Herb Marinated Cheese: Homemade Holiday Gifts

Christmas presents stress me out. I freak out about how much they cost (Why are we spending so much when we need to put in a new drain in front of the garage?); I get fed up by the tit-for-tat expectations (So-and-So is spending this much on me so I have to spend that same amount on So-and-So.); and I get a bit self-righteous about the materialism (I'm not even religious, but this is not what Christmas is all about!). 

So, for those people in my life whom I want to give a thoughtful present to—but don't have the pressure of a present swap—I like to give homemade gifts of food. Whether it's for a friend, a neighbor, or my son's preschool teacher, I think it's a lovely way to say, "I appreciate you." 

Now, there are a million amazing food gifts you can give. I've got nothing against cookies, truffles, or brownies, but I'm already up to my eyeballs in all these sugary goodies. So, I made this simple, sophisticated, savory snack. Tastes delish and looks lovely in a glass jar...what more could you ask for? Oh, how about affordable? Because it's that, too. It can be enjoyed with crackers or crusty bread, on a salad, or atop hot pasta. Yum!

This is really a technique more than a recipe. Amounts will vary based on what size jar you're using and what dried herbs you've got on hand.

What you'll need:

For the goat cheese, I got a large log and cut it into about one-ounce portions. I formed balls with my hands. I added a bit of the oil and some herbs to the bottom of the jar; I used a jam jar, after cleaning it and removing the label. I put in some dried, crushed bush basil, freshly-ground lemon pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. 

Then I placed the cheese balls in the jar, topped with more of the basil and peppers, tucked in some dried rosemary sprigs, and poured EVOO over the whole shebang. Let it marinate for at least four hours before serving; it should keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. Gorgeous!

Cute labels cut out of Trader Joe's holiday shopping bag. Reduce, reuse, and recycle, y'all!

I did basically the same thing for the feta, but I diced it.

Stress-free and lovely, right? Just tell your gift recipients to store the jars in the fridge!

Happy holidays! (Yes, the Full Belly Sisters celebrate both Chanukkah and Christmas. The best of both worlds!)

Check it out: our Herb-Marinated Cheeses were included in this gorgeous round-up on edible holiday gifts from Food Apparel!

 Interested in a vegan version? Check out this Marinated Garlic from Life Currents (we've been lucky enough to have her guest post here on our blog!).


  1. I'm totally making these next year! This is a great idea. It's cooler than cookies but also a lot less work! Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Thanks, i agree! I think they'd probably be nice host/hostess gifts, too, if you're going to a dinner party in the future or something...

  3. This looks so beautiful! Love love love it! Cheese is such a weakness for me, I'll take it over Chocolate (gasp!) any day ;)

  4. I'm with you! I love a good meal of cheese and fruit (and maybe some bread). YUM.

  5. Wow that is truly a wonderful idea for a gift. Home made gifts from the heart are some of the greatest gifts of all. We love being able to be part of your blog! That's just as special as that yummy present. Thank you for sharing Justine. Your blog is awesome and your photos are amazing!

  6. Coming from you, master photographer, that is high praise - thank you!

  7. I think I would probably end up eating these out of the jar at 2 in the morning, and they would never make their way to intended recipients... yum. 

  8. Just make an extra one for yourself - "happy holidays to ME!" :-)

  9. I received this as a gift from Justine. (Happy to be me!) It is delectable! I just dressed up my honey turkey sandwich on 8 grain toast with this pure delight. The tanginess of the herb marinade and the smooth cool creaminess of the goat cheese made my sandwich one for the cooking channel. This is so scrumptious, I could eat it by the vat. Not only is it delicious but the herb marinated goat cheese in the glass jar truly looks beautiful and does makes the perfect gift. Thanks J

  10. You're so sweet! Thank YOU for hooking me up with all those herbs XOXO

  11. I made these for the girls' teachers today! Thanks for the inspiration. Ill post a pix to your wall!

  12. This is an old thread so don't know if you're still checking it, but just in case - I'd really like to try this recipe but I'm wondering about the goat cheese -are you talking about chevre style goat cheese that costs $5 for a tiny ball? The super sticky stuff? I haven't seen any logs but maybe I'm thinking of the wrong stuff. Would appreciate clarification! Thanks!

  13. fullbellysistersMay 3, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    I'm so sorry I'm only seeing your comment all these months later. I'm sure I'm too late with this information, but I can find the cheese at my local supermarket or at Trader Joe's at a good price. This is the kind of log I am talking about: http://tinyurl.com/npronw8

  14. You have so saved me from a run to the mall
    for a neighbor gift!!


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