Crispy Cheese Wafers

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You'll love these Crispy Cheese Wafers made with sharp cheddar cheese and a hint of cayenne pepper! These bite-size cheese cookies are topped with toasted pecans and dusted with powdered sugar for the perfect appetizer at holiday gatherings.

Cheddar cheese wafers with pecans and dusted powdered sugar.
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What are Cheese Wafers?

Cheese wafers are a cross between cheddar cheese straws and a crumbly shortbread. This recipe also adds a dusting of powdered sugar and pecan halves, so it's both savory and sweet like a cookie.

Traditionally served at Christmas, baby showers and southern tea parties, this light and crunchy snack is hard to resist! It's a great recipe to add to a charcuterie board, or tastes delicious with hot wassail during the holiday season. 

It's southern tradition to give crispy cheese wafers as a hostess gift wrapped in a decorative cookie tin or box. Who could resist these light and buttery cheese cookies? They're the perfect Christmas treat!

cheese wafers in a holiday box.

Why You'll Love This Recipe

  • Great Flavor: cheddar cheese wafers are flaky, buttery, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
  • Few Ingredients: you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry
  • Easy to Make: just mix, roll, cut and bake in a few easy steps
  • Perfect Appetizer: add to a holiday cheeseboard, or serve with coffee and tea
  • Crowd Pleaser: makes 4 dozen crispy cheese wafers that will please a big crowd

What Type of Cheese Works Best?

Sharp cheddar cheese works best in this recipe because the flavor enhances the butter and flour without being too overpowering. Parmesan will work, but try cheddar first for best results.

Also, be sure to shred the cheese by hand (or in a food processor) because a bag of pre-shredded cheese has stabilizers that prevents the dough from sticking together.

cheese wafers piled on a serving tray.

Equipment You'll Need

Here's what you'll need to make this recipe. (Items below are affiliate links.)

Ingredient Notes

This cheese wafers recipe requires only 7 ingredients that you may already have in your refrigerator and pantry. See recipe card for quantities.

  • sharp cheese - use hand shredded cheddar cheese for best results
  • unsalted butter - since salt is added, it's best to use unsalted butter
  • all purpose flour - White Lily flour works great in this recipe
  • ground cayenne pepper - a little goes a long way, so adjust according to taste
  • salt - be sure to add salt for flavor
  • pecan halves - add a little pecan half on the top of each cheese wafer
  • powdered sugar - use at least 10X powdered sugar to dust the tops

How to Make Cheese Wafers

Making cheddar cheese wafers is easier when you use a food processor or stand mixer to blend the wafer dough because it tends to be very thick.

Start by grating one pound of sharp cheddar by hand into a large bowl. Place the cheese in a mixer with one pound of softened butter (not melted) and mix until fluffy.

Gradually fold in flour, cayenne pepper, (ad) and salt until cheese mixture forms and creates a stiff dough. 

mixer with cheese dough.

Roll dough into a thin layer (about ¼ inch slices) on a floured surface.

rolling out dough on a marble slab.

Cut dough into small circles about 2 inches in diameter with a cookie cutter (ad) or small glass. Gather the excess dough, then form a ball and roll it out again. Repeat the process of cutting out the dough until it is all gone.

dough being cut out with a glass cookie cutter.

Place a pecan half in the middle of each biscuit and arrange them on an ungreased cookie sheet. You can used a parchment-lined baking sheet if desired. 

cheese wafers with pecans on top.

Bake for only 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Take out of oven and allow to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

cheese wafers coming out of the oven.

Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy! Store in an airtight container, or wrap in individual bags or boxes to give as gifts during the holidays.

cheese wafers after being sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Expert Tips

  • Gather all ingredients together beforehand to make prep go faster.
  • Shred the cheese by hand or use a food processor for best results.
  • Make sure the wafers are cut about ¼ inch thick.
  • Cutting the dough with a cookie cutter will produce a more consistent shape than rolling the dough into a log and slicing it.


  • Use different types of cookie cutters or a cookie press (ad) to make a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • Add a drop or two of food coloring to dress up wafers for holiday parties.
  • Stir in some Rice Krispies cereal to add extra crunch.
  • Make parmesan crisps or use gouda for a smoked version.
  • Add fresh or dried herbs like thyme, rosemary and oregano for an entirely new flavor.
cheese wafers on a serving dish.

Recipe FAQs

Can I roll the dough into a log?

You can, but using a cookie cutter creates a more consistent shape that looks better after it's been baked. It's also easier to cut the dough if you roll it out. This method prevents it from crumbling and falling apart.

Do I have to add a pecan in the middle?

No, some cheddar cheese wafers don't include a pecan or a dusting of powdered sugar. If you have a nut allergy, you can definitely leave off the pecans. But, dusting this recipe with powdered sugar is absolutely delicious!

Can I make this recipe in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the dough in advance and keep it in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. When you're ready to bake, just roll it out, cut it into shapes and pop in the oven!

cheese wafers cooling on paper towels.

What to Serve with Cheese Wafers

Storage and Freezing

Storage: leftovers can be stored in an airtight container outside of the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Freeze Before Baking: you can freeze the dough before baking for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Thaw it out in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Freeze After Baking: To freeze after baking, let wafers cool completely on a wire rack and do not dust with powdered sugar. Store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheating: it's best not to reheat cheddar wafers. It's better to take them out of the freezer or fridge and let them thaw at room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar immediately before serving.

A Christmas Eve Tradition

This is one of our family's favorite recipes because it was handed down to us from our beloved Aunt Julia. Every year on Christmas Eve, Aunt Julia hosted a present-guessing party and invited the whole family over to shake their gifts. She always served cheddar cheese wafers with pecans in the middle which was the highlight of our holidays!

More Holiday Treats!


Recipe Card

Cheddar cheese wafers with pecans and dusted powdered sugar.

Crispy Cheese Wafers

You'll love these Crispy Cheese Wafers made with sharp cheddar cheese and a hint of cayenne pepper. They're the perfect holiday appetizer!
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizers, Cookies
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Calories: 160kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.


  • 1 lb. sharp cheddar (shredded by hand)
  • 1 lb. butter (softened but not melted)
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Mix cheese and butter together with a mixer until well blended.
    1 lb. sharp cheddar, 1 lb. butter
  • Gradually fold in flour,
    cayenne pepper, (ad) and salt until dough is formed.
    4 cups all purpose flour, ½ tsp. ground cayenne pepper, ½ tsp. salt
  • Roll dough into a thin layer with a floured rolling pin on a floured surface.
  • Cut dough into circles with a round cookie cutter (or small glass). ad
  • Gather excess dough and form a ball, then repeat rolling process.
  • Place one pecan slice on top of each biscuit.
    1 cup pecan halves
  • Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet (ad) and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Remove biscuits from oven and cool completely or the sugar will not adhere properly.
  • Dust biscuits with powdered sugar and transfer to a serving dish or store in an airtight container.
    ¼ cup powdered sugar


  • These biscuits store well in an airtight container and will last for at least a week.
  • Be sure to let biscuits cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar.


Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 146mg | Potassium: 31mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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