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Rack ’em Up Cheese Balls

Total Time

Prep: 2 hours + chilling


16 cheese balls (about 1/3 cup each)

This billiard-inspired appetizer with chipped beef and three kinds of cheese can be served alongside clever breadstick "cues," as well as crackers and vegetable dippers. Make ahead of time to blend the flavors. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen


  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 packages (2-1/2 ounces each) thinly sliced dried beef, finely chopped
  • 2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1-1/4 cups crisp rice cereal, crushed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Blue paste food coloring
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Swiss cheese, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 can (4-1/4 ounces) chopped ripe olives
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 package (2-1/2 ounces) thinly sliced dried beef
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (green tops only)
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet yellow pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper
  • 15 small water chestnut slices
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon whole milk
  • Black paste food coloring
  • 2 breadsticks
  • Assorted crackers


  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, ricotta and sour cream; add beef. Beat in the cheddar cheese, cereal, onion and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. In a small shallow bowl, combine blue food coloring and Swiss cheese; set aside. Shape cheese mixture into 16 balls. Roll one ball in white onion for the cue ball. Roll another cheese ball in olives for the eight ball. Roll a third ball in colored Swiss cheese; make a stripe of colored Swiss cheese on a fourth ball.
  3. With remaining cheese balls, make six solid-colored balls and six striped balls by rolling in the cheddar cheese, beef, red onion, green onions, yellow pepper and red pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
  4. Thoroughly pat water chestnuts dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, milk and black food coloring. Cut a small hole in a corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert round tip #4. Fill bag with cream cheese mixture. Write numbers on water chestnuts; lightly press one water chestnut onto each ball (except cue ball).
  5. Arrange pool balls on a wooden cutting board. Use breadsticks for pool cues. Serve with crackers.

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