Cheese Crackers, Ranked From Worst to Best

Cheese Crackers, Ranked From Worst to Best

Cheez-Its, Goldfish, and similar snacks are always delightful, but which deliver the best experience?

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Image for article titled Cheese Crackers, Ranked From Worst to Best
Photo: Shaan Merchant

Cheese, in all of its forms, makes for an excellent pick-me-up. It can be the extra nubs from your fancy cheese plate that you munch on at midnight after the guests have gone home, or the neon queso on your ballpark nachos—there is no wrong way to consume cheese. But perhaps no form is better for snacking than cheese crackers, whether it’s a baggie of Goldfish in the suburban minivan or a box of Cheez-Its from under your dorm room bed. They’re crispy, cheesy, and crushable in virtually every scenario.

I made it my mission to find the best cheese crackers available at the grocery store. With the help of some fellow taste testers, I rated each one to see which reigned supreme. I was specifically looking for cheese crackers, nothing puffed or powdered, stuffed or sandwiched—just the cracker form. Each product was judged on three criteria:

  • Flavor: How cheesy is the overall taste?
  • Texture: How crisp is each cracker? How flaky?
  • Craveability: How much do I want to keep reaching into the box for more?

Let’s get crackin’.

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8. Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies

8. Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies

Image for article titled Cheese Crackers, Ranked From Worst to Best
Photo: Shaan Merchant

It’s surprising that Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies take the lowest spot in the rankings. These are often the cheese crackers I gravitate toward when I want a snack but also want to feel like I’m being healthy. After a side-by-side taste test, though, I’m done lying to myself. Ultimately, these bunnies just don’t stack up to the other options. The bunnies are much less crunchy than their competitors—which is ironic, since they taste like a product made by a crunchy hippie mom: natural, a bit chalky, slightly sweet. Overall, just not an enjoyable cheese snack experience.

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7. Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers, Farmhouse Cheddar

7. Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers, Farmhouse Cheddar

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Photo: Shaan Merchant

Simple Mills makes some really wonderful crackers—the Rosemary and Sea Salt flavor is a cheese board mainstay—but the cheese crackers are not where it’s at. There’s minimal, if inoffensive, flavor to these crackers. I’m sure gluten-free crackers can be difficult to make, but the texture is all wrong here. They have a nice thickness and would hold up well to a dip, but that sturdiness comes at a price: they’re incredibly dry and almost hard to swallow. Don’t make your salivary glands work this hard while snacking.

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6. Annie’s Cheddar Squares

6. Annie’s Cheddar Squares

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Photo: Shaan Merchant

Annie’s square Cheez-It knockoffs did not fare much better than their bunny counterparts. The squares are sort of soft, confirming that the bunnies’ similar lack of crispness was not due to an anomalous stale box. It almost tastes like someone brought the box, briefly, into a steam room with them, removing any opportunity for a satisfying crunch. The squares rank higher than the bunnies because of a stronger cheese flavor. They also have a toasty note that, according to some of my fellow tasters, verges on burnt, but to me this helped elevate the crackers a bit.

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5. From the Ground Up Cauliflower Crackers, Cheddar

5. From the Ground Up Cauliflower Crackers, Cheddar

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Photo: Shaan Merchant

Now, these are pretty effin’ weird, but kind of in an enjoyable way. If you like the taste of cauliflower, they might be worth a try. The cheese flavor is basically nonexistent, but there’s a vegetal earthiness to them, plus lots of salt, which can be satisfying. The crackers themselves are thin and crispy, almost more like a chip, but this increases the ease and fun of eating them. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t call them good. But they were surprisingly okay.

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4. Ritz Toasted Chips, Cheddar

4. Ritz Toasted Chips, Cheddar

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Photo: Shaan Merchant

If cheese flavor were not a factor, these Ritz Toasted Chips might be my number one—but since the crackers are just sprinkled with cheese powder rather than baked from a cheesy dough, there’s some flavor missing in these toasted Ritz cracker chips. On the other hand, classic Ritz crackers boast a delicious flavor all on their own, with a slight sweetness and lots of salt. This “chip” variation is thin and crispy and toasty, certainly a snack I’ll be reaching for again—just maybe not if I’m craving something with cheese.

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3. Goldfish Original Cheddar

3. Goldfish Original Cheddar

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Photo: Shaan Merchant

You probably know what Goldfish cheddar crackers taste like. That’s because they are a classic. Though there are tons of alternate varieties, both flavor-blasted and non-, for the purposes of this tasting I stuck with the original. Eating Goldfish side-by-side among the other crackers in this list, I’m struck by the level of additional spices these little guys have: strong notes of celery and onion, beyond just the cheese and salt. Texturally, they tend to be hollow, which makes for nice crispiness, if not the most satisfying of crunches.

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2. 365 Organic Cheddar Square Crackers

2. 365 Organic Cheddar Square Crackers

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Photo: Shaan Merchant

In almost every other taste test I’ve conductedketchups, yogurts, fries, chipsWhole Foods’ 365 house brand has been an extreme disappointment. That made it all the more delightful to discover that these cheese squares are so good. Crucially, they’re not trying to emulate one of the leading brands of cheese cracker; instead, they’re confidently their own thing. They stand out because they’re flaky, almost biscuity. It’s as if someone laminated Cheez-It dough, resulting in a buttery and very cheesy little square of goodness. While I’ve learned to typically avoid the 365 product line, I’ll make an exception here going forward.

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1. Cheez-It Original

1. Cheez-It Original

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Photo: Shaan Merchant

It comes as no surprise that these hold up as the best cheese crackers on the market. Many fighters gave it their best and most savory shot, but nothing could topple the Cheez-It from its throne. These were the most salty, the most crunchy, the most cheesy. There is an almost chemical flavor to these that might be unappealing to some, but that Cheez-It compound runs through my veins. Kind of weird, but a lovable icon. They’re the Jennifer Coolidge of the cheese cracker world, their inimitable presence never failing to make everything better.

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