Hot, gooey fried cheese balls with a crispy coating, studded with bacon and dipped in a creamy buttermilk ranch dressing. This is one knock your socks off appetizer. It rivals Fried Crawfish Etouffee Balls as the best fried balls I’ve ever made.
But careful not to eat too many. They are super rich and heavy and can induce a tummy ache if one overindulges. Just ask my son.
Southerners love their pimiento cheese. If you didn’t grow up in the south, you probably don’t understand the allure of this bright orange concoction consisting mostly of shredded cheddar cheese and mayonnaise. If you weren’t fortunate enough to have been exposed to pimiento cheese at a young age, it can take some getting used to. But once you acquire a taste for it, there’s no going back.
Fried Pimiento Cheese Balls with Ranch Dipping Sauce
- 4 ounces sharp white cheddar, finely grated
- 4 ounces sharp yellow cheddar, finely grated
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 4 ounces diced pimientos, drained
- 1 tablespoon grated onion
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup panko crumbs
- Peanut oil for frying or Canola oil
- 1/2 of a .4-ounce package Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch dry mix
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- To make dressing, whisk together ranch mix, buttermilk, and mayonnaise in a bowl and refrigerate.
- In a medium bowl, combine all 3 cheeses, mayonnaise, pimientos, onion, cayenne pepper, and bacon. Mix well and refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight.
- Form cheese mixture into 1 and 1/2 inch balls. Place milk, flour, and panko crumbs in 3 different bowls. Season flour and panko crumbs lightly with salt. Dip balls in flour, then in milk, and finally, coat with panko crumbs. Place on a tray and freeze for 1 hour.
- Pour 2 inches of oil into a Dutch oven and heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry balls 4-6 at a time for about 2 minutes, then flip and cook another 2 minutes or until lightly browned and warm and gooey in the center. If needed, keep cooked balls warm in a 200 degree oven.
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