Like bacon and eggs, peanut butter and jelly or spaghetti and meatballs, cheese and crackers are a classic American food pairing. But just as there are seemingly endless varieties of cheese, there are also a dizzying array of crackers to pair with cheese. We reached out to some of our favorite experts to learn about their favorite crackers. In order to make them a bit easier to navigate we’ve categorized them by texture (or flavor profile). We also included a few new crackers that are worthy of your attention, not to mention, your cheese.
RECOMMENDED CRACKERS TO GO WITH CHEESE
Ariel Bredlau who handles affinage at Tuliptree Creamery and is a former Murray’s/ Kroger Cheesemaster says, “I love 34 Degrees crackers or similar thin crisps to pair with cheese because they actually showcase the cheese by adding a little crunch, you’re not getting full on crackers and getting tired of chewing, you actually get to taste the cheese and pairing.”
Contributor Felice Thorpe of RIANS and past president of the California Artisan Cheese Guild also likes 34 Degrees. “34 Degrees Gluten Free Crisps ( I have a daughter who can’t eat gluten) are thin and crispy. Perfect for a buttery cheese like Marin French Triple Crème Brie. This family friendly snack combo is complete with sliced apples.
Jennifer Giambroni of the California Milk Advisory Board is another fan, “Oh crackers! I’ve never met a cracker I didn’t love (those carbs!). Favorites? I’d say 34 Degrees originals if I’m eating a really pungent soft cheese.”
Jessica Sennett, founder of Cheese Grotto likes another thin cracker, “For our virtual tastings we use wafer crackers from Olina’s Bakehouse. They are simple, light, and airy with a bit of cheese powder in them to enhance the umami characteristics of the cheese. When tasting cheese, we find having a cracker that does not take away from the cheese’s natural expression is the best pairing.”
I’m a fan of wafer crackers for their texture, but I sometimes also like playing around with a flavored wafer cracker. My pick for flavored wafer is Craize a line of round thin toasted corn crackers come in a variety of flavors. Made from corn flour they have a sweet profile that works well with very strong and pungent cheeses. The savory ones are Everything and Seeded while the sweeter ones come in Plantain, Sweet Corn, Gauva and Coconut. The sweet ones are almost like cookies but pair particularly well with blue cheese.
Sheana Davis, contributor, cheesemaker and proprietor of Epicurean Connection likes the sweet and nutty profile of Beecher’s Crackers. “We feature the Beecher’s Crackers as we love the flavors. We carry the Beechers Flagship Crackers, Beechers Original Crackers and Honey Oat Crackers. I really like the texture, they hold up when spreading a cheese on them, great on a cheese board for presentation, they also do not break as easy as other crackers when shipping.”
Bredlau likes sweet crackers too, “I like unconventional crackers like graham crackers or sugar cookies with Trillium and pepper jelly for a cheese cake feel.”
Contributor Jennifer Greco says, “While they’re not crackers per se, delicate, crunchy, pain aux amandes (which translates as almond “bread” but they’re more like thin biscuits) from Monoprix are perfect with both goat and blue cheeses. I love how the almonds highlight the nutty notes in the chèvre and there’s a hint of sweetness which is a wonderful contrast to salty blue cheeses.”
HEARTY FRUITY CRACKERS
Elizabeth Nerud CCP Cheese Department Manager for Kowalski’s Market is a fan of fruity and hearty crackers. “Kii Naturals! All the flavors. Rosemary raisin pecan is so delicious and I love that the savory herb is balanced out with a cozy fruit note of raisin and of courses pecan, cheese’s nuttiest friend. Further, the texture of the cracker is very manageable, Sometimes these fruit and nut things have just too much crunch and though I am not a delicate flower by any means, sometimes too much is too much! These work. The most essential Kii Crisp is the Date and Almond. It works with everything. The best demo I ever did in my entire 20 year career was the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving with Date and Almond, Fromager D’affinois and raspberry pepper jam.
Blume likes a competing but similar brand, “Raincoast Crisps with nuts and dried fruit are also really good with creamy and sweeter cheeses.” Giambroni agrees and singles out Raincoast Crisp rosemary raisin pecan crackers “to spice things up.”
Contributor Hannah Howard also favors Raincoast “My top crackers are Raincoast Crisps rosemary raisin pecan with Gorgonzola Dolce is a huge treat, or salty date and almond with Comte) – they’re just so balanced, so perfectly crunchy, and such a good cheese vehicle. ”
Carlos Yescas of the Oldways Cheese Coalition is also a fan of Breana’s Toast line of crackers made in Guadalajara, for pairings, he recommends “Chabacano, Avellana and Jengibre (Apricot, Hazelnut and Ginger) with a Mexican sheep’s milk cheese like Junipero.”
WHOLE WHEAT AND WHOLE GRAIN CRACKERS
Contributor David Phillips, CCP, cheese buyer and department manager at Potash Markets recommends Brewers Crackers.“They have a big crunch, so they are a great foil for creamy, soft and semi-soft cheeses, mild or full flavored. I also like that they provide an up-cycle for spent grains from craft breweries. We carry the Sea Salt and the Everything in my department for the last year, and they are a good complement to the Potters crackers and crisps, and contrast to what we have in the grocery department.”
Another fan of Brewer’s is Cara Warren of Isigny Ste Mère and host of Cutting the Curd podcast says “Brewers Crackers with Brie is great.”
Yescas says “Brewer’s Crackers – Sea Salt with surface-ripened cheese, Melinda Mae is a natural match.” He also points to Ireland based Sheridan’s Cheesemongers for Brown bread crackers with washed rinds, and says pairing them with a Durrus will be fantastic.
Aimee Blume, a chef and culinary instructor as well as the food and restaurant reporter for the Courier & Press in Evansville, Indiana says “I’m a big fan of Akmak crackers with everything.”
Blume is a also a fan of Carr’s Whole Wheat, “Carr’s whole wheat crackers are thick and a little sweet, kind of like an English “biscuit. They’re great with strong cheddars, blues with nuts, and my favorite, gjetost with shaved apple.” So is Tenaya Darlington, “I have a soft spot for Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers — they’re easy to find, and they have a sturdy, slightly sweet, biscuit-like quality. When I’m staying in a hotel, I like to have my own little cheese turn-down service with some Carr’s whole wheat crackers, a hunk of cheddar or a blue, a little chutney, and some whisky.”
Howard also sings the praises of Carr’s Whole Wheat, “I love the heft and tender crumble of Carr’s Whole Wheat crackers, especially with something hearty like cheddar or aged Gouda.”
Potter’s Crackers have legions of fans including Leslie Cooperband, co-owner of Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery who says, “I love Potter’s Crackers Cranberry Hazelnut crisps and caramelized onion crisps. They are the perfect vehicle for a wedge of all of our bloomy rind cheeses and a dollop of our fresh chevre–warning: they are highly addictive!” She also mentions that the Cranberry Hazelnut Crisps won a Good Food Award this year.
Contributor and author of The Cheeses of Wisconsin, Jeanette Hurt is also a fan of Potter’s Crackers as is Nerud who says, “Potter’s is a really well crafted, small-batch organic cracker with lots of flavors. It is a regular cracker, just straight up and honest. I had the opportunity to really spend some time with it recently as Kowalski’s had a 2-day seminar with Round Robin access to so many cheesemaking celebrities! We enjoyed the winter wheat cracker as an accompaniment to all, from the prestigious Pleasant Ridge to some tasty dill havarti from Bruce Workman. It was the perfect texture, like a dense pie crust, with the right amount of toastiness to be a perfect bestie for whatever was on top.”
Another advocate is the contributor and author Tenaya Darlington “My all-time favorite cracker company is Potter’s from Wisconsin. I’m more of a baguette lover than a cracker person to be honest, so it takes a lot for me to experience cracker revelation. I love Potter’s Wisconsin Rye and their Caramelized Onion. They’re great snacks on their own (very snappy), but they’re also just terrific with soft cheeses and Alpine styles. To me, Potter’s are the ideal picnic cracker.”
Bredlau also likes the pairing of Effie’s Homemade oat cake with Gorgonzola and a candied walnut for a sweet and savory combo.
PLAIN AND FLAVORED CRACKERS
Alexandra Jones, contributor and author of Stuff Every Cheese Lover Should Know gives a shout out Rip Rap Baking, “A Pennsylvania-based company making excellent sourdough flatbread crackers. You can buy them in bulk online through their website, or they’re available throughout the Mid-Atlantic (retailers listed on the website). I like these because they’re unconventional—people often think of a cracker as something that’s meant as a cheese substrate, but these lend themselves more to snacking alongside cheeses (their sturdiness and long, thin shape also make them great for dipping). The Real Salt and Rosemary Sea Salt flavors are my go-tos, and I like to pair them with a dip made from chevre or fromage blanc blended with fresh herbs or serve them alongside firm, dense mountain cheeses.”
Leslie Jacobs of Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheese says “The main one that we love is La Panzanella, a really crispy cracker, that comes with some flavors or just a plain cracker. We don’t recommend a strong flavored cracker; that takes away from the flavor of the cheeses and we really like this cracker, especially with our softer cheeses as the crunch of the cracker pairs well with the softness of the cheese (like Ameribella or JQ). We do get their Rosemary cracker if we get a flavored one (we prefer plain) because that flavor doesn’t overpower either of those soft cheeses but adds just a slight hint of flavor.”
While the antithesis of an artisanal cracker, blogger and author of It’s Not You, It’s Brie, Kirstin Jackson is a fan of Ritz Crackers saying “It’s like doubling up on the butter. It’s awesome.”
Contributor and author of Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook Kristine Hansen likes Trader Joe’s Red Chili Scalloped Crackers. “They remind me of the Vegetable Thins I enjoyed as a child. Despite their name, these crackers don’t have much heat but they do cram in flavor, making them especially good to enjoy with soft, spreadable cheeses.”
Hurt says “I love Mary’s Gone Crackers” and I have to concur. There’s a lot to love about Mary’s. They have seedy crisp crackers and also their “Real Thin” cracker line which originally launched with 4 flavors, added 3 new flavors which they describe as more “flavor forward.” While purists may want a plain cracker, the flavors do pair well with cheese. Some notable combinations include aged Gouda with Olive oIl and Black pepper, and Chipotle with cheddar. They are also a strong gluten free option.
Plain but not basic, Jessica Little of Sweet Grass Dairy says “I love Georgia Sourdough Crackers from Atlanta. The founder, Tracy Gribbon, is a wonderful baker. She returned to Atlanta after working in some great restaurants in San Francisco and the West Village of New York. It’s been so fun to tell her story and introduce our customers to her crackers with our cheeses.”
My favorite new cracker is Moonshot. The organic crackers are made with regeneratively grown ingredients. It’s the first product from a start up company focused on sustainability. The crunchy crackers come in a variety of flavors but the Moonshot Sourdough Sea Salt flavor has quickly become my go to cracker for its mild flavor the doesn’t compete with cheese. They are square crackers and just seem to strike the right balance in terms of shape and texture They are also available in Rosemary Garlic and Tomato Basil which work with cheese but also as snack crackers on their own.
This article originally appeared on CheeseProfessor.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.
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