Chef John’s Cheesy Crackers

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One of my fondest memories from childhood revolves around my neighbor, Mrs. Clarke. She had this tradition of inviting kids from our block over for little cooking lessons. And believe it or not, the first thing she ever taught me was not a cookie or a pie, but a savory delight – cheesy crackers.

Fast forward to today, these crackers have become a family favorite. Whether it’s during Thanksgiving, a summer BBQ, or just a random day when the craving strikes, these crackers are always a hit. And guess what? I’ve slightly tweaked Mrs. Clarke’s recipe and added my own touch to it. Introducing Chef John’s Cheesy Crackers, an all-time favorite in my family and soon, in yours too.

How to Prepare Chef John’s Cheesy Crackers

Ingredients for Chef John’s Cheesy Crackers

  • A dab of vegetable oil for greasing
  • 2 tablespoons of soft unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan
  • A hint of paprika
  • A dash of cayenne pepper, adjust according to your heat preference
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of fine all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of chilled water, adjust as necessary

Directions for Chef John’s Cheesy Crackers

  1. Begin by preparing a baking tray with a sheet of aluminum foil and gently brush it with vegetable oil.
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter, Cheddar, Parmesan, paprika, cayenne, and salt using a spatula.
  3. Gradually introduce the flour to the cheese mixture, using a fork to combine until you achieve a crumbly texture.
  4. Slowly add the cold water drop by drop, stirring continuously until the mix forms a cohesive dough.
  5. Place the dough on a clean surface, shape it into a flattened disk, and refrigerate wrapped in cling film for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Cut the dough into 1-inch wide strips and then into 1 1/2-inch long rectangles. Design each cracker with five tiny holes using a bamboo skewer and place them on the prepared tray.
  8. Pop them in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until they achieve a golden-brown hue. Allow them to cool for a few minutes on the tray and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  9. Enjoy these savory delights once they’ve cooled down completely!

Can I use a different type of cheese?

Of course! Feel free to experiment with other hard cheeses, but keep in mind it may alter the taste and texture slightly.

How should I store leftover crackers?

Store them in an airtight container at room temperature. They should remain fresh for up to a week.

Can I add herbs or other seasonings?

Absolutely! Rosemary, thyme, or even garlic powder can add a delightful twist to the crackers.

What can I serve with these crackers?

They pair beautifully with a cheese platter, dips, or simply on their own!

How thin should I roll out the dough?

Approximately 1/8-inch thick is ideal for the perfect crunch. However, you can adjust based on your preference.

Can I make the dough in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the dough up to 2 days in advance and keep it refrigerated. Just ensure it’s wrapped tightly to prevent it from drying out.

Chef John's Cheesy Crackers

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
45 minutes
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 36 Crackers


  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cold water or as needed


  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with vegetable oil.
  • Place butter into a mixing bowl; add Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. Mix together with the back of a spatula until thoroughly combined.
  • Mix flour into cheese mixture with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle in cold water, 1 or 2 drops at a time, and mix with spatula until it comes together in a dough that holds its shape when squeezed.
  • Transfer dough to a work surface and press into a thick, flattened disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  • Roll dough out on a floured work surface to about 1/8-inch thick. Use a pizza cutter to cut 1-inch wide strips from the dough. Cut strips crosswise into rectangles about 1 1/2-inches long. Use the back of a bamboo skewer to punch 5 small holes into each cracker. Arrange crackers onto prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until crackers are browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Let stand about 3 minutes for crackers to cool and release from the foil. Let cool completely before serving.
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