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Recipes » Appetizers » Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers

Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers

Baking up these snappy and guest-worthy Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers will make YOU as suddenly southern as they made me!

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In addition to Pecan Tassies and Southern Tea Cakes making up my Christmas cookies gifting tins, I include Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers. If you’ve ever heard of or eaten a cheese straw, the taste is similar, but with a healthy crispy CRUNCH. Trust me, learning how to put these snappy cheese wafers up will make YOU as suddenly southern as they made me!

So, you’ve heard of ice box cookies, right? The kind you mix and shape into a square, a rectangle, or a log and slice and bake? They’re fantastic for keeping on hand during the holidays for when folks drop in, you need a quick homemade gift, or a sweet nibble for after lunch with hot tea. Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers are pretty much the same idea, but…WITH CHEESE!

Yes, Lord knows some lady way back in the day came up with these and the rest of us are better off because of her! Think sharp cheddar cheese crackers rendezvousing with sweet pecan halves, crispy rice cereal, and a smidge of cayenne pepper. They get all friendly and lovey as dough on a baking sheet and before you know it, BOOM! Cheddar pecan wafers are that recipe that’s minutes versus hours.

These wafers are pretty topped with a single pecan half, and definitely authentic ‘below the Mason Dixon Line’ delish.

I’d been living in Charleston, South Carolina for at least a year before discovering these delicious little cheddar cheese wafers. I want to say that they arrived in a gourmet basket from one of the stalls at the Market downtown.

Melt-in-your-mouth thin cheese wafers with pecans, and a bottle of dry Chablis. Those are the two items that stand out in my mind as favorites from that gift basket. I was definitely still very much a Yank at that point, unaware of (refusing to accept) the culture change that was surrounding me.

I popped open that Chablis and began sampling the individual bags of goodies. Benne wafers, old fashioned Divinity candies, praline pecans, and these very pretty cheese cookies with pecans.

ready to be baked Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers

Before too long, the Chablis was basically gone and I’d taste-tested everything. And along with the wine, those bite-sized cheese pennies with pecans were absolute new favorites. I was quickly learning that while I missed my New York restaurant scene, Southern fare, whether a dish or a simple snack, was going to give the ‘North in me’ a run for its money…

Ready to be baked! Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers are crispy, crunchy, zesty, and of course, CHEESY.

It wouldn’t be until more recently that I decided to try my hand at cheese straws. Upon flipping the television dial to Food Network, did I catch the tail end of a recipe for cheese wafers Paula Deen was assembling.

I watched her stir together a handful of ingredients including some butter, all purpose flour, shredded sharp cheddar, and pepper. The dough absolutely became to stiff and she abandoned the big wooden spoon she’d been using, rolled her sleeves up, and went right into that big old bowl with both hands. As she mixed and kneaded the dough, she lovingly smiled as she referenced “my Grandmother’s cheese wafers.”

Following that bitty tail of a recipe clip, I tried cheese wafers from Southern Living Magazine, Martha Stewart’s cheese cookies recipe, and even a gluten free cheese straw recipe. And one morning, while chatting up a gal I knew from one of the local kitchen stores, I mentioned having experimented with all sorts of cheese wafers recipes as well as a cheese straw with pecans recipe.

She looked at me puzzlingly for just a second, registering that I was still a foreigner so to speak, and scribbled roughly her method for southern cheese wafers. To my glee, this was a recipe for cheese cookies with Rice Krispies!

Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers on a wooden tray

Sometimes, when things are just weird enough, they are positively delicious. Such is this method. It’s based on my friends dad’s fondness for pecan appetizers. Apparently, he grew up in Georgia on a pecan plantation and just cannot get enough of pecans. These Rice Krispie cheese wafers are a spinoff of his quest for appetizers with pecans.

I don’t think he ‘invented’ this recipe, but he sure made them often enough to know the measures by heart. It is similar to the Martha wafer in that it’s assembled, kneaded, and rolled into a log to cut like you’d cut an ice box cookie. But these have one additional ingredient that sets them apart. Crisped rice cereal. So, you know…I had to make them.

Cheese wafers with Rice Krispies are an unexpected crunch amidst a sweet and zesty pecan cheese. This cheese wafer recipe is stiff and tends to be dry…until the bake. The combination of unsalted butter and super sharp cheddar give them a perfectly crumbly crumb.

I have run with this method for about six years now, omitting the chopped pecans and settling for a pecan half atop each wafer. They are pretty this way, and definitely authentic ‘below the Mason Dixon Line’ delish.

close up of Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers

What Are Some Tips For Baking Up Perfect Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers?

Here’s what I know from running this method with these measured ingredients so many times. Don’t make my mistakes, rather follow my tips herein for perfect Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers every single time.

  • MUST PREHEAT OVEN. No getting around this. The oven must be to temp BEFORE sliding the parchment paper-lined cookie sheets inside. And, 350 degrees F is the absolute mark. This is a super short bake, so every degree counts.
  • You will get a bit of a rise and spreading from these during the bake. Make sure to space them an inch apart on the cookie sheets.
  • Allow them to cool on wire racks. You need to do this because in order to maintain that crunch, air must circulate beneath these little Rice Krispie cheese cookies for them to cool evenly.
  • And any crisped rice cereal will work, so do not spend extra dollars on a name brand that is essentially the same as the store label brand.
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All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC

primary image for Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers

Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers

Jenny from Not Entirely Average
Baking up these snappy and guest-worthy Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers will make YOU as suddenly southern as they made me!
4.72 from 7 votes
Servings: 54 wafers, approximately
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Chilling Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 54 wafers, approximately
Calories 81 kcal

Equipment

  • baking sheets
  • parchment paper
  • wire cooling racks

Ingredients
 

Ingredients for Southern Pecan Cheddar Wafers

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese extra sharp, shredded fine
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ** cayenne pepper ** at 4 1/2 dozen with only 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, these wafers are still a tad zesty; opt for 1/4 teaspoon if you do not like heat, or simply omit
  • 2 1/2 cups crisped rice cereal
  • 54 Pecan halves

Instructions
 

The Method

  • Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat butter and cheese until very well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, salt and cayenne; gradually beat into cheese mixture in 3 parts. Stir in crisped rice cereal. Dough will be extremely stiff, and will require turning out onto a lightly floured surface and kneading 4-6 times.
  • Using a bench scraper, divide dough in half; shape each half into a 7 inch long roll. Wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Unwrap and cut dough crosswise into 1/4-in. slices. Using your bench scraper works best for this step, but a sharp kitchen knife will also work.
    Alternate Method For Cutting Wafers:
    This suggestion comes from Amy, a reader of Not Entirely Average in North Carolina! Alternatively, divide dough in half and shape into a ball. Roll out one half at a time as you would cookie dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Use a round 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut the wafers. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate for about an hour before baking. Amy used a fluted cutter for pretty edges to her wafers, and was able to yield 105 wafers using a 1 1/2-inch cutter. Thanks Amy!
  • Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Top each slice with a pecan half. Bake until edges are golden brown, 15 minutes. Remove from pans using a metal spatula to wire racks to cool.
  • These wafers are best served with a well-chilled and full bodied Chardonnay.

Notes

To Make Ahead: 
Dough can be made 2 days in advance. 
Alternate Method For Cutting Wafers:
This suggestion comes from Amy, a reader of Not Entirely Average in North Carolina! Alternatively, divide dough in half and shape into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Remove wrap and roll out as you would cookie dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Use a round 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut the wafers. Thanks Amy!
Freeze option: 
Freeze wrapped logs in an airtight container. To use, unwrap frozen logs and cut into slices. Bake as directed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1waferCalories: 81kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 2gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 65mgPotassium: 18mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 165IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 1mg
Keyword appetizer, cheddar cheese, cheddar cheese appetizer recipes, cheddar cheese recipes, cheese, Christmas cookie gifting, cookie exchange, dairy, easy, easy appetizer recipe, make ahead appetizer, party food, pecan, savory, southern food
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!
A tray of food, with Wafer and Cookie

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5 Comments

  1. Hi! Have you ever tried rolling these out, like you would sugar cookie dough? I’ve made these once before & even after chilling for 24 hours they were difficult to cut from the roll without crumbling. Thanks from your NC neighbor! 🙂4 stars

    1. Amy, are you trying to make my life easier, or what?! That is a great idea that I have not yet tried but most certainly will. To say that this dough is ‘stiff’ is an understatement. In my video, I even show “reshaping as necessary.” Think I’m going to amend the notes and add your suggestion as an additional method. Mind if I credit you? 🙂

      1. Yes of course you can! 🤗 And allow me to add that within an hour of posting that comment, I was in the kitchen trying it out myself! I’d just gotten a new rolling pin that has “guides” on each end to ensure even thickness of the dough. It is made by farberware (via Amazon – not an ad 🙂 and the guides were 1/4”, 1/8” and 1/2”…. and let me just say it worked amazingly well! I used a round, fluted cutter, about 1.5” across, and got about 105 wafers at 1/4” thickness. I didn’t use the pecans in this batch & they were still delicious. I also used a little of a local NC habanero cheddar cheese & some Parmesan (along with extra sharp cheddar) and that was an amazing addition. Next time I’m going to try a local cheddar blue cheese hybrid… I think that will be amazing as well!

        My NC native mom & grandmothers all made something very similar to this every Christmas with the exception of the Rice Krispies. They’d use a cookie press to make the wafers (they called them “cheese biscuits”) press the pecan half in the middle, bake and then dust with powdered sugar. I liked them ok but they were never my favorite (please don’t tell my mom). I’m a texture gal so these really hit the spot & are so delicious with a cocktail or nice glass of wine!5 stars

        1. PS – I didn’t refrigerate after making the initial dough; I cut in half, rolled out, cut the wafers and placed on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Then I refrigerated for about an hour! They came out perfectly! ❤️5 stars

        2. Amy, I am soooo glad you reported back, especially about the rolling, cutting, THEN refrigerating on baking sheets. I believe although it could be rolled immediately out of the fridge, it would be very, very difficult. So, if using a cookie or biscuit cutter, agreed on the ‘chill after’ part for sure. My very southern neighbor, Miss Donna, was the person who first introduced me to the cheese biscuits that your Gram and Mom made. Miss Donna calls hers ‘cheese straws,’ complete with a single Elliot pecan half right in the middle. I do not recall the powdered sugar dusting, but I can see it – sweet and savory. I for one will absolutely be trying with a strong Bleu cheese next time, too. I think the sky is the limit in terms of creativity when it comes to recipes with so few ingredients – as long as they are of the highest quality available to you, you should grab them and go for it! Amy…what else do you have up your sleeve??? 🙂 I NEED TO KNOW!