This tasty gluten-free cheez-its copycat recipe is easy to make plus has a unique secret ingredient! These crunchy crackers are bursting with that tangy cheese flavor you used to love! Finally, delicious cheese crackers that are a spot-on gluten-free version of the originals!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
If you're looking for the best homemade gluten-free Cheez-It crackers, like the real cheddar cheese crackers you find at the grocery store, this is your recipe! Yes, those salty snacks with all the crisp texture and cheesy flavor you've been missing is right here with this easy recipe!
I'm excited about this recipe because I really tried to create a true copycat of the original crackers. And I will tell you what, you're not going to believe just how good these are!
What I didn't want is cheesy pie dough baked into crackers. While that is good, it's not quite like a real Cheez-It! Cheez-Its have a tangy and distinct, in your face cheese flavor that is quite unique.
And what I really want after years of being on a gluten-free diet, and maybe you do too, is a recipe that is as close to the original as possible! So I dug deep and found the secret ingredient to making truly delicious gluten-free cheese crackers.
Ingredients and Substitutions
In order to make a true copycat recipe, we need to first take a look at the ingredients on the originals. When you look at the ingredients in Cheez-It crackers (and Goldfish or Cheddar Bunnies) you may notice something that surprises you... yeast! That was an ah-ha moment for me in developing this recipe!
All of the popular cheese crackers contain yeast and that fermentation is what gives them that interesting flavor and texture! So if we are going to make a true copycat, our homemade cheese crackers are going to have to be a yeast-based cracker!
Please, don't let the use of yeast intimidate you either! This recipe is quite simple and uses only a few basic ingredients.
- Gluten-free flours: I tested this recipe with King Arthur Measure for Measure, Namaste Perfect Blend, and Cup4Cup. All worked great! The Namaste dough was a little bit more crumbly but still fared well. The Cup4Cup crackers browned up more quickly than the other two flours I tested. Just be sure to use a 1:1 flour for baking that includes Xanthan Gum.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese: Sharp cheddar gives that ultra cheesy flavor. Get a block of real cheese and shred it yourself! I have not made these crackers with pre-shredded cheese.
- If you want a milder flavor, use mild cheddar cheese. You could also use white cheddar cheese for white cheddar crackers. The only difference between white and orange cheddar cheeses is the addition of annatto which gives the cheese its orange color.
- Instant Yeast: Instant yeast, RapidRise, or Bread Machine yeast are what you want to use for this recipe. This type of yeast can be mixed right in with the dry ingredients and is readily available at most grocery stores.
- If you only have regular active dry yeast, dissolve it in the warm water before mixing it in with the other ingredients.
- Seasonings: For extra flavor we're also going to add some garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. If you like things spicy, add a pinch of cayenne pepper!
Food Processor: You will need to use a food processor for this recipe. It helps to get the cheese fully blended into the dough. I have not tried other methods, such as using a pastry blender or hand mixer, so I can't attest to how the crackers will turn out if you don't use a food processor.
Optional, but helpful tools:
- Cookie Cutters: With small 1-inch cookie cutters you can make the crackers into many fun shapes.
- You could also keep it traditional and cut the crackers into little squares using a sharp knife, pizza cutter, or pastry wheel.
- #2 Piping Tip: The small end of the piping tip punches the perfect-sized hole in the center of the crackers. You can also use the end of a bamboo skewer or toothpick.
- Rolling guides: A rolling pin with guides or guide bands that fit on your rolling pin are helpful for rolling the dough into an even thickness. This helps everything to bake evenly.
Step by Step Directions
Step 1: Make the Dough
- In the bowl of a food processor, grate the cheese with the grater attachment.
- Then switch to the regular blade. Pulse the cheese with the dry ingredients until well combined.
- Pour in the warmed wet ingredients and blend until a dough forms.
Step 2: Rest the Dough
- Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. This gives the yeast time to activate and develop flavor. The longer you let it rest, the more flavor you will get out of the cracker. The dough will not rise much, which is normal.
Step 3: Roll out the Dough and Bake
- After the dough has rested, it's time to roll it out.
- For best results, roll dough out into an even thickness, about ⅛ inch thick.
- Cut the dough into your desired shapes or 1-inch squares.
- Poke small holes in the center of each cracker with the end of a #2 piping tip or the end of a skewer.
- Once you've got your shapes, sprinkle with salt, transfer crackers to a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper, and bake!
Twice Bake for Crunchy Crackers
The most important tip for getting that crispy cracker texture, that lasts, is baking the crackers twice!
After you first bake the crackers, you'll probably find that they are already crunchy so you might wonder why you should bake them again.
The problem is that the longer the crackers sit, they tend to get soft, which makes for a very sad cracker! So to make sure these stay sufficiently crunchy we need to get out all of the moisture.
That's where the second bake comes in. I've done this with my gluten-free graham crackers as well and it really works! Baking them twice allows you to get out enough of the moisture so they will retain their crunchiness for days to come without over-browning them in the process.
- Keep 'em fresh! After crackers have cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature for about 1 week, or longer.
- Re-roll that dough! You can re-roll the dough as many times as needed to use up all of the dough. The crackers will still be flaky and delicious!
- Don't skip the rest! You must let the dough rest for at least 1 hour. The yeast needs time to activate. You can let the dough rest for up to 24 hours. The longer you let it rest, the more flavor will develop from the fermentation of the yeast, which results in a tangier flavor.
- For the best results, don't forget to bake them a second time! If you skip that step, your crackers may start crisp but then soften the longer they sit.
I hope you enjoy this gluten-free cheese cracker recipe! Whether you were a Cheez-it, Goldfish, or Bunny fan, I know you'll love them! If you try them, come back and leave a comment! I'd love to hear what you think! Don't forget to pin this recipe for later or share it with your friends!
More Gluten-Free Snacks
If you love snacks as much as I do, here are a few more great recipes to check out!
- Easy soft pretzel bites are so delish!
- 5 Minute Salsa just like the restaurant!
- Quick, homemade French onion dip for chips!
- Homemade ranch dip without the packets!
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Gluten-free Cheez-It Crackers (Copycat)
- 8 oz block sharp cheddar cheese, not pre-shredded
- 1 cup gluten-free flour blend, such as King Arthur Measure for Measure, Namaste Perfect Flour Blend, or Cup4Cup Multipurpose
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup warm water, approx 120°F
- 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
Make the Dough
- In the bowl of the food processor, grate the cheddar cheese using grater attachment if you have it.
- Switch to the regular blade. Then place the flour, yeast, baking soda, spices, and salt into the bowl along with the cheese.
- Pulse into a fine mixture.
- Pour in the warm water and melted butter or oil.
- Blend again until well combined. The dough may look crumbly but should hold together when formed into a ball.
- Transfer the dough to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Chill for 1 hour or overnight.
Bake the Crackers
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Divide the dough in half. Roll one half out on floured parchment paper to about ⅛ inch thickness. Try to make it as even as possible, use rolling pin guides if you have them.
- With a knife or small cookie cutters, cut out crackers into desired shapes, about 1 to 1 ½ inches in size. Punch a small hole in the center of each cracker with a small (#2) piping tip or skewer.
- Place on baking sheets with enough space in between each cracker so that they are not touching.
- Repeat the above steps with any remaining dough, re-rolling as needed to use up all of the dough.
- Sprinkle with a little flaky salt, if desired.
- Bake 15-17 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the bottoms.
- Allow the crackers to cool completely, about 1 hour or even overnight, then do the second bake.
- Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake the crackers again for 10-15 minutes or until crunchy throughout.*
- Cool completely before storing in airtight containers.