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The best cheese crackers you can eat

Shared on 04 August 2020

This is an overview of the cheese cracker snack landscape and a coronation of the best rendition out there. We're talking about cheese crackers here as a vice. We're not proud of our consumption of these irresistible snacks, especially in the volumes that it happens. We're aware that in addition to the high caloric load the ingredients aren't what we'd call "healthy". None of that matters however. In this article we'll share our extensive research into this rich culinary tradition and tell you what to expect of this delicious snack.\

There are many circumstances in which one might choose to consume cheese crackers. It could be hunger and the desire for sustenance, it could be a mechanical distraction while watching a moving or a sports game, or it could simply be – a meal. Judge if you want, we. do. not. care. The cheese snack landscape in North America is dominated by two brands: Ritz and Cheez-it. Ritz is actually owned by Nabisco and has another distinct product line dedicated to cheesiness – Cheese Nips. Cheese Nips are an approximation of the standard Cheez-it cracker. These words are a hint, don't bother. There is just one product in the Cheese Nips line though it's packaged a few different ways, including potion-controlled bags.\

Now Ritz has a lot more to show in this category. There are many different Ritz crackers ranging from the standard saltine to peanut butter and fudge cookies. We're here just for the cheese please. In that flavor there are three main product types, a cheese-flavored cracker, a cheese-cream cracker sandwich and an ultra-crisp "Crisp & Thins". Ritz crackers are a bit on the larger side more conducive to taking a bite than scarfing down the whole thing. This is problematic because it creates crumbs. Additionally disappointing is a certain carbiness to the crackers, they are more like small dry biscuits than crackers really. This not-quite-bready flavor dilutes the cheesy sensation we look for. Pass. The cheese-filled sandwiches are more of a once-in-the-mouth sort of a thing, which is good. However continuing with the theme of too much bread to too little cheese, here we also get the texture different of the mushy filling against the hard cracker. Finally, which they are certainly safe to consume by the date on the box, the idea of a soft filling in a room-temperature-stored cracker is off putting. So, yea, no thanks!\

Finally we get to the "Crisp & Thins". These would be very serviceable crackers if they were plain and flat as a platform for cubed cheese. Perhaps more suited to a wine tasting than voracious snacking bouts. For this purpose we actually prefer plain old matzo (plain, very very old matzo). Yet again with "Crisp & Thins" though too much breadiness too little cheesiness and for reasons we'll describe later this particular cracker's existence is actually offensive.\

Let's take a brief detour to school lunches. Cheese cracker products are prevalent here as well. Two things come to mind immediately – the cheese-flavored Goldfish crackers along with their upscale cousins from Annies: Cheddar Bunnies, and dipping cheese sticks. An example of the latter is Handi-Snacks, also under the Ritz umbrella. Let's get these out of the way as a soft, nearly liquid cheese dip at room temperature – ugh. Also, sticks = crumbs. Now on to the fish & bunnies. We prefer the Goldfish to the Cheddar Bunnies flavor-wise. Though the Goldfish are a bit on the salty side. These snacks in our minds are also squarely in the "for kids" category, we're looking for something more.\

Since we brushed by the upscale crackers let's explore that a bit deeper. The snack aisle at Whole Foods has a cornucopia of packages screaming healthy ingredients at you from one angle or another. There are for example these Cauliflower Crackers in cheddar flavor. There's no point talking about their merits as a cheese cracker, at all. There must have been a string of focus groups and taste tests that found these cauliflower crackers to be, passable(?). For us though the bizarre after taste is simply intolerable. There is a plethora of corn-based snacks with cheese flavor, Cheetos perhaps being the most well-known. Pirate's Booty being the fancier similar. The cheese flavoring here is dusted on, making for very messy fingers. We also just don't prefer the texture of the corn puffs. Pirate's Booty Aged White Cheddar snack is quite serviceable however. Speaking of corn, there is also cheese-flavored popcorn, but meh, once again we feel like the texture gets in the way. There's also something negative to be said for the artificial flavoring some of those products use. We mentioned wine above, wine is a great pairing to cheese though we're concerning our selves here with decidedly lower-brow snacking than a wine tasting. In the context of those, cheese sticks are quite popular. These can be quite tasty, we're fans of John Wm Macy's Cheese Sticks, but as a snack, especially not a the table, you again will expose yourself to crumbs. Side note, we love crumbling these on top of pumpkin or pea soup.\

Since we're talking about cheese crackers we can't miss the only-cheese cracker bracket. These are snacks that do not have any starchy substrate onto which cheese flavoring is deposited. Instead they are baked or dehydrated cheese crisps – delicious, strong flavor, some extra grease. Moon Cheese and ParmCrisps are our favorites here. They are very very tasty, and also quite a bit more expensive. While we like them a lot, these aren't things you can eat a lot of. There is also Just the Cheese, but these are bar-shaped and require biting, so they yield crumbs.\

There's one line of crackers we mentioned in the beginning that we didn't talk about yet – Cheez-it. Being so narrowly specialized definitely pays dividends. These are hands-down the best. Sure there are some abominations that package cheese cracks with sweets or popcorn. Their whole wheat offering is admittedly weird-tasting, but the standard cheese cracker is excellent. It has explosive cheese flavor is not too salty, the cheese permeates the dough so the crackers don't taste bready at all, and they're made with actual cheese. More recently the company introduced two variations: Grooves and Snap'd. Grooves are just ok, they are crispier than the original, but the flavor is not as good. On the other hand, Snap'd, man, these crackers – the bomb They need to come in larger packages, starting at let's say 6lb bags. That might be a satisfactory amount. The sharp snap of these crackers is delightful, the cheese flavor has depth and brightness. We called cheese crackers irresistible earlier, but the truth is that Snap'd are actually addictive. This is not a condemnation of the product nor an indictment if Cheez-it for developing it. It's praise and an admission of surrender. This article is not a ranking of crackers, it's an ode to perfection of Cheez-it Snap'd. Sure we can order all others by how much the staff liked them, but they all pale in comparison to the best cheese cracker out there - Snap'd. This is why the Ritz "Crisp & Thins" are so disappointing, they're clearly aimed as completion to these but they fall so far short of delivering that one wonder why they exist at all.\

This was a comprehensive overview, we hope you agree, it's most certainly not a complete one. There are many other snacks that we've seen and simply haven't tried. If you're passionate about an option not included here, get in touch, we're always up for trying new cheese snacks, especially on recommendation.

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