Turkey Cheese Ball for Thanksgiving

turkey cheese ball surrounded by crackers

It’s time for a fun appetizer for Thanksgiving! And my most popular October post is the skull cheese ball, so I decided a turkey shaped cheese ball is exactly what I need!

Ingredients needed

If you have a favorite recipe for a cheeseball, of course you can use that one. I used my Halloween skull cheese ball as a starting point but made a few changes. One, I omitted the olives and pepperoni to simplify and keep it vegetarian. Two, I made it softer, by substituting whipped cream cheese for one of the blocks of cream cheese. I also reduced the shredded cheese to 2 cups. This resulted in a softer and more “spreadable” cheeseball. It also made it a little easier to decorate with the pretzel rods. 😀

The final ingredient list for the cheese ball:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz whipped cream cheese – plain or with chives
  • 2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese
  • 6 oz (one envelope) dry Italian dressing mix

Decorating ingredients:

  • Pretzel rods, sticks, or both
  • Pecans, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • Candy eyes
  • Orange bell pepper

How to make the cheese ball

Start with the cream cheese. I like to leave the cream cheese out for an hour if possible, to allow it to get to room temperature. Even so, I typically end up giving it a quick zap in the microwave (less than 30 seconds on a low setting) to ensure it is soft enough. With an electric mixer, start to beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Add the whipped cream cheese and beat in. Add the dry Italian dressing packet and beat to thoroughly incorporate.

Then use a spoon or spatula to add in the shredded cheese. Mix well. In the bowl, use the spatula to form a rough ball from the cheese mix. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour. You need this chill time to let the cheese ball “firm up” enough to handle it for final shaping and decorating.

How to decorate the cheese ball to make a turkey shape

When the cream cheese mixer is firm, you are ready to decorate the cheeseball. Take a piece of plastic wrap, about 12 inches long, and lay it flat. Spread the chopped pecans evenly on the wrap. Then, carefully remove the cheeseball from the bowl. Gently shape the ball with your hands and then roll it in the pecans to coat. Typically, one edge is flat from sitting in the bowl. I usually do not coat this in pecans, instead using it as the base.

When the ball is sufficiently coated in nuts, place on a serving plate or platter.

For the tail: use pretzel rods or sticks (or both) to make a fan-shaped tail. I cut off about 2 inches from each pretzel rod to get the right length, so you might want to experiment with this a little to get the effect you want.

For the neck: I used another pretzel rod for the neck. The face details are attached with a little dollop of cream cheese. A small cut of a mini orange bell pepper makes a very fine beak. And for the eyes, 2 candy googly eyes to give our turkey a sufficiently startled/worried expression, as all turkeys have when Thanksgiving draws near.


Of course, you may use your favorite cheese ball recipe if you have one. For the decorative elements there are several possibilities:

  • Use slices of bell peppers inserted in a fan shape to make the tail
  • Use a Slim Jim for the neck
  • Small round cheese cut-outs could possibly work for eyes
  • Use bacon bits to coat the ball in place of the chopped pecans
  • Use the round twist pretzels on the sides to resemble drumsticks
Turkey cheese ball pin

Whichever approach you use to make your turkey cheese ball, be sure to have fun with it!

turkey cheese ball surrounded by crackers
Print Recipe
5 from 23 votes

Turkey Shaped Cheese Ball

Have a little fun with your Thanksgiving cheese ball!
Prep Time20 mins
Cooling time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 20
Calories: 153kcal
Author: Sula


  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 8 oz whipped cream cheese – plain or with chives
  • 2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese
  • 6 oz one envelope dry Italian dressing mix


  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • Pretzel rods or sticks as desired
  • Googly eyes
  • Mini bell pepper


  • In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the whipped cream cheese and beat to incorporate.
  • Add the dry Italian dressing and mix well.
  • With a spatula or large spoon, mix in the shredded cheese.
  • Cover bowl and refrigerate for an hour or until firm.
  • When cheese ball is firm, remove from bowl and gently shape into a ball. Roll immediately in chopped nuts. Place on serving plate.
  • Decorate as desired with pretzel sticks/rods for the tail and one pretzel rod for a neck. With a small dab of cream cheese attach eyes and a small piece of bell pepper to form a beak.


Nutrition estimates include nuts but no other decorative elements.


Calories: 153kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 985mg | Potassium: 42mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 305IU | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

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28 thoughts on “Turkey Cheese Ball for Thanksgiving

  1. 5 stars
    This turkey cheeseball is super cute, and I am planning on making one for this Thanksgiving!!! Thanks for all the great instructions! Have a Happy Holiday!

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