Prepare pecans ahead of time: cook in a pan over medium-high heat, stirring often until slightly browned and fragrant; about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a plate.
Place all remaining ingredients (except pecans) in a large bowl and stir well until completely mixed. You may need to mix by hand as it will be very thick.
Shape mixture into an even ball, about 4-inches in diameter. Roll ball in chopped pecans to evenly coat outside.
Serve immediately with crackers or bread. Or store covered in fridge 1-2 days until ready to serve.
To soften cream cheese, let sit at room temp about 30 minutes. It will soften quicker if you cut into separate slices to allow for more surface area.
If you're having trouble shaping the ball you can place the mixture in the fridge for 5 minutes or wet your hands to stop the mixture sticking to you.
White cheddar makes this cheese ball look very festive and impressive but you can also use yellow/orange cheddar
A sharp cheddar will give the best flavor but you could also try using a smoked cheddar, I don't recommend using a mild one.
If you don't have pecans you could use other nuts such as walnuts, cashews or pistachios
Try to use the highest quality ingredients possible especially for the cream cheese and cheddar. It will make a big difference to the end result especially if you're making this for a special occasion.