We Tried A TikTok Cheez-It Recipe To See How It Compares To The Real Deal

The internet is tailor-made for browsing delicious-looking foods and drooling over them. Everything from TikTok cookie recipes to everyday cheap eats show up and make our mouths water. We love stumbling across seemingly easy and delicious TikTok recipes, but many are hit-or-miss. It is not unusual to see something on the internet that looks like the next big taste sensation, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving.

The viral TikTok Cheez-It copycat is the latest food to take the world by storm. The recipe promises that with two simple ingredients and very little effort, you can create your own homemade gluten-free Cheez-It knockoffs in no time. It sounded too good to be true, so of course, we had to try it to find out how these crisp cheese snacks stacked up to the real thing. With the simple ingredients and minimal equipment needed, recreating this TikTok sensation was a breeze; however, the results were not entirely what we expected.

Cheez-It history

The late 19th century was a bit of a boom time for crackers in general. At the time, crackers were considered a healthy food and were even used for medicinal purposes. One of the companies producing these snacks, Wolf Bakery Company (which eventually became Green & Green), was churning out crackers left and right around the turn of the 20th century.

The company made its way through the First World War creating economical and nutritious crackers, although they were not necessarily delicious. After the war, though, with the American economy still suffering, the company decided to turn to the classic Welsh rarebit for inspiration. Rarebit is a simple dish of melted cheese sauce usually served on toast. It was relatively inexpensive to produce and made for a tasty snack when baked into little hard squares called Cheez-Its, which lasted a shockingly long time when stored correctly. They were perfect for traveling and keeping food in the house. After many acquisitions, Cheez-It crackers are now distributed by Kellogg's, and over 75 billion Cheez-Its are sold each year.

The process of making your own Cheez-Its

The process for making TikTok's copycat Cheez-Its is simple. First, you need sharp cheddar cheese. Some versions say to use ultra-thin sliced cheese, while others do not specify. We used regular generic brand sharp cheddar cheese. Next, you will need salt. Again, some TikTokers specify some additional seasoning, but we went simple and classic and used salt.

Take a few slices of cheese at a time, and stack them up, then use a sharp knife to cut them into squares. Next, take a straw and cut out a hole in the middle of each piece of cheese to mimic the hole in the middle of a Cheez-It. For good measure, we also cut some of the quartered cheese into smaller pieces to create some the same size as a standard Cheez-It.

Salting can be done before baking or after. We tried both and found that salting the cheese before baking helped it stick better.

Finally, place the cut pieces of cheese on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. In theory, when you take them out of the oven, they should be crispy, cheesy Cheez-It copycats.

Few ingredients, big differences

There is almost no comparison when it comes to ingredients. That's because while Cheez-It crackers contain cheese and salt, neither is the first ingredient.

The first ingredient in Cheez-It crackers is flour, followed by oil. Because let's remember, real Cheez-Its are crackers, not just baked cheese. Cheez-It crackers also contain cheese, salt, paprika, yeast, and soy lecithin. This is noticeably more ingredients than what is required for the copycat versions. It is also worth noting that in all of the TikToks we looked at, none of them specified paprika.

You may be wondering how, with wildly different ingredient lists, the two recipes can turn out the same type of snack. We wondered the same thing. Basic chemistry tells us that the difference in ingredients will result in a different outcome. A true copycat recipe would likely involve flour and other cracker-like ingredients.

Still, we can appreciate that this version of the snack makes a gluten-free version. It also lacks other common allergens, such as soy, which are present in real Cheez-It crackers.

Price to make vs. buy

The difference between the price to make these cheese snacks vs the price to buy them is a little bit of a moving target. If we are looking at just the cost of ingredients, a box of Cheez-It crackers at our local Target is $3.99 for 12.4 ounces. A pack of sliced Good and Gather cheddar cheese is $2.29 for an 8-ounce pack. That means that, per ounce, Cheez-It crackers cost $0.32 and the homemade ones cost $0.28. This does come out slightly cheaper, but it should be noted you get more crackers per box than you would by making them at home, even cutting them to the same size.

Additionally, you have to take into account how much your time is worth. Not even factoring in the costs of utilities or the salt used in the recipe, making these cheese crisps takes your time as well. For some, having a homemade snack that you have full control over is worth the time; for others, spending the additional $0.04 per ounce makes more sense and feels more worthwhile.

Taste comparison

Where do we even begin? First, yes, the taste of cheese is there. Obviously, since we are using cheese and only cheese, the taste problem is not with the cheese itself. The thing about Cheez-It crackers is that they are, first and foremost, crackers. When the original company started, they were a cracker company, not a cheese company. While Cheez-It very much focuses on the cheese flavor, there is no getting past the fact that a Cheez-It tastes like a cracker.

This is shown by the fact there are a variety of Cheez-It flavors out there, all of which are variations on the theme of cheese and crackers. There is a floury baked taste to classic Cheez-It crackers. This flavor harkens back to the original inspiration of Welsh rarebit. Without the toast, it would just be melty cheese. And without the cracker portion of these copycats, these are just toasty cheese. The flavor is fine, but it only vaguely imitates a Cheez-It.

Texture comparison

The real problem, though, is the texture. Once again, Cheez-Its are crackers. This means that they have a crispy, crunchy consistency that these TikTok Cheez-It knockoffs simply don't have.

We honestly thought we made a mistake at first. Still, after a few test batches at different sizes and quadruple-checking our oven's temperature with multiple thermometers, we can confirm they simply do not have the texture of crackers.

When cut to the quartered size specified in the various TikTok videos, the outside of the pieces crisped up. Still, even after thoroughly cooling, the inside remained slightly chewy and somewhat tough. Even the littlest pieces weren't much better. They were still a little chewy, though at least you could put a whole one in your mouth. Additionally, as can be seen in the photos, the cheese pieces took on an almost lacy appearance. Why even bother with cutting a hole? It just disappears anyway.

The worst part, though, is the grease that comes off them. When baking, a ton of fat seeps out of the pieces, leaving a greasy residue on the hands and a noticeable pool of oil on the baking sheet. This happened each time we baked them.

How are they stored?

One of the reasons that Cheez-It crackers initially sold as well as they did is because they lasted a long time on the shelf; 11 months, to be exact. Part of that is the ingredients in them that help maintain freshness, as well as the way they are packaged. The homemade version simply doesn't stand a chance.

According to most sources, this type of cheese snack can be stored on the counter in an air-tight container for a few days or even up to a week. We did not store them that long. But we did notice that after a day or so in a ziplock bag on the counter, they did start to lose some of their crispiness. From our experience, even an open bag of Cheez-Its maintains its crispness for at least a few weeks.

Obviously, shelf life is not the only goal when it comes to making snacks. But if you have a snack claiming to be a comparable counterpart to a manufactured product, it would be nice to see a similar ability to last on the counter.

Final verdict

Don't believe everything you see on the internet — these are not like Cheez-It crackers. They are cheese crisps, which are their own pre-existing treat with plenty of recipes available online. They are popular as a keto and gluten-free friendly food. And if you look at this from that perspective, they are not bad. We can see the appeal, especially as you could use whatever cheese you want. However, they do not compare to real Cheez-It crackers.

You can make a tasty bite-sized cheese snack with some tweaking, but it will never be a Cheez-It. Additionally, the recipes being passed around TikTok were not well-tested.

This particularly cheese crisp recipe makes slightly chewy cheese bites that lack the taste or texture of a Cheez-It. They are also objectively too big to be a Cheez-It — roughly four times too big. They also, crucially, look nothing like Cheez-It crackers. They look like melted pieces of cheese because that's what they are. They do not keep their shape, which you can even see in some of the TikTok videos, so why do we even bother putting in the holes? If you are expecting a Cheez-It at the end of this, be prepared for disappointment.