Pinecone cheese ball recipes: A festive 1970s twist on a classic holiday appetizer

Nutty cheese pinecones - Cheese balls from December 1970 (1)

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The pinecone cheese ball: A festive twist on a classic

Cheese balls — those creamy, decadent appetizers — have been a party staple for ages. But the pinecone cheese ball steals the show when it comes to holiday festivities. This quirky twist on the traditional cheese ball tastes delicious and doubles as a charming centerpiece for your holiday spread.

A brief dip into history

The cheese ball isn’t a modern invention. Believe it or not, its history dates back to the 1800s, starting with a gigantic cheese ball gifted to President Thomas Jefferson.

Since then, this appetizer has evolved, with the pinecone variation becoming a holiday favorite. Its design, typically using almonds, gives it that distinctive pinecone look, perfect for Christmas gatherings​​.

Nutty cheese pinecones - Cheese balls from December 1970 (2)

Crafting a pinecone cheese ball

So, how do you make one? It’s simpler than you might think. Start with your favorite cheese ball recipe — or try one of the retro ones we’ve reprinted below. Then, get creative with the shaping.

The trick is to use whole almonds or pecans, pressing them into the cheese ball at slight angles to mimic the scales of a pinecone. For the full pinecone effect, start at the bottom and work your way up. (Don’t forget a sprig of rosemary or lettuce for a bit of greenery.)

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The hedgehog cheese ball: A modern spin-off

While the pinecone cheese ball is a classic, there’s a new critter in town — the hedgehog cheese ball. This trendy variation follows a similar concept but looks like a cute, spiky hedgehog. To adapt these recipes for that clever rendering, try using slivered almonds instead of whole ones and arrange them to create the “spikes” of a hedgehog or porcupine.

But, really, the key difference is the hedgehog’s face — leave some space on the pointy end!  — which you can interpret with dried beans or pieces of nuts, dried fruit, olives or some combination thereof. It’s a fun way to bring a bit of whimsy to your appetizer table.

Hedgehog porcupine cheese ball concept

Eye-catchingly simple

Whether you go classic pinecone or modern hedgehog, these cheese balls are sure to be a hit. They’re tasty while doubling as festive conversation starters. Remember, the key to a great cheese ball, whether pinecone or hedgehog, lies in the details — the nuts, the arrangement, and the dash of creativity.

Next time you plan a holiday gathering, roll up your sleeves and sculpt some edible art! Who knew playing with your food could be this much fun?

Cheddar-brandy almond-covered cheese ball (1982)

Pinecone cheese ball recipe with mayo, cheddar & horseradish

Nutty cheese pinecones - Cheese balls from December 1970 (1)

Retro pinecone cheese ball with cheddar, almonds or pecans

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes


  • 4 cups finely-shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup Best Foods mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • Dash of Tabasco
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Chill.
  3. Shape on serving board to resemble pine cone.
  4. Garnish with nuts.
  5. Serve with fruit and crackers.


Makes 2 cups of Cheddar cheese spread with nuts.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 142Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 231mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 5g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

Cheese cones: Shape up cheese for holiday spreading (1970)

Here’s a festive new way to serve spreads made with Best Foods mayonnaise… it blends deliciously with cheese.

Pinecone cheese ball recipe with cream cheese & parmesan


4 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (12 ounces total)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves, crushed
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder


Combine all ingredients. Chill. Shape on serving board to resemble a pine cone. Garnish with nuts. Serve with fruit and crackers. Makes 1-3/4 cups of Parmesan cheese spread.

How to make a pinecone-shaped cheeseball with almonds the retro way

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