Gluten-Free Cheesy Mini Goldfish Crackers

In another life I was an avid Pepperidge Farm Goldfish muncher.  I’d buy a package and eat some of the whole bag without even noticing.  I tried not to make that a habit, but I really loved those cheesy little fish.

One of my saddest grocery store moments was realizing there were no really good GF cheese crackers.  The stuff out there was loaded with tapioca flour (which I dislike so much it makes my teeth hurt) and x-gums, which neither of us can tolerate.

Even eating a GF cracker topped with a chunk of cheese (rather stinky French cheese) didn’t come close to making up for the loss of being able to munch on those tiny, addicting fishy cheese crackers.

But never say never.

Have I told you how much I love Smitten Kitchen?

One day recently I was checking in at  Smitten Kitchen and it was one of those moments when the stars align.  There at the top of the page were hoards of goldfish – Smitten Kitchen homemade goldfish.  They were whole wheat, not gluten-free, but where there is a craving, there is always a way.

I got busy that same morning.  Turns out the recipe is amazingly cooperative.  You can substitute not only whatever stinky cheeses you like, mix up the GF flours and even over-measure slightly and they will still come out like little bites of cheese cracker heaven.

Right away, I sent for the tiny little copper fish cookie cutter because I am a sucker for those things.  But in the meantime, that didn’t stop me from making rough cuts of tasty cheese crackers.  Sometimes testing recipes has its benefits.

The little fish cookie cutter arrived quickly and I got busy testing once again – after all, you can never test enough when the recipe is that good.

I made so many goldfish crackers that some actually ended up stored in a tin for a week or so.  And guess what?  They age well and tasted even better.  The heat from the cayenne seemed to get bigger and the cheese became subtle and perfect.

We drove a bunch of goldfish with us to Portland when we visited the lemon loving in-laws recently.  We left behind some goldfish for them to enjoy (but don’t think I didn’t have a stash at home waiting).  And guess what?  They are the cheesy goldfish loving in-laws these days.  And these guys are picky.  If it isn’t made with lemon or has a whole jar of mayonnaise in it, then it really isn’t quite good enough.  So that was high praise.

With a food processor and 30 minutes you can soon have an entire cheesy school of goldfish hanging out in your kitchen.  Happy snacking.

Gluten-Free Cheesy Mini Goldfish Crackers
This is a big-fat doubled recipe because it is just as easy to make more than you think you need. If you are like me, half the first batch will disappear rather quickly. If you don't want to roll them out into tiny crackers all at once, the dough can go in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for longer. If you refrigerate or freeze the dough, bake a few minutes longer to make them crispy. I love the combination of shredded Asiago and Romano with a chunk of sharp cheddar. I am not a fan of orange cheese, so I like to buy (white) Vermont Cheddar, as sharp as I can get it. The cheese is everything so get the best you can buy. This particular combination tastes exactly like the Parmesan Goldfish (to us). But I've used whatever is in the cheese drawer with great success. Just use plenty. Feel free to swap out flours for what you have on hand - just be sure to use some starch - almost 30% will do and keep to the total weight. Don't leave out the onion powder or the cayenne and garlic. It makes the cracker unbelievably good. Not very spicy - just helps to enhance the cheese. The salt is really a personal taste. Deb from Smitten Kitchen mentioned that some people like more salt. We've tried it both ways and prefer just a pinch. I think the cheeses I used were plenty heavy on the salt already.
  • 200 grams GF flour (60 g potato starch, 70 grams brown rice flour, 20 grams white rice flour, 50 grams oat flour)
  • 13 ounces sharp stinky cheese, finely grated (9 ounces cheddar, 2 ounces romano, 2 ounces Asiago)
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon each of cayenne and garlic powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream (if needed)
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment. It will take four baking pans for all of the dough. Makes about 240-250 little fish crackers.
  2. Weigh cheeses, and cube cheddar if it is a block of cheese. Take 10 grams of the potato starch (subtract from the total flour) and toss it with the cubed cheeses. Place in a food processor and pulse until finely grated.
  3. Whisk flours with spices and salt. Toss in the processor. Cube butter and toss that in, too. Pulse a few times until everything is mixed well and the butter is incorporated and dough starts to come together in a ball. If needed, drop the cream or milk down the chute while the processor is running and keep running and pulsing (that combination seems to mix it well) until it comes together into a ball. It won't be a perfect ball, but you will see that it is kind of there.
  4. On a cutting board, smear a little bit (very little) potato starch. Dump the contents of the processor on the board. Watch out for the blade! Now take the mess and press together until it is a fairly smooth dough thing. You'll feel it come together. Now cut in half, and cut those halves in half. Four pieces. Smash each piece into disks with your hand and wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you work with one disk. On the board that is smeared with a little more potato starch, place the dough. Cover with plastic wrap that is larger than the board. With a rolling-pin, roll out dough until it is about ⅛ thick or even slightly thinner. Peel off the plastic wrap gently from one corner to the other - sometimes it sticks a bit. Using the cute fish cutter, start cutting out fish and place them fairly close together on a parchment lined baking sheet. You can get a ton on one baking sheet - the whole disk of cut-out dough should fit tightly.
  5. Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes and rotate the baking sheet. Bake about 3-4 minutes more until they look like they're turning crispy and golden. They will firm up and get a little more golden so don't overdo the baking.
If the baked crackers seem a little soft because they came from the refrigerator or freezer, bake as directed and then turn the oven off. Wait a few minutes for the oven to cool somewhat. Place all of the freshly baked fishes on just two baking sheets- but only the ones that are not totally crisp. Pop into the turned off oven (that is just barely warm) for about 15-30 minutes more until you like how they are doing. They will crisp up as they cool so keep that in mind. If you can resist, wait until they've cooled enough to eat (yeah, right). Store in a tin or airtight container. If you can wait, they taste best almost five days later. But they sure do taste good right out of the oven, piping hot. Hello, Gluten-free little cheesy goldfish.  Welcome to the Canteen archives.


  1. I remember seeing these on Smitten Kitchen and being smitten over them. You just reminded me that I have to give them a try. Will definitely make your GF version too. They look so whimsical and delicious.

  2. Miha Cruceana says:

    Hi, I actually have a question. Can you make the GF goldfish without the food processor?
    I have 3 small kids (under 6) and the middle one has celiac disease. She is very good about her diet, considering she’s 3 1/2 but goldfish are the only thing that she cries about not being able to have, especially because I don’t have the heart not to let her brothers have them (it’s their favorate snack).
    I really want to try these receipe, I have all the ingredients and the small shape, but I don’t have a food processor.
    Thank you.

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Miha – tell you daughter she doesn’t have to wait for Goldfish anymore! Yes, indeed you can mix it up by hand but it will be a little harder (on your arms, that it). My suggestion is to use a hand grater to finely grate all the cheese you will be using – the colder the cheese, the easier it is to grate. You want it as a fine powder almost. That way you can mix it in with the flour and it will totally disappear into it properly. So try it this way: Weigh up the flour, add the salt, spices (go easy on the red pepper – it needs a little to get that zing, but more than that it will be spicy and get even more spicy as they age). Whisk together. Add the finely grated cheeses into the flour and whisk- the cheese should all but disappear. There should be no clumps of cheese. Then add and work in the cold butter with a fork or pastry cutter/blender tool (fork works great) until it looks like coarse meal. Make a well in the center and add the cream a little bit at a time until the mixture (using that fork) starts to pull away from the sides. You can even use your hands but you want everything to stay as cold as possible while mixing. Smash it into a ball of dough and flatten on the counter or in the bowl a couple of times to make sure everything is really mixed it. It might be getting a little warm by now, but don’t worry about that. The important thing is to make sure stuff is really mixed in and the dough looks like, well, dough. Wrap it up and chill. Break off pieces to roll out and keep the rest in the refrigerator in the meantime. And follow the directions in the post for rolling and baking.

      For Thanksgiving I made a 4x batch for the family gathering and I swear, that after cutting out about a thousand goldfish it would have filled one of those giant Pepperidge Farms cartons that you get at Costco. The recipe, even a single recipe makes a ton. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions. Hope she loves them!

  3. Miha Cruceana says:

    Thank you so much for responding to me. I will definitely give it a try, she will be sooooo happy. I am not a great cook/baker but I’m learning fast… 🙂

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      anytime. I bet they come out fabulously. it isn’t how they look – but how they taste. I have a whole category of baking wrecks in the blog. I have more wrecks than successes!

      • Miha Cruceana says:

        So … I bought a food processor and I made the first batch of goldfish last night. They are wonderful!!! I have a feeling that the whole family might switch to the gluten-free goldfish (even my husband was impressed). My daughter could not stop talking and she made her brothers taste them at 7am… and like I said, they loved them, too.
        Anyway, I made only one quarter of the whole dough just to see how they will come out. I was a little worried because I didn’t quite get the ball in the food processor, it wasn’t really sticking together although I put milk but it worked after I took it out.
        Anyway, thanks again, I am so happy I found your website.

      • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

        Miha – that is wonderful. GF goldfish are tasty. So glad you enjoyed them. Having a food processor is great, isn’t it?!

  4. I just recently went gluten-free and goldfish are one of the things I’m having a hard time resisting, especially since they’re still in the pantry for the kids! I will definitely be trying this recipe soon and I won’t be sharing!