The Embarrassingly Easy 4-Ingredient Appetizer I Must Bring To Every Party

It'll disappear quickly.

<p>Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox</p>

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Variety is the spice of life—except when it’s not. Have you ever noticed that once you become known for bringing a popular dish to a party, it’s almost an unwritten rule that you’re expected to bring it to every gathering thereafter? It doesn’t matter if you’re looking forward to wowing your fellow partygoers with a new creation, because you’ll never hear the end of showing up without your tried-and-true recipe they’ve been craving all year.

The All-Occasion Appetizer

Thankfully, the dish I’ve become known for at each party—from neighborhood block parties to office potlucks—isn’t complex and doesn’t rely on seasonal ingredients, which means I can bring this crowd pleaser to any function. Plus, it’s something I can make a day ahead of time or whip up at the last minute, and the results are absolutely identical.

Nearly two decades ago, as I was frantically trying to come up with a quick dish to bring to a last-minute party, I discovered a four-ingredient appetizer recipe that just so happened to parallel the same few ingredients I had on hand. I was skeptical that something so simple would be well-received and certainly didn’t expect it to be memorable. And yet, this unexpectedly addicting appetizer disappeared quickly from the buffet table, and everyone was bestowing compliments on me. I’d found a winner, and it was such a relief!

When friends and family have asked for the recipe over the years, I’m literally too embarrassed to share it with them—because then they’ll know just how little effort I really put in and how easily they could make it themselves at home! But, I also feel guilty denying anyone access to this near-effortless appetizer.

<p>Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox</p>

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

The Simple 4-Ingredient Recipe

So I’m ready to divulge the big secret: You simply take 2 softened blocks of cream cheese and mix in a packet of ranch seasoning and a drained can of chicken. Once they are thoroughly combined, form the mixture into a ball and then roll it in some chopped pecans until it’s covered. That’s it.

The chicken cheese ball is creamy, perfectly seasoned, has a nice pop of protein, and the pecans add a little texture. I like to serve this appetizer with a few different types of hearty crackers, but it also pairs nicely with celery and carrot sticks and halved sweet mini peppers for a lighter dish.

And when making this for Thanksgiving or the winter holidays, try adding some dried cranberries alongside the pecans (or fold them in) for a pop of color and a sweet twist to help balance out the saltiness from the ranch seasoning.

Related: 36 Recipes You Can Make With A Block Of Cream Cheese

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