RECIPES:
May 6, 2024

Homemade Cheez-It Crackers

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Make your own cheesy and crispy “Cheez-It” crackers at home made with REAL cheese!
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My son is in his snacking era. From what I hear, this really never stops once it starts. While I’m trying to keep up, I love to make many snacks at home with no additives or preservatives. Not only are Cheez-It crackers a nostalgic snack from my childhood, they can be made at home using real cheese! All it really is is cheesy pastry dough cut into cracker size squares and baked until crispy! While I use a pastry cutter to get the rigid edges you can easily just cut them into a square shape.

When making them at home, you can customize that signature cheesy flavor and add additional seasonings. I’ve included some of my favorite variations on the cheese crackers below. To get the signature crisp, the dough needs to be rolled extremely thin. They also need time to cool completely before enjoying them so they can really crisp up. Don’t skip making the hole in the middle of the crackers – it helps to release moisture as the crackers bake and keeps them from puffing up entirely.

Homemade Cheez-It Crackers 

Homemade Cheez It Crackers ingredients laid out in bowls.

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Cheddar cheese – While I use real sharp Cheddar cheese, you can substitute your other favorite cheeses to mix it up. Yellow Cheddar gives it the signature yellow color but white Cheddar also works. 
  • Flour – All purpose flour works as the binder to keep the cheese from just melting. 
  • Butter – I like to use unsalted butter so the level of salt can be more easily controlled. If using salted butter, cut the amount of salt added to the dough in half. 
  • Milk – Milk is used to add moisture to the dough and as it bakes the milk evaporates. I use whole milk because the added fat adds flavor. 
  • Paprika – I add a bit of paprika to the dough to naturally deepen the color of the crackers. Be sure to use sweet paprika and not a smoked variety. This can be omitted if needed. 
  • Turmeric – I use a bit of turmeric in combination with the paprika to add a deep orange color. While mild in flavor, it does have a fairly distinct smell and can be omitted if desired.
  • Salt – Add any additional salt before baking, not after. If it’s added after baking it won’t stick to the cracker. 

How to Make Homemade Cheez-It Crackers

ingredients to make cheez-it crackers in food processor.
Step 1: Add ingredients to food processor. 

Heat oven to 325ºF (170ºC). Add the cheese, flour, paprika, turmeric and salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment or in a blender. Blend until completely combined.

Step 2: Add butter. 

Add the butter and pulse until crumbs form.

food processor dough.
Homemade Cheez It dough in food processor
Step 3: Add milk. 

Next, add the milk and pulse again until a

dough forms.

Step 4: Gather dough. 

Turn it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Gather the dough and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Working one at a time roll out into a thin rectangle about 1/16 ” (1.5mm) thick. 

cheddar cracker dough rolled out with rolling pin and pastry cutter on marble.
rolled out cheddar cracker dough.
Step 5: Cut crackers. 

Cut into 1” (2.5cm) squares using a knife, pizza cutter or the beveled edge of a pastry cutter for the signature fluted edges. Gather and reroll any scraps.

Step 6: Add to baking sheets. 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Use a metal spatula to transfer the crackers to the baking sheets. Use the flat end of a skewer to poke a hole in the middle of each square. Sprinkle with additional salt.

separated dough Homemade Cheez It Crackers with fluted edges.
Homemade Cheez It Crackers on baking sheet.
Step 7: Bake crackers. 

Bake until golden brown on the bottom, about 17 to 20 minutes. If the dough is uneven some may be finished before others, so begin checking at 17 minutes and remove any that are golden on the bottom while the rest finish baking.

Step 8: Serve or store. 

Let cool completely before serving. Serve, or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Homemade Cheez It Crackers.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

Swaps and substitutions 
  • The butter can be swapped for vegetable oil. 
  • The turmeric and paprika can be omitted since they are used for coloring rather than flavor. 
Adding crispiness 

While the crackers last for up to 1 week in an airtight container, they may start to lose their crispiness. To make them crispy again, add to a baking sheet and heat at 325ºF (170ºC) for 5 minutes. 

Variations 
  • Gluten free flour. Substitute the flour with a 1:1 gluten free flour. It will make the dough drier so I recommend using ¼ cup (62g) of milk and room temperature butter rather than chilled. The dough may also require a bit more kneading to bring it together before rolling it out. 
  • Parmesan cheese. Try swapping the Cheddar cheese for 6 ounces (3½ cups or 170g) of freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese. Substitute the paprika and turmeric for ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Because it is a drier cheese I recommend using 3 tablespoons (46g) of milk in the dough. 
  • Ranch seasoning. A combination of buttermilk powder and ground herbs adds lots of flavor to the top of the cheesy crackers. A little goes a long way, so dust the top with about 1 teaspoon (3g) before baking. 
  • Other spices. Try adding a bit of garlic powder and onion powder over the top of the cut cracker dough before baking, along with additional salt for an extra blast of flavor. 
  • Monterey jack. Swap the Cheddar for another semi-hard cheese like Monterey Jack (or Pepper Jack if you’re feeling spicy). 
parmesan and pecorino romano cheez it crackers with black pepper.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this homemade Cheese-It cracker recipe, give these recipes perfect for nostalgic cravings a try: 

Homemade Cheez-It Crackers

Print Pin
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces sharp yellow Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for the crackers
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½” (1.3cm) pieces
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

Instructions:

  • Heat oven to 325ºF (170ºC).
  • Add the cheese, flour, paprika, turmeric and salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment or in a blender. Blend until completely combined.
  • Add the butter and pulse until crumbs form.
  • Add the milk and pulse again until a crumbly dough forms.
  • Turn it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Working one half at a time roll out into a thin rectangle about 1/16” (1.5mm) thick.
  • Cut into 1” (2.5cm) squares using a knife, pizza cutter or the beveled edge of a pastry cutter for the signature fluted edges. Gather and reroll any scraps.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Use a metal spatula to transfer the crackers to the baking sheets. Use the flat end of a skewer to poke a hole in the middle of each square. Sprinkle with additional salt.
  • Bake until the crackers are golden brown on the bottom, about 17 to 20 minutes. If the dough is uneven some may be finished before others, so begin checking at 17 minutes and remove any that are golden on the bottom while the rest finish baking.
  • Let cool completely before serving. Serve, or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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