Ina Garten Always Makes This Chipotle Cheddar Crackers Recipe for Guests, So Naturally, I Had to Try It

Did they meet my expectations?

Ina Garten
Rob Kim/Getty Images

Ina Garten is known for many mantras, but my favorite has to be, “Store-bought is fine.” Why? Because the Barefoot Contessa follows her own advice—so you know it must be good enough for us non-Hamptonite commoners. She relies on freezer staples like grocery store bread and ice cream, she serves Trader Joe’s French apple tart to her guests and she makes pasta e fagioli with a store-bought shortcut.

So, when Ms. Store-Bought-Is-Fine has you making a store-bought item from scratch, you know it must be worth the effort—which brings me to her chipotle cheddar crackers recipe from her latest cookbook, Go-To Dinners.

“One of my go-to tricks is to keep some dough for slice-and-bake crackers in the freezer that I can throw in the oven when people are coming for drinks,” Garten writes of the five-ingredient recipe. “The sharp Vermont cheddar and spicy chipotle chili powder with crunchy sea salt really wake up everyone’s taste buds. My friends can’t stop eating these!”

Could they really be worth the extra effort? Would they beat out a box of Cheez-Its? I tried making them to find out.

I tried Ina Garten's chipotle cheddar crackers recipe: gather the ingredients
Katherine Gillen

Step 1: Gather and Measure the Ingredients

The recipe starts with softened butter, and thankfully, I remembered to leave out a stick the morning I made the crackers. The cheddar required grating, and while Ina recommends using the grating disk on your food processor, mine was out of commission, so I used a box grater. The rest of the ingredients were pantry staples, aside from the chipotle chili powder (although I suspect you could substitute any other chili powder if you wanted).

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ pound aged Cheddar, such as Grafton 2-year, grated
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground chipotle powder
Kosher salt
Flaked sea salt, such as Maldon

I tried Ina Garten's chipotle cheddar crackers recipe: combine ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer
Katherine Gillen

Step 2: Combine the Ingredients

After gathering my ingredients, I followed Ina’s directions to basically dump everything into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix, first on low to avoid a cloud of flour puffing out of the bowl, then on medium just until the dough formed large clumps.

I tried Ina Garten's chipotle cheddar crackers recipe: step three, mix dough until clumps form
Katherine Gillen

Step 3: Mix the Dough

I was glad I read the directions beforehand, since it calls for adding 1½ tablespoons water during the mixing process. Could you make this recipe without a stand mixer? Probably—since the butter is softened, I could see using a silicone spatula and a mixing bowl with success.

I tried Ina Garten's chipotle cheddar crackers recipe: step four, roll, wrap and chill the dough
Katherine Gillen

Step 4: Roll, Wrap and Chill the Dough

Once the dough was formed, I turned it out onto a lightly floured cutting board and rolled it into a 12-inch log. (Did I use a ruler? Yes. Do you need to? Again, probably not.) Then I wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill—Ina says give it at least an hour.

I tried Ina Garten's chipotle cheddar crackers recipe: step five, slice the dough
Katherine Gillen

Step 5: Slice the Dough

I let my dough chill for about 2 hours, then preheated the oven to 350°F and started slicing the dough into half-inch disks per the instructions. Ina says she often dips her paring knife into warm water to make this step easier, but I didn’t find that necessary. (Could it be that my oven was raising the temperature of my kitchen to blazing hot levels and causing the dough to soften on its own? Likely.)

I tried Ina Garten's chipotle cheddar crackers recipe: step six, arrange the cracker dough on a baking sheet
Katherine Gillen

Step 6: Arrange the Dough on a Baking Sheet

I lined two baking sheets with parchment paper and arranged the dough disks evenly between them. The recipe calls for sprinkling the crackers with flaky sea salt, so I used the Maldon that I keep by my stove. I think these would also be tasty with freshly ground black pepper on top, or another type of salt (like smoked sea salt, to bring out the chipotle flavor).

I tried Ina Garten's chipotle cheddar crackers recipe: step seven, bake the crackers
Katherine Gillen

Step 7: Bake and Devour

I popped the crackers into the oven to bake for the indicated 15 to 17 minutes, and here’s where I think I went astray: Instead of baking one sheet at a time, I tried to knock it out all in one go and simply rotate the trays halfway through the baking time. (It was hot in my kitchen, and I wanted to be done.) But by 17 minutes, the crackers were nowhere near golden brown at the edges, so I ended up having to baking each tray for about five minutes more (and I think they could’ve gone longer still).

The Final Verdict: Worth It?

Do I think Garten’s chipotle cheddar crackers recipe is worth making over buying store-bought crackers? Sure…if you have the time and/or freezer space. The texture reminded me of a flaky pie crust, while the flavor gave hints of Cheez-It or even cheddar biscuit. But if I’m being honest, I didn’t think they were life-changing—and I’m the biggest Ina-head I know. They’d be tasty on a charcuterie board or as a standalone appetizer for a summer dinner party menu, and admittedly, I probably ate six throughout the afternoon, but I don’t think they’re Ina’s strongest recipe (and I still think that baking time is wildly off). Since I can barely remember to take a stick of butter out to soften, I’ll probably still be picking up a box of crackers at the grocery store.

However, if you want to talk about the Barefoot Contessa’s black and white cookies, you know where to find me.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...