If you have never had Southern cheese wafers, you sure are missing out! These scrumptiously soft savory cookies are full of sharp cheese goodness with a spicy edge.
Today I’m sharing my Southern cheese wafer recipe with you, which is based on Mama’s cheese straw recipe. But we’re going to go easy on ourselves and make them into wafers instead. They’re kind of like a savory cookie or a cheese cracker that’s light, flaky, and fluffy. Cheese wafers are a Southern tradition you’ll find often around the holidays in the South, as well as at weddings, baby showers, and church potlucks.
The ingredients are so simple. All you need is flour, butter, lots of sharp cheddar cheese, salt, and cayenne pepper. The instructions are just as simple. All that is required is making the sharp cheese dough, rolling it into balls, and pressing down lightly with a fork. This is another one of my favorite recipes that utilize our Kindergarten play-doh skills!
These cheese wafers are so addictive y’all and go perfectly on a holiday cheeseboard. I’ve included more serving suggestions below, but I’ve been known to nibble on one or three while preparing Thanksgiving dinner. I hope you enjoy these traditional Southern cheese wafers as much as me!
- Regular paprika or smoked paprika (optional)
- Ground cayenne pepper
- Borden sharp cheddar cheese
- Kosher salt
- All-purpose flour
How to Make Cheese Wafers
This recipe couldn’t get any easier.
Dump all of your ingredients into a large bowl and beat them with an electric mixer until fully combined.
Now listen, at first, you are going to think there is no way this is going to combine but if you stick with it (and if you left your cheese and butter out all night as I mention below) it will combine into a stiff cookie dough-like consistency like this.
Note: You are seeing a double recipe pictured here.
Break off a softball size ball of dough and knead it a few times with your hands.
Then, pinch off smaller portions (about one-inch balls) and knead them each individually before shaping them into a ball.
Place these cheese wafer balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten them slightly with a fork.
Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until lightly brown on the bottom.
If you like, sprinkle with paprika as soon as you remove them from the oven (totally optional).
Allow them to cool and then store them in an airtight container.
Store leftover cheddar cheese wafers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Before making these, leave your cheese and butter on the countertop overnight to make sure they are completely at room temperature before attempting this recipe.
- Instead of the cayenne pepper, use a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and/or a dash of Tabasco/hot sauce. Adjust the flavor to your ideal heat.
- If you like, fold 1 cup of chopped pecans or chopped walnuts into the dough. Another option is to press a pecan half into each cookie dough ball before baking.
- You want to use freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese and not pre-shredded cheese.
- For crispy cheese wafers, add 1 cup of rice cereal, like Rice Krispies. I know, it sounds unusual, but it tastes SO good!
- For added flavor, add a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.
Can I use a different kind of cheese?
Making this cheese wafer recipe with sharp cheddar gives it a nice flavor, but you could use Pepper Jack cheese either mixed in or instead of sharp to get a completely different flavor. Regular cheddar cheese also works in a pinch.
Can I make gluten-free cheese wafers?
Yes! Simply use gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose flour.
How do you serve cheese wafers?
Here are some serving suggestions:
- Serve them as an appetizer on a cheeseboard or charcuterie platter with different preserves and types of cheese.
- Enjoy them as an appetizer with your favorite dip or alongside sausage balls.
- Serve them as a side with soup or stew in place of cornbread or biscuits.
- Eat them on their own as a tasty cheesy snack!
- 1 pound Borden Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 3/4 stick room temperature unsalted butter (6 tablespoons)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 heaping tsp Kosher salt
- 2.5 tsp cayenne pepper
- paprika for dusting (optional)
- Let cheese and butter sit on the countertop overnight to come to room temperature.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well blended and the dough is the consistency of cookie dough.1 pound Borden Sharp Cheddar Cheese, 3/4 stick room temperature unsalted butter, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 heaping tsp Kosher salt, 2.5 tsp cayenne pepper
- Break off a large softball-sized portion and knead it with your hands. Break off one-inch size pieces and knead them one at a time before forming into a one-inch ball.
- Place on an ungreased baking sheet and using the tines of a fork, press down slightly on each ball.
- Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until lightly brown on the bottom and dry. Immediately dust with paprika if using.paprika for dusting (optional)
- Allow them to cool and then store them in an airtight container.
You may also enjoy these recipes with cheese:
Oven Baked Mac and Cheese (Southern Plate Favorite)
Cheesy Chicken And Rice (Crock Pot Version)
Parmesan Crisps (2 Ingredients Only!)
way too salty, way too spicy for my relatives.
So sorry to hear you didn’t like the recipe. Perhaps next time you could decrease the salt and leave out the Cayenne pepper.
Wishing you all the best
My Granny used to make these!! I may have to make this my new tradition in her memory!!
These taste exactly like the cheese straws we used to make for Christmas gifts when I was growing up. And they are WAY easier! I always have to add a few spoonfuls of water to get the dough to hold together, even when starting with warm cheese and butter. But it never seems to affect the final product. Thanks for providing a way to enjoy these zippy, cheesy treats without breaking either my hand, my cookie press, or both!
I am so glad you liked them Jackie!!
I love the recipe, but I would like them to be a little softer, they are very hard. Any suggestions ?
They get softer the next day. 🙂
Mine don’t get “crunchy”. They’re tasty but soft. Any suggestions? Thanks much!!
Probably they should be left in the oven a bit longer. If it looks like they’ll burn, try reducing the temperature a little. They do also have to cool completely before storing, or they will stay soft.
Maybe I missed the answer….what is an engrossed cookie sheet?
This is hilarious! Thank you for pointing it out. That is auto correct when I was trying to type ungreased! 🙂
They need some pecans!
I’m so excited to try this my aunt used to make something that looks very similar to these… closest I’ve seen are from neiman marcus in the tin(heaven forbid) Her recipe was lost and when she passed along with many other southern treats. I’ve craved the taste of them since I was a child… crossing my fingers… will keep ya’all posted
I can’t wait to hear!! I hope they are exactly as you remember so you will have your aunt’s cherished recipe back!!