This easy Turkey Cheeseball recipe is shaped like a turkey! It comes together in about 15 minutes and is the perfect appetizer while you wait on the real turkey to roast in the oven! It's so cute, go ahead and make it the Thanksgiving table centerpiece.
Thank you to my friends at Whaley Pecan Company for sponsoring this post.
You don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to make this fall cheeseball. Put it on a charcuterie board for a fun game day snack or serve at your Friendsgiving party.
- Soften cream cheese in the microwave (1100 watts) on HIGH for 25 seconds.
- Quickly shred a block of Cheddar cheese in a food processor with the shredding attachment, then blend remaining cheeseball ingredients right in the food processor bowl.
- No need to chill this cheese ball before serving! It's ready to eat as soon as you make it!
What you will need to make this pecan cheese ball that looks like a turkey.
Scroll down to printable recipe for exact ingredient quantities.
- Cream cheese
- Cheddar cheese: As much as I love using pre-shredded cheese in many of my recipes, this is one where you really want to shred your own so the cheese sticks together better like in my Creamy Jalapeno Pimento Cheese and Pimento Cheese with Fire Roasted Red Peppers recipes. Colby Jack cheese works, too!
- Pecan halves: I like to use both small and large Whaley Pecan Company pecans in this turkey shaped cheeseball recipe so they resemble small and large turkey feathers. I used their large pecans (Elliots) for the smaller halves and their larger Mammoth pecan halves.
- Garlic salt, onion powder, parsley flakes
- Red and orange bell peppers
- Crackers and seasoned pretzel twists
Nutty fact: I learned while visiting the Whaley Pecan Company in Troy, Alabama, that there are about 14 varieties of pecans grown in Alabama! I was surprised that while the Elliot variety may be a little smaller than some, they are also one of the most flavorful!
How to make a turkey cheese ball
Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe with detailed instructions.
- Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
- Shape cheeseball mixture into a slightly oval ball.
Food processor shortcut
Shortcut: Shred cheese quickly in a food processor then add cream cheese and seasonings to mix it all in the food processor bowl.
- Gather all the ingredients to assemble the cheese ball turkey.
- Start by pressing the smaller pecans around one bell pepper strip in the front, fanning out like turkey feathers.
I have a step by step recipe for toasting pecans in the air fryer.
- Add the larger pecans toward the back of the "turkey".
- Last, press the crackers in the very back of the turkey cheeseball and fill in the gap between the crackers and pecans with pepper strips and pretzel twists.
No chilling necessary! Serve your turkey cheese ball with bell pepper strips, crackers and pretzel twists.
- Quickly soften cream cheese by microwaving it on HIGH (1100 watts) for 25 seconds.
- Pre-shredded cheese is convenient but shredding your own is best for a cheese ball so it sticks together better.
- Shred cheese quickly in a food processor then add cream cheese and seasonings to mix it all in the food processor bowl.
Substitutions & Variations
- Bacon Ranch Turkey Cheeseball: Substitute 1 tablespoon Ranch seasoning for the garlic salt, onion powder and parsley and stir in 1/4 cup cooked crumbled bacon.
- Stir in chopped green onions, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, or hot sauce for a little kick.
What to serve with a turkey cheeseball
This turkey cheeseball would be good to put on a Thanksgiving charcuterie board. Provide cheese spreaders or small knives and sturdy crackers and vegetables to scoopers and dippers.
- Crackers, pretzel twists, sticks and rods
- Tortilla chips, corn chips
How to make ahead and store in the fridge
Place wax paper or parchment paper in the bottom of a refrigerator storage container. Make the cheeseball with pecans but don't add the crackers or bell peppers. Transfer the cheeseball into the container and place the lid on top and refrigerate up to 10 days. You can cut up the bell peppers and put them in a separate storage container.
When ready to serve. Let the cheeseball sit at room temperature 30 minutes, so it is soft enough to insert the crackers, pretzels and bell peppers.
Can you freeze a cheeseball?
To freeze a homemade cheeseball, before adding pecans to the outside, wrap the cheese ball in in plastic wrap, then in an air tight container or resealable zip-top bag. Freeze up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before decorating with pecans or crackers.
If you make this recipe I'd love to see it! Tag me on social media with #gritsandgouda or @gritsandgouda. Leave a comment below the printable recipe if you have questions or tell me how you liked the recipe. Don't forget to rate it 5 stars if you love it!
- Food Processor optional
- 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1 8 ounce block Cheddar or Colby Jack cheese, shredded
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes
- 2 red and orange bell peppers
- 1 1/2 cups small and large pecan halves lightly toasted
- 5 Large scalloped crackers (Plus more for serving.)
- 10 Seasoned pretzel twists (Plus more for serving.)
- Combine cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, garlic salt, onion powder, and parsley flakes in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed of a hand mixer until mixed well.
- Using a spoon or spatula, shape the mixture into a slightly oval ball.
- Remove the core and seeds from the bell peppers. Cut the bell peppers into 1/2-inch strips, choosing one with a pointed tip for the head of the turkey. Press that one into the front, center of the cheeseball.
- Press the small pecans in a circle in the front of the cheeseball around the pepper strip. Continue adding pecans until the front half is covered in small pecans resembling feathers. Use the larger pecans, in the back. Slide two small pecans into the bottom, front of the cheeseball for the feet.
- Press the scalloped crackers into the back of the cheeseball behind the pecans, fanned across the back. Insert bell pepper strips and pretzel twists in front of the crackers to resemble feathers.
- Use a large, firm spatula to transfer the turkey cheeseball onto a serving platter or charcuterie board. Serve with remaining crackers, pretzel twists bell pepper strips.
Bacon Ranch Cheeseball: Substitute 1 tablespoon Ranch seasoning for the garlic salt, onion powder and parsley and stir in 1/4 cup cooked crumbled bacon. Pro tips:
-I like to quickly soften cream cheese by microwaving it on HIGH (1100 watts) for 25 seconds.
-Pre-shredded cheese is convenient but shredding your own is best for a cheese ball so it sticks together better.
-Shred cheese quickly in a food processor then add cream cheese and seasonings to mix it all in the food processor bowl. Make Ahead:
-Place wax paper or parchment paper in the bottom of a refrigerator storage container. Make the cheeseball with pecans but not the crackers or bell peppers. Transfer the cheeseball into the container and place the lid on top. You can cut up the bell peppers and put them in a separate storage container. When ready to serve. Let the cheeseball sit at room temperature 30 minutes, so it is soft enough to insert the crackers, pretzels and bell peppers. How to toast pecans:
-Bake pecan halves at 350F degrees on a baking sheet for 5 to 6 minutes. Air fry at 350F degrees for 2 to 3 minutes.
Nutrition analysis on GritsAndGouda.com recipes are mostly calculated on an online nutrition calculator. I am not a dietitian and nutritional information is an estimate and can vary based on products used.