Last updated on September 14th, 2020
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 or your local indie bookstore!
If there’s a such thing as an origin story for my first cookbook, Classic Snacks Made from Scratch, homemade Cheez-Its (not homemade Goldfish crackers!) are at the center.
Way back in 2011, when print magazines were still a thing, I had a semi-regular contributing gig at ReadyMade magazine.
And for the magazine’s “Taste Off” column, I was tasked to create a recipe for homemade Cheez-Its as part of a blind taste test.
My from-scratch Cheez-Its would be judged against store-bought brands, both the namesake originals and the host of generics and “natural” versions.
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?”)
Our highly scientific findings? An imperfect Cheez-It is still a mindlessly edible Cheez-It.
But though there’s really no such thing as a bad cheese cracker, the perfect Cheez-It has a few characteristics to set it apart.
It’s got superior crunch, unmistakable cheese flavor that doesn’t devolve into pure saltiness, and just enough grease to leave a light sheen on your fingers.
Those were the points I took with me when I created my homemade Cheez-It recipe, and the results were so stunningly addictive that I was inspired to continue on the path to creating more homemade versions of everyone’s favorite junk foods.
And two years later, Classic Snacks Made from Scratch was released to the delight of snack fans across the globe.
And even now, in 2019, when I make these homemade Cheez-Its, I am still thrilled by the results. They were my first love and they’re still here for me after all this time.
With the perfect salty crunch and just enough cheesy grease to make you want to lick your fingers, I guarantee they won’t disappoint.
- 1 8-ounce block extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cubed unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (120 grams; 4 1/4 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons ice water
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cheddar, butter, and salt until soft and homogenous.
- Add the flour and mix on low speed; the dough will be dry and pebbly.
- Slowly add the water and continue to mix as the dough coalesces into a mass.
- Pat the dough into a disk, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each into a very thin (1/8 inch or less) 10x12-inch rectangle.
- Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut the rectangles into 1-inch squares, then transfer to the baking sheets.
- Use the tip of a chopstick to punch a hole into the center of each square.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until the crackers are puffed and browning at the edges. Watch carefully, as the high fat content of the crackers makes it a fine line between golden delicious and burnt.
- Immediately move the crackers to racks to cool.
Crackers will keep for up to 1 week in a sealed container at room temperature.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2011 and updated in 2019.