Cheez-Its are one of those snacks that we loved as kids. They’re one of those snacks that we’d sneak into the shopping cart when mom wasn’t looking. They’re one of those snacks that our parents would uselessly try to ration. (We’d just climb into the pantry and grab another handful when their backs were turned.) They’re one of those snacks that, as college kids, we’d eat an entire box while cramming for final exams — or while sitting in the back seat of the car during summer road trips with the fam.
Suffice it to say, we’re stoked about these DIY Cheez-Its. Like all good copycats, this recipe yields a batch of crackers that tastes just like the real thing — except the wizards in our test kitchen managed to make them way, way cheesier with a combo of extra sharp cheddar and Parmesan. They’ve also got a punchy, savory note thanks to a little smoked paprika and garlic powder.
Crackers aren’t something people tend to make from scratch, but prepping this dough is exceptionally easy. Everything, including the cheese grating, happens right in your food processor. And once it’s rolled out, you can enlist your little Cheez-It fiends to help you cut out the squares — or stars or hearts or dinosaurs. Right angles not required! The only requirement: poking a hole in the center and fluting the edges with a fork; it stops the crackers from puffing up too much in the oven.
It’s a good thing these copycat Cheez-Its are so fun to make because — trust us — they’ll be gone in the blink of an eye. But, since they’re made with simple, recognizable ingredients found in your pantry, you can feel okay about letting your kids (and yourself) eat them by the fistful.
Our tips: When your Cheez-Its are done baking, turn off the oven for about an hour and consolidate the crackers onto a single baking sheet. Then, return them to the cooling oven to dry for at least 8 hours. This trick lowers the moisture content of the crackers, so they turn out super crispy. Also, grown ups, we highly recommend pairing your fistfuls of DIY Cheez-Its with a large pour of red wine.
2 oz Parmesan cheese
6 oz Gelson’s sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp garlic powder
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
2 Tbsp cold water
In a food processor fitted with the shredding disc, grate the Parmesan and cheddar cheeses. Transfer the shredded cheeses to a bowl.
Swap out the shredding disc attachment for the blade attachment and put the cheeses back into the food processor. Add the flour, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and butter. Pulse until the ingredients are combined and the mixture has a coarse crumb, about 10 seconds.
Add the water and pulse until the dough forms a ball, about 20 seconds.
Remove the dough from the food processor, transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment, and roll it into a ⅛”-thick rectangle. Using the parchment, slide the dough onto a baking sheet and chill it in the refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using the parchment, transfer the dough to the counter and use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 1” squares.
Using the end of a wooden skewer, poke a hole in the center of each cracker and flute the edges with a fork.
Arrange the squares on the two lined baking sheets, ½” apart. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Bake the crackers for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they’re lightly browned.
The crackers may be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Recipe adapted from: The Kitchn