Cheese Straws (Quick-N-Dirty Version)

Meatless, Party Food, Southern / Wednesday, January 14th, 2009


If ever a snack food deserved a revival, it’s the cheese straw. What should be as common as its orange finger-producing bastard cousin, the Cheez-It, has been relegated to bridal showers and church socials for at least 60 years as ladies insist on chilling and twisting the dough, running it through a cookie press or piping it through a star tip to create those fussy scallops. Who wants to go to all that trouble when you can just open a box of Cheese Nips?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

When taste is what matters most, try these Quick-N-Dirty Cheese Straws. I make the dough (mostly cheese, butter and flour) in the food processor, roll it into a rectangle, slice it into strips with a pizza cutter and bake the straws for about 15 minutes. No chilling, no piping, no fussing. But the freshly-baked straws – a French fry-like batch of long, thin, crunchy, buttery, spicy, omigod cheesy crackers – are addictive. I don’t know whether it’s the intense flavor or that drool-inducing “snap,” but it’s impossible not to make a fool of yourself over these things.

I use a habanero cheddar and add crushed red pepper flakes for extra kick, but if hot-hot-hot damn, that’s hot!-heat isn’t your thing, use whatever cheese-and-seasoning combo you like. The classic extra-sharp cheddar and cayenne. Gruyere and thyme. Parmesan.  Asiago. Paprika. Dried mustard. Poppy seeds. Just be sure to double the batch, because they’re even better the next day.

So I’m told.

Cheese Straws

Adapted from Matt Lee and Ted Lee’s “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook”

  • 1 1/2 cups (about 4 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon half-and-half
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper and process in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half-and-half. Process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8-X-10-inch rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into long, thin strips, 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide (dipping the knife in flour after every few inches ensures a clean cut). Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving 1/4 inch between them. The straws can be any length, from 2 to 10 inches.
  4. Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven, and set on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature.


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29 thoughts on “Cheese Straws (Quick-N-Dirty Version)

  1. Hey, I made some of these (not quite like these, but a Hungarian version) in Hungary for New Year’s Eve. Soooo good. Everyone loved them.

    Totally sold on the Habanero cheddar, btw!

  2. These would taste really good right now. Craving something with a crunch – the heat would be fabulous – the children wouldn’t eat them and they could be all mine!

  3. I make my cheese straws as slice off the log rounds. Yours look really good, and I like your flavor suggestions. We love things HOT.

  4. I’m all over this!!! I’m sheepishly admitting that I can chow down on a whole box of Cheese Its (the spicy tabasco flavored ones) in front of the TV, but this recipe could definitely break me of that habit. Thanks for sharing Rebecca!

  5. My TN MIL has a great recipe for “cheese pennies,” but I am really liking your “straw” form — it seems more munchable. Maybe the extreme heat will stop me from eating too many of them? No, probably not.

  6. Beautiful photos – I love the one in the glass. I’ve not seen a food processor recipe before, looking forward to trying them!

  7. Okay…yeah, I can so go there. I did those crazy Le Cordon Bleu At Home ones and it was like an all-day process…I am thinking my time is way more valuable than that…yep, making these this weekend to send down to the swim meet…thanks for sharing!

  8. I have that cookbook, and you’ve made it clear that I should actually USE it! Great post – I could reach in and eat those suckers!

  9. I just pulled these out of the oven and they’re so good. My grandmother made cheese straws when I was growing up and I’ve searched for a recipe like hers for years. These were just like I remember her making. I don’t have a food processor so that was a bit of a pain, but all the more reason for me to get one. :)

  10. I made two batches of these today for the super bowl and they were AMAZING! and so simple, even without a food processor. I wasn’t brave enough for the habanero, so instead just made cheddar cayenne and parmesan/mozzarella with rosemary and garlic. They were a big hit and disappeared so quickly! Thank you! Just like auntie used to make!

  11. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! These looked so good, I had to try them. No cheddar in the fridge, though. What I DID have was some mozz and parm, so I used that, added some granulated garlic, red pepper flakes and some of that generic Italian seasoning that's been sitting on the shelf for six months. Then rolled out and cut with a crinkle cutter. Fab-O. I might try more butter next time. The larger ones were less crispy and more "bready", but they were still great.


  12. OMG – quick and dirty is the right title. Wonderful to taste out the oven. My kids and I made it with sliced cheddar cheese cut up and cream cheese instead of half and half. And still tasted good.

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