The Viral 4-Ingredient Cheez-It Dupe That Looks Even Better Than The Real Thing

Home cooks itching for a project should consider taking on the beloved Cheez-It. The cheesy, salty snack is delicious right from the box, but the food is surprisingly easy to make at home. All you need is cheese, butter, flour, and salt. Best of all, a mere eight-ounce block of cheese and one cup of flour will yield anywhere from 60 to 180 of the bites, depending on how thinly you roll the dough.

The homemade dupe went viral recently after TikToker Nara Smith, known for whipping up everything from bubble gum to cinnamon toast crunch cereal, shared her version. The simple recipe joins the ranks of other easy dupes of childhood favorites, like 3 Musketeers. To make the crackers, all home cooks need to do is mix up a batter using the ingredients, and then bind everything together with cold water. A stand mixer makes the whole thing a breeze.


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♬ Nice and Easy – Louis Adrien

Smith rolls out the chilled dough and uses a pizza cutter to portion the crackers. However, DIYers can also use a fluted pastry cutter to make the cuts or press into the squares with the tines of a fork to mimic the ridged edges. Top with extra sea salt to get that signature salty, buttery flavor to pop. And don't forget the trademark hole in the dough's center, which bakers can achieve with a toothpick or chopstick.

Take inspiration from Cheez-Its

The one-inch snack is more than 100 years old. Created by Green & Green cracker company in Dayton, Ohio (but bought by Kellogg's in 2001), it was actually invented to mimic the taste of Welsh rarebit. The British pub dish, still eaten today, is a piece of toasted bread loaded with a gooey sauce made of a combination of melted cheddar, paprika, mustard, or ale. The crackers distill this rich flavor profile into something shelf-stable, sans stretchy cheese, and we find the dish offers a helpful point of inspiration for cooks.

Today's Cheez-Its contains paprika, so we suggest adding ¼ or ½ teaspoon to replicate this nuance and pop of color. To sharpen up the flavor, add a similar amount of mustard powder too. Garlic powder or onion powder can round out the savory kick like in a few iterations of the Kellanova (aka Kellogg's) crackers – while tomato powder can add a hit of umami. Bakers can also blend the spices, tasting as they mix, and sprinkle the finished product with the seasoning.

For a bar-inspired Welsh rarebit flair, experimental cooks can swap out the water for a few tablespoons of ice-cold beer. Or opt for a teaspoon or two of nutritional yeast to dial up the taste without the hoppy bitterness. For a hint of sourdough bread tang, bakers can also use their sourdough discard to bind the batter — though this may alter the texture into something more cakey than flaky.

Get creative with your flavor profiles

Another way to change the flavor is by replacing the batter's water with milk or buttermilk, which increases the caramelized, nutty notes. Brushing the bites with an egg wash before baking will give the crackers a glossy finish.

If cheddar isn't providing enough funk or sweetness, try swapping it with another type of cheese to change the flavor. Parmesan, pepper jack, or Gruyère could provide an excellent alternative. To mimic the boxed cracker's seasonings, you can also toss the finished snack in Ranch seasoning mix, chili flakes, or cheese powder. Or combine the baked and cooled bites with a bowl of caramel or kettle corn for a sweet-salty dynamic duo.

To replicate the extra-toasty Cheez-Its, leave the crackers in the oven for an extra five to 10 minutes. Although we can't advocate scorching your culinary efforts, it's up to the chef to decide when to pull the deeply browned squares. Hold on to any extra crumbly or misshapen bits from the baking process — you can experiment with adding them to your next ice cream sundae or blitz them into a buttery crumble ideal for pairing with caramel.