All that brain power requires some good snacks to fuel it, and there’s no back-to-school snack that’s more of a classic than cheese crackers. My husband and I sometimes buy a box of these — either the goldfish kind or the square ones — purportedly for our pre-schooler. But, in reality, it’s mom and dad who can’t resist the nostalgia of noshing on those crispy, orange nibbles.
Cheesy crackers, as we generically call them, are also easy to make at home. Not only do the homemade crackers have less preservatives, by making them yourself you can also flavor them how you like. I typically add a pinch of garlic powder, but you could also try a splash of Tabasco, a few grates of black pepper, or even some finely crushed thyme or sage.
While you can do this by hand (use a pastry cutter), I strongly recommend pulling out your food processor. If you also use the food processor to grate the cheese, you can make the entire recipe with only one dirty bowl — super easy!
1 cup flour
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
½ stick (4 tablespoons) cold butter, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder or other seasoning (optional)
2-3 tablespoons cold water
Shred the cheese into the bowl of a food processor. Add the flour, butter, salt, and garlic powder, and pulse until you have coarse, orange crumbs. Continuing to pulse the mixture, quickly add 2-3 tablespoons of cold water — you just want to add enough to make the crumbs come together.
Dump the dough out into the center of a piece of plastic wrap, bring it together quickly with your hands, and pull the corners of the wrap up to cover it completely. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Divide the dough in half, and return the unused half to the fridge. Roll out the other half out thinly between two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Now it’s time to cut the crackers.
While you can cut your crackers into squares, it’s also fun to pull out your small cookie cutters and make shapes. Don’t stress if you don’t have a fish; I promise that circles and stars will taste just as good. Once the crackers are cut out, move them to a parchment lined bake sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. (If you cut larger or smaller crackers, the baking time will vary a bit, so just keep an eye on them.)
Cool on the pan for about 10 minutes, before moving the crackers to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
As these don’t have the preservatives of store-bought cheese crackers, you should enjoy them quickly. They’ll keep in an airtight container for a few days, but they’re best eaten the day you make them.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.