Pesto Cheeseball Wreath | Festive Pesto Cheese Appetizer

LAST UPDATED: Dec 10, 2019 | PUBLISHED: Nov 04, 2019 | By: Julie Blanner

This Pesto Cheeseball wreath makes the most festive holiday Pesto Appetizer. Cream cheese, basil and cherry tomatoes create a Pesto Cheese flavor explosion! Easy to make with just five ingredients, this gorgeous wreath will be the star of your Christmas party.

White marble surface with a white platter, featuring a pesto cheese appetizer in the shape of a wreath covered in basil, cheery tomatoes on top for ornaments.

The Prettiest Way to Serve Pesto Cheese

I am so excited to start sharing all the fun and festive holiday recipes I’ve been working on for you! Yes, my work in the kitchen is never done… and luckily, that’s just how I like it!

This pesto cheeseball is just as delicious and beautiful to serve as it is easy to make. Bonus? It’s Keto friendly, so your low-carb friends will be thrilled to partake as well! 

I love creating holiday appetizers and desserts that are classic flavors with a charming twist in presentation. This baked brie wreath, my snowman dessert cheese ball, and even this darling reindeer bacon ranch cheeseball are some reader favorites!

I can’t tell you any lies. I ate this pesto cheese for lunch for days after I made and photographed this recipe. It’s so good, it’s hard to stop! I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did. Don’t you love when an appetizer is delicious and also so beautiful for parties? 

A pesto cheeseball Christmas wreath appetizer surrounded by crackers on a platter.

I like to give a lot of detail in my recipe posts to guide readers through any questions. If you’re just here for the printable recipe, feel free to click “jump to recipe” under the title of this post and you’ll head straight there! 

What is Pesto Made of? 

Traditionally, pesto is considered a showcase of fresh basil. It’s an explosive flavor that simply needs a few additions to create the most delicious bright green sauce. It’s delicious on most everything it touches! 

In most cases, (and in this recipe) pesto is made of a combination of pine nuts, basil, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. The word pesto comes from a derivative of a verb meaning “to crush” in Italian. It’s a perfectly blended paste that combines the above ingredients into a flavorful sauce that works in a variety of ways, including this incredible pesto cheeseball! 

A pesto cheeseball Christmas wreath appetizer surrounded by crackers on a platter.

Pesto Cheese Ball Ingredients

Your grocery list is simple for this easy pesto appetizer! You’ll need just a few ingredients to create an addictive flavor explosion that your guests will crave.

  • Cream Cheese– Full fat cream cheese is best, there’s just no way around it. Not only does it bring the flavor, the texture actually holds together into the molded wreath shape. You are welcome to try a lower fat cream cheese, if you wish – please let me know how it turns out! 
  • Fresh Basil– So much basil! Much of it goes into the pesto but you’re going to have fun decorating the outside of this cute holiday wreath with fresh basil as well. 
  • Garlic– You can absolutely take a shortcut and used pre-minced garlic, but in pesto, fresh garlic really shines. White marble surface with a white platter, featuring a pesto cheese appetizer in the shape of a wreath covered in basil, cheery tomatoes on top for ornaments.
  • Mozzarella– Do me a favor and grate your own mozzarella cheese! You won’t regret it- it’s just so much creamier and more delicious. I know it’s an extra step, but it’s worth it.
  • Red Pepper Flakes– just a little spice goes a long way in this pesto cheese appetizer! 
  • Parmesan– yes, more cheese. It’s a cheeseball after all! Parmesan has a delicious strong flavor if you use a good quality brand. I always prefer buying my own block to shave, or at least buying a fresh grated version from your deli. 
  • Pine Nuts– These add an important flavor and texture to your pesto cheeseball. Pine nuts have a sweet, subtle flavor, and it’s the texture that’s most important here. Don’t over-pulse your pesto in the food processor! 
  • Olive Oil– because no pesto is complete without it! Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
  • Cherry Tomatoes– These act like ornaments on your Christmas wreath, and you can add as many or as few as you’d like. 
  • Salt and Pepper– to taste! 

White marble surface with a white platter, featuring a pesto cheese appetizer in the shape of a wreath covered in basil, cheery tomatoes on top for ornaments.

How to Make This Pesto Appetizer

This beautiful pesto cheeseball wreath is easier than it looks! You’re going to get requests for this pesto appetizer every year. 

  1. In your food processor, combine basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl or the fitted bowl of your stand mixer, combine softened cream cheese with shredded mozzarella and the pesto sauce from your food processor.White bowl with a mix of pesto cheese.
  3. Stir thoroughly or beat at a low-medium speed until well mixed. 
  4. Shape into wreath form. You can do this in several ways, I go into more detail below.A white surface with a pesto cheeseball wreath appetizer beginning to form.
  5. Cover, refrigerate for three hours or until firm.A white surface with a pesto cheeseball wreath appetizer beginning to form.
  6. Add your remaining chopped basil and sliced cherry tomatoes to the top for the wreath effect. White marble surface with a white platter, featuring a pesto cheese appetizer in the shape of a wreath covered in basil.White marble surface with a white platter, featuring a pesto cheese appetizer in the shape of a wreath covered in basil.

Tips for Creating a Pesto Cheeseball in Wreath Form

There are a couple ways to create this wreath form! Here’s a few tips and methods that will create different looks.

  1. My method: Make a cheeseball in a bowl – just a classic round/circular shape. Create a hole in the center, pressing and shaping to flatten. Invert onto a platter and then smooth it out. 
  2. Use a bundt pan! Line your bundt pan with plastic wrap, and scoop the cheese mixture into the bundt. Press firmly until it’s evenly flattened throughout. 

Looking for a great bundt pan? This classic shape is very simple and should work well for this project!

A pesto cheeseball Christmas wreath appetizer surrounded by crackers on a platter. Sparkling tree in the background.

For both methods, you’ll want to cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the pesto cheese ball is firm, which was around three hours when I tested this recipe. You could certainly make this the day before your event, as well! Just wait and add the remaining basil/tomatoes for decoration until you’re ready to serve.

Keep in mind, this pesto cheeseball is equally delicious in any form. You don’t need to take that next step to create the wreath shape – but it sure does make it beautiful to serve! 

Another tip? The ultimate shortcut is to simply replace the homemade pesto in this recipe with bottled pesto. Use 1/3 of a cup, drained of excess oil, in its place.

A pesto cheeseball Christmas wreath appetizer surrounded by crackers on a platter, knife to the side.

What to Serve with this Pesto Cheese Appetizer

You can serve a variety of items with this delicious pesto cheese ball! In fact, as I mentioned before, this pesto appetizer is Keto-friendly if served with a low carb option. It’s such a simple way to make your guests feel special, knowing that you took their dietary restrictions into consideration.

Serve this appetizer with the following: 

  • tortilla chips
  • crostini
  • pita chips
  • carrots
  • bell peppers
  • cucumbers
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli

A pesto cheeseball Christmas wreath appetizer surrounded by crackers on a platter.

Make Ahead Pesto Cheeseball

As I discuss in my printable Thanksgiving planner, (available here) one of the most important things to keep in mind when planning a holiday gathering is your timing. Consider the timeline for each dish you’d like to serve, and make everything that you can ahead of time

That’s what I love about serving cheeseballs of all kinds when I host! They are not only delicious, but they can be made a day in advance – even two days can often work well. Take those last-minute dishes off your plate and consider ways to reduce your work load.Edge of a platter with a pesto cheese appetizer, crackers surrounding. Single cracker with cheese on top and knife to the side.

If You Love This Recipe, You’ll Love These Too! 

I have a delicious array of cheeseball recipes available to you! I love making them and I love the variety of flavor combinations. If you’re looking for another Christmas appetizer idea, you MUST check out this darling reindeer cheeseball!

Sweet or savory, there’s a cheeseball for everyone here. Here’s a few more that you’ll enjoy making and serving! 

You’ll also love these 30 Creative Christmas Ideas

Marble surface with a single cracker covered in pesto cheeseball spread, knife to the side.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you love serving cheeseballs and cheese dips of all kinds? It’s so great to have a line-up of easy appetizers that you can prepare ahead when entertaining. 

If you try this pesto cheeseball wreath recipe, please come back to share using my 5 star rating in the comments below! Not only do I appreciate it, but I know readers do, too! For more easy recipes and simple living ideas, subscribe to my newsletter!

White marble surface with a white platter, featuring a pesto cheese appetizer in the shape of a wreath covered in basil, cheery tomatoes on top for ornaments.

Pesto Cheeseball Wreath

This Pesto Cheeseball wreath makes the most festive holiday Pesto Appetizer. Cream cheese, basil and cherry tomatoes create a Pesto Cheese flavor explosion! Easy to make with just five ingredients, this gorgeous wreath will be the star of your Christmas party.
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Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings (hover to scale): 16
Calories: 130.51kcal

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella shredded (8 ounces)
  • 3 ounches basil 1/2 cup reserved for topping
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup parmesan fresh grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Topping

  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

Instructions

  •  In your food processor, combine basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. 
  • In a large mixing bowl or the fitted bowl of your stand mixer, combine softened cream cheese with shredded mozzarella and the pesto sauce from your food processor.
  • Stir thoroughly or beat at a low-medium speed until well mixed. 
  • Shape into wreath form. You can do this in several ways, I go into more detail in the recipe notes below.
  • Cover, refrigerate for three hours or until firm.
  • Add your remaining chopped basil and sliced cherry tomatoes to the top for the wreath effect. 

Notes

There are a couple ways to create this wreath form! Here's a few tips and methods that will create different looks.
  1. My method: Make a cheeseball in a bowl - just a classic round/circular shape. Create a hole in the center, pressing and shaping to flatten. Invert onto a platter and then smooth it out. 
  2. Use a bundt pan! Line your bundt pan with plastic wrap, and scoop the cheese mixture into the bundt. Press firmly until it's evenly flattened throughout. 
Another quick tip? Eliminate the pesto (ingredients placed in the food processor in the instructions above) and use store bought pesto instead! Simply drain any excess oil and replace those ingredients with 1/3 cup store bought. 

Nutrition

Calories: 130.51kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.69g | Protein: 2.97g | Fat: 12.7g | Saturated Fat: 6.26g | Cholesterol: 33.31mg | Sodium: 141.72mg | Potassium: 55.88mg | Fiber: 0.06g | Sugar: 1.08g | Vitamin A: 437.8IU | Vitamin C: 1.22mg | Calcium: 65.69mg | Iron: 0.2mg
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