Gooey melty keto fried cheese balls in a crispy grain-free crust. These delicious little broccoli cheese bites are a perfect keto appetizer for game day. Or any day!
I am excited to introduce you to one of my new favorite keto appetizers. But the problem is that I am not sure exactly what to call them.
Broccoli Cheddar Balls? Broccoli Cheddar Bites? Fried Cheese Balls? Deep Fried Broccoli Cheddar Bites? So many possibilities, none of which succinctly describe the deliciousness you are about to enjoy.
Dang it! What is a food writer to do when words fail?
Never mind, I am too busy stuffing my face with these crispy keto broccoli cheddar balls. Or broccoli cheddar bites. Or fried cheese bites. Or whatever they are.
Keto Fried Cheese Inspiration
Deep frying is not something I do very often. It’s a lot of work, uses a lot of cooking oil, and can make your house smell like fried food for days.
I do love a good keto fried chicken, of course. And I have gone to the trouble of frying my own homemade pork rinds. But overall, I tend to opt for air frying or just plain old pan-frying. Less fuss, less muss!
But I was inspired to create this recipe after seeing these cream cheese avocado bacon bites from Great Grub Delicious Treats. They caught my eye because of all the melty cheese oozing out of a crisp crust.
How could I resist attempting a keto version?
Keto breading for deep frying
I did quite a bit of research before attempting these keto fried cheese balls. The most important thing was getting the keto breading right, and I knew that pork rind crumbs were my best shot at getting a truly crispy coating.
Fried foods are usually coated in bread crumbs, and it’s the gluten in the bread that allows it to stick and crisp up. Because keto pork rind breading lacks gluten, I worried that it would fly off the cheese balls as they hit the hot oil.
I decided to attempt a double coating approach. I first rolled the balls in coconut flour, then dipped them in beaten egg, and the dredged them in pork rinds.
And to my absolute delight, they held up, and crisped up, perfectly!
How to make Keto Deep Fried Cheese Balls
If you love deep fried fried foods, you’re going to love these keto broccoli cheese balls! Here are my best tips for getting it right.
The cheese balls
This is a cream cheese based recipe, so make sure it’s properly softened to work in the other ingredients. Really mash them together with a fork so that they’re well combined.
The cheese balls do need to freeze for several hours before frying, so that they don’t become too soft. Also be sure to keep them no more than 1 inch in diameter, or they won’t cook through properly.
As noted above, I breaded these keto cheese balls in pork rind crumbs. There are quite a few brands of this pork rind panko on the market now, and I used Pork King Good for mine.
Do not try other keto flours for breading. The breading needs to be able to withstand the intense heat of the frying oil and nut based flours will burn.
The egg wash is critical as it helps the pork rind breading stick to the cheese balls.
The cooking oil
I am sure that by now that there are good cooking oils and not-so-good cooking oils. Many conventional fried foods use canola and vegetable oils but they simply aren’t the healthy choice.
I would dearly love to use beef tallow and/or lard for all of my deep frying, as they are the most keto-friendly options. But you need 3 to 4 cups of it and it gets pretty pricy that way.
I do as much lard as I can, along with some healthier high heat oils like light (refined) olive oil or non-GMO sunflower oil.
Monitor that oil temperature frequently! I recommend a good instant read thermometer for this recipe. I found that if the temp was too high, the breading browned too quickly but the cheese wasn’t fully melted and cooked through.
Keep it between 330F and 350F as much as possible, even if this means letting it cool down or heat back up between batches.
Can you make fried cheese balls in an air fryer?
Those of you who don’t love the idea of deep frying will be happy to hear that you can, in fact, make this recipe in an air fryer. I tried a few of the balls that way and while they aren’t quite the same, they are delicious.
Prepare the cheese balls exactly the same way, making sure they are frozen at the time of cooking. Brush the air fryer basket with oil to prevent sticking or use some of the perforated air fryer parchment liners.
Brush or spray the balls on the top with avocado or coconut oil to help crisp them up.
Air fry at 375F for about 7 minutes until golden brown. The timing depends on your air fryer so you may want to try a few as a test run.
They will flatten a bit and won’t be perfectly ball shaped when cooked through but are still crispy and delicious!
More delicious keto broccoli recipes
- Keto Chicken Broccoli Casserole
- Keto Sheet Pan Frittata
- Broccoli and Bacon Alfredo
- Paleo Ranch Chicken and Broccoli
- Keto Broccoli Fritters
- Keto Chinese Chicken and Broccoli
Keto Broccoli Cheddar Bites
Broccoli Cheese Balls
- 1 ½ cups frozen broccoli thawed and drained (about 6 ounces)
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 6 ounces cheddar grated
- 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 3 to 4 cups oil for frying
- Chop the broccoli finely and place in a large bowl. Add the cream cheese, cheddar, garlic, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Mash with a fork until well combined.
- Roll the mixture into balls no bigger than 1 inch, and place on a waxed paper lined baking sheet or tray. You should get about 30 balls. Freeze 3 to 4 hours.
- Spread the coconut flour in a shallow dish. Whisk the eggs and cream together in a medium bowl. Spread the pork rinds in another medium bowl.
- Once frozen, add the oil to a deep heavy duty 4 quart saucepan and bring up to 350F. Do your best to keep the temperature between 330F and 350F. (Any hotter means that the outside of the bites cooks too quickly while the filling doesn't thaw).
- Roll each ball in the coconut flour for a light coatiing, then dip in the egg and dredge in the prok rind crumbs.
- Add 4 to 6 balls to the hot oil and cook about 3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining balls.
- Serve room temperature (don't serve hot of they will burn your mouth with melty cheese!).