I watch a lot of food-related YouTube. It’s such a great form of escapism. I love to see chefs and cooks on YouTube recreate commercial food, do food challenges, eat food in countries I’ll probably never visit, etc. A person can also learn an astonishing amount about cooking technique on the internet. One of my favorite YouTube chefs is Joshua Weissman. He has some great series on making things better than restaurants, faster than restaurants, the ultimate version of something…you get the picture.
Recently, Joshua Weissman released a video in which he makes homemade Cheez-Its and then re-creates Taco Bell’s Big Cheez-It Tostada. The link for that video can be found here. As you might imagine, Taco Bell’s Big Cheez-It Tostada is in fact a tostada with a big Cheez-It as its base. This menu item came out earlier this year to be tested at just one Taco Bell location in Irvine, California. Now, this is the sort of thing that I love about food media – it often inspires me to make things I would never think to make on my own. I had to see if homemade Cheez-Its were good and/or worth making, and if I was going to make Cheez-Its, I might as well go all the way and make the tostada.
Making Homemade Cheez-Its
I had never made any type of cracker before, so I knew this was going to be an adventure. Anyone who knows me well can tell you I love a good food project, and I do not mind “having” to purchase specialty ingredients or equipment. Twist my arm, I have to buy a weird spice. I’m all about it. I think being willing to source ingredients that are unusual to you, if you are currently able to, is a great way to open up your palette and keep the curiosity flowing. So, I ordered cheddar cheese powder from Amazon, got me some nutritional yeast, and was off to the races.
The good news is that Cheez-Its are not hard to make. You just mix up the dough, chill it, roll it, cut it, and bake it. The dough wasn’t particularly hard to work with, and the resulting crackers really did look and taste a lot like their commercial counterparts. The bright orange color is fun, and the taste is very cheesy. My 3 year-old was delighted, and kept stealing crackers off the counter. I don’t think I will make Cheez-Its regularly, but it was fun. If my kids wanted to do it again sometime, I’d definitely be willing. If you’d like to make Cheez-Its too, the recipe can be found here in Joshua Weissman’s video. It’s also on his website, but the directions are incomplete there. I would follow the video.
The only thing I would change about Joshua Weissman’s recipe for Cheez-Its is I would halve the amount of nutritional yeast next time. I felt that 2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast lent a sour flavor to the crackers that I would tone down next time. I do think the nutritional yeast added to the punchiness of the Cheez-Its, but it was a little strong for me as written.
Also, I overcooked my first pan of crackers, but that can happen in any recipe due to oven variance. I just baked the next pan for 12 minutes instead of 15, and it was all good.
Giant Cheez-It Tostada Time
These giant Cheez-It tostadas were fun to assemble. I felt like some kind of culinary rogue stacking meat, cheese, lettuce, avocado and sour cream on top of a giant cheese cracker. Also, this was the first food photo shoot I’ve done since my third baby was born, so that felt really good.
The Not So Good
I used Joshua Weissman’s taco bell beef recipe for the tostadas, which I found to be way over-seasoned. The super strong beef mixture plus the very salty Cheez-It made the whole thing blow-your-head-off salty and over-seasoned.
Now, if I were to make these again, I would just season the beef either with pre-made taco seasoning or some salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin and I think the tostada would be much more successful. This really just comes down to personal preference. The flavor of Mr. Weissman’s taco bell beef recipe was good, just way too strong for my personal taste.
So, Should You Make Cheez-It Tostadas?
Sure thing! If this kind of food speaks to you, then you should absolutely go for it! Is this the kind of recipe you’re going to add to your weekly dinner rotation? No. However, it is really fun to make dishes like this every once in a while. I think it’s a good way to strengthen those cooking muscles, too.
I had a really good time making giant Cheez-It tostadas, even if in the end, the seasoning level was a little much. Making the Cheez-Its was especially fun, and I would do that again for sure. The internet is a magical place, full of wacky recipes and techniques for us to try.
Coming Up on The At-Home Test Cook
I have a lot of exciting content coming your way! For starters, guess what’s coming in October? SOUP MONTH! That’s right. Get ready for a whole month of cozy goodness. I love soup so much, and that’s just the start! In November we’ll be diving into side dishes for holiday dinners (or any time)! I’m so excited for the next few months. Thank you so much for coming on this adventure with me. I really love writing this blog, and I feel so humbled and touched when you make and enjoy my recipes. I love to see your creations, so please tag me in your photos on Instagram! @at_home_test_cook.