Crispy puff pastry cheese straws are an easy snack or appetizer to serve at your next gathering. Create golden brown, crunchy crisps with just a handful of ingredients and a little effort.
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Add a fun element to your dinner table with these flaky and crisp cheese sticks! They are easy to grab as an appetizer, serve with dips, or on a cheeseboard. You’ll want to load up on a few. My family enjoys them as a savory side with a big plate of pasta or dunked into a hot bowl of soup or chili.
Using store-bought puff pastry makes for a convenient dough to cut, sprinkle, and bake. I share my tips for working with the frozen product to achieve a light and airy texture. I also use Italian-inspired ingredients to flavor the straws, but it’s straightforward to customize. It’s simple to prepare and delivers big on taste and presentation.
Puff pastry is unique because of the hundreds of layers of dough and fat (like butter) produced by a simple fold and roll technique. This process results in a light and flaky texture, ideal for the cheese straws. If you are a pastry aficionado, you can make it from scratch. But for a quicker option, I use frozen store-bought puff pastry sheets, like Pepperidge Farm.
Preparing the puff pastry
You can defrost the product overnight in the refrigerator or on your kitchen counter for about 40 minutes. The goal is to have a cool, firm, and pliable consistency. I use 9 x 9-inch square sheets that I roll into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Use a little flour to help prevent sticking as needed.
No matter what kind of pastry you use, shoot for about an ⅛-inch thickness. This amount prevents the dough from getting overly thick and puffed up as it bakes. You want the proper ratio of seasonings-to-pastry for the best taste.
Brush on egg wash
To help the seasonings and cheese adhere to the pastry, brush on egg wash. It’s just a whole egg whisked with water to thin out the consistency. Make sure to save some for coating the twisted dough right before baking. It will help deepen the golden brown color and brown the surface of the stick.
Customize the seasonings
All you need is cheese, but I wanted to add an extra punch of flavor. I use a combination of sweet paprika for more profound color formation on the surface, plus dried Italian seasonings, salt, and pepper. If you have fresh herbs, go ahead and chop those up instead. Onion or garlic powder are also lovely additions for earthier notes.
I use aged grated parmesan cheese for its pleasant nutty taste. However, you could substitute asiago, pecorino romano, gouda, cheddar, or gruyere. The cheese won’t completely stick to the surface, so use the rolling pin to press it against the dough lightly. It’s ok if some fall off while twisting.
Shaping the straws
The key to keeping the puff pastry full of tall layers is to cut straight down into the dough. Do not use a sawing motion. If you press the layers together too much, it will make them harder to separate. You want a light and flaky texture, not dense.
Use a chef’s knife or pizza cutter to slice the pastry into ¾-inch thick strips that are 10-inches long. Feel free to make shorter pieces or even skinnier slices. Twist each strip so that some of the cheese is exposed. Don’t forget to brush the surface with egg wash to make them golden brown and glossy.
Baking temperature and time
A high of 375-degrees kickstarts the baking process. The cheese straws rise and grow about four times the size. It’s impressive! There isn’t much moisture in the pastry, so the surface will turn golden brown and crispy once the steam is released and evaporated.
- Refrigerate unbaked sticks covered for up to 3 days, then bake.
- Freeze unbaked sticks for up to 1 month, then defrost them in the refrigerator or on the counter for 30 minutes before baking.
- Store baked sticks in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer after letting them cool completely. Reheat in a 350-degree oven until warm and crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Serve this with
Make sure to bake until the pieces are golden brown and light in weight, which indicates that most of the moisture in the dough has evaporated. Let the cheese cool down a bit before eating, as it will harden for a crispier texture. After storing, warm it in an oven at 350-degrees for about 5 minutes to regain its crisp texture.
Yes! They can be frozen unbaked after twisting and defrosted before using. Alternatively, fully baked and cooled down, then reheated. The latter is an excellent option because you can warm it later at 350-degrees until crispy for a quick appetizer.
After baking, refrigerate them because they contain dairy products that could spoil if left at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
The key to light and airy cheese sticks
Work with chilled dough so that the fat doesn’t melt, causing the layers to fuse together and become dense. When slicing the strips, use a straight motion. No sawing, or it will destroy the layers. The puff pastry sheet doesn’t look extraordinary, but what you don’t see is the hundreds of layers underneath. The steam in the dough will leave the pastry and create visible, separate paper-thin sheets when it bakes. This yields a delicate and flaky texture.
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Puff Pastry Cheese Straws
- 1 puff pastry sheet, defrosted if frozen
- ¾ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Set the oven rack to the middle position. Heat to 375ºF (190ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
- Thaw the puff pastry overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, you can thaw it on the counter. Remove the frozen pastry from its packaging and defrost it on a sheet tray until it is cool but pliable, about 40 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper, set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water, set aside.
- Place defrosted puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. If the surface feels sticky, lightly dust with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll out into a 12×10-inch rectangle or about ⅛-inch thick.
- Brush the surface with the egg wash. Evenly sprinkle the spice mixture and parmesan cheese on top. Use a rolling pin to press the toppings into the dough gently.
- Use a chef’s knife or pizza cutter to make 10-inch long strips, about ¾-inch wide. It should yield 12 strips.
- Twist each strip, then lay on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet, at least 1-inch apart. There should be six per sheet. Brush the surface of each piece with egg wash.
- Bake until golden brown, puffy, and crisp, about 14 to 16 minutes. Repeat with the remaining tray. Serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Storing: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To freeze, place in a large resealable bag or container for up to 1 month.
- Reheating: Heat at 350ºF (177ºC) on a baking sheet until warm and crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes.
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