How to Make Homemade Cheez-Its

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This recipe for homemade Cheez-Its is easy-cheesy!

It’s safe to say that we’ve all eaten too many Cheez-Its (along with these other nostalgic childhood snacks) at one point or another. Whether they were a regular road trip snack, the thing in your school lunch box you looked forward to most, or your main form of sustenance during college all-nighters, these cheddar snack crackers are deeply rooted in our memories.

Bring some of that childhood magic back to your kitchen with this recipe for homemade Cheez-Its. It’s a fun and delicious weekend baking project that the whole family can enjoy (and subsequently devour).

What Cheese Is Used to Make Homemade Cheez-Its?

To make Cheez-Its at home, all you’ll need is some good old-fashioned sharp cheddar cheese (or extra-sharp if you want an even stronger cheese flavor).

Sharp cheddar will give homemade Cheez-Its plenty of robust cheesiness and that iconic yellow-orange hue.

In testing, we found that you get the best cheese distribution and even color by using cheese from a block, rather than pre-shredded cheese. (Here’s why block cheese is best.) Pulsing the cheese in a food processor grates the cheese into fine crumbles that melt easily and incorporate seamlessly into the dough.

How to Make Homemade Cheez-Its

Ingredients for Homemade Cheez Its in glass bowls on a counterLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

This recipe makes 12-14 dozen crackers.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese (about 3 cups grated)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ice-cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg, optional
  • Flaky sea salt, optional

Directions

Step 1: Pulse cheese

Chopping Cheese in a food processor for Homemade Cheez ItsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

In a food processor, pulse the cheese until finely grated. The cheese may have some larger clumps, but that’s OK. They will break up as the butter gets worked into the dough later.

Step 2: Stir together dry ingredients

Transfer the cheese to a bowl with the flour, cornstarch, paprika, mustard powder and salt. Stir until combined.

Step 3: Work in butter

glass bowl with mixed up ingredients for Homemade Cheez ItsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Next, using a pastry blender (or a fork), cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Step 4: Knead dough

Add the cold water and use your hands to gently work it into the dough until it starts to clump and hold together.

Step 5: Chill

Transfer the dough to a clean work surface. Pat into a flattened disk (about 1 inch thick), then wrap tightly in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Step 6: Roll

hands using a rolling pin to roll out dough for Homemade Cheez ItsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Unwrap the dough and roll out, using a rolling pin, on a lightly floured work surface. Roll until the dough is less than 1/8-inch thick. The thinner, the better!

Step 7: Cut and slice

Cutting Squares with a pastry wheel for Homemade Cheez ItsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Use a fluted pastry wheel, pizza cutter or sharp knife to trim the rolled dough into a neat square. Then, slice into 1-inch-wide strips before making perpendicular slices across the strips to create 1-inch squares.

Editor’s Tip: Feel free to re-roll the scraps to make sure you don’t waste any of this cheese cracker dough.

Step 8: Poke

hands using a tooth pick to shape Homemade Cheez Its on a baking sheet ready to bakeLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Transfer the squares to parchment-lined baking sheets. Then use a toothpick or skewer to poke a hole through the center of each.

If desired, brush the crackers with a little beaten egg wash to give them some shine.

Step 9: Bake

Sprinkle the crackers lightly with flaky sea salt (here’s why it’s the best type of salt for these crackers), then bake for 15-18 minutes, until crisp and golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before serving.

Editor’s Tip: For extra toasty Cheez-Its, let them bake for 20-22 minutes—just keep an eye on them, so they don’t burn.

Tips for Making Homemade Cheez-Its

Making homemade Cheez-Its is an easy, kid-friendly baking project that’s great for bakers of all skill levels. While the recipe is pretty forgiving, here are some of our best tips for homemade Cheez-Its:

Keep ingredients cold

Start with cold butter and water and chill the dough thoroughly before baking. This is important for Cheez-Its (and pie crust), so don’t skip or rush the process. Cold ingredients help make the crackers crisp and flaky, and chilling the dough ensures the crackers hold their shape while baking.

Don’t overwork the dough

Doing so will yield tough, chewy crackers. When mixing the dough, it should act like wet sand where it’s crumbly but holds its shape when pressed together.

Poke holes in your Cheez-Its

It may be tempting to skip poking a hole into every cracker before baking, but the little holes serve an important purpose. They allow steam to escape while the crackers bake, preventing the crackers from puffing too much and helping develop that signature crispiness.

How to Make Homemade Cheez-Its Your Own

Baking Sheet with Homemade Cheez ItsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Once you’ve mastered making copycat Cheez-Its from scratch, feel free to get creative and make your own recipe with different types of cheese. Here are some of our favorite Cheez-Its recipe adaptations to try:

  • Pepper Jack Cheez-Its: Swap the sharp cheddar cheese for an equal amount of pepper jack cheese.
  • White Cheddar Cheez-Its: Opt for grated aged white cheddar cheese instead of sharp cheddar.
  • Four Cheese Cheez-Its: Omit the sharp cheddar cheese and replace it with 2 ounces each of finely grated Parmesan, Asiago, provolone and mozzarella cheese.
  • Spicy Cheez-Its: Add 1/4 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano and dried thyme to the original Cheez-Its recipe.

Whole Wheat Cheez-Its

Add extra fiber, iron and protein to these homemade Cheez-Its by replacing 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour. (Then try some of these other whole wheat flour recipes.)

Gluten-Free Cheez-Its

You can convert this recipe to gluten-free by using your favorite gluten-free 1-to-1 baking blend instead of all-purpose flour. Note that the water may need to be slightly increased, and the baking time for your gluten-free Cheez-Its may need to be adjusted depending on the baking blend selected.

Vegan Cheez-Its

Looking for vegan Cheez-Its? Swap the cheddar cheese for your favorite vegan cheddar cheese and add 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast for extra tangy flavor. Then, opt for 4 tablespoons of your favorite vegan butter (like Earth Balance) or olive oil instead of butter. Prepare and bake as directed in the original recipe

How Do You Store Homemade Cheez-Its?

Homemade Cheez-Its can be stored at room temperature for up to a week. Note that if they’re tightly sealed, they’ll start to lose some of their crunch by day two or three. An empty Cheez-Its or cereal box is a great storage container for homemade cheese crackers.

What Can You Eat with Copycat Cheez-Its?

Of course, Cheez-Its are perfect on their own, but here are more ways to love your homemade cheese crackers.

Try Cheez-Its in These Other Recipes
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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.