Combine all ingredients for the cheeseball in a bowl and shape into a ball. Roll in chopped pecans, cranberries and parsley and serve with crackers and/or raw veggie sticks.
Cream Cheese: I just used a regular old store-brand cream cheese. If using a cream cheese spread, you'll need to chill the cream cheese before using (so don't soften it).Cheddar: I used a medium variety, but feel free to use a sharp one. Monterey Jack or Gouda would be good substitutes.Cranberries: I used a sweetened variety, because the unsweetened ones are very tart. Feel free to use an unsweetened variety if you prefer, but just know that your cheeseball will lack the sweetness from the cranberries and be more on the tart side.Pecans: If you don't have any pecans, chopped almonds or walnuts would be a good substitute. Feel free to toast the chopped nuts before adding them to the cheeseball for more flavor (let them cool down before adding them).Parsley: I like using parsley here because everyone in my family will eat it without complaints, and the cheeseball looks and tastes so much better with some fresh green herbiness. Feel free to use chopped green onions or chopped cilantro in place of the parsley if you want to go for a more pungent flavor.
Make Ahead Tips:
If you make the cheeseball without the parsley, you can make it up to a day ahead of time (the nuts get too soft for my liking after that).With the parsley, I recommend making it no more than 6 hours ahead.Either way, keep the cheeseball tightly wrapped in foil in the fridge, and roll it in extra nuts and cranberries right before serving to make it look fresh and pretty.
Since this is really a kind of dip, I recommend chopping the cranberries, pecans and parsley rather small. Nobody wants a huge leaf of parsley on their cracker.
Instead of shaping into a ball, you can also shape the mixture into a cone shape. Roll it in ½ cup of chopped parsley and decorate with sliced almonds, whole cranberries and a cheese star on top – a cheeseball Christmas tree!