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Dried Beef Cheese Ball

A round of rich, cream cheese base with savory, oniony seasonings and rolled in dried beef, the classic Dried Beef Cheese Ball is the perfect party and holiday appetizer. Serve with lots of a crackers, and step back!

Dried Beef Cheese Ball on a plate with crackers.

I am a huge fan of appetizers. So much so that the Christmas “dinner” I host every year is almost all appetizers. Might sound weird to folks used to formal dinners, but I assure you, it’s not.

People love appetizers, and when you don’t have the right house for winter entertaining — a sit-down dinner for my xmas posse is out of the question — it’s the only solution for crowd control.

I’m always on the lookout for the tastiest dips and salsas and spreads. But somehow, over the years, I lost track of one of my very favorite cracker spreads: The cheese ball (or sometimes called a beef ball). It had been introduced by an ex-sister-in-law, and was much beloved by our family, but when she exited our lives, the memory (even though a good one) went with it.

And then, years and years and years (decades) later, someone had a birthday at work, in one of those departments that celebrates the living bejeezus out of every event, adorning the counter tops of the little office kitchenette with all sorts of edibles.

And then word spreads from hungry worker to hungry worker, and rumbling tummies from every floor descend. You know what I’m sayin’ about office eats.

Anyway, I walked up to this stacked counter, and what did I spy? A cheese ball, dotted with dried beef. OMG!

Peering closely, it looked like I remembered it: Cream cheese visible like grout through tiles of dried beef. A dreamy, savory mosaic. Salty beef with a hint of onion in a rich, creamy base. Dare I taste it? Would it live up to what is surely an exaggerated memory?

[Crunch] Oh, yaaas. That was it! When I got home, I wasted no time in recreating the recipe, and committed it to this blog for safekeeping.

Ingredients

Even though the Dried Beef Cheese Ball is a very retro appetizer, the ingredients should be readily found at your grocery store.

Dried beef — Dried beef (a.k.a. chipped beef) is usually found jarred in the canned meat aisle. If you’re lucky, you can find it already chopped, but more commonly it’s sliced like pepperoni. Below is a photo from 2008. I saw it at my grocery store recently and it’s largely unchanged, and still has a photo of a beef ball on the front, lol.

Close up of the retail jar of dried beef.

You’ll chop the slices into small pieces and mix a bit of it into the spread, reserving the rest to tile the outside of the ball.

Cream cheese — The base of the spread is lovely, rich and tangy cream cheese. Be sure to let it soften first for easy mixing. The recipe takes an entire bar, so if you’re planning to serve a Dried Beef Cheese Ball a few times throughout the holiday season, you might want to stock up now because sometimes stocks get low close to Christmas.

Green onions (scallions) — The wonderfully mild onion flavor of green onions is perfect for this spread and provides little pops of color.

Seasonings — Onion powder and garlic powder provide a base of flavor, and a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce add a hit of irresistible umami.

So much flavor from so few ingredients!

Overhead view of the ingredients in the bowl, ready to mix.

How to Make the Dried Beef Cheese Ball

Step 1: Prep the ingredients

Let the cream cheese soften on the kitchen counter. Or, to speed things up, zap in the microwave for short 30-second bursts, until a push with your finger leaves an indent.

Chop the dried beef slices into small squares. I like to stack several slices and cut into strips. And then chop the strips into squares.

Mince the green onions.

Step 2: Mix and form the spread

Measure about a tablespoon of the chopped beef into a medium mixing bowl (reserve the rest for later).

Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir well with a sturdy spoon. It might be stiff and clunky at first, but things will loosen a little as the cream cheese warms.

Scoop the spread out of the bowl and form a ball.

Step 3: Coat the ball and refrigerate

Sprinkle the reserved chopped dried beef onto a plate or a small, rimmed baking sheet. Roll the cream cheese ball through the dried beef until all sides are coated. Wrap the Dried Beef Cheese Ball in a sheet of cling wrap, patting the ball to ensure the beef clings to the cream cheese and to tidy up the spherical shape.

Rolling the cheese ball in the dried beef, in a shallow pan.

Refrigerate for at least two hours. Serve with plenty of crackers!

An optional process:

If your cream cheese mixture got too warm and sticky during prep and it’s now too messy to hold in your hands, no problem. Spoon the mixture in a pile onto a sheet of cling wrap. Use the cling wrap to press the cream cheese into a ball.

Pull the sides of the cling wrap down to expose the ball, holding it in one hand. Use your free hand to pick up pieces of the dried beef and press them into the sides of the ball until covered.

Transfer the covered ball to a clean sheet of cling wrap, wrap tightly, and refrigerate. (You can see a visual of this alternative process on my Pistachio Cranberry Cheese Ball recipe.)

Dried Beef Cheese Ball with crackers on a serving plate.

The prettiest thing, it’s not, lol. But once your crowd gets their mitts into it, it’ll be the first appetizer to go. It always is. Just make sure you have enough crackers on hand!

For more holiday food ideas, check out my round-up of 30+ Holiday Recipes for Christmas and New Years, featuring appetizers and meals for holiday entertaining.

Karen xo
Dried Beef Cheese Ball with crackers on a plate.
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Dried Beef Cheese Ball

A round of rich, cream cheese base with savory, oniony seasonings, rolled in dried beef, is the perfect party and holiday appetizer. Serve with lots of a crackers, and step back!
Prep Time15 minutes
Refrigeration time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef ball, cheese ball, chipped beef, dried beef
Servings: 24
Calories: 150kcal
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces package cream cheese, softened
  • 4.5 ounces dried beef, chopped or snipped into small squares
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  • In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, one tablespoon of the chopped dried beef, green onions, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Form the mixture into a ball. and roll in the reserved dried beef to coat.
  • Sprinkle the remaining dried beef onto a plate or small rimmed baking sheet. Roll the cheese ball through the chips until the ball is covered in the dried beef.
  • Gently wrap in cling wrap and pat to tidy up the spherical shape. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. It's even better the next day, so it's make-ahead wonderful!

Notes

Cream cheese can get a bit sticky when it’s warm, so as an alternative to the process above, combine the ingredients as instructed above and drop the mixture onto a large square of cling wrap. 
Draw up the corners together around the misture and twist the excess tight. Gently form the mixture into a ball and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
Unwrap the ball and roll in the reserved dried beef squares to coat. Pat the dried beef to help it adhere to the cheese ball.

Nutrition

Calories: 150kcal
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.

Originally published on December 27, 2008.

Recipe Rating




Julia B.

Friday 22nd of December 2023

I'd never heard of this before but I brought it to two big potluck parties and it was completely devoured. I totally lost track of my platter at the office party because it had been scraped clean and moved to the sink. Our big family Christmas Eve gathering with about 100 people is just a couple days away and I'm bringing one plus a backup, and extra crackers. They're going to go nuts over this! I think I've single-handedly bought out the chipped beef at my grocery store lol.

Karen - SoupAddict

Friday 22nd of December 2023

The beef ball sort of reminds me of deviled eggs, where you can somehow eat an insane amount of them, but you wouldn’t even think of eating the same amount of plain eggs. There’s something about the flavor combo that makes it subconsciously addictive and you just eat cracker after cracker.

Lola

Friday 9th of January 2009

I LOVE cheese balls. LOVE.

Karen - SoupAddict

Wednesday 29th of November 2023

I can’t keep the leftovers in the house, or I’ll sit down in front of the TV and polish off the whole thing with crackers (or Fritos, or whatever’s available. I’m not picky. Nor, apparently, blessed with much willpower…).