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small white plate holding a few Olive Cheese Balls, sitting next to a martini

Olive Cheese Balls

Olive Cheese Balls are a delicious, impressive and crowd-pleasing appetizer. Tangy pimiento-stuffed green olives are baked in a cheesy, flaky crust and served hot. The best part? These little bites of heaven can be prepared up to 1 month ahead, frozen and then heated just before serving.

Note that the yield (30 to 36 olives) assumes using small Manzanilla olives that are around 3/4-inch long.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 17 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 27 minutes
  • Yield: Around 30 to 36 one-bite balls 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


  • Around 3 dozen small (Manzanilla) pimiento-stuffed green olives (7 ounce bottle, with leftovers)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, or more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 to 5 shakes cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (around 1 cup packed)


  1. Drain liquid from olives and place on paper towel to dry. Make sure they are very dry before wrapping with the pastry.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup flour, paprika, salt and cayenne. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Beat in the cheese until well blended.
  4. Blend in the flour mixture just until combined. Mix in additional flour as needed. The dough should be crumbly and fairly dry, but hold together when pinched. (If it’s too wet, it will spread when baked.) 
  5. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
  6. Pinch off a piece of dough around the size of a walnut half; flatten into a thin, oval shape and wrap around an olive, enclosing it completely. Make sure the dough is tight around the olive.
  7. Place on a cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and olives. Refrigerate olives until very cold – at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
  8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  9. Place refrigerated (cold) cheese olives on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until dough is set and they are lightly browned. Cool for a few minutes, then serve.


Make ahead: cheese olives can be prepared but not baked and frozen on a single cookie sheet (don’t use parchment paper). When frozen, move to a zip top baggie and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw on paper towel (to absorb moisture) for around 4 to 5 minutes, then bake on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet as above. They may take a few more minutes.

  • Author: Lee Clayton Roper
  • Category: one-bite appetizers, make ahead

Keywords: olives, cheese, one-bite appetizer