When planning for company, hors d’oeurves often take a backseat to the main course and dessert. Open a bag of chips or buy a party platter and you’re good to go, right? WRONG! You can do better than that!

You want yummy tidbits that whet the appetite and, more importantly, keep hungry guests from hovering around the kitchen asking how much longer.

My mother was a very unadventurous cook. I’m not sure if it was because she lacked interest or confidence. But she did have a knack for accumulating good recipes that she served for company. Olive Cheese Balls were a constant when she entertained. While they have to be baked just before serving, they can be prepared well ahead of time. The uncooked balls can even be frozen.

They’re easy to prepare, but do take a bit of time. When I was a child, this was my job. So put the kids to work! Olive Cheese Balls are a great recipe to introduce them to cooking.


  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 24 pimento stuffed green olives

Into the workbowl of a food processor, put the cheese, butter, flour, salt, and paprika. Pulse several times until mixture is blended. If you don’t have a food processor, blend the cheese and butter together in a bowl. Stir in the flour, salt, and paprika. Then make a mental note to put “food processor” on your holiday wish list!

Divide dough into 24 pieces. Roll into balls. One by one, flatten each ball, place an olive in the middle, pimento side down, and wrap dough around olive, pinching it closed. Use the liquid from the olive to help facilitate this. Squeeze the ball to compact it, then roll into a smooth ball. It works best if you wash your hands after every 4th or 5th to prevent the dough from starting to stick to your fingers. They can be refrigerated at this point, if you like.

To bake, place on a greased or nonstick cookie sheet. They spread, so don’t crowd them. Bake in a preheated 400ºF oven for 10-15 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes on cookie sheet before removing. Serve immediately.


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