A Classic Southern Snack! Cheese Straws

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A Classic Southern Snack! Cheese Straws

Over the years I've eaten my weight in cheesy crackers—you know, the ones in the red box. I love its texture, saltiness and strong cheese flavor.

Then I came across cheese straws and my life as a snack changed forever.

I grew up in the south, home to cheese straws, but no one in my family made their own.

I'd sometimes nibble on one at a friend's house or, more commonly, at a potluck, but I've never attempted to make them myself. Until now.

Easy variations

  • Cheese: Sharp cheddar is traditional, but various cheeses work well in this recipe. Try the grated Gruyère, Monterey Jack, or even smoked Gouda.
  • Spices: Increase or decrease the spices according to your taste. This recipe is light and cheesy, so turn up the cayenne pepper if you like spice. Sometimes I add a generous layer of freshly ground black pepper to the mix.
  • Flour: Swap out half the flour with whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour for a stronger texture and slightly different flavor. You may need to add more water to the dough as whole wheat flour can be drier.


  • 1 3/4 cups (228 g) self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 to 4 tablespoons of water, or as needed


Combine the dry ingredients:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt until blended.

Make the dough:

Add the grated cheese and softened butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until incorporated, about 2 minutes.

You can also make it in a large bowl with an electric mixer.

Add dry ingredients and beat on low speed to combine. If necessary, add water, a teaspoon at a time, until a dough forms.

The dough should resemble plasticine - smooth, not dry, but not sticky.

Press a piece of cling film directly against the dough and let it rest while the oven preheats.

Preheat oven to 350°F:

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Form the cheese straws:

After preheating the oven, place the dough in a cookie press fitted with a large star disk. Arrange on a baking sheet in 2-3-inch rows, leaving about 1/2-inch between each straw.

Alternatively, roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle. Use a pizza or pasta cutter or sharp knife to cut into 1/2-inch strips.

Turn them several times or leave them as simple strips and place them on the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough.

To bake:

Bake the cheese straws until crisp, golden brown on the bottom, and lightly browned on top, 14 to 17 minutes.

If you are baking 2 pans at a time, rotate them halfway.

Let it cool in the pan. The cheese straws can get a little brittle when hot, so handle them carefully to avoid breaking them in half.

Let cool completely before serving.

Store up to a week in an airtight container. If the cheese straws lose some of their crunch, briefly remix them in a toaster oven and chill before serving.

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