Smokey Homemade Cheese Crackers

Smokey Cheese Crackers from Scratch

Do you remember eating cheese crackers as a kid? Or should I say cheeze crackers? Would that jog your memory? Opening that red cardboard box and tearing through the brown, waxy paper with dots of grease on it was something I enjoyed. Maybe a little too much. Cheese crackers were one of my favorite indulgences and one of the main reasons I put on a few extra pounds in junior high. Plus there were these huge, soft chocolate chip cookies in the cafeteria… These days, I rarely let myself eat things like that. Mostly because once I start, getting me to stop is like standing in front of a raging freight train; nearly impossible unless you’re a super hero. But I also avoid them because of simply not knowing what on earth is in there. What did they do to give them that radioactive orange glow? And why, oh why, are they so addicting?

Dough for Cheese Crackers

This recipe may not solve any cracker-addiction problem you may have, but at least we know exactly what has gone into them. And there is no greasy, waxy brown bag inside a cardboard box to worry with. The color comes from two things: cheese (duh), and smoked paprika. I had the urge to make a sweetly smokey flavored cracker and the paprika- smoked paprika- made that possible while also adding to the lovely color.

Poking Holes

Brad and I were just talking the other day about how, when you visit a charming café on one of the side streets of Rome, it’s so nice when they bring a tiny bowl of salty potato chips. Not a massive, 2 bazillion calorie truck load of fried stuff that you might find here in the States. Just a small sampling to nibble on between sips of your Prosecco is all you need. These crackers would be perfect for just that purpose. They have so much flavor that you really don’t need handful after handful (although if that’s how you eat them I will not judge) and they pair beautifully with a nice, dry rosé, a bright, bubbly champagne, or a deep, dark Shiraz.

Making Cheese Crackers

For the past couple of years I’ve been talking about trying to make these, but without sufficient counter space or a working oven in our teeny tiny Tokyo kitchen, the cheesy crackers were put on the back burner. On the one hand, I’m kicking myself for not trying to make these sooner because they are so incredibly easy (um, 7 ingredients, people), while on the other hand I’m glad I waited. Because 2 years ago this wouldn’t have happened:
Cracker Stealer

Moments like these are well worth the wait.

If you’ve been on the fence about trying to make your own crackers, I recommend taking the plunge. They are not at all difficult and the flavor is so much better- richer, deeper, cheesier- than the store-bought variety. And you don’t have to make them smokey if you don’t want to. Just omit the paprika if you prefer. I also think adding some fresh dill to the dough would make a nice, summery version perfect for parties and at-home happy hours.

Smokey Homemade Cheese Crackers

Recipe adapted from…wait for it… Tidy Mom who adapted it from In the Kitchen with Kath who adapted it from Smitten Kitchen …Food bloggers UNITE!

  • 6 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoon whole milk milk*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine the shredded cheese, butter, flour, salt and smoked paprika. Pulse about 12 times, 1 second for each pulse, until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the milk and pulse until the dough sticks together when you press it between your fingers. If it is too dry, add a tiny bit of extra milk until you get a nice consistency.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and, using your clean hands, form it into a ball. Flatten the ball just slightly to form an oval. Now, use a rolling pin that has been lightly floured to roll the dough into a rectangle. Using a pizza cutter and a ruler to help with accuracy, cut the dough into 1 inch squares.

With the flat end of a wooden skewer, poke a hole in the center of each square. Using a large spatula, transfer the squares to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to brown.*

Notes:

*The original recipe says to use 1 tablespoon, but I found my dough to be too dry with only 1. Start with 1 and add more if needed.

*I had to bake my crakers a little longer to get them as crispy as I wanted- nearly 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them and remember that as they cool they will become more crisp.

 

22. April 2013 by Rachael White
Categories: Cocktails & Appetizers, Vegetarian | 15 comments

  • Heather Whelpley

    I definitely remember those middle school cookies! 4 servings of cookie for less than a dollar is what every 12-year-old needs in the middle of the day, right?

    • http://rachaelwhite.me/ Rachael White

      I know, right? They were terrible. I cringe thinking about how many of those I ate…

  • http://twitter.com/TidyMom Cheryl Sousan

    LOL……now that is passing around a recipe!! thanks for the shout out I LOOOVE your pictures and story!! beautiful post!!

    • http://rachaelwhite.me/ Rachael White

      Hi Cheryl! Thanks so much for the comment! Sorry it took me so long to respond- so thankful you posted your recipe. It’s a definite favorite in our house now!

  • Erin

    Oh, yum. Dave loves cheese crackers, so I will definitely be giving these a try. They sound very yummy!

    • http://rachaelwhite.me/ Rachael White

      I want to try them with different kinds of cheese- maybe Gouda the next time around? Or Parmesan?

  • JustineSulia

    Oh my, these sound incredible. Beautiful photos!

    • http://rachaelwhite.me/ Rachael White

      Thank you! They are quite delicious. I need to make them again soon!

  • Pat

    Yeah but. . . what oven temperature do you bake them at?

    • http://rachaelwhite.me/ Rachael White

      350 :)

  • http://twitter.com/sarahmccoll Sarah McColl

    The truth is, I don’t have to reach back to childhood to remember eating these. I have been known to go to town with a box of Cheez-Its and a glass of wine and call it some version of heaven. These look infinitely more grown up (and less shameful). :)

    We’re celebrating childhood favorites this month on the Shine Supper Club and this recipe would be a lovely contribution. I hope you’ll join us!

    • http://rachaelwhite.me/ Rachael White

      I’m so sorry I missed this! Not sure how this comment slipped past me…

  • Pingback: Top 5 Toddler Approved Foods | Set the Table

  • Jenny Lewis

    This recipe was a bust for me. Two important details were left out: how thin to roll ‘em and how far apart to place them on the baking sheet. Mine just spread out while baking and melted together in one giant sheet of cheese, and they had the texture of a soggy potato chip. Eck. Also, I think my dough turned out a little bit too wet.

    • http://rachaelwhite.me/ Rachael White

      Jenny, I’m so sorry to hear that this recipe didn’t work out for you! I tried to show the thickness of the dough in the photos in the post- it’s pretty thin- about an 1/8 of an inch. As far as how far apart to place them on the baking sheet, mine were less than 1/2 an inch apart and didn’t run together, so I’m guessing the texture of your dough would be culprit there. Even if the crackers had been spaced further apart they shouldn’t run together and have the texture of a soggy potato chip- what a bummer that must have been! The dough should be just wet enough that it comes together when you press it with your fingers but not so wet that it is at all sticky. In fact, it should almost seem too dry but if it sticks together when you press it with your fingers, you’re golden.

      If you’re up for it, I hope you give the crackers another try! We make them all the time at our house using this recipe and they are a family favorite!

      Thanks for letting me know- I hope this information was helpful! -Rachael