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Reconstructing Goldfish Crackers: Gluten Free Style

I cannot think of another processed food that has become more embedded in the minds of children than Pepperidge Farms’ Goldfish Crackers.  While they are not only just naturally entertaining in design (brilliant marketing if you ask me), they are the perfect size for kindergarten age fingers to expertly handle while they learn to count, group, and add.  And of course the real “reward” is that you get to eat them when the math lesson is over! (Although personally, I think raisins, carrot sticks and/or apple slices would make even better counting devices!).

This goldfish phenomenon was my first “crisis” moment as the mother of a gluten-free child, the “clouds-parting-angels-singing-sun-shining” moment when I knew what my mission for this blog would be.  Little did I know at the time that my attempt to recreate this seemingly innocuous little morsel of cheese-flavored gluten would be the start of a two-and-half year odyssey to document my successes (and failures) in my endeavor to provide my kids with as “normal” a life as possible.

Plants or Zombies?

And then “the powers that be” decided to have a little fun with me by kicking it up a notch in the challenge category.  A real life Plants vs. Zombies game if you will.  Have you ever played that game?  If you haven’t, don’t start, it will suck mind numbing hours from your day.  If you have, then you will understand when I say that for me, the past 18 months have been something akin to “A huge wave of zombies are approaching.”

Dairy zombies, egg zombies and corn zombies (a.k.a. allergies) if you’d like specifics.

Birth of a Glutadoodle

This was when I cracked and the “glutadoodle” (gluten + wackadoodle) in me was born.  I was not about to give up my Goldfish!

You can make dairy-free, gluten-free Goldfish with vegan cheese, Daiya works well as far as making the dough but there is not much cheese flavor in the crackers.  You can bump up the tang a bit by subbing the milk called for in the recipe with a dairy-free buttermilk but what can I say, there really isn’t a true flavor substitute for real cheese.  And yes, cheese is still a slightly sore subject for me.

So that’s when I decided to take a cue from Pepperidge Farms and develop my own extensive line of gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and corn-free Goldfish varieties!

Chocolate Goldfish

To make chocolate goldfish, I use the same dough recipe that I use for making gluten-free “Oreos.”

Graham Cracker Goldfish

I also make gluten-free Goldfish grahams using a recipe from Living Without magazine (sorry, no picture of the little fishies), but here is a photo of the gluten-free graham crackers:

Butter Goldfish

Learn more about making your own Soy-Free, Vegan Butter.

Marshmallow Goldfish

Learn more about making homemade corn-free and egg-free marshmallows.

Pasta Goldfish

Learn more about making gluten-free, corn-free and egg-free pasta.

Veggie Goldfish

Learn more about making gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, MSG-free, soy-free and nut-free Ranch dressing.

Think Different (then go to therapy)

See, this is what I meant when I said to “think different.”  I discovered somewhere along the way that my kids didn’t care about the cheesy Goldfish, they cared about the Goldfish shape!

Hey, hey, I think I’m starting to get the hang of this parenting thing!

And so I give you the original Gluten Free Goldfish Cracker Recipe, the first step I took into madness and ecstasy, failure upon failure followed by a resounding success.

I have received many questions over the years since it was originally posted, but the top two requests have been how to make the crackers corn-free and also if I could do a photo tutorial.  So today, we are going to demystify the almighty gluten free Goldfish cracker and Roben Ryberg has graciously given me permission to share her rice-flour version of the original recipe (with a few of my added tweaks)!

But first, you’ll need one of these…

Goldfish Mini Cookie Cutter

You can find the goldfish cookie cutter that I use at CopperGifts.com.

Goldfish Crackers: Gluten-Free, Corn-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free

I made these crackers for my newly gluten free sister and her son and I’m happy to report that once again, they were a resounding success.  Thanks Roben!

 

Goldfish Crackers: Gluten-Free and Corn-Free

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 60 minutes

Cook Time: PT6 - 10M

Serves: 5 - 12 dozen crackers, depending on size of cookie cutter used

Goldfish Crackers: Gluten-Free and Corn-Free

Recipe slightly adapted from You Won't Believe It's Gluten Free and reprinted with permission from Robyn Ryberg.

Ingredients

  • 4-ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (preferably organic)
  • 4 Tbs. (1/4 cup) Butter, softened (preferably organic pasture butter)
  • 2/3 cup (100 grams) Rice Flour (preferably superfine rice flour to avoid a gritty texture)
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum (for corn-free, use Guar Gum)
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder (for corn-free, make sure the baking powder is corn-free)
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 3 Tbs. Milk (I prefer to use buttermilk because it bumps up the cheesy tang factor)
  • Optional Toppings:
  • Sea Salt, Dried Herbs or Spices. Here's a good recipe for homemade Taco Seasoning (substitute arrowroot for the cornstarch to make this recipe corn-free)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. (see note). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the milk (or buttermilk), in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade. Pulse the mixture into pea-sized crumbles.
  3. Slowly add the buttermilk while running the processor full tilt, until the mixtures comes together in a ball.
  4. Divide dough into 4 equal parts.
  5. On a floured sheet of parchment paper (use more rice flour), flatten 1/4 of the dough into a disk. Sprinkle the top of the dough disk with more rice flour then place a second sheet of parchment paper over the top. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough between 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness (any thicker and the cracker won't be as crunchy).
  6. Carefully lift off the top sheet of parchment paper. Using a floured goldfish cookie cutter (or other shape), cutout the cracker shapes. Add smiles and eyes if desired.
  7. Bake on prepared baking sheet for 6 - 10 minutes (see note). The crackers should be light and crispy, although barely browning at the edges. The bottom of the crackers will have a bit more color.

Notes

All ovens are different so temperature and baking time can differ. My recommendation is to bake 3 or 4 crackers at Roben's recommended time (9 - 10 minutes) and see how well your crackers turn out. Mine were black because I use a convection oven which tends to run hotter than a conventional oven.

I lowered the temperature in my oven to 375 deg. and baked a second test batch for the same time (9 - 10 minutes) and they were still overdone so I reduced the baking time until I found my magic number, 6 - 7 minutes per batch.

It's better to do small test batches until you find the right time and temp for your oven so you don't throw a fit when you've burned 3 dozen Goldfish!

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Photo Tutorial


If dairy is allowed in your diet, I strongly urge you to use organic dairy products from grass-fed cows whenever possible.

Now bake’ em up and pop ‘em in yo mouth! :-D

Now come forth young Goldfish Padawans

And may the “fish” be with you!

Yeah, I really need more estrogen in my life…

This post was brought to you by Gluten-Free 101. :-D

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Comments

  1. Liqian says:

    Hi, Heidi, Can I use Batter Better to make goldfish crackers instead of rice flour? Thanks.

    • Liqian,

      I've not personally tried the crackers with Better Batter so I can't say how well they'll turn out but if you do try it, be sure to omit the extra xanthan/guar gum called for in the recipe (and please let me know what you think of the results). :-D

  2. Karen says:

    love this! going to make some when the boys go back to school….will need to make them dairy free too but i am sure they will LOVE them!

  3. Erin says:

    They look delish, but my daughter rejected a gf, vegan version…she cant have dairy or eggs either, and theres ko good substitute…sigh.

  4. Alisha Sadeski says:

    I put this on the original goldfish post yesterday but I will add here too… I discovered that I could make large batches of the cheese goldfish crackers (I was using the recipe with Daiya cheese, cornstarch, etc.) and freeze them in a freezer Ziplock. My kids will even eat them straight out of the freezer– they don't really get hard frozen, just cold tasting. Now I make them once every few weeks instead of once every few days. :) I'd rather make a big batch while I got the food processor dirty and the kitchen is already a mess. I also send a frozen bag of the goldfish crackers with them to daycare for them to keep in the freezer so they always have them on hand when the real goldfish crackers are served as a snack.

  5. Heidi, you crack me up! Great goldfish ideas. xoxo

  6. Jeanette says:

    Cheese is the hardest thing to give up on a dairy-free diet, so I appreciate what you say about thinking differently, out of the box. Thank you for all you do Heidi and for making this past year so much easier as I journeyed my way through the gluten-free world for my son. He is a much happier kid today than he was a year ago. Happy New Year to you and your family!

  7. Hi, I have a super, super easy GF recipe for the goldfish crackers, I took a "regular" recipe & switched a couple simple things, namely for Bob's red mill gluten free all purpose flour & they are so super yummy!!! I can share w/you, you can inbox me & i'll reply w/the recipe; you will love it. i'm going to be offering it as a snack in my new business (kicking off in 2012)

    • Hi Collette!

      Do you mind sharing your recipe here in the comment section so others can try it too? :-D

      • Colette says:

        Sorry I didn't see your comment sooner, here is the recipe:

        Ingredients:

        8 ounces, weight Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded

        4 Tablespoons Butter, Cut Into Cubes (I use GF Best Life spread)

        1 cup Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour)

        ¾ teaspoons Salt

        2 Tablespoons Cold Water

        Cooking Instructions:

        Pulse everything (except water) together in the food processor until the dough resembles coarse sand.

        Pulse in water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

        Remove dough from the processor, wrap in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes.

        Roll out the dough and cut into desired shapes. You can use a toothpick to make the eyes and smile if desired. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

        Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until crispy.

        Makes approximately 7 dozen crackers.

        I used this recipe & adapted to be gluten free: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/desserts/homemade

        It's so easy & you can make any shapes you like, I really need to get some small cookie cutters, because I've actually been hand shaping them (Extremely time consuming!!!)

  8. Jenny says:

    Okay so the first recipe I will try when I ever own a food processor will be this one right here. I miss goldfish so much. It really is the little things in life. Love all the pictures!

    • Jenny,

      Do you have a stand mixer? If so, you can also easily make them with that. I just wrote the recipe the way I make them (the lazy way, LOL!). Roben's original recipe just says to make the dough in a bowl by hand, but like I said, I'm too lazy for that. :-D

      • creativecookinggf says:

        Yummm. I didn't have any plain or sharp cheddar so I used what I had on hand…a mix. Made the dough by hand because I lack a FP (someday I will own one and NOT give it away again) – came out pretty well. I also don't have a small cutter so I just rolled it out and cut small squares and made "cheese-its" instead. So happy and excited to have a gluten-free snack for school this week.

  9. AnnMarie says:

    Heidi, I laughed so hard reading this. O.C.G.D.? :). As a mom of two young boys, I totally get your obsession. Goldfish really are that one processed food that nearly every mother of young kids has all over the floor of her car and diaper and/or handbag. One of my sons is in second grade and those fishies are still whipped out in ziploc bags at snack time. You did a great job recreating these—and your fish are a lot cuter!

  10. Jacqui says:

    I am so excited for this post! My daughter doesn't have to necessarily be gluten free.. but I've been trying to do less wheat with her since I've started reading Wheat Belly. I am so excited to make these for her, as she loves goldfish.. and the chocolate ones?? even better! Thanks for sharing this, Heidi!

  11. Iris says:

    Heidi, you are delightful! I love reading your posts…informative and funny at the same time. :) Happy New Year! Wishing you lots of happiness in 2012!

    xoxo

  12. I love them all! However, I'm not sure I have the patience to make them. :)

  13. fun ideas! i'm looking forward to trying these! :)

  14. Kathy says:

    I made the chocolate goldfish for my son and he loved it. It was so easy to make and I will make it again. Thanks for the recipe.

  15. Cinde says:

    Happy New Year Heidi! It’s been a while since we chatted, hope all is well with you and yours.

    I remember making tiny GF animal shaped cheese crackers (didn’t own the fish cutter) when my daughter first went GF. I thought I was going to go insane by the time I was done. I – will – never- make – them – again! No way, no how!

    I commend you for your awesome perseverance and amazing creativity! You rock lady!

    Cheers!
    Cinde (from Gluten Free Taste of Home)

  16. Brandy says:

    So I just made these for my little guy….I don't have my goldfish cutter yet so I just used my pizza wheel and cut small squares. They are so yummy!!! I put a little extra cheese since it was the end of the block. I had to keep everyone's hands out of the bag!!! They taste better than the cheese straws I make. Thanks so much for all the help as I am new to baking gluten free for my son!!!

  17. Melissa says:

    I think there's a print error on the proportions of flour in the goldfish recipe. No way you could make up to 5 dozen goldfish with 2/3 c. of rice flour! Can you post the correct amount, and also drop a line to me with the correct amount? Other than that, you've done a fantastic job on your website; creative, everything looks yummy, good job!

  18. kathy says:

    Do you think Daiya cheese and shortening, or earth balance in red, gf, df, soy free, would work as substitutes? Thanks for great ideas.

    Kathy

    • Kathy says:

      Don’t try using Daiya cheese and Earth Balance. I tried substiting them and the crackers came out really greasy. The oven was sizzling. I made the goldfish crackers before and there is a big difference with Daiya cheese.

      From,
      Another Kathy

  19. Elisa says:

    Hi, I can’t wait to try this recipe, thanks so much! Also, FYI for anyone interested, I think I’ve found a fish cookie cutter as tiny as needed that’s quite a bit cheaper.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000LFEI2K/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=A2FVWI1N0THHUF

    I even contacted the Makin’s company to find out what the cutter is made out of. I was told that it’s made out of tin and it is food safe, however about 6 months ago, they started making the cutters out of stainless steel. If you want stainless steel cutters you would have to make sure that you were buying new stock.

  20. Thanks for the great recipes! I plan to add the fish cracker recipe to my blog and give you credit of course!

  21. Hi-
    I have heard you can use arrowroot powder in place of xanthan gum.  Have you done this / Heard of it working ok?

    Thanks!

  22. Spring says:

    Today, my 7 yr old asked while walking through the store, “when am I EVER going to be able to have goldfish again?” I just ordered the cookie cutter and I can’t wait to surprise her with these!

  23. Spring says:

    Ok I made these today! Blogged my pics and my tweaks (corn free version)!
    http://spring.gouette.com/?p=2411

    Thanks so much! My daughter LOVED these, and I got the “these taste just like them!” squeal! :)

  24. Lori Hogan says:

    My son has a Halloween party coming up that he needs gluten free Goldfish crackers for. I found your recipe doing a search online. I used sorghum flour instead and miniature Halloween cookie cutters. They just came out of the oven and I cannot believe how much they taste like the real thing! My husband said he wouldn’t be able to tell in a blind taste test. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. My gluten free family appreciates it!!!

  25. Amanda says:

    Thank you for sharing. I wanted to make a cheese cracker to go with soup. These were very easy to make. I did not have a fishy cutter. I used a shot glass to make circles. It is just my husband and I tonight but for fun I made them into smiles. I used the edge of a spoon for the smile and a straw for eyes. My cheese was white cheddar. I have not tried one yet but they smell nice.

  26. jennhe says:

    So excited to try this! Can milk be substituted with almond milk? We don’t drink cows milk here. It’s so minimal in quantity. Also, is this brown rice flour or white rice or does it matter?

Trackbacks

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  6. [...] some more this afternoon.  (she must think I have time on my hands, or some thing!)  I made the reconstructed goldfish cracker that I have wanted to try and bake.  Even though I’m currently not eating carbs, I had to [...]

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