I love to experiment with making the homemade version of processed, store-bought foods, so when my sister told me about a recipe for homemade Cheez-its over at Good.Food.Stories that her family was crazy for, I had to get out my rolling pin and get cooking. My sister never steers me wrong and sure enough, these crackers were to die for.
I tinkered with the original recipe a bit, substituting one tablespoon of vegetable shortening (I like Spectrum organic cold-press palm oil shortening) for one tablespoon of the butter. Making the dough with both butter and shortening adds a little structure that makes the crackers less shortbread-y and more cracker-y. If you don’t have organic vegetable shortening on hand, you can just use all butter. I used sharp cheddar cheese instead of extra-sharp, which gives the crackers a slightly milder taste that our family prefers. I also found that reducing the original cooking temperature improved the texture of the crackers; even so, my baking time was less than what the original recipe called for.
After I posted this recipe, several readers wrote in to share their success with other flours:
- Tara made the crackers with King Arthur Gluten-Free baking flour.
- Tracy used brown rice flour and made the crackers for Passover.
- Sarah used white whole wheat flour.
- MN Mom used half whole wheat, half unbleached white flour.
Hurray! I love hearing about the ways you make a recipe your own, and your comments help all of us.
Shall we get started?
Homemade Cheez-It Crackers
*8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
*3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
*1 tablespoon organic vegetable shortening (or substitute 1 tablespoon unsalted butter)
*1 teaspoon sea salt
*1 cup flour
*2 tablespoons ice water
Combine the cheese, butter, shortening and salt in a food processor or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Add the flour and pulse or mix on low speed until the mixture is combined.
Add the ice water slowly with the mixer or food processor running.
The dough will just start to come together, and should look something like this:
You may need to add a few more drops of water, but go slowly so you don’t overdo it. Gather up the dough and pat it into three disc shapes. Don’t knead it or mess with it too much.
Wrap the discs tightly in waxed paper or parchment and refrigerate for at least an hour, or until you’re ready to bake the crackers. The dough can be refrigerated like this for up to 5 days.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Let the dough sit out at room temperature for about 20 minutes, and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your favorite baking sheet. Gently begin to roll the dough out directly on the parchment paper. At first it may seem a little unyielding:
…but just take your time and press the cracks back together as you go.
Keep persevering, and roll the dough quite thin, to a thickness of about 1/8 inch.
Now it’s time for the fun part! Cut the crackers into 1 inch squares. You can use a pizza cutter, a sharp knife, or a fancy pastry cutter to do this.
Poke a hole in the center of each cracker with a skewer. Along with being decorative, the hole allows the steam to escape which helps your crackers bake up nice and crisp.
Use a sharp spatula to separate the crackers gently on the parchment paper and transfer the whole paper (scraps, too – perfect snacks for the chef!) to a baking sheet. Bake the crackers for about 12 to 13 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. (Depending on how your oven cooks, your baking time may be more or less so watch the first batch carefully.)
Cool the whole sheet on a wire baking rack and repeat with the remaining dough. You can serve the crackers warm, or cool them completely and store them in a container with a tight fitting lid. If you’re going to store them for more than a week, you can freeze the crackers in a container and just let them come to room temperature before eating them. They freeze really well.
This recipe makes about 8 dozen crackers. In our household most of these disappeared within 45 minutes of baking, but if you can hold some back they pair really well with a nice glass of Chardonnay.
Enjoy the weekend, and be sure to let me know how you like these crackers!
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