Grey plate with a knife with cheese ball spread on a round cracker

Smoky Jalapeño Ranch Vegan Cheese Ball

A flavor bomb of an appetizer to blow the minds of cheese lovers everywhere. This easy smoky jalapeño ranch vegan cheese ball is the perfect party addition!

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword healthy cheese ball, spicy cheese ball
Prep Time 10 minutes
Rest overnight or for at least 4 hours
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6
Author Sophia DeSantis


  • 1-2 jalapenos , chopped (depending on spice preference
  • 1 ½ cups cashews
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Coating (optional):

  • ½ cup crushed crackers or breadcrumbs , gluten free if needed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs of choice

Christmas tree décor (optional):

  • Small round crackers , gluten free if needed
  • Skinny pretzel sticks , gluten free if needed
  • Slivered almonds
  • Chopped colored peppers or other veggies or fruit
  • Chopped herbs , like parsley dill or rosemary for the green of the tree
  • Breadcrumbs for the “snow” , gluten free if needed
US Customary - Metric


  1. You can use the jalapeno fresh or sautéed. If sauteeing it, just use a touch of broth or oil to sauté until it softens and begins to get brown on the edges, but is still nice and green.
  2. Grind the cashews in a food processor until you get a fine powder. You are grinding them dry, not soaked.
  3. Add the vinegar, lemon, salt, liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder and mustard powder and blend until you get a smooth paste, scraping the sides as you go.
  4. Add the parsley, minced onion, dill, pepper and jalapeños and pulse to incorporate. The reason you want to add them now is so they don’t get fully blended into the mixture.

  5. Now scrape out the mixture and place it in cheese cloth, a tea towel or just any piece of cloth. Wrap it up into a ball and rubberband it. If you are making a tree, then wrap it into a more cone shape, twist the top and secure there. See the post for photos.
  6. Put it in a mesh strainer and then put that over a bowl (see photo in the post on this too). Place it in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours, but overnight is best. This will help draw out the small amount of moisture that is in the cheese, firming it up a bit. You don’t have to use a strainer but that helps keep it’s shape.
  7. Now, if you simply can’t wait and must eat this now, or just don’t want to deal with cloth, then you can definitely eat this as more of a spread.
  8. Once set, coat with topping of choice, I used crushed crackers, breadcrumbs and chopped parsley and dill.
  9. If making a tree, then roll it in finely chopped herbs of choice. Set it upright on a plate. Then decorate with whatever you want. Stick in slivered almonds and/or skinny pretzels for branches. Use chopped veggies or fruit for the ornaments. And sprinkle with breadcrumbs at the end for a snowy effect. See the photo in the post on how I did mine!
  10. Serve with crackers and veggies!
  11. The cheese ball will soften the longer it is out of the fridge, but the flavor remains great!

Recipe Notes