Cheddar Wafers are a Southern Tradition, usually served during the holidays, wedding or baby showers. Light, fluffy cheese crackers with a nice cheddar flavor and a hint of spice! These holiday cheddar cheese cookies pair well with non-alcoholic Tomato Apertif!
Cheddar wafers are a bit like a shortbread, in that they do not contain eggs. The texture is light and flaky like cheese straws, but I find the wafer shape is easier to make. If you’ve never made any type of shortbread before, expect the dough mixture to be a bit grainy.
Once you’ve combined all the ingredients, the dough will be grainy and that’s okay. You’ll want to form a cylinder or ball with the dough and leave it wrapped in plastic at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This is the secret to the wafer dough.
Ingredients for Cheese Wafers
The ingredients for these tasty holiday cheese wafers are simple! In fact, you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cheddar Cheese (use block cheese; grate in food processor)
- Cayenne Pepper
This cheese wafer recipe calls for only 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. The heat from the cayenne isn’t too bold, but if you aren’t a fan of a little spicy heat, start with just a pinch of cayenne.
I highly recommend using a block of cheddar and shred it in the food processor or by hand. I suspect pre-shredded cheese is treated with something to prevent clumping. In any case, I shred my own cheese:)
How to Make Cheese Wafers
The process for making cheese cookies is pretty easy!
- Bring butter to room temperature
- Shred cheese; set aside in separate bowl
- In food processor, combine flour, salt, cayenne and paprika
- Gradually add shredded cheese to flour mixture; pulsing in between handfuls
- Once cheese is combined, roll dough out onto wax paper; mash and squeeze to soften dough
- Roll into a cylinder shape and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes
- Slice 1/4 inch of dough; roll into ball; then flatted with palm
- Bake 13-20 minutes; (depends on your oven; usually between 18 and 20 minutes)
The first time I made these I got so frustrated because the dough kept falling apart! The secret is to let the dough sit at room temperature. Once at room temperature, put it on the counter and shape it into a cylinder.
Then, smash it with you hard to soften it.
Form a cylinder shape with the wafer dough. Keep smashing, pressing and forming the dough…don’t give up!
Wrap the cylinder shaped wafer dough in wax paper and let sit for 30 minutes.
Then, slice the dough in ¼ inch slices; form a ball. Using your palm, smash the ball then, use the edge of a straight knife to flatten the top and smooth the edges.
If it starts to fall apart, do not panic! Just form another ball with the cheese wafer dough and start over. Remember, these are homemade holiday appetizers and aren’t meant to look like designer- gourmet-store-bought-appetizers.
These easy holiday cheese wafers are done when the tops are no longer soft; some ovens, that is 15 minutes, others…18-20 minutes. This recipe makes about 26-30 wafers, but again, it depends upon the size of ball you form.
If you have a cookie press, you can make pretty designs by using a star-shaped pastry tip, or make cheese “straws”–elongated, twisty sticks of the cheese wafer. No matter how you design them, your guests will thank you for making this savory, holiday cheese cookie!
- 1½ cups flour
- 1 stick butter unsalted, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon paprika smoked
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese grated
- Preheat oven to 375ºF
- Take butter out of fridge, cut into smaller pieces, and allow to come to room temperature
- Shred cheese either by hand or in food processor
- In the food processor, add flour, cayenne, salt and paprika
- Add butter to flour mixture and pulse
- Add shredded cheddar to flour mixture; a few handfuls at a time
- Put dough on counter and divide into two clumps
- Use the palm of your hand and smash down one section of the dough; keep smashing and pressing until you get something that resembles a cylinder shape
- Place the cylinder shaped dough onto plastic or wax paper and roll it to smooth it out
- Roll dough out onto wax paper; cover and allow to sit for 30 minutes
- Let sit out on the counter for 30 minutes
- Once dough is at room temperature, cut dough into ¼slices, form a ball (from each slice) and flatten the ball with the palm of your hand
- Use a big knife to flatten out the top of the dough and around the edges. Use knife edge to transfer wafer to oiled parchment paper
- Bake 13-15 minutes until browned; depends on oven. Check the tops of the wafers at 13 minutes; if they're not semi-firm, cook another 5-8 minutes. The wafers are done when the tops are semi-firm.
- Allow to rest a bit prior to serving
- The dough will be grainy after you've combined everything; don't worry, just form a cylinder or ball with the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and allow it to warm up a bit on the counter--about 30 minutes
- Once the dough has warmed, you can either pipe it through a cookie press (to make "straws") or just form balls and flatten them for wavers