Football Rye Crackers and Cheese Ball

football rye crackers and cheese ball The Rowdy BakerBring this dish to any football party and be a hero! A smooth, velvety, football-shaped cheese ball is surrounded by sturdy, homemade rye crackers…also shaped like footballs, because – well – football!

After a couple of attempts that yielded hard, very crunchy crackers, I finally got the knack for these.  Add more flavoring if you wish – I kept this pretty basic, preferring to let the flavor of the caraway seeds predominate . These are delicious warm out of the oven…you’ll see!

I tried two different methods for adding the lacing to the crackers. I like the appearance of the little dough laces best, but cutting out all those tiny pieces and pressing them carefully and firmly on each cracker takes a lot of time, so I won’t blame you one little bit if you go the easy route and just press the designs onto the crackers with a table knife – Especially when you consider the crackers will probably be consumed by people jumping and screaming at the TV, and not paying close attention to the detail on each cracker!

This dough is really very easy to roll out, especially if you roll it between sheets of floured parchment. If you want to skip the football shapes, simply use a pizza cutter to cut the crackers into strips and put them, parchment and all, straight onto your baking sheet.

And…in case you’re wondering, they’re delicious with peanut butter slathered on them.

You probably have your own recipe for a cheese ball, right? If not, I’ll tell you how I made mine at the bottom of the post.

Here’s my easy recipe for rye crackers.

Rye Cracker Footballs
The crackers can also be cut into strips on the parchment, and then lifted (without separating them) parchment and all onto an ungreased baking sheet. Follow instructions for baking.
  • ¼ cup cooking oil
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 heaping teaspoon caraway seeds (more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • coarse salt
  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, buttermilk, water, and molasses.
  4. Stir in all-purpose flour, rye flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, garlic salt, onion powder, and caraway seeds. Mixture should be thick, and slightly sticky. If it's very sticky, add a little more flour.
  5. Lightly flour a large piece of parchment.
  6. Place dough on parchment, sprinkle lightly with a little more flour, cover with another piece of parchment, and roll very thin...about the size of a baking sheet. Thin dough makes light, crunchy crackers!
  7. Cut out shapes using a football cookie cutter, and place closely together on the prepared baking sheet. It's best to work with just one pan of crackers at a time, so wrap remaining dough in plastic and place in the refrigerator for now.
  8. There are two ways to create "laces". You can firmly press thin strips of slightly moistened dough onto each cracker, or simple press the lace design into the cracker with a table knife.
  9. Put crackers in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with melted butter (if you make "laces" on football shapes, you may have to gently pat the butter on the surface to avoid dislodging the laces) and sprinkle with coarse salt. Turn oven OFF. Open oven door for 30 seconds (count it: one-chimpanzee, two-chimpanzee...), place pan of crackers back in the oven, close the door and leave them alone for one hour. Don't peek - it will let out the residual heat.
  10. Move crackers to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
  11. If you choose to do all of the crackers at once, test a cracker from each pan. If they aren't completely crunchy, return them to the warm oven for 15 more minutes.

Flatten lightly floured dough and cover with a sheet of parchment.

Flatten lightly floured dough and cover with a sheet of parchment.

Roll the dough thinly.

Roll the dough thinly.

Dough must be VERY thin for light, crisp crackers.

Dough must be VERY thin for light, crisp crackers.

If you lack the patience for gluing tiny laces on each cracker, use a knife and just press in the design!

If you lack the patience for gluing tiny laces on each cracker, use a knife and just press in the design!


Baked! Both option for laces are shown here.

Here’s how I made my cheese ball:

24 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 cups of your favorite cheese, grated (I used sharp cheddar and white cheddar.)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chopped green onions
Optional: a few drops of hickory smoke flavoring, garlic powder, hot sauce.
1 cup finely chopped TOASTED pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped crisp-cooked bacon

Mix together the cheeses and Worcestershire sauce until well blended. I like to use my stand mixer with the dough hook.
Add green onions and additional seasoning, if desired.
TASTE! Between the Worcestershire sauce and the cheese, you probably don’t need to add salt, but now is the time to give it a flavor test.
With damp hands, press the cheese mixture into the shape of a football.
Combine the pecans and bacon. Press onto cheese ball, covering completely.
Transfer to a platter and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve – then surround with lovely rye crackers!

Since I have you here, and you’re actually reading this, may I just say:




2 thoughts on “Football Rye Crackers and Cheese Ball

  1. Crackers! And cheese! I always appreciate a good lesson in how to make crackers since mine always seem to turn out chewy. Your photo helps, but is there a way to know you’ve rolled the dough “thinly” enough? Maybe I am afraid to roll it out to what I think of as “too thin.”

    And many thanks for a cheese ball recipe — I’ve never made one! The bacon touch is genius, I can tell.

    • If you can peel the dough off your parchment, it’s not too thin 😉
      Roll it out about the size of a standard cookie sheet, or a wee bit more. I don’t think there’s such a thing as “too thin” here, as long as you can handle the crackers. If you’re not set on football shapes, just cut the dough right on the parchment and lift the paper onto the baking sheet – that way you don’t have to handle it at all.
      If you go super thin, though, you might want to test your crackers after 30-40 minutes, though.
      Love seeing your comments, Mary Rose – thank you!

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