Fried Cheese Balls with Chili Mayonnaise

It's been a busy week here at The Galley Gourmet, but I couldn't let the week go by without sharing this recipe.  Most people will be planning their weekend around the Labor Day holiday. In our house, the first weekend of September is a double holiday of sorts.  It's the kickoff to college football! Woot! Woot! My son and husband have been counting the weeks, now days until this weekend like it was Christmas.  Come to think of it, I equate their Phil Steele's college football magazine to an old Sears Christmas Wishbook.  So, if you are like us and will be at a game or watching one on TV, I highly suggest you whip up a batch of these golden nuggets. We enjoyed devoured these cheese balls this past Sunday and with each bite, all I could think about was how perfect these would be at a football party or tailgate.  I mean, fried balls of cheese dipped in a kicked-up mayonnaise?! Pass the cold beer, please:)

I made these a few years ago for a party and they were really good, but I knew with a few adjustments, I could take them to the "ultimate" cheese ball level.  Verdict-- these are incredible and worth every bit of their unhealthy nature.  My only conundrum after dipping in the mayonnaise sauce is-- do I take a bite with a dash of cayenne or Tabasco? Good thing I don't have to decide.  I can have the first one with cayenne and the second with Tabasco and the third one with cayenne and the fourth one with Tabasco and-- o.k, I'll stop and share.

Oh, and if you are a lover of all things college football and tailgating, head on over to this site, Taylor Tailgates.  From mascots to vehicles to fans, and of course, food, Taylor covers it all with superb photography and writing.  

Fried Cheese Balls with Chili Mayonnaise
yields about 24 balls

For the Cheese Balls
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup finely diced sweet onion, like Vidalia
1 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
vegetable oil for frying

For the Mayonnaise
1/4 cup mayonaise (I use Hellman's)
1 1/2 Tablespoons chili sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Tabasco to taste, optional (but good)
Ground cayenne pepper to taste, optional (but good)

For the Chili Mayonnaise
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, chili sauce, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Stir until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Mayonnaise can be made up to one day in advance.

For the Cheese Balls
In a medium bowl, combine the cheese, onion, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, and eggs until thoroughly mixed.  Roll the mixture into balls about 1-inch in diameter.  (I use a packed 1/2-ounce ice cream scoop to shape).  Place the balls on a wax or parchment paper lined cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to fry. The cheese balls can be prepared to this point up to three hours in advance.

In heavy medium frying pan, heat 2 inches of oil to 375º F.  Carefully place four balls at a time in the hot oil.  (Adding to many balls at time will reduce the oil temperature).  After 30 seconds, gently nudge each ball with the side of a spoon/skimmer (I use a bamboo chinese skimmer) to loosen from the bottom.  Allow the balls to fry for another 1-1 1/2 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove the balls from the oil and drain on a paper towel lined plate or baking sheet.  Keep warm in a 200º F oven until ready to serve.

To serve, dip a cheese ball into the chili mayonnaise then dash it with a drop or two of Tabasco or cayenne pepper.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Heirloom Cooking with the Brass Sisters, by Marilynn and Sheila Brass


  1. They look wonderful! I'm a big fan of cheese balls but haven't had them with this type of side sauce!

  2. ShaZAM!!!! Oh cheeseballs how I've missed you all these years!! I remember when you mae these for 4th of July of few yrs ago....I can't wait to reunite with you and your mayo dip:)

  3. Fantastic! You have ignited the best from an idle cheese. I love it.

  4. Goodness--I could gobble an entire plate of these. THANK GOODNESS for the return of college football!! yay!

  5. Made these last night for my men (husband and teenage son!) wow! Loved the onions in these golden nuggets. They were incredibly simple, ready to eat very quickly and enjoyed by all. Their only complaint was that I didn't make a double batch. :) Thanks for the great recipe!

  6. Christine-
    You are welcome! Thank you for letting me now how much you enjoyed them. I agree-- the onions really make these super tasty. I ditto your feelings about a double batch, as well. In fact, the original recipe only made 12. That's why I doubled the batch:)

  7. Fried cheese balls - I have been hunting for a recipe, but could not find one that looked easy enough for me to make until I found yours! These little devils are addictive, so caution is needed or you'll eat too many, like I did :) Thanks for posting your recipe!

  8. I made these recently for a gathering my wife and I held at our home. They are not hard to make but well received as there was not one left by the end of the evening!

  9. Has anyone tried baking these instead of frying?


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