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A sweet and savory twist on the classic holiday appetizer, this Ham and Pineapple Cheese Ball is a perfect party snack to spread on crackers or veggies. You can also make this gluten free appetizer recipe ahead of time and even use up your leftover holiday ham.
A Classic Cheese Ball Recipe with Pineapple and Ham
Cheese ball recipes are super popular during party season. It’s a simple way to elevate those basic veggie and dip platters or cracker and cheese trays. And this Ham and Pineapple Cheese Ball is the best of all worlds.
There’s the savory element balanced with the sweetness of pineapple. It’s creamy with the perfect amount of crunch from the pecan coating. And of course, plenty of cheesy goodness.
I tried this recipe a couple of different ways, and I know that this is the ultimate cheese ball recipe because after trying a few variations, upon taking one bite of this one, my then-seven-year-old said I “nailed it” <– his words, not mine!
This cheeseball can be made with deli ham, or if you’ve baked a big ham for Christmas you can definitely just chop up the leftovers when you are whipping up this appetizer. That makes it totally doable for New Year’s Eve festivities!
Your party platters will be complete when you whip up this easy cheesy appetizer!
Here is a quick overview of what you’ll need to make the pineapple ham cheese ball. Keep reading for more information about preparing and serving this recipe. Or scroll straight down to the recipe card for the full amounts and instructions.
- Cream cheese. You can use regular or light, softened to room temperature. I do not recommend making it with fat free cream cheese.
- Sharp cheddar cheese. Shredded.
- Dijon mustard.
- Minced chives. You can also use onion powder if you dno’t have chives.
- Diced ham. Buy a small ham steak or ask for athick slice or two from the deli and cut it up. Or use leftovers from your holiday ham.
- Crushed pineapple in juice. I used the canned product form Dole. You’ll need to drain the liquid, which you can always reserve to make Pina Colada Mules.
- Chopped pecans. You can toast them for a nice, extra nutty flavor.
How to Make a Cheese Ball
Make sure you have a bowl, a spatula, and some plastic wrap. Now let’s get started.
Make the cheese mixture. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Dijon mustard, chives (or onion powder), ham, and drained pineapple. Stir it together with a spatula until everything is evenly distributed.
Form a ball. Use the spatula to roughly form the mixture into a ball in the bowl. Lay out one or two sheets of plastic wrap, place the cheese ball on top, and wrap tightly, forming into a ball shape.
Let it chill. Refrigerate the wrapped ham and pineapple cheese ball for at least 1-2 hours, until firm.
Coat and serve. Unwrap the cheese ball and place on a serving platter. Press chopped pecans into the side of the cheese ball to coat completely. Serve it with crackers, vegetables, or anything you’d like to spread it on. Keep reading for more ideas.
Tips for Success
Use up leftovers. This is a great recipe to make after a holiday when you’ve served a glazed ham because you can chop up any that is left to make it.
Drain it well. Make sure you drain the excess liquid from your crushed pineapple so that the ham and cheese spread mixture isn’t too moist. Otherwise it won’t stay together well.
Adjust the flavors. You can use chives or onion powder in this recipe depending on what you have and your preference. The chives are a stronger flavor if you eat it right away, but mellows out after it has been in the refrigerator several hours or overnight. The onion powder just gives a hint of savory onion flavor.
Customize it. You can definitely swap thew cheddar with Monterey Jack, Colby, or your favorite block of cheese. Replacing the ham with cooked bacon, sausage, or even chicken would be delicious as well. Also, feel free to coat it in walnuts or almonds, if you prefer.
Make it ahead. You can make the cream cheese mixture and wrap it in plastic, then keep it refrigerated for several days. I recommend rolling it in the pecans right before serving so that they stay nice and crunchy.
Storage. Your pineapple cheese ball will keep in the refrigerator for two to three days. But make sure you get it wrapped and refrigerated once you are done eating it. If it has been at room temperature for more than a couple of hours, you run the risk of it growing bacteria.
There isn’t much better than cheese and crackers. That’s why crackers are the traditional accompaniment to a cheese ball. Here are some of my gluten free favorites:
But you have other options for the snack platter you serve with your ham and pineapple cheese ball:
- Veggies. Crisp carrots, cucumbers, and peppers can also be sliced so that you can use them to scoop or smear with the ham and cheese spread.
- Fruit. Juicy and sweet apple and pear slices pair well with the salty, cheesy flavors, as well as the sweetness of the pineapple.
- Bread. Make your own gluten free pita bread or gluten free baguette, or buy your favorite brand, and cut it into pieces.
Don’t want to make a cheeseball? Just serve the ham and cheese spread in a bowl, or roll it up in flatbreads or large tortillas and slice it like these Mediterranean Chicken Pinwheels.
More cheesy holiday appetizers
I’m always on the hunt for gluten free appetizers, and my favorites are the cheesy ones. If you agree, then I think you’ll like these recipes.
Pineapple Ham Cheese Ball
- 16 oz cream cheese regular or light, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon minced chives or 1/4 teaspoon onion powder *See Note
- 10 oz. diced ham (1 1/4 cups)
- 1 cup Dole Canned Crushed Pineapple in 100% Pineapple Juice, well drained
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- crackers or vegetables for serving
- In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Dijon mustard, chives (or onion powder), ham, and Dole Canned Crushed Pineapple. Stir with a spatula until everything has been evenly distributed, and roughly form it together in a ball in the bowl.
- Lay out one or two sheets of plastic wrap, place the cheese ball on top, and wrap tightly, forming into a ball shape. you can even place the wrapped cheese ball into a bowl to help form the shape. Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, until firm.
- Unwrap the cheese ball and place on a serving platter. Press chopped pecans into the side of the cheese ball to coat completely.
- Serve with crackers and/or vegetables.