A shrimp cheese ball that is a quick and easy appetizer to prepare with shrimp, taco seasoning, cream cheese, lime juice, and pecans. It is both creamy and crunchy, making a great gluten-free and keto spread for crackers, crudité vegetables, and toast… just like our cauliflower jalapeno hummus.
Looking for a quick and easy appetizer for your next get-together with friends, a cocktail party, holiday, or New Year’s Eve?
This shrimp cheese ball fits the bill and is a crowd-pleaser!
Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Olive oil: It is healthier than butter, but if you prefer replace 3 tbsp of olive oil with about 4 tbsp of salted butter, or half butter and half olive oil.
- Onion: I used a sweet yellow onion, but you may use either white or red onion.
- Taco seasoning: For a variation of this recipe, replace it with Cajun seasoning, or Old Bay.
- Cayenne: Also known in Mexican cuisine as chiles de arbol, it can be replaced with double the amount of paprika or an equal amount of chili pepper.
- Red pepper flakes: I prefer my shrimp cheeseball spicy, but you can omit this ingredient or replace it with a few drops of hot sauce. Moreover, if you use a spicy taco seasoning, skip the red pepper flakes.
- Shrimp: for a more flavorful cheese ball, raw or uncooked shrimp is preferred but you can use pre-cooked shrimp. The size of the shrimp doesn’t matter much because it will be chopped into smaller pieces. A smart way to skip the chopping process is to use mini shrimp. They are thin and tiny, making chopping unnecessary.
- Lime juice: Lemon juice is a great sub! Make sure to use either of these fresh; otherwise, it will impart a bitter flavor to the cream cheese ball.
- Cream cheese
- Pecans: I prefer to use toasted nuts instead of raw because they are more flavorful. You may use another type of nut, such as toasted walnuts.
- Cilantro: You can use parsley if you prefer. I did this simply because I did not have cilantro at home and also because it has a more vibrant green color and a firmer leaf.
Expert Tips for Shrimp Cheese Ball
- Make sure to cook both the onion and garlic until softened, even if using cooked shrimp in our shrimp ball recipe.
- Thaw, pat dry, peel, remove the tail and chop shrimp before using in the recipe.
- If using cooked shrimp, mix into the cooked garlic, onion, and spice mixture at the very end, about 30-60 seconds before removing the pan from the heat. The objective is to just warm up the shrimp.; you don’t want chewy, overcooked shrimp.
- Only use fresh lemon or lime juice, otherwise, the cream cheese mixture will have an unpleasant bitter flavor, especially after a few days stored in the fridge.
- Toasted nuts are more flavorful than raw and make for a tastier appetizer.
- The cream cheese must be softened or at room temp for easy mixing.
- The shrimp cream cheese mixture will be soft at first. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap in form of a ball before storing it in the fridge to firm up.
- Only coat the cheese ball with chopped pecans and parsley/cilantro about 10 minutes before serving, or the fresh herb will turn mushy.
How to make a shrimp cheese ball
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and cook the onion for about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, the taco seasoning, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 1 minute and then add the chopped shrimp. If raw, let it cook for about 2-3 minutes or just until turns pink. If pre-cooked, warm up the shrimp for 30-60 seconds. Stir in 1 tbsp of lime juice. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer, mix cream cheese and the remaining 2 tbsp of lime juice in a large bowl. Stir in the shrimp mixture and 2 tbsp of pecans, mixing with a spoon until homogeneous. Place the soft mixture on top of a large sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly, forming it into a cheese ball. You may need to cover the ball with another sheet of plastic wrap.
- Store seafood cheese ball in the fridge until firm, about 2 hours. About 10 minutes before serving, mix the parsley with the remaining pecans on a large plate. Roll the cheese ball in the parsley mixture until covered and serve.
If you wish, you may wrap the cream cheese ball into several small cheese balls and serve them with a pretzel stick inserted in the middle, like lollipops.
What to serve the cheese ball with?
Serve the shrimp cheese ball with:
- Vegetables such as celery sticks, mini bell peppers, and baby carrots
- Mini bagels
- Pita bread or pita chips
- Baguette toast
Make sure your cheese ball platter has a cheese spreading knife. If you try to dip crackers straight into the ball, they will break apart depending on how chilled the cheese ball is. You won’t have the same problem with celery sticks or baby carrots, for example.
Can I use pre-cooked shrimp in this cheese ball recipe?
I prefer to cook my own shrimp. It will absorb the spices while cooking and impart more flavor to the shrimp cheese ball. But you can use pre-cooked shrimp. Be aware you will be only warming up the precooked for about 30-60 seconds before adding to the cream cheese mixture. Leaving it under heat for longer will turn it chewy.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Prepare the shrimp cheese ball according to the instructions. Then store in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. About 10 minutes before serving, coat it with chopped pecans and parsley.
Freezing is a no-no because it contains shrimp that has been thawed and cooked and may become chewy. If not for that, you could freeze the cheese ball for up to 1 month, wrapped well in plastic wrap (without nuts and herbs) and then placed in a freezer-safe bag. Next, it just had to thaw the cheeseball in the fridge overnight and add nuts and herbs 10 minutes before serving.
Other appetizer recipes to try:
- Avocado hummus
- Creamy avocado dip
- Cranberry hummus
- Palm heart bacon bites
- Coxinha (Brazilian chicken fritters)
- Rissoles (Brazilian risoles)
PIN & ENJOY!
Shrimp Cheese Ball Recipe
- cutting board
- 3 tablespoons olive oil if using pre-cooked shrimp you’ll only need 2 tbsp of oil
- 8 garlic cloves minced
- ½ small yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp taco seasoning or Old Bay/Cajun Seasoning
- ½ tbsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes skip if using a spicy taco seasoning
- ½ lb raw shrimp thawed, pat dried, peeled, tail removed, and cut into small pieces
- 3 tbsp lime juice or lemon juice
- 12 oz cream cheese, softened (or 1 1/2 packages)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans preferably toasted
- ½ bunch of parsley chopped (or cilantro)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and cook the onion for about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, the taco seasoning, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 1 minute and then add the chopped shrimp. If raw, let it cook for about 2-3 minutes or just until turn pink. If pre-cooked, warm up the shrimp for 30-60 seconds. Stir in 1 tbsp of lime juice. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer, mix cream cheese and the remaining 2 tbsp of lime juice in a large bowl. Stir in the shrimp mixture and 2 tbsp of pecans, mixing with a spoon until homogeneous. Place the soft mixture over a large sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly forming into a cheese ball. You may need to cover the ball with another sheet of plastic wrap.
- Store seafood cheese ball in the fridge until firm, about 2 hours. About 10 minutes before serving, mix the parsley with the remaining pecans in a large plate. Roll the cheese ball in the parsley mixture until covered and serve.