Homemade Cheez-Its

I think it’s a widely agreed-upon fact that the typical “office-job” environment fosters terrible eating habits. The four years I spent working in an office could serve as a prime example of how someone should not treat their body. At my craziest, I was working between 50–60 hours a week, and allowing no time in my morning routine to eat breakfast or pack lunch. By 7:00 a.m., I’d be at my desk, mainlining coffee and grumbling out responses to emails as I typed them. Around 10:00 a.m., I’d take a break to chat with coworkers and devour an ungodly amount of cheese and crackers. (My department was never without several boxes of crackers and a block of cheese—a modus operandi I still live by, but practice on a slightly more subdued scale.) At least once a week, we’d take a trip to Panera for lunch and I’d justify buying a loaf of tomato basil bread to “take home,” which would then turn into a half hallowed-out bread shell before the day was done. And since I’d be working at least an hour or two late, 3:00 p.m. meant diet Coke and snack time. And any snack machine pro knows it’s worth it to spend the extra quarter on the Cheez-Its, because those 20%-snack/80%-air bags of chips and popcorn are for suckers.

Since I began working from home, my eating habits have improved dramatically. (Though I still shove cheese and crackers in my face on a regular basis.) And while the life of a telecommuter comes with its own set of questionable behavior (i.e., living in pajamas and not showering until noon . . . or 5:00 p.m.), it’s a drastic improvement from my office life. And I was perfectly happy with my bowls of cereal and salad wraps until a couple months ago, when Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen decided to post a recipe for Homemade Black Pepper Cheez-Its. So you’re telling me I can make a ton of cheez-its, using far-better ingredients, and put whatever I want in them? To the kitchen I go!

I held onto this post for a little while because I was actually considering remaking/rephotographing these for a few reasons. First, I’d already thrown the majority of the ingredients into my food processor when I realized the only flour I had in the house was whole wheat. I was disappointed by the unintentional healthy turn my cheez-its had taken—they still tasted pretty great, but definitely had that tell-tale, whole-wheaty color to them. Second, I would really like to make these using a cheddar or gouda that contains annatto, to get them closer to that blinding shade of orange. But I thought about it and realized that they were pretty great the first time around, and half the fun of making these yourself is customizing them however you want. So go ahead and experiment!

Homemade Three-Cheese & Black Pepper Cheez-Its
(adapted from A Cozy Kitchen)

  • ½ cup of sharp cheddar, grated
  • ½ cup of parmesan, grated
  • ½ cup of jarlsberg, grated (if you don’t have access to jarlsberg, any mild-but-yummy cheese—young gouda, emmenthal, etc.—will work as a substitute)
  • 4 tbsp (½ stick) butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
  • ¾ cup of flour
  • 1½ tsp freshly-ground pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt for dough, plus another 1 tsp for topping
  • 1 tbsp half-and-half

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Combine cheese, butter, flour, pepper, and ½ tsp of salt in a food processor. Cover and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the half-and-half and process until the dough comes together.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface. (My dough was a bit sticky, and might have benefited from a little bit of time in the fridge, but I didn’t feel like waiting.) Carefully roll out dough into a 13″ x 7″ rectangle 1/16″ thick. Keep an eye on your dough as you roll it out to make sure it isn’t sticking to the rolling pin, and re-flour the pin if necessary.

Cut the dough into 1-inch squares using a knife or pasta wheel. Poke a hole in the center of each square using the flat end of a skewer, or whatever else you have handy.

Carefully transfer each square to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp of salt.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the ends of the crackers just begin to brown. Let them cool for a few minutes, then snack away!

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Comments

  1. says

    Wow – These are wonderful !!
    Definitely gonna try to make them

    I’m not sure if we have here jarlsberg cheese here (the name is probably different here) – so I might have to substitute

  2. says

    Everything homemade is a treat for me…Now, this recipe makes in between -meals -snacks even healthier without disregarding fun. It looks so crunchy and cheesy…Will definitely try!

  3. Joy says

    These look GREAT! I’m just thinking about how to make the process even easier. Two questions: 1) The hole poked in the middle is just for aesthetics, right? To make them more like commercial cheez-its? and 2) How difficult do you think it would be to cut/break them up AFTER baking, instead of before? I don’t really care if they are assorted shapes and sizes. I’m just guessing that transferring each little square of dough might be an annoying step. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Either way, I’m definitely going to give these a try! Yum! And thanks for posting!

    • says

      Thanks, Joy! Actually, that little hole poked in the center is both cute and functional, as it keeps the crackers from puffing up during the baking process. As far as the transferring of the crackers goes, it’s definitely a tedious process! I think it would be worth it to try rolling the dough out on parchment paper, making the cuts and poking the holes, then transferring the whole sheet onto the baking tray. They might bake together a bit in the oven, but should hopefully break apart easily enough along the cut lines. If you give this method a try, let me know how it turns out!

  4. says

    You quite possibly have changed my life! Never thought to make Cheez-Its at home – they were a staple in my house, and when times were tough and my Mom brought home Cheese Nips, we revolted! No, they are not the same as Cheez-Its!

    Thanks for the recipe – can’t wait to try!

    • says

      Me neither! I avoid seeking out homemade versions of snacks because I know I’ll become obsessed, but sometimes fate just can’t seem to resist intervening and bringing them to me. :)

  5. says

    Hi Carey! I am definitely linking your recipe to my blog. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be trying this recipe! I’m using meunster instead of jarlsberg since it was a lot cheaper. I’ll tell you how it goes after I’m done.

  6. says

    Really excited to give these a try! I totally know what you mean about offices creating bad eating habits. It’s way easier to throw back 3 cups of coffee when the office always have a freshly brewed pot. At home my keurig gives me *1* perfectly brewed cup! The cost of the Kcups keeps me from over indulging. :)

  7. says

    A month after bookmarking, I finally made these.

    Oh. Dear.

    This may forever be called the Cheez-It incident of 2011. They are addicting! The pepper, the cheese…oh so delicious!

    I already warned my boyfriend that they are not to be consumed a handful at a time!

    • says

      Hehe! Aren’t they awesome? I kept walking back to the kitchen to grab more and more and more, and finally stopped once I began to feel a bit nauseous. :P

  8. Lisa says

    These look marvelous and I plan to make up a batch next time I allow myself to go food shopping (am using up a lot of things around the house for now, trying to be practical, waste less, and be thrifty). If they last past the first sitting, do you store them in the cupboard or the frig? And if I was behaving and only eating a few at a time, how long would their shelf life be? The reason these manufactured snacks are so very bad for us is because they stuff them full of preservatives, but I imagine that without the preservatives, spoiling can occur… and have you ever tried freezing them? If refrigeration or freezing were practical, perhaps I could bag them up in wax paper bags in individual servings…. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Hi Lisa! That’s a good question. I managed to eat all of these in 48 hours, so I’m not totally positive about their shelf life. :) The fridge would likely make them soggy, but I did a little bit of reading online about freezing crackers and it seems like it’s a semi-common practice. Perhaps portioning them out, freezing them, and then thawing the individual servings as needed would work. (And if they seem to be a little soggy when thawed, a few minutes in the oven might bring them back to life.) Otherwise, I would suggest storing them in a tightly-sealed bag (with as much air removed as possible) in a dry, room temperature place. They should last for at least a week, possibly longer.

  9. Lindsey says

    I made these tonight, and a warning to the wise: I used about 1 1/4 tsp. ground pepper from the bottle instead of 1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper that the recipe calls for and the pepper taste is MUCH too strong. So for those who, like me, are sensitive to pepper taste, I would suggest using only 3/4 tsp. pepper.

    Also, 1/16 inch is really thin. really. So keep rolling!

  10. Frances says

    My question is how much to make & how much does it make? This would go far in my house if it’s cheap enough considering I have to buy at least a box of cheezits every week for my son who at 7 yo could eat a box in a day if left unsupervised with it…lol.

    • says

      This recipe should make around 7 dozen. I think I would eat an entire box of cheez-its of left unsupervised—good thing I know how to make my own. :P

  11. Gayle says

    My daughter has an ‘iffy’ tummy and says the only thing she can eat without pain or upset is Cheez-Its. Uh-huh, ok, so um yeah, this recipe will be coming in handy. Not to mention Hubs is VERY sensitive to MSG and a lot of snack crackers are loaded with the stuff, oddly Cheez-Its aren’t, but this way I’ll KNOW and it’s much healthier. Bonus? I can pronounce every single word in the ingredients list!

  12. Martina says

    I absolutely love your blog! I just discovered it through foodgawker.com and it is awesome! It’s extremely pleasing to look at! This might just become my fav blog! :)

  13. Vanessa says

    Omg!! These were awesome- and seriously spot on taste wise!! I rolled mine out a little too thick and used and extra tablespoon of half and half, but those were errors on my part lol. But what a fantastic recipe, Brava!!

  14. says

    I just made these a few days ago, using what I had on hand, which was parmesan, marble and a reeeeallly stinky Gruyere. I used 2/3 white flour and 1/3 brown flour, and added black sesame seeds and flax seeds. The only thing I did wrong was cut the large rolled out dough into squares, but not put them individually onto the cookie sheet for baking. When I took them out of the oven, I had one big cracker! And it was at that moment I vaguely recollected someone saying they did the same thing, whether it was a comment here or on another blog. It wasn’t a big deal though – they were still fairly soft so I cut them into squares. Absolutely delicious…and I’ll bake them again! I’ll include a link to this in a post soon, on our site. Thanks for this!

    • says

      Hehe! Jarlsberg was our “table cheese” growing up, and it is still one of my favorites to this day. (Fact: One of my life goals is to one day buy an entire wheel of Jarlsberg. I’ll plan a whole party around it. It will be awesome.)

  15. Sally says

    I am another one that has always loved cheez-its. I will make these for our church (Silver Saints) we’re old people, LOL. This is a get together for over 55. It is a cover dish lunchen. we have a great time. They will love these. Thanks Carey

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