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Goldfish-Style Crackers: Make It or Buy It? (a blog series)

Goldfish-Style Crackers: Make It or Buy It? (a blog series)

What is it about Goldfish Crackers that makes them so fab, anyway? Let’s just go with it, though. If we figure out why we love them, maybe they’d lose their charm. One way or another, though, they should be in your life. Don’t have kids? You don’t need to have kids to like crackers! Come on, now. Since we know we need them, there’s just one question left:

Make ‘Em … or Buy ‘Em?* 

*check out the first two posts in this series: Gluten-free Soft Corn Tortillas & Gluten-free Gingersnap Cookies.

The make-it recipe for gluten-free Goldfish-style Crackers is on page 76 of my new cookbook, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy. It’s a super easy recipe, 30 minutes from start to finish. And it’s even quicker if, instead of making goldfish shapes (cute as they are), you just slice the dough into Cheez-It style squares.

Or cut out triangle shapes. I’m not sure if that’s much easier or quicker than cutting out goldfish shapes. It just seemed kind of cute. And sort of like the Schar brand cheese bites, the “Buy It” part of this little ditty, like you see below:

I compared the prices by weight, since the size of the crackers I made just was too difficult to compare to the size of the Schar crackers. I am trying to be as dispassionate as possible. I’m, like, a gluten-free scientist! Here’s my report: The Schar bites seem to have become less readily available then they used to be. I couldn’t find them at any of my local markets, and I couldn’t even find them at Whole Foods (and I went to 2 locations!). Maybe they’re more available by you, but I had to order them online. Which also means that I had to buy a 3-pack to get anything approaching an appropriate price. So even though it’s clearly easier to open up a package of crackers than it is to make crackers yourself from scratch (I do too know that!), it really wasn’t so “quick & easy” to get my hands on ’em. The quality of both the make-it version and the buy-it version is the same: really really good. Schar makes quality products. I don’t love every single one of them, and some of them can be kind of spendy, but they’re always good quality, and that means a lot to me. In fact, when I do decide to buy ready-made GF products, Schar is at the top of my list, in general.

Where it all breaks down for me with the Schar crackers, though, is taste. They just don’t taste like Goldfish Crackers (not that they said they did, but clearly that’s the niche they’re trying to fill). And they actually taste a little chalky to me, and only vaguely of cheese. The make-it version, with my recipe, is a dead ringer for the real thing—except for the freakish chemically-induced freshness that allows them to be forever crispy. And price is clearly a factor, too. You be the judge.

Make It or Buy It Conclusion:
I’d have to say, Make It. If you’re going to buy an easy gluten-free snack, I’d say buy crunchy gluten-free pretzels, like Snyder’s Gluten-Free variety (pretty well-priced, our family favorite for taste and texture). I just don’t really care for these Schar cheese bites (and yes, they’re a sidebar blog sponsor, but they had nothing to do with this post!). I wanted to like them. I’d been looking forward to trying them, even. Even so, I’m glad they’re there. I like having options. :)


Back tomorrow with more Gluten-Free Cookies! Tomorrow’s recipe isn’t a traditional Christmas cookie variety, but it’s no doubt a nostalgic fave. One I bet you’ve been missing! Can you guess what it is?

Love,
Me

P.S. If you haven’t already, please pick up a copy of both of My Cookbooks! I can’t keep the blog going—the Make It or Buy It series and all—without your support!

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  • Once again, you’re right on the mark, Nicole. The Schar ‘cheese’ bites are not even close to regular goldfish crackers tastewise–and the price is ridiculous. I was so excited when I first found them. And then I opened the bag. Disappointment. They’re usually available here at Wegman’s in case anyone is interested, but making them is better all the way around. 

  • Heather Taylor

    I recently found your blog and it is a lifesaver! We’re just going gluten free and it is SO overwhelming. And incredibly expensive. I love to cook and I’m a baker at heart, and this is completely throwing me off! I’m so glad I found your blog to learn more and gain a little more confidence! Thank you!

  • Heather Taylor

    I recently found your blog and it is a lifesaver! We’re just going gluten free and it is SO overwhelming. And incredibly expensive. I love to cook and I’m a baker at heart, and this is completely throwing me off! I’m so glad I found your blog to learn more and gain a little more confidence! Thank you!

  • When I first had Schar’s, they tasted familiar…but not like goldfish crackers, or even cheez-its, per say.  I finally realized they taste like those sandwich crackers & cheese (that always came in the package with the cheddar-cracker-peanut-butter-filling sandwiches…weirdest flavor combo, ever).  So when I’m in the mood for cracker sandwiches, Schar can work, but they are a very poor substitute for proper cheese crackers.  Excited to try these!

  • kclark

    Very inspiring Nikki.  I love that about you.  I am travelling to Europe next week and I always hit up the pharmacy to see what they have from Schar (all GF food is in the pharmacy because if you are Celiac, your food is provided to you at no cost or low cost via the pharmacy in most countries, not all I suppose).  

    Anyway, Jordan really misses cheese crackers.  I think I will make these this week. Fun!

    Hey, have you seen the little ginger bread men (people) from Trader Joe’s?  They have icing on the back of them.  Jordan was pining over those.  Any thoughts on the icing I can put on the back of your ginger people to sort of match that? If you choose not to think about icing, I would understand, lol.

  • Linda

    I have loved your recipes for the past 18 months, Nicole. Alas, more blood tests for me and a baseline set for my daughter and now we have ended up more restricted than ever. So now we are a GF, DF family who also can’t have soy, corn, tapioca, potato, or coffee :( I do not know how I am going to do it since nearly every GF recipe I’ve ever loved has tapioca starch, cornstarch  and/or potato starch in it. I’ve been trying to sub in arrowroot powder, but it doesn’t work well in a lot of cases. Agar flakes . . . well I don’t have that art down either. You are such an inspiration; I hope I can adapt your lovely recipes so they work for us too. Going DF wasn’t so bad — coconut or almond milk subs in well and Daiya cheese has been a God send for us — but the starch substitution situation is much, much more challenging. Keep the great recipes coming; I’ll keep trying to adapt them so they work for us too! ~ Linda ~

    • Carole

      My husband was recently diagnosed with celiac and we thought our traveling days outside of the states was over. That is until I just read your note. Please tell me more.

      • kclark

        Hi Carole, you know the best place to travel as a Celiac? Italy.  Ok maybe not the best but it is one of the best.  Many, Many of the restaurants make gluten free foods. Italians have so much gluten in their life that they have one of the highest incidences of Celiac Disease (the more and more exposed you are to gluten, the more likely to develop Celiac if you have the predisposition).  Anyway, if you go into an Italian Restaurant, tell them you are Celiac (celiaco) and they will understand.  I was shocked.  Head to the pharmacies for staples. Celiac is prevalent all over Europe.  There are loads of Celiac websites that specialize in travel information.  Don’t give up. 

    • Carole

      My husband was recently diagnosed with celiac and we thought our traveling days outside of the states was over. That is until I just read your note. Please tell me more.

      • Carole, I’ve been gluten-free for 10 years and travel and live all over the world. It takes a little work until you get used to it, but it can be done! Contact me if you’d like to talk: stephanie.s.diamond at gmail.com. I blog about it too.

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Linda,
      Oh I’m so sorry that your daughter’s diet is now so restrictive. I’m really glad that you can still use rice though, since I find that rice flour is even more important than the starches you mention. The only starch that I can think of to suggest is “glutinous rice flour.” It is made from short grain rice and is very very starchy. It can be hard to find a certified gluten-free brand of it, I’m afraid, but I bet you can find one that you feel comfortable with. i will update if I have more suggestions! Don’t despair!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Ok, I have no more reason to wait, I’m going to make the goldfish crackers tomorrow (yeah I am the sucker who bought the copper mini fish cutter online weeks after my daughter’s diagnosis). My girl doesn’t like the Schar crackers either. She was not fooled by the cute shapes. They just don’t taste great even though I usually do love the brand.

        I want to guess the cookie! Could it be, might it be…

        Mallomars?!!

    • Hi, Linda,
      Oh I’m so sorry that your daughter’s diet is now so restrictive. I’m really glad that you can still use rice though, since I find that rice flour is even more important than the starches you mention. The only starch that I can think of to suggest is “glutinous rice flour.” It is made from short grain rice and is very very starchy. It can be hard to find a certified gluten-free brand of it, I’m afraid, but I bet you can find one that you feel comfortable with. i will update if I have more suggestions! Don’t despair!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jennifer S.

    so I’ve been GF since this summer (at least mostly GF and my blood work is showing improvement! yea!), anyway, we just did NRT on my son it looks like we are going GF for him too as he only reacted to wheat.  I had to buy the schar brand (and got 40% off from gluten freely) so I can send them to preschool as a snack alternative for him.  They will not let me supply homemade options.  But when he goes to kindergarten I will be making all his food! 

    Thanks for the series – I was in withdrawl last week without it!

  • Donia

    Hi Nicole,

    I know you’ve been asking for suggestions for Make It or Buy It.  How about bars like Envirokidz?  We don’t do oats, so these fill the granola bar gap.  I love that they are organic, GF, and DF, but they are pricey.  (Probably those little bits of freeze dried fruit!!)  I haven’t yet come across a recipe that results in a product like these bars.

    Thanks!

  • Ok, I have no more reason to wait, I’m going to make the goldfish crackers tomorrow (yeah I am the sucker who bought the copper mini fish cutter online weeks after my daughter’s diagnosis). My girl doesn’t like the Schar crackers either. She was not fooled by the cute shapes. They just don’t taste great even though I usually do love the brand.

    I want to guess the cookie! Could it be, might it be…

    Mallomars?!!

  • Mmm, I have your new book already but I don’t have anywhere nearby that I can buy Schar products, so I guess I’m making them this afternoon rather than buying them!

  • Mmm, I have your new book already but I don’t have anywhere nearby that I can buy Schar products, so I guess I’m making them this afternoon rather than buying them!

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