If you love Cheez-Its and spicy things, this not-quite-a-copycat-recipe for cheese crackers with jalapeños is one you need to try. And for a shortcut to super savory, cheesy flavor, it uses an unexpected ingredient: a powder packet from boxed mac and cheese.
Hold on, don’t click away just yet—if you don’t want to go that route, we get it. You can make your own cheddar cheese powder. It won’t be quite the same as that neon orange magic dust from the blue box, but that could be a good thing. You can also use the powdered cheese packet from any other boxed mac and cheese of your choice.
Here’s how former Chowhound photographer and author of this recipe, Chris Rochelle, originally introduced it:
In part one of my cracker-making exploration, I showed you how to make classy Free-Form Herb Crackers to serve with cheese. Here’s how you make my other current favorite, sort of like Cheez-Its mashed up with jalapeño rings (they taste almost exactly like nachos and are much less messy). For the cheese powder, you’ll need to steal the flavor packet from a box of mac ‘n’ cheese. Cook and toss the naked macaroni that remains with butter and cheese, or save for a craft project. Up to you.
What You Need to Make Nacho Cheese Crackers
Makes 6 dozen crackers
- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 7 tablespoons warm water (110°F to 115°F)
- 1 1/2 cups “00” flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
- 1 cheese powder packet from 1 (6-ounce) box macaroni and cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for oiling the bowl
- 2 jalapeños, sliced into thin rings
Steps to Making Nacho Cheese Crackers
1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast and sugar with the warm water. Set aside to let the yeast come alive and froth, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the flour, cheese powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Set aside.
3. Gently heat the butter and measured vegetable oil until the butter is just melted. Add to the yeast mixture.
4. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients. With your stand mixer’s paddle attachment, mix on low till just combined, about 60 seconds.
5. At this point, the dough will look wet and won’t clump together well. That’s good! Just scoop it all out and, with your hands, form it into a ball. Place the ball in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
6. Let rise for 2 hours at room temperature.
7. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. On a lightly floured work surface, flatten the dough ball with the palm of your hand, then pat it into a rough rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll it out to a larger rectangle, approximately 10 inches by 15 inches. Fold each of the short sides in toward the center until they meet—you should have a rectangle measuring approximately 6 inches by 13 inches. Turn the dough 90 degrees, then roll it out again to a 10-by-15-inch rectangle.
9. With a knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough in half to yield two 10-by-8-inch pieces.
10. With a knife or pizza wheel, cut both sheets of dough into 2-inch squares.
11. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; transfer the squares to the baking sheets. Separate the squares slightly so they’re not touching (if they do you’ll have to break them apart after baking). Use a fork to prick each in a couple of places so the squares won’t puff too much in the oven. Press a jalapeño ring into each square.
12. Bake until the surface of the crackers takes on a light brown tint, about 10 to 12 minutes. Careful, the cheese powder accelerates the browning—these burn very quickly! Turn off the oven and open the door completely. Let the crackers sit in the oven for 1 hour. They’ll keep cooking and drying out, becoming crispy.
Serve right away or store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Photos by Chris Rochelle