This recipe most definitely falls under the category of “home run” in my kitchen.  I first had a similar dish while at a restaurant in my hometown a few months ago.  It is something I probably wouldn’t have even ordered on my own, but it is one of my dad’s favorite restaurants and he recommended the appetizer to me.  A ball of goat cheese with a Parmesan coating surrounded by a pool of brilliant green basil oil.  Our entire meal was wonderful but the appetizer was the thing that really stood out to me.  For months afterward, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I wanted to try making it but I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my memory.  It was like an itch I couldn’t scratch.  Finally I got tired of just thinking about it and decided to do something about it.  I fully expected to end up making multiple renditions and tweaks but surprisingly, it came out just as I wanted on the first try.  I am embarrassed to admit how much of this I enjoyed for my afternoon snack that day, but I will say that I effectively ruined my dinner :)

If you have bought goat cheese before, you may know that it can vary widely in texture and firmness.  I recommend a semi-firm variety for this recipe, keeping in mind that you need to shape it into a ball.  The step of blanching the basil is meant to help preserve the bright green color in the oil.  Though certainly not a requirement, it makes for a stunning presentation.  The smooth and tangy goat cheese pairs nicely with the subtly sweet basil oil for an appetizer that is both beautiful and tough to resist.


For the cheese ball:

  • ½ oz. Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup panko
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 oz. semi-firm plain goat cheese
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ tsp. coarse salt, plus more to taste

For the basil oil:

  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Baguette slices, for serving


  • 01

    Place the Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until finely ground.  Add the panko to the bowl and pulse a few more times so the cheese and crumbs have an even, fine texture.  Season with freshly ground pepper to taste.  Transfer to a shallow plate or bowl.  Wipe out the bowl of the food processor.

  • 02

    Place the goat cheese in a small bowl.  Finely mince the garlic.  Sprinkle the salt over the minced garlic and smash the mixture together with a fork or the side of a chef’s knife until it forms a paste.  Add the garlic paste to the bowl with the goat cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir the mixture together until smooth and well blended.  Form the goat cheese mixture into a round ball.  Roll the ball in the Parmesan-panko mixture until well coated.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

  • 03

    To make the basil oil, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.  Add the basil leaves to the pot and boil for 30 seconds.  Drain and rinse immediately with cold water.  Blot the basil leaves with a towel to remove all of the excess water.  Add the basil leaves and the garlic to the bowl of the food processor.  Pulse until finely minced.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the food processor running, add the oil through the feed tube in a steady stream.  Continue processing until the mixture is well blended and the oil takes on a green hue.  Strain the oil mixture through a fine mesh sieve onto a serving plate.  Place the ball of goat cheese in the center of the basil oil.  Garnish with additional fresh basil if desired.  Serve with baguette slices.
  • This looks beyond amazing. I love trying out different goat cheese flavours! It’s my favorite :)

  • What a stunning presentation! Perfect for Spring, what with the vibrant basil oil. Gorgeous dish, Annie.

  • Oooooh, that basil pesto is calling my name!

  • Annie, this looks really really awesome. Can’t wait to make it – great photos too – so beautiful!

  • Annie

    I knew you would love this one :)

  • My husband and I are both huge goat cheese lovers. I think this would be a homerun here as well!

  • Truly a home run! Beautiful to look at and, I can only imagine, fantastic to eat.

  • Your photos keep getting better! So beautiful! Gives me hope that mine will look this good one day :)

  • Kim Jewell

    I love, love, love goat cheese. I cannot wait to try this one. Of course, I will have to visit Truffles as well. :)

  • Shauna

    This is my most FAVORITE thing to eat in Bloomington. Love love love it!

  • What a stunning dish!

  • Everything about this looks soo good. I recently fell in love with goat cheese. What a beautiful presentation too… I don’t think I could quite pull that off.

  • Lyndsay

    Is there anyway you can tell me what actual brand of goat cheese you used? I have struggled purchasing the right goat cheese for recipes in the past and I would really like to make this. It looks fabulous!!

  • Annie

    Unfortunately I don’t even remember. I just perused the cheese section, feeling the various types until one seemed right.

  • I know what I’m making at my next wine night! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Wow–what a stunner of a dish! I love the contrast of the bright green and white.

  • This looks awesome! We love having something to dip our bread in. BTW, Love how you put your recipes on Google Docs, it makes them so easy to print!!

  • What a lovely appetizer to serve for a summer party. I make basil oil every year at the end of the summer season to give to friends – might just have to make it earlier now!

  • Your photos look amazing! I can’t wait to try making this appetizer the next time we have dinner guests (or maybe I won’t be able to wait that long and I’ll just have to make it for my husband and myself!)

  • Wow, this is one fancy schmancy, beautiful appetizer! I bet it tastes incredible. I’ll be sure to include this in my next dinner party – It looks delish! Thanks, Annie. :)

  • What a pretty presentation! Sounds divine!

  • This looks absolutely delicious! Not only that, but its an easy appetizer that looks well put together and elegant for guests.

  • Such a beautiful presentation for an appetizer, and very spring-like in color and flavor. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • This is such a pretty dish and looks like such a tasty appetizer as well. Can’t wait to try this one out :)

  • Wow, the presentation really is stunning! What a wonderful spring appetizer!

  • Holy cow, Miss Annie! That is gorgeous. I think it would spoil my dinner as well. You had me at goat cheese!

  • anna maria


  • OK this looks amazing. The theme for my 30iiiish birthday is Trashy/Classy (insert eye roll here) and I am adding this to my classy file! ;)

  • Natasha

    Hi Annie! What an amazing appetizer, can’t wait to make this. How long would the basil oil keep if wanted to make extra and store it?

  • Annie

    Not that long, it’s best made before serving.

  • Not only does that look beyond delish, but it’s pretty as well! I’ve got some small parties coming up and this might very well become my go-to! Fantastic!

  • How beautiful! I can’t wait to make this. I think we need to have an appetizer night for dinner this weekend!

  • Even though I don’t like goat cheese these looks gorgeous enough for even me to eat! I love the colors and how the cheese ball pops on that basil oil!

  • Annie, this is beautiful! I’m glad you took the time to blanch the basil to preserve the color. Just gorgeous!

  • I can’t wait to make it… you rock, girl!!

  • Mmmm! I just planted my herb garden a few weeks ago complete with three basil plants. I always end up with more basil than I know what to do with (which IMHO is a great problem to have!), so I will be making this. We love snacky things at our house!

  • Oh wow, this is such a beautiful dish! All the recipes I’ve seen for crusted goat cheese always involve frying, so this is a nice healthy alternative.

  • This looks awesome! I saw your recipe on Tasty Kitchen this morning and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
    I went to college in Bloomington at IU and I have such fond food memories. I never went to the restaurant you mention, but I LOVE Siam House on 4th street.

  • Wow. These pictures are stunning and the green from the basil oil just screams spring! What a wonderful appetizer idea.

  • Holy moly, Annie…this sounds SO good! Lots of my favorites all piled together: basil, olive oil, goat cheese, parmesan. Yum. Will definitely be trying this soon!

  • Ooooh, yummy!! :)
    Your blog is fabulous, by the way! :)

  • So delicious!! Was a definite hit at a little gathering we hosted! <– that's how mine turned out.

  • Ashley

    I made this yesterday for a baby shower app (along with the Lemon Cheesecake Cheese Ball) and it was amazing! Everyone loved it! Thanks for another fab recipe that will be added to my app rotation! :)

  • Yumm!! This would be delicious and it’s so pretty! I’ve made herb encrusted goat cheese balls a few times for salad but this is something new for me. I can’t wait to give it a go!

  • I recently made this for a family shindig, and it was a big hit! Thank you for all of your fabulous recipes. You are amazing.

  • Lauren

    Totally D-E-L-I-S-H and an absolute crowd pleaser! Had it my baby shower and now I have it made for this afternoon’s happy hour! Bravo!

  • I made a triple recipe of this for a party that we attended last night. Amidst a sea of bacon wrapped wieners and Swedish meatballs, it really stood out. It’s visually stunning and delicious too.

  • Toots

    Please excuse me for being uncool when it comes to something fancier than cheese balls and meatball appetizers.
    Do you dip into the cheese with the bread and drag it through the oil? OR, do you use a knife to spread the cheese on the bread and dip it in the oil? It looks FANTASTICLY BEAUTIFUL.

  • Annie

    We use a knife to spread it onto baguette slices.

  • Ruthi

    How long ahead of time can the cheese ball be made?

  • Annie

    I would think at least a few days.

  • Michelle

    I threw this together tonight and it was the hands down hit of the party, amazing, thank you Annie.

  • Becca

    If the restaurant from your hometown was Truffles in Bloomington, I cannot wait to try this!

  • annieseats

    Yes, it is! I hope you love this as much as we do.

  • Oh WOW!! I have a whole bunch of basil growing. I wish I had a goat and an olive tree, I’d be all set! Seriously, this looks heavenly!

  • Amanda Smith

    Hi Annie! I was wowed by the beautiful presentation of this, and made it for a Christmas party a couple of weeks ago. Not only did it look impressive, but my guests RAVED about it so I’ll be making it again tonight for a NYE party. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this was to make.

    As always, thank you for the wonderful and reliable recipes. Yours is one of the few blogs I know I can cook a new recipe from for guests without testing it first. Keep up the great work, and happy new year!