The best crackers to pair with cheese, according to the experts

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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

WAFER CRACKERS

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.

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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.

SWEET CRACKERS 

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.”

HEARTY CRACKERS 

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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Do you love cheese? Trader Joe’s has you covered!

 

When I need an amazing wedge of cheese to bring to my book club that’s as much a discussion point as the book—or one to enjoy at home with a crusty baguette or my favorite Trader Joe’s cracker—Trader Joe’s never lets me down.

 

The store’s nod toward artisan-quality foods at affordable price points extends to its cheese department where a mix of private labels and brands you know are stocked in the refrigerated case. Many of these are from family-owned creameries with decades of experience, a nice detour from huge dairy brands.

 

Whether you want a hard, aged cheese; a soft spreadable one; or a package of grated cheese to fold in a quesadilla or into the fondue pot, your options are vast and span the globe.

 

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Crafted by Carr Valley Cheese (a fourth-generation, family-owned creamery in LaValle, Wis.) Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook, this cheese’s slightly sweet and nutty flavor profile is a result of a layer each of goat’s milk and sheep’s milk—with a vein of grape-vine ash in the middle. As Cook says, it’s his twist on France’s Morbier. Among Mobay’s most recent acclaims is Silver at the 2018 World Cheese Awards and received raves from Bon Appetit.

Cost: $6.99 (7 ounces)

 

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While we don’t know who produces this cheese, we do know that it’s made in the US from raw cow’s milk, aged 60 days and rates a top pick. Those who normally find blue cheese too tangy won’t with this one. It’s creamy and salty but doesn’t overpower. I’ve even made grilled-cheese sandwiches with it (just be sure to press the crumbles into the bread so they don’t slip out and into the pan!).

 

Another option to consider is a locally made blue cheese. In California look for the award-winning creamy and tangy Point Reyes Farmstead Original Blue which is 5.99 for 6 ounces. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, you might find Carr Valley Glacier Wildfire Blue. If you like a little heat with a creamy cheese, this is exactly that: Peperoncino peppers are woven into a wedge of mild cow’s-milk blue cheese. This is a great example of a “recipe cheese.”

 

Cost: $3.99 (8 ounces)

 

Kristine Hansen / CheeseProfessor

 

I stopped topping pizzas with sliced or grated mozzarella when I learned about ciliegine. Smaller than the more common bocconcini, or Trader Joe’s ovalini, these U.S-made tiny balls of mozzarella (each the size of a cherry tomato) come in a brine and melt adequately, but don’t suffocate the crust and sauce. Rubbing the balls in a paper towel will remove some of the excess moisture if you are planning on cooking or baking with them.

 Cost: $3.79 (8 ounces)

 

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Trader Joe’s has a truly staggering number of Cheddar cheeses from literally all over the world. On a recent visit we found about a dozen options hailing from England, Ireland, New Zealand, California, Oregon, Wisconsin and Vermont.

While not much is known about Unexpected Cheddar, the label doesn’t lie when it says this cheese “tastes like an aged premium Cheddar with hints of Parmesan.” If you’ve ever tasted Italian Parmesan and a four-year-aged Wisconsin Cheddar on the same cheese plate, this is exactly it. Available in a block or shredded, if you wander the Trader Joe’s aisles you’ll also find this cheese featured in products like Unexpected Cheddar Broccoli Soup.

Cost: $3.99 (7 ounces)

 

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A classic soft ripened triple crème cheese, it’s imported from France like similar cheeses Brillat Savarin and Explorateur. The key is to allow it to come to room temperature at least a half hour before enjoying it. Both the texture and flavor will be at their best, and the cheese will ooze lusciously onto crackers, crudites or a baguette.

Cost: $5.49 (5 ounces)

 

Amy Sherman / CheeseProfessor.com

 

Trader Joe’s can be credited with having popularized fresh goat cheese. It’s a great cheese to have on hand for spreading on bread or crackers, including in a quiche recipe, topping a pizza, or serving with roasted beets. In fact, due to all the diced fine herbs folded in, no additional seasonings are needed.

Cost: $2.99 (5 ounces)

 

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Everybody’s had Feta from Greece. But Israel? Not as often. While not PDO Feta, this salty, sheep’s-milk cheese in brine (look for the bright blue tub) is made by a fourth-generation cheesemaker in Israel and holds its shape really well. If it’s summer, toss it in a watermelon and tomato salad or, during the cooler months, add it to a grain bowl or grill with squash. Its flavor profile lingers on the palate, which you don’t find with all Feta. If you prefer Greek PDO Feta, Trader Joe’s offers a fine one as well, that’s made with a combination of sheep and goat’s milk.

Cost: $7.49 (8.8 ounces)

 

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What I like about the Toscano with Black Pepper cheese is you get aroma and flavor, thanks to the black pepper’s pungency. This is a case where the cheese can stand up to nearly anything else on the cheese board, including tart fruit preserves, seasoned nuts or even spicy German mustards. Incorporate this U.S.-made cheese—along with another hard, aged Italian style cheese soaked in Syrah (Creamy Toscano Cheese Soaked in Syrah)—into Trader Joe’s recipe for Toscano Cheese Board. Our guess is that this is a private label version of Sartori Black Pepper BellaVitano.

Cost: $9.99 per pound

 

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Are there local cheeses produced in your region? If so, you might be pleasantly surprised to find them in the cheese section. In California, you’ll find great prices on legendary Brie style cheeses like Marin French Petite Breakfast and Laura Chenel soft ripened creamy brie. In Wisconsin you might find the previously mentioned Carr Valley Glacier Wildfire Blue.

 

This article originally appeared on Cheeseprofessor.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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Featured Image Credit: Enio DePaz / iStock.

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