Whether you’re hosting a Halloween party or attending one, the most important thing (aside from your costume) is serving up some spooky appetizers for Halloween that actually taste good. These eyeball-esque Cheese Olive Balls – are savory bites that everyone enjoys. Make up a batch of witches brew and serve these Halloween party appetizers for a ghoulish treat.
A few years ago, I was invited to a Halloween party for adults. I dressed up like a Geisha — with full white face, a wig and a shiny gold and red kimono. Scott went as a Samurai — replete with sword and creepy makeup. When we got to the party, they had tapped a keg, had a few jugs of wine and had laid out some holiday-themed snacks… things like dirt cake with gummy worms coming out of the “ground,” witches hat oreo cookies and marshmallow ghosts. However, there were no savory Halloween appetizers. Just sweets. I can’t do alcohol AND sweets together, so I ended up with drinking way more than I intended, with nothing to soak it up — and at the end of the night, I made Scott stop on the way home for a much needed burger break. Picture a tipsy geisha scarfing down a quarter pounder with cheese at midnight. Not pretty, folks.
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Savoury Halloween Food
That party made me think — there had to be Halloween food ideas for adults.
- Halloween party appetizers that leaned toward an adult palate.
- Creative Halloween appetizers that you could serve at a regular cocktail party, just by changing up the presentation.
- Most of all, easy Halloween party snacks that don’t require a sculpting class to make.
These Cheese Olive Balls fit the bill, perfectly. With just a handful of pantry staples, some grated cheddar cheese and a few jars of Manzanilla olives, you can make Halloween party appetizers that everyone will love.
To Make Cheese Olive Balls:
- Combine the flour, mustard & cayenne in a large bowl and whisk together.
- Add the cheddar cheese and toss to coat.
- Stir in the melted butter, until the mixture becomes hard to stir.
- Use your clean hands to work the cheese mixture into a soft dough.
- Drain the olives and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Pinch off a teaspoon sized bit of dough and flatten it into a circle.
- Place the olive (stuffed side up) in the center of the circle and mold the cheese dough around it so that only a little green olive and red pimento show through.
- Transfer to a cookie sheet and refrigerate for one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400° and bake the cheese olive balls for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
- Transfer to a serving platter and enjoy while warm.
Pro-Tip: Don’t use pre-shredded cheddar cheese for this recipe. The packaged, pre-shredded cheeses have anti-caking agents added to them so they don’t stick together. That’s fine for tacos, but you actually want the moisture of the cheese in order to bind the ingredients for these cheese balls. Grab a block of extra sharp cheddar and use the fine holes on a box grater to grate the cheese. This will make it much easier to mold and adhere — and also make the cheese olive balls taste cheesier.
My taste testers loved the cheesy baked puff with the briny olive inside. I think what makes these cheese olive balls special is the mustard and cayenne in the mix. Dry mustard inherently makes cheese taste — cheesier. I also use dry mustard to enhance the cheese flavor in my Mac n’ Cheese and these Pecan Cheddar Crackers. The spice of cayenne isn’t overpowering in these hors d’oeuvres, but if you like a little more heat, you could add a pinch or two more to the flour mixture to increase the tingle factor.
More Halloween Party Appetizers:
Obviously you’ll want more than just a few cheese olive bites to munch on at your party, so I’ve asked some of my fellow bloggers to share their favorite savory Halloween appetizers.
- Pumpkin Sage White Bean Hummus via Rhian’s Recipes
- Halloween Taco Dip from The Tipsy Housewife
- Peppered Tombstone Cracker Spread by Delicious Table
- Halloween Deviled Tea Eggs via Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Spinach Souffle Stuffed Mushrooms from What A Girl Eats
- Roasted Beetroot Hummus with Pita Chips by Happy Kitchen Rocks
- Jalapeno Pumpkin Dip from Whitney Bond
Incidentally, if you’re looking at this recipe and it doesn’t happen to be Halloween, these Cheese Olive Bites are a great appetizer anytime. Just mold the cheese dough completely around the olive and bake as usual… Now you’re ready for any holiday or get together.
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Cheese Olive Balls - Halloween Party Appetizers
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper or more if you like heat
- 3 cups finely grated shredded cheddar cheese not the packaged pre-shredded kind.
- ¾ cup melted butter
- 48-60 small pimento stuffed manzanilla olives (can use kalamata, too)
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, mustard and cayenne pepper. Whisk to combine. Add the cheddar cheese and stir to coat the cheese.
- Make a well in the center of the cheese mixture and add the melted butter. Use a wooden spoon to combine the flour, cheese, butter mixture. The mixture will become harder to stir and that's when you use your hands to fully combine the cheese dough.
- Drain the olives and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Scoop 1 teaspoon of dough and shape it around the olive, taking care to allow the pimento and part of the olive to show through the dough. Transfer to a baking sheet. Continue to form "eyeballs" with the rest of the dough and olives.
- Refrigerate for one hour before baking. While the olives chill, preheat the oven to 400°. Bake the cheese olive bites for 15-20 minutes or until golden and puffy. Transfer to a platter and serve.
MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZER DIRECTIONS:
- Can be made ahead to this point and frozen, not touching in a single layer for two hours or until solid. Transfer to a freezer bag and keep frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw before baking, using the baking instructions above.
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Haven’t tried these yet, but they look delicious. My entertaining has been substantially cut down this year, and I’m wondering if this receive can either be halved, or whether they would freeze. (My gut says no to the freezing idea) Thanks.
You can absolutely cut the recipe in half. Not sure how they’d freeze, but if you were to do it, I would completely cover the olive with the cheese mixture… That’s the way we make them for appetizers every OTHER day of the year.
Jessica C says
Hi! I was wondering if I could make these ahead or if they really needed to be warm to be enjoyable? I wanted to make these for my family for a SPOOKY Halloween Dinner, but I need to prep everything that morning. Thanks for the tip!
You can make them ahead and rewarm them at 325° for 8-10 minutes.
Denise White says
These sound good. I know it says all purpose flour, but I was wondering if it’s supposed to be self-rising flour since there’s not baking powder, salt, etc.
No, it doesn’t require any leavener. AP flour is the way to go.
So cute for Halloween! But really, what awesome flavors you have here. Love the cheesiness and the olives – would be perfect for appetizers any time of year!
Lisa Huff says
How cute are these?! So perfect for Halloween and fall parties. Love!
Wow with these hearty and a bit creepy cheese balls your Halloween party will for sure be a hit;)
Mary Bostow says
Oh yum! My whole family would go crazy for these! This recipe looks super easy and full of ingredients my family loves. Looking forward to trying soon.
I hope they enjoy them — my taste testers went back again and again.
Priya Shiva says
These cheese balls look super cute! I can eat the whole bowl!
Mindy Fewless says
Love these!! They’re so yummy and perfect for halloween!