Even before my college days, I would have junk food binges. I was one unhealthy teenager, skipping lunch and coming home to eat bowls of ice cream or chips. One of my favorite snacks was cheez-its. As ashamed as I am to say it, I made it my mission to try every flavor of the cheesy cracker (and almost succeeded). Now I'm proud to say that my snacks consist of healthier goodies, but I do have that craving for cheez-its every once in a while. To fill that void, I decided to make my own cheez-it party mix; at least this way I know that the cheez-its have no preservatives or funky additives - just cheese!
Homemade Cheez-it Party Mix
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup ice water
- 2 cups pretzel sticks or mini pretzels
- 2 cups corn or wheat chex
- 2 cups cheez-its
- 2 cups potato sticks or Cheerios, cornflakes, cheese puffs, etc
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon Lawry's seasoned salt
- ½ tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 tablespoon butter melted
- Combine flours, butter, salt, and cheddar in a food processor. Pulse until salt and cheddar become small chunks. Add ice water while the food processor is running until a dough forms. Form dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Dust clean work surface with flour. Roll out dough into a ¼-inch thick square and cut into 1x1 inch squares. Poke a hole in the center of each square with a skewer. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until crackers are lightly puffed and golden browned. Remove and let cool completely.
- In a small bowl, combine the seasonings including garlic powder, seasoned salt, chili powder, and cayenne.
- Toss cheez-its with pretzels, Chex, potato sticks. Pour melted butter over crackers and toss to coat. Sprinkle seasoning on the crackers and toss once more. Microwave in a microwave-safe bowl for 3 minutes, tossing every minute. Spread the party mix in an even layer on parchment paper and let cool. Serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Who would have thought cheez-its only consisted of 6 ingredients? Yes, it's that easy!
For the type of cheese, I stuck with sharp cheddar cheese since I wanted to make the original cheez-its. If you want to recreate one of their other varieties, explore with different cheeses. Try swiss, Colby, mozzarella, white cheddar, or cheddar jack for different options (yes those are all real flavors sold!).
A food processor is a great tool when making the dough; however, you can also use a pastry cutter or your hands. The key to making the dough correctly is using ice water. You want the dough to remain chilled to prevent the butter from melting. Why? The tiny pieces of cold butter will melt while baking, creating little pockets of crispy cheez-its.
The dough itself is easy to make, it's the cutting part that becomes tedious. This recipe makes approximately 100 cheez-its, which means you have to cut 100 squares and pierce each one. Unfortunately, I do not have a fluted pastry cutter so my cheez-its didn't look exactly like the store-bought versions, but it's the taste that counts!
Unlike the store-bought cheez-its, these will puff up in the oven. Let them cool before mixing with the other crackers and seasoning. You can be creative with your party mix but I stuck to pretzels, wheat Chex, and potato sticks.
The seasoning for the party mix is a little spicy with a bit of zest. In all honesty, the cheez-its themselves did not taste exactly like the store-bought versions; however, once I re-seasoned them, the party mix itself was fantastic! Since the seasoning mix already has salt, skip salting the cheez-its when they are finished baking.
I have to say, this cheez-it party mix is very addicting. Sure it makes a large batch, but you're going to need the entire lot especially you're making these for a party. I can sit here and just munch on these for hours...which I guess isn't saying much since I have had those tendencies before. Nevertheless, I urge you to give these a try, with or without homemade cheez-its!
For more snack inspiration check out these beer battered onion rings!