Gluten-Free Homemade Cheez-Its
How to make homemade Cheez-Its with just cheddar cheese, flour, butter (or coconut oil), & salt! You can make gluten-free Cheez-Its with GF all-purpose flour, or you can use regular all-purpose or whole wheat flour. Either way, you’ll end up with perfectly crunchy, cheesy crackers—and SUCH a satisfying copycat of an all-time favorite snack!
A few years ago, I made homemade Goldfish crackers from scratch and they were so satisfying. Now I’ve adapted that recipe to make homemade Cheez-It crackers—this time using more cheese, gluten-free flour, and a pastry wheel cutter instead of fish shapes. Part of why I love making copycat snacks is thinking about all the steps each little cracker goes through before we eat it. And making my own Cheez-Its at home, I find I appreciate every cracker I eat so much more!
Store-Bought vs. Copycat Cheez-It Crackers
- Ingredients. This homemade Cheez-Its recipe is free from additives found in the store-bought version, like TBHQ & soy lecithin. And, instead of refined wheat flour & vegetable oil, you get to choose the type of flour (gluten-free, whole wheat, or all-purpose) and the fat source (butter or coconut oil) in your crackers.
- Gluten-Free Option. If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, this recipe is a fantastic healthy option to try—especially since you can’t find gluten-free Cheez-Its at the grocery store! But otherwise, lighten up on yourself and alleviate any pressure to make these gluten-free if you don’t want to. (Gluten-free snacks aren’t inherently “better”—and some gluten-free snacks & flours can be more processed or made with more ingredients than their glutinous alternatives!)
- Convenience & Enjoyment. If buying a box of Cheez-Its at the store allows you to snack with less stress, THAT is a health benefit worth acknowledging. Plus, I personally just enjoy eating the real-deal processed Cheez-Its sometimes. And offering ourselves permission to enjoy what we want—without judgment—is a key ingredient in developing a healthy relationship with food. Ultimately, we don’t have to make homemade Cheez-Its from scratch to be ‘healthy’. But we can choose to make them if or when we enjoy doing it!
DIY Gluten-Free Cheez-Its Ingredients
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese. For this baked Cheez-Its recipe, I recommend buying a block of cheese and freshly shredding it with a grater. Some pre-shredded cheeses contain anti-caking ingredients, which can affect the texture of your crackers, so freshly shredded cheese works best. Use sharp cheddar for a classic Cheez-Its copycat, or try white cheddar cheese!
- Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour. I used Cup4Cup gluten-free all-purpose flour—mostly to test whether a gluten-free Cheez-Its recipe would even work or not—and they turned out wonderfully! If you don’t need them to be gluten-free, regular all-purpose flour will work just as well (or even better). Or use whole wheat flour to make whole-grain crackers, like I did in my Goldfish and homemade Ritz crackers recipes.
- Cold Butter. For the crispest, flakiest, tastiest Cheez-Its, I recommend using butter as your fat source (especially if you’re making GF crackers). Butter isn’t “bad” or something we need to avoid! Its comforting aroma & sturdy saturated fats give homemade crackers a better flavor & texture in the end. I’ve made other copycats like homemade Graham crackers and Ritz with solid coconut oil instead, which can also work in this recipe. But coconut oil tends to be more finicky in a cracker dough, whereas butter will make the dough easier to work with.
- Salt. Use a ¼-½ teaspoon of salt or more, depending on your taste & sodium preference. And don’t forget a sprinkle of coarse salt on top before baking!
- Cold Water. You don’t need much—add just a splash at a time until your dough comes together.
Tools to Make Cheez-Its at Home
Part of the art and fun of learning how to make Cheez-Its is going through all of the steps to replicate the packaged cheese crackers we know and love. It takes some attention to detail to re-create them in your kitchen! And you’ll need a few tools as well:
- Food Processor—to form the dough.
- Plastic Wrap—to wrap the dough while it chills.
- Parchment Paper—to prevent sticking while you roll out the dough, and to line your baking sheet.
- Rolling Pin—to roll out your dough as evenly as possible.
- Ruler—to score lines in the dough. (Or you use a toothpick to do this free-hand.)
- Fluted Pastry Wheel—to cut adorable scalloped edges on your Cheez-It crackers. Or you can use a rolling pizza cutter to cut straight lines.
- Light-Colored Baking Sheets—to prevent gluten-free Cheez-Its from browning too quickly in the oven. (If you use a darker-colored baking sheet, bake them for at least 3-5 minutes less.)
- Toothpick or Skewer—to poke holes in the center of each cracker before baking.
How to Make Cheez-Its from Scratch
- Make the Dough. Add freshly shredded cheese, flour, cubed cold butter (or solid coconut oil), and salt to a food processor. First, pulse until the mixture resembles sand. Then, slowly add water as you continue to pulse, until a dough forms.
- Wrap & Chill the Dough. Shape your Cheez-Its dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it for 20 minutes or up to a few hours.
- Cut Dough in Half. Keep half of the dough chilled while you work with the other half.
- Roll Out the Dough. Place your dough onto a floured sheet of parchment, then place another sheet on top (to prevent the dough from sticking). Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough evenly, aiming for less than⅛-inch thick.
- Score the Dough. Lightly score the dough with a ruler or toothpick, creating a grid of ~1-inch squares. (I used the width of my ruler—which was ~1.2-inches—to mark the lines where I planned to cut out my crackers.)
- Cut Dough into Squares. To add some flair to this copycat Cheez-Its recipe, I used a pastry wheel to cut fluted edges! Or you can use a pizza cutter to cut straight lines.
- Add Crackers to a Baking Sheet. Prepare a lighter-colored baking sheet (to prevent gluten-free Cheez-Its from browning too quickly) with parchment & cooking spray. Arrange your crackers with space between them, then poke a hole in each cracker & sprinkle with coarse salt.
- Bake Cheez-Its for 14-16 Minutes at 350°F. They should be crispy & lightly browned—and the browner you let them get, the crunchier they’ll become! Repeat this process with the remaining dough when desired.
You can see this entire Cheez-It-making process from start to finish in my Gluten-Free Cheez-Its video!
How to Store Homemade Cheez-Its
After baking, allow them to cool completely on wire racks, then store your homemade Cheez-It crackers in an airtight container at room temperature. I recommend sealing them up in a zip-top bag, mason jar, or Tupperware, and they can last for up to 2 weeks in your pantry.
Gluten-Free Homemade Cheez-Its (3 Ingredients)
- 8 oz block of sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
- 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour, (or regular all-purpose, or whole wheat)
- 4 Tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes, (or solid coconut oil)
- 2-3 Tbsp cold water
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Add shredded cheese, flour, cold butter, and salt to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles sand.
- Add water (1 Tbsp at a time) to adjust the consistency, pulsing to combine, until it becomes a dough.
- Remove dough from food processor, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes (or up to a few hours, if necessary).
- Once chilled, cut dough ball in half. Re-wrap and transfer the half of the dough back to the fridge while you work with the other half.
- Lightly flour a piece of parchment, place the dough onto it, and place another sheet of parchment on top of the dough. (This will prevent the dough from sticking.)
- Between sheets of parchment, roll out the dough as thinly and evenly as possible—less than ⅛ of an inch is ideal.
- Remove the top sheet of parchment. Score the dough in a grid of 1-inch squares, to mark the lines where you plan to cut. (I used a width of a ruler to help score the dough, so I ended up with ~1.2-inch squares.)
- Cut rolled dough into squares using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter.
- Prepare light-colored* baking sheets with parchment and spray with cooking spray. Carefully transfer cut crackers onto parchment so they’re close but not touching.
- Use a skewer or toothpick to poke a hole in the middle of each cracker, then finish with a sprinkle of coarse salt.
- Bake gluten-free Cheez-Its for 14-16 minutes, until crispy and lightly browned. (The browner they are, the crunchier they’ll become!)
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire racks to cool. (They’ll crisp more as they cool.)
- Repeat process with other half of dough when desired.
- Store baked cheese crackers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
- Yields ~175-200 homemade Cheez-Its 1.2×1.2-inch in size. (Exact yield will vary depending on size of crackers.)