1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar (white and yellow), divided
- 5 green onions, chopped
- In a bowl add the softened cream cheese, dill pickles, pickle juice, garlic, onion powder, and black pepper. Mix to combine.
- Add half of the crispy bacon, mix to combine. Add in the 1 cup of cheese, then mix. Add in half of the green onions and mix to combine.
- Using damp hands, shape the mixture into a cheese ball. Plate and then coat in the remaining cheese, bacon, and green onions.
- Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- 30 minutes prior to serving, remove from the fridge.
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