Homemade Cheez-Its

Guess what? An improved, updated version of this recipe can be found in my cookbook Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats. Buy it now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie bookstore!

My latest piece for ReadyMade magazine was an assignment that made my junk food-loving heart sing: create a recipe for homemade Cheez-Its and hold a blind taste test to judge them against regular and natural brands.

Unsurprisingly, my call for taste test volunteers was well-received. Putting a bunch of women in a room with a few bottles of wine and asking them to wax poetic on the merits of different cheese cracker brands is something to behold. The best comment of the judging panel: “Can we put these on pizza later?” (I’ve still got the unedited discussion on mp3, if you’re willing to pony up a few hundred bucks for access to our Prosecco-fueled pontifications.)

Our highly scientific findings? We discovered that the perfect Cheez-It cracker has superior crunch, unmistakable cheese flavor that doesn’t devolve into pure saltiness, and just enough grease to leave a light sheen on your fingers.

But the thing is, there’s no such thing as a bad Cheez-It. Even though the slightly sour aftertaste of one brand was unflatteringly compared to fish food (ok, who amongst my friends has actually tasted those little amino flakes? My lips are sealed) and the texture of another reminded us of a communion wafer, we all fully admit that we’d kill a whole box of any of the brands sampled while parked on the couch watching Parks and Recreation. An imperfect Cheez-It is still a mindlessly edible Cheez-It.

Click the image below for a full-size PDF of our Taste Off.

The group wasn’t as kind to the other kind of junk food we taste tested that night. Note to “healthy” cookie companies: when you get responses like “tastes like a basement” and “Is this a dog treat?”, it might be time to reformulate your recipes. What is this mysterious food? The answer is revealed in the April/May issue of ReadyMade.

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  1. Christine says

    um…I was not invited to this taste test! I want to be sure to note that as far as Cheez snack crackers go, it’s always the “IT” never the “NIP!”

  2. sarah t says

    oh my…i think i just decided what my first post-dress diet dinner will be. care to suggest a wine pairing?

  3. NoPotCoooking says

    Oh yummy! I have made cheese crackers before, but have not tried to replicate Cheez-Its which my kids love! Will have to try these for sure!

  4. says

    What are you doing to me? First homemade poptarts and now Cheez-its. Okay, I’m going to add these to my list to try. I really like the white cheddar ones though–I guess I should use white cheddar then? Or should I do half and half so that it’s sharp enough?

  5. Jane Boursaw says

    Oh man. I can practically feel the cheesy goodness of these wafting through the computer screen.

    What?! Home-made pop-tarts? Must search through your archives for that one…

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Jen, you could also make the dough in a food processor – just use short pulses to mix the dough so you don’t overwork it. I wouldn’t recommend making it by hand, since it’s pretty dense!

  6. mindy says

    if you don’t have a fluted pastry cutter, would a pizza cutter + fork tines work? Do you think the fork tines would even be neccessary?

  7. Amanda says

    I made these for the superbowl and they are so good! I did not have the correct pastry cutter so I used a small start cookie cutter – cute and tasty. I also added a bit of Parmesan cheese for extra bite. Thanks for the great recipe.

    This would be awesome at a kids birthday party or if you are asked to bring finger food to a party. They were not time intensive and were every bit as good as the hype!

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      You definitely don’t need a fluted pastry cutter – a plain pastry cutter, a pizza cutter, a knife, a bench scraper, or cookie cutters will all work equally well. The squares are so thin that fork tines probably aren’t even worth the effort.

      I bet those star-shaped Cheez-Its were super cute… if you’ve got photos, feel free to post them on our Facebook page!

  8. Angel says

    My daughter was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease (toxic intolerance to gluten…found in wheat), and I have been lamenting my inability to buy Cheez-Its anymore. I am thrilled to find this post, and can’t wait to try this recipe with gluten-free flour…Thanks!!!

  9. says

    I’ve been experimenting with making a flatbread sort of version of cheese crackers — basically flour, water, a scant bit of canola oil, and cheese — salt and other seasonaings if desired.
    that’s actually worked out quite well (and is easily mixed by hand), but, of course, a bit of a different thing than full on butter cheese crackers, which sound great.

  10. says

    After downing a box of Cheez-It’s, I thought it would be fun to replicate it. Found you from Google search. I will try this one at some point!

  11. messedupworld says

    I’m now drooling thinking of these but I already KNOW I can eat the whole box of cheese-its and that means I can’t wait until I try my very favorite xsharp, private stock, cabots cheese in this tasty goodness.

  12. smariel says

    I just made these, and they are perfect. Absolutely the best possible combination of crispy, flakey and cheesy. Thanks!

  13. Fawn J says

    I love these i double the recipe add two kind’s of cheeses and use cookie cutters to make themed ccrackers they are awesome

  14. Marsha Henley says

    I made these today and were a real hit, used Tilamook Extra Sharp and added in about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese!! Wonderful. I am going to add some cracked black pepper and possibly some rosemary to the next batch. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Jeff Beutel says

    IF you have a pasta roller and a couple of pasta cutters (flat and fluted), you can make these fancy and uniform – Also, add some baking soda to “fluff” the crackers. Warning – when using a Pasta Roller, you will discover the “hot spots” in your oven (turn the crackers around twice).

  16. Mrs.Worcester says

    What if I don’t have a paddle attachment? Will regular beaters do something weird to it? Can I mix it by hand with a wooden spoon?

    These sound amazing! Maybe I’ll try a half batch with regular beaters to see what happens!

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Mrs. Worcester, it’s a very stiff dough (like a pie crust, but a bit tougher) so you need some horsepower to really work the cheese in – unless you’re Madonna, I don’t think a wooden spoon would cut it. If you have a food processor, you can bring the dough together using the blade attachment: pulse all ingredients except the water together, then add the water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream with the food processor running until the dough forms.

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Bethany, the homemade Cheez-Its will keep for at least a week in an airtight container at room temperature. Beyond that, I can’t tell you because we’ve never had leftovers for very long!

  17. Joy Walko says

    When reading the comments I see that some of you are not aware that Cheez-its ARE made with real cheese; thousands and thousands of pounds, most of it made in a small rural town in Ohio. Cows in Ohio are busy providing milk for your Cheez-its cheesiness.

  18. Nate says

    Whether or not store bought Cheez-Its contain real cheese isn’t the issue for me. I love making good stuff myself. Perhaps there’s a self-sufficiency motivation at work here, but I enjoy knowing that I can make my favorite things myself in the event that [God forbid] Cheez-Its become a thing of the past :)

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Nate, you hit the nail on the head! There’s something so satisfying about making things by hand – whether it’s Cheez-Its, a batch of ice cream, or bacon.

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Jeanne, you could freeze the dough (it’s similar to pie dough) as long as it’s well-wrapped. Thaw in the refrigerator for about a day before rolling out.

  19. Fiona says

    Hi Casey, biscuits look great, can’t wait to make them. I’m in Australia and we use grams in baking… the amount of cheese you suggest, is that 18oz or 1 and an 8th oz.? Then my conversion will be more accurate.

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Hi Fiona, thanks for checking in from Australia! The amount of cheese is one 8-oz. block of Cheddar (which is also a half-pound of Cheddar by weight). Hope that helps with your conversions!

  20. sarah says

    Wondering if it would be possible to use coconut oil rather than butter? It tends to be a bit greasier in recipes so also wondering if you had a suggestion for the substitution?
    These look amazing!!

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Hi Sarah, I’ve never used coconut oil in place of butter in this recipe. You’re more than welcome to try it, but I can’t vouch for its success!

  21. Nina says

    Is there a way to make these Gluten Free? Cheezits are a guilty pleasure that I’d love to be able to have again…

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Nina, you can always use your favorite gluten-free flour blend (like Cup4Cup) in place of regular all-purpose flour.

  22. Shy.irley says

    Just what I wanted–nice and simple. Too much salt though. Cheese is already salt

  23. Holly says

    Why the hole in the middle of the cracker? Can’t I just be lazy and skip the hole? Or does it serve a specific purpose?

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Holly, believe it or not, the holes in crackers (not just Cheez-Its, but Ritz and Town House and Club, etc.) do have a specific purpose! They are called “docking holes” and help vent the moisture and steam that builds up in the cracker as it bakes, thus preventing air pockets from forming. You can skip them, but you’ll have taller and puffier crackers as a result.

  24. says

    I’m an avid make-from-scratch cook but crackers never seemed to be on my radar as something I could make myself. I can’t believe how easy it is and I don’t know why I never knew about it before! This wonderful easy recipe was such a huge hit with my 5 boys that they ate most of them for their after school snack. They will definitely be made again and again.

  25. Adriane says

    Has anyone substituted coconut flour or almond flour for the regular flour before? Successful/fail??