It's so easy to make a batch of cheese crisps—and they are crunchy low-carb heaven.
Cheese snacks abound. You’ve got your Cheez-Its, your Goldfish, your Cheetos. And if you’re like me, you love all of them. The purest, most unadulterated cheese snack of all, though, existed long before any of these processed favorites—and it’s called frico.
The Italian specialty has been around for generations, but thanks to the keto diet and the newfound call to know what’s in our food, it’s back in the mainstream.
What Are Cheese Crisps?
You’d think coming from an Italian family, I would have heard about frico, aka cheese crisps, much sooner. Cheese crisps are pieces of lacy fried cheese that can be formed into bowls, chips or a crunchy garnish. Hailing from Northeast Italy, the dish—along with a softer version carrying the same name—has been passed down from one generation to the next. Where have I been?!
You can use any hard cheese, such as Parmesan, Asiago or aged cheddar. These varieties retain enough of their shape to create a “lacy” texture but melt enough that the crisp holds together.
Despite being so simple, frico can be made more than one way. Pick whatever appliance is best for you and get crisping!
How to Make Cheese Crisps on the Stove
For the skillet method, you’ll make the cheese crisps one by one. Spread 2 tablespoons finely shredded cheese into a 4-inch circle; cook until the edges are a light golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined cutting board to cool.
How to Make Cheese Crisps in the Oven
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons finely shredded cheese into a 4-inch circle, making sure the cheese is spread evenly. Repeat. Leaving about 2 inches between each circle, bake until the crisps barely begin to brown, 6-8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined cutting board to cool.
How to Make Cheese Crisps in the Air Fryer
Line air-fryer basket with parchment. Spread 2 tablespoons finely shredded cheese to create a 4-inch circle in the center of the parchment. Cook at 375° for 5 minutes, occasionally checking for doneness. Let cool on a paper towel-lined cutting board.
I usually err on the “well done” side when baking because I like things to be toasty brown. But frico is the exception—too-brown cheese tends to have an unpleasant charred flavor.
Savory, tangy, salty cheese, crisped up any number of ways, is perfectly satisfying all on its own. But if you feel compelled to add some flair, whether it’s for a fancy-feeling party snack or a complementary soup topper, here are some flavor variations to try.
Sun-Dried Tomato Cheese Crisps
Stir 2 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme into shredded Parmesan cheese before adding it to the baking sheet, skillet or air-fryer basket. Prepare the frico as directed.
Apple-Pepper Cheese Crisps
Stir 2 tablespoons finely chopped dried apples and 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper into shredded aged cheddar cheese before adding it to the baking sheet, skillet or air-fryer basket. Prepare the frico as directed.
What Can You Do with Them?
Better to ask what you can’t do with them. Frico has nearly endless potential depending on the type of cheese you use, the herbs or spices you add, or the shape you choose.
Make coin-sized disks to toss on a salad or into a bowl of soup
Roll them into tubes to create an appetizer
Drape them over glasses to make Pringles-style chips
Shape them inside muffin tins or over inverted bowls to make cups or taco shells
The crisps should keep in an air-tight container for a couple of days, so prep a batch in advance!
Are Cheese Crisps Keto?
Absolutely! If you keep your cheese crisps straightforward (i.e. just shredded cheese), then they certainly fit within the popular diet’s stipulations. Most cheeses, including Parmesan, Asiago, Manchego and cheddar, are low in carbs and high in fat, making them ultra keto-friendly.
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Cathy Jakicic has written about everything from business and bacteria to beads and baking in her career —but she greatly prefers the last two. She is a baker and a crafter and loves to try new recipes for both.