“Puff pastry cheese straws” is the perfect answer to “what can I do with leftover puff pastry?”
Quick to make and endlessly customizable, this version features homemade puff strips coated in Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs, and spices, twisted up and then baked into the crispy cheese straws you never knew you needed.
These easy cheese twists make a great appetizer to enjoy at a holiday party or on a random Tuesday.
You may also enjoy my flaky apple turnovers.
For ease of browsing, you can find all my appetizer recipes in one place. Thanks for visiting!
Why You Need to Make These Cheese Straws
Whenever you take the time to make something fairly labor-intensive like laminated dough, it’s great to have a way to use all of it up, including the scraps.
Puff pastry cheese straws are just the thing to make sure you use literally every square inch of your homemade puff.
You can flavor them however you like, but I will say that this particular combination of Parmesan cheese and spices is a winner.
It’s barely a recipe and more of a Serving Suggestion for leftover scraps that might otherwise not have a job.
How To Make Puff Pastry Cheese Straws
In this section, I’ll show you step-by-step how to embed the cheese and spices into your puff, offer some equipment recommendations as well as some variations on the theme.
If you prefer to skip this, you can head straight to the recipe.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- puff pastry: Homemade or storebought. I do think all-butter puff tastes better than one made with shortening, so try to find a brand that uses all-butter if not using homemade. Dufour is a brand that is pretty widely available in the US, and I understand Trader Joe’s also sells all-butter puff
- butter (optional): I think the cheese and spices stick to the puff better if you use some butter as glue. The down-side is that the warm butter can make your puff soft and hard to work with. It’s a tradeoff. I generally use butter and just have it barely warm. Then, as soon as the cheese mixture is on, I’ll refrigerate everything for 20 minutes or so before I twist.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated or the canned kind. Is fresh preferred? Yes. But I wouldn’t go out and buy Parm special to make these. I made mine with canned, and they are Delicious. Your call, though
- Italian seasoning: Your favorite blend
- garlic: I use granulated garlic. You can also use garlic powder
- salt: You only need a little bit as the cheese is fairly salty. Taste your blend of spices before adding salt and decide if it needs a little bit
- pepper: I use freshly ground and I don’t measure. I just add some
- smoked paprika: Hot or sweet. The little bit of smoky flavor really enhances the flavor of the straws
- ground fennel: This is one of my favorite “secret ingredients.” I sprinkle this on pizza as soon as it comes out of the oven. I also add it to my tomato-based pasta sauces. Fennel is the primary seasoning in Italian sausage, so adding a bit brings that meatiness to mind without actually adding any meat
Mix your cheese and spices together evenly. This will always be your first step.
Cheese straws are very easy to make, and you can make as many as you want.
You’re only limited by the amount of dough you have.
If you’re using scraps, you may only end up with 10 or so.
If making them “from scratch,” you’re likely to end up with 24-36 from 1 full sheet of storebought puff or about 1/2 pound of homemade.
Regardless of the amount, here’s how you make them:
- Grab your scraps and get ready.
- Lay out all the scraps in a reasonably orderly row.
- Cut each strip to whatever length you choose. Mine were about 6″ long.
- Give each strip a quick brush of butter and then scatter them onto your cheese-spice mixture. Add more cheese-spice on top and make sure they’re reasonably well-coated.
Jenni Says: Alternately, leave out the butter and roll both sides of your puff in the cheese and spice mixture much like you’d make palmiers.
Equipment You May Need
You don’t need a lot of equipment to make cheese twists.
You’ll want a rolling pin as well as sheet pans and parchment for baking and a cooling rack or two.
If making cheese straws from a whole sheet of puff, using a pizza wheel to cut your strips makes the work go a bit more quickly.
- Easy to hold
- Easy to wash
- Handles way more than pizza: cut brownies, candies, etc
As I said at the beginning, the sky is the limit with these guys.
Use Parmesan like I did, or consider other harder, grating cheeses:
- aged Cheddar
- Pecorino Romano
You can also keep things simple by only rolling cheese into/pressing cheese onto your puff pastry.
There is no rule that says you have to use herbs and spices.
But for additional flavor, use your favorite dried herbs and spices to enhance your cheese.
You can also choose to substitute something like sharp mustard for the butter. That would be incredible with some sharp, aged Cheddar.
Tips for Success
Keep your puff pastry cool so it is easy to work with. If at any time your twists start getting soft, refrigerate everything for 20-30 minutes to let the butter in the dough firm up.
Cheese Straw Q & A
Keep tightly sealed at room temperature for about 5 days. If they are a little soft, refresh in your oven or toaster oven for 3-5 minutes and they will crisp right back up.
You can. I recommend freezing them before baking so you can pop some straight into the oven from frozen and have tasty little snacks in about 20 minutes or so. They’re especially nice to make during the holidays to bust out for holiday meals or cocktail parties.
Since you’ll be making them with hard, grating cheese, it’s more likely that your cheese straws will soften up before they go bad. Refresh them in the oven to recrisp, or freeze them before or after baking. I wouldn’t keep them at room temperature for longer than 5 days. I think the best thing to do is make a lot and only bake off what you need, freezing the rest to bake later. Frozen puff pastry cheese straws will be fine in the freezer for a couple of months.
Serve these as an appetizer before your main course. For this Italian-esque version, consider them as an appetizer nibble before serving my Italian sausage lasagna.
Cheese straws also work well as a cocktail party snack. You can also serve them as part of a cheese plate.
You will find a lot of fun and tasty ways to get these little guys into your mouth!
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Puff Pastry Cheese Straws
- 8 oz of homemade puff pastry or 1 sheet or store-bought 1/2 pound
- 2 oz butter 1/2 stick or 4 Tablespoons (optional)
- 4 oz Parmesan cheese grated (canned is fine or freshly grated)
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- heavy pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon hot or sweet smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel seed optional but lovely
- Freeze your puff strips on a parchment-lined sheet pan for about 30 minutes while you prepare the cheese mixture.
- Heat the oven to 375F convection or 375-400F conventional.
- (OPTIONAL: You can also just scatter the spices and roll the puff in the mixture, skipping the buttering step) Melt the butter in a small bowl until mostly melted and stir until completely melted, about 30 seconds in the microwave. Set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk together the Parmesan and all the seasonings.
- Evenly pour just over half of the cheese mixture into a shallow tray or onto your clean work surface.
- Take the cold strips out of the freezer and give each a quick dunk in the butter and then place into the Parmesan mixture. NOTE: Make sure your butter is barely warm so it doesn't melt the butter in your strips and make your puff hard to work with.
- Evenly sprinkle on the rest of the Parmesan mixture, making sure that at least most of each pastry strip has a good coating. Gently press down on the strips to make sure the cheese mixture adheres to both sides.
- Twist each strip several times. If your pastry gets soft, refrigerate for a few minutes and then soldier on.
- Place each twisted strip on your parchment-lined sheet pan leaving about 1 1/2" between each.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes. Twists are ready when they are nicely puffed and deep, golden brown. As a bonus, your kitchen will smell incredible.
- Serve warm.
Did You Make Any Changes?
VARIATIONSAs I said at the beginning, the sky is the limit with these guys. Use Parmesan like I did, or consider other harder, grating cheeses:
- aged Cheddar
- Pecorino Romano
STORINGKeep tightly sealed at room temperature for about 5 days. If they are a little soft, refresh in your oven or toaster oven for 3-5 minutes and they will crisp right back up. I recommend freezing them before baking so you can pop some straight into the oven from frozen and have tasty little snacks in about 20 minutes or so. They’re especially nice to make during the holidays to bust out for holiday meals or cocktail parties.
Thanks for spending some time with me today.
I think you’ll really like the puff pastry cheese straws, friends!
Take care, and have a lovely day.
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