These popped cheese bites are made right in your oven using just one ingredient, cheese! 🧀
💕 Here’s why you’re going to love this recipe:
- It uses just one simple ingredient.
- It is clean eating, gluten-free, and keto-friendly too!
- You can use any of your favorite hard or even some semi-hard cheeses (I recommend cheddar, gouda or parmesan but I’ve listed more below).
- You can enjoy them as a snack or use them in place of croutons in salads and soups.
Now, here’s how you make these cheesy bites:
Simply select your favorite cheese. You can use anything from:
- Cheddar (mild, medium or sharp)
- Gouda (smoked or non-smoked)
- Pecorino Romano
- Monterey Jack (Pepper-Jack gives a delicious kick)
Note: I recommend that you avoid using any soft cheese or cheese that has high moisture content (such as mozzarella or fontina).
Cut your cheese into evenly-sized cubes (0.5″ or 1 cm work best) and place them onto a parchment-lined baking tray, being sure to space them out evenly since they will melt into rounds.
Today I’m using a jalapeno cheddar (a pepper jack would have been preferred but I used what I had on hand), a Smoked Gouda, and a Mild Cheddar as a copycat flavor of the branded “Moon Cheese” snacks.
Into the oven our tray goes at a low temperature of 175F.
We’re essentially trying to make our cheese lose its moisture slowly so that it dehydrates without frying or burning. Low and slow is the name of the game here.
An hour later and our cheese rounds have melted down and the surface of them are now wrinkly (thanks to the moisture loss). But notice that they’re not burned. Now, depending on the cheese type you may need longer than an hour to dehydrate your cheese.
Once your cheese rounds have dehydrated, turn the heat up to 300F.
The sudden increase in heat is going to make our bites puff up and “pop”. (Note that this step can take a few minutes as your oven comes up to temperature).
Here’s the puff… (note that the video is sped up 16x the normal rate)
And the “pop”!
Here’s some tips to ensure your cheesy bites are successful:
- Use a hard cheese or (some) semi-hard cheeses.
- Do not use pre-shredded cheese but opt for a solid block cheese.
- Be sure you cut your cheese into evenly-sized cubes.
- Ensure that your cheese has “dried out” in the oven as much as possible before raising the temperature to ensure they “pop”.
- Do not open the oven door once you’re ready to raise the heat as the drop in temperature may prevent the cheese from popping.
So how should you enjoy these crunchy, cheesy bites? However you like! Whether you enjoy them by themselves or add them to soups or salads in place of croutons, they are sure to deliver that perfectly satisfying bite of crunchy cheesy goodness.
Popped Cheese Bites
- 4 oz cheese (block, not shredded. Use any hard or semi-hard cheese of your choosing. Cheddar is highly recommended)
- Cut the cheese into small cubes (approx. 1x1 cm or 0.5"x0.5") and set them onto a parchment-lined baking tray, being sure to leave space between each one so they don't melt into one mass.
- Bake the cheese cubes for 65-75 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 175°F to draw as much of the moisture out of the cheese as possible.
- After 65-75 minutes, raise the heat to 300°F for a few minutes until the cheese pieces "pop" and/or puff up. Do not leave and walk away from it at this point. When some of the cheese pieces starts to brown slightly and most have popped, remove the tray from oven and let cool completely.
- Store in the fridge or at room temperature in airtight container or Ziploc bag.
- Do not use shredded cheese or any soft or high moisture cheese such as fresh mozzarella as it will not dehydrate or pop right.
- I've tested this recipe using various cheeses and I've noticed that block cheeses that crumble easily (such as the jalapeno cheddar) don't pop or puff up and remain flat and hard when cooled. For that flavor a pepper jack cheese is recommended but I used what I had on hand.
- The time that they take to puff and pop will depend on the cheese you've used. Some (like the cheddar) jump pop and move while others like the smoked Gouda simple puff up with little to no popping.