These fried goat cheese balls are made with an almond flour cracker crust and lightly pan-fried in heart-healthy olive oil for a better-for-you recipe that tastes just as good as the original! Serve them as a tasty appetizer, snack, or side dish perfect for every occasion.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a fiend for all things goat cheese. From honey whipped goat cheese appetizers, to savory goat cheese gluten free muffins, and goat cheese pasta, I can never get enough! In fact, one of my all-time favorite snacks are fried goat cheese balls. Crisp on the outside yet creamy and smooth on the outside, they’re completely irresistible. However, traditional fried goat cheese is made with heavy ingredients and lots of oil.
So, I decided to lighten things up a bit with a gluten free almond flour cracker crust, pistachios, and olive oil. As a result, these fried cheese balls have half the fat and all the flavor of the original recipe. Surprisingly simple to make, they look extremely fancy and are perfect for gameday appetizers, holiday parties, and everything in between!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Crackers - I used Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers for a lighter coating, but any cracker you like best will work.
- Pistachios - Combined with the crackers, these add a nice crunch to your fried goat cheese as well as healthy fats to keep you satisfied.
- Goat cheese - The star of the show, goat cheese logs can be found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores. Keep the recipe simple with plain cheese or spruce it up with an herbed variety.
- Flour - Used to coat the cheese and help the cracker mixture stick, tapioca flour or all-purpose flour work great.
- Egg - Not only do eggs provide an extra boost of protein and fats, but they also help the cracker crust stick to the cheese balls.
- Oil - Unlike traditional fried goat cheese that are dunked in saturated fats, this recipe utilizes a sparing amount of olive oil for a snack you can feel good about. Feel free to swap it out with any other oil you have on hand such as avocado oil or vegetable oil.
- Honey - Technically optional, a drizzle of honey perfectly compliments the salty cheese for the perfect balance of savory and sweet.
- Sea salt - A little goes a long way to elevate the rest of the ingredients and enhance their flavor.
How to Make Fried Goat Cheese Balls
You will need a food processor and a small frying pan to make these fried cheese balls. Make sure you have plenty of room in the freezer to allow them to set.
Step 1: Create the crust. Pulse the crackers in a food processor, and pulse until they are broken into fine pieces. Add the pistachios, and pulse again to break them up. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and set it aside.
Step 2: Slice the goat cheese. Cut the cheese in half lengthwise. Then, cut it in half again widthwise. Cut each section into 6 pieces, and roll them into balls.
Step 3: Whisk and separate ingredients. In a bowl, whisk the egg until smooth, and pour the tapioca flour into a separate bowl.
Step 4: Coat the goat cheese balls. Working in order, coat all of the cheese balls in the tapioca flour followed by the egg wash. Then, dredge them in the cracker mixture, and set them on a plate.
Step 5: Freeze and fry. Set the goat cheese balls in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. In the meantime, add roughly ½ an inch of oil to a skillet, and warm it over medium heat until it is gently sizzling.
Add 6 cheese balls to the pan, leaving space in between them. Let them cook for about 1 minute. Then, flip them over, and continue to cook for another 20-60 seconds or until the cracker coating is golden brown.
Repeat this step, adding oil to the pan as needed until all of the cheese balls have been cooked.
- Make sure to blend up your crackers well until a fine flour-like consistency is formed. There should be no large pieces of crackers left. This ensures the entire goat cheese ball will be coated in the mixture.
- Don’t skip the freezer step! This is key in getting your goat cheese balls well toasted without them melting on the skillet. All they need is at least 15 minutes to get firm and then they’re good to pan fry.
- Keep an eye on the oil. You want it to sizzle in the pan but not be so hot that it begins to pop. If this happens, remove the pan from the heat, and let it cool slightly before placing it back on the burner. Otherwise, your cheese may burn!
- Use a small skillet for pan frying and only cook a few at a time. This allows you to tend to about 6 balls at a time reducing the risk of overcooking them.
How to Serve
These fried goat cheese balls are definitely best when enjoyed right away. They make for a great appetizer and complete the perfect party spread when served alongside carrot and celery sticks and hummus.
How to Store
If you have leftover goat cheese balls, let them come back to room temperature before placing them in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for up to 5 days in the fridge.
When you’re ready to eat, toast the leftovers in a toaster oven. Or, place them back on the skillet with a little oil to crispen up the coating again before enjoying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, but the balls need to be frozen solid beforehand. If they are still somewhat soft, they will melt in the air fryer. I recommend freezing the assembled goat cheese balls for at least 3 hours before air frying them at 400 for 3 - 4 minutes.
Not enough time in the freezer can lead to soft and crumbly goat cheese balls. Make sure they are firm before you pan-fry them in the skillet.
If you use a gluten free cracker then yes, they are completely gluten free.
check out these recipes for more ways to use goat cheese:
PS : If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a star review and comment below! Also be sure to follow along with me on Instagram and Pinterest to stay up to date on all tasty recipes here at The Fit Peach!
Fried Goat Cheese Balls
- 4.25 oz crackers of choice - I used Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers
- ¼ cup pistachios
- 8 oz goat cheese - plain or herbed
- ⅓ cup tapioca flour - or all purpose flour
- 1 egg
- Olive oil - any oil will work like avocado oil or vegetable oil
- Honey - to top, optional
- Sea salt
- Add the crackers to a food processor or blender and blend until the crackers become fine and no large pieces remain. Add the pistachios and pulse a few times to break them up. It’s okay to have little pieces of pistachios in the mixture - this is what adds some crunch! Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl and set aside.
- Slice up the goat cheese log into 24 teaspoon-sized pieces. I do this by cutting the long in half lengthwise and then again widthwise. You should then have 4 sections that you can cut into 6 pieces for a total of 24 pieces. Roll each one into a ball with the palms of your hands. Place the goat cheese balls on a plate and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg well and pour the tapioca flour into another bowl. You should now have 3 bowls and a plate of goat cheese balls.
- Use a free space on your countertop and line up your dishes in this order - goat cheese balls, tapioca flour bowl, egg wash bowl, cracker and pistachio bowl. Place another plate at the end of the line. Going down the line, dip each goat cheese ball into the tapioca bowl and toss to coat well. Then place the ball into the egg wash and make sure all sides are coated. Finally dredge the balls in the cracker and pistachio bowl to get a nice thick coating over the cheese balls. Set the finished balls on the plate at the end and repeat with remaining balls.
- Place the plate of goat cheese balls in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. This helps the cheese in the middle to firm up so it doesn’t melt when frying.
- Meanwhile, fill a small skillet with about ½ inch of oil and heat over medium heat. Your skillet should be small enough to fit 6 goat cheese balls. You will want to play with the heat so ensure the stove isn’t too hot. You want the oil to be sizzling but not popping. Place 6 of the frozen goat cheese balls in the pan, leaving some space in between each one. Let them cook for about a minute before turning them over onto the other side for another 30 - 60 seconds. You will know they are done when the cracker coating turns a golden brown color. Repeat this process with remaining goat cheese balls, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.
- Serve the fried goat cheese balls warm with a drizzle of honey (optional) and sea salt on top and enjoy!