Every year, I make my mom’s recipe for cheddar shortbread for Thanksgiving. It’s one of my traditional appetizers for the holiday, but it makes a great appetizer or snack for fall or holiday parties. 

By using fun bite-sized cookie cutters, these crackers look gourmet without much work at all. I get so many compliments on these every year because they look fancy and they’re full of rich cheesy, spicy flavor. 

These are really easy to make too. You just put the dough together, pat and roll it down, cut the shapes out of whatever type of cookie cutters you have, and bake for a few minutes.

These can be made in less than an hour from start to finish, including putting them on a plate with a fancy cheese ball if you desire. This recipe makes a full plate of crackers, as shown. I’ve never counted how many crackers I get, but it yields enough for a decent size tray to bring to a party. This could easily be doubled if you wanted more.




  • 2 cups (8 oz. pkg.) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. dry mustard (this year I used 1 full tsp. for some more flavor)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (omit if you do not want some spice)
  • 1/2 C. (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1/8 tsp. salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375. 
  2. Mix together cheese, flour, mustard, cayenne, salt. Mix in melted butter, working mixture with your hands. Add a tablespoon of water if needed if dough feels too dry and crumbly. Dough will be crumbly, though. 
  3. On a floured surface, roll half of dough to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out with leaf or other shape cookie cutter.
  4. Repeat with other half of dough. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. 
  5. Cool on wire rack before arranging on plate. Best served with a cheese ball or other cheese spread.

These crackers are so cheesy, buttery and delicious. The addition of the mustard and cayenne gives them a slight kick of spice, but not in a “OMG too spicy” way at all.

If you truly dislike spice, omit the cayenne, but don’t leave out the dry mustard. That really makes the cheese flavor in these pop. Sharp cheddar is an absolute must too for that distinct cheese flavor. Another cheese would be fun to try, like pepper jack or Parmesan, though. 

If you like Cheez-Its, I promise you will love these. I personally think these are way better than Cheez-Its too, and I’m a big Cheez-Its fan. Any cheese or cracker lover will gobble these right up. They certainly didn’t last long at Thanksgiving this year. 

Questions for You: 

  • Do you have any appetizers you make year after year for the holidays? 
  • Cheese fan or no?