I am an unabashed cheese lover. Most of my favorite foods—mac and cheese, cheesecake, Cheez-Its—have it as a key ingredient. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything with cheese in it that I don’t enjoy. Sadly, consuming vast quantities of cheese and cheese-based products is not an acceptable diet choice, so when I do indulge it has to be good. And by good I mean not only delicious, but something I won’t regret immediately after eating it.
That’s why when I found this recipe for homemade Cheez-Its on Rachel Cooks, I knew I had to try it (I know there are a ton of versions out there floating around the Internet, but I just really like Rachel’s blog). It’s easy, fast, and contains none of the “soybean and palm oil with TBHQ for freshness” that the original Sunshine crackers have. Fun fact, by the way: the FDA only allows 0.02% TBHQ in food products. Why? Because that stuff gets used in biodiesel, varnishes, lacquers, and other toxic chemical nonsense. Do you really want to be eating that?
Adapted from Rachel Cooks
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ tsp. Kosher salt, plus some to sprinkle on top
- 2 tbsp. cold water
- ¼ tsp. paprika
Pulse all ingredients except water together in a food processor until it looks like coarse crumbs. Then add water 1 tablespoon at a time while pulsing until dough forms (it should completely pull away from the sides of the bowl).
Shape dough into a ball or disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to about 1/8-inch. Cut into squares using a pizza cutter. They shrink a little bit in the oven, so cut them slightly bigger than normal size. If desired, use a toothpick to poke a hole in the middle of each cracker—you might have to wiggle the toothpick around to get that signature Cheez-It look—and run a pie crimper along the edges of each cracker.
Sprinkle Kosher salt over the crackers, then separate (a wide offset spatula works great for this) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until crispy.
I swear, they’re just as good as real Cheez-Its. You can adapt this by switching out the type of cheese to imitate other Cheez-It varieties (Mozzarella, Colby, Pepper Jack, Baby Swiss, etc). I’m a purist, though. Give me my original Cheddar and I’m set.
Some other homemade “junk food” I’d like to try:
Do you have any recipes for recreating store-bought snack foods?