in the kitchen with: leah verwey’s savory cookies

Sometimes the recipes that appear on the In the Kitchen With column spend months in incubation, years in some cases, waiting to debut. Many factors contribute to this: the author’s schedule, recipe testing, getting the photography right, seasonality, previously scheduled posts. You name it, it’s a factor. I have never been disappointed, though, when the post finally comes together and is ready to go live. Portland, Oregon-based photographer Leah Verwey’s recipe for Jalapeno Cheddar Cookies is one of those recipes that suffered from one primary “flaw”: the cookies were so good, Leah kept eating them before she could get enough images of them done. We can only suggest that you make a double batch so that you don’t run out too quickly! These are perfect for this time of year. If anyone tries this out as a gluten-free recipe, please share your modifications! — Kristina

About Leah: Leah Verwey is a photographer and design enthusiast based in Portland, Oregon. She primarily photographs weddings and food, but also loves invading homes, offices and work areas as documented in her blog Space. After finishing school in upstate New York, she ventured to Portland “for a few months” and, years later, has yet to leave. Her dog Tallulah is (she thinks) so smart that she has to be either part-human or part-dolphin.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!

Cheddar Jalapeno Cookies


  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8-ounce block of extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos*, patted dry


1. In a mixer or food processor, combine butter, salt and pepper until thoroughly blended. In a separate bowl, mix together flour and cheddar. Slowly add flour and cheese until dough clears the sides of mixer. Don’t over-mix. Then fold in jalapenos.

2. Next, shape the dough into a disc, wrap in parchment or wax paper and chill for about 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350°.

4. On a floured surface, roll out dough until it is about a 1/2″ thick. Using about a 2″ circular cookie cutter or a trusty glass (I use a clear little glass mug — it seems to be the best size), cut out circles and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake in the center of the oven for about 13 minutes or until cookies are golden on top. Enjoy!

Let’s be frank, cheese-and-butter cookies aren’t exactly the most heart healthy, so I paired these with some nice, fresh baby greens from the garden, lightly dressed with olive oil and rice vinegar. They’d also make a great appetizer for a little get-together.

*Not into spicy jalapenos? Substitute pimento for a not-so-spicy treat.

Why Leah Chose This Recipe
When I was a kid, my mother used to make cheese cookies with green olives around the holidays, and it was such a great break when you are overwhelmed with tons of sweets (a kid overwhelmed with sweets? Say what?). This year, I was so not into sweets again and just wanted savory around the holidays, so I tested out some options. While I was testing my first batch, I happened to have some friends over and we devoured them in probably less than an hour. Go us. Since then, I’ve made them for parties or just to have for little snacks throughout the day, and they are always a hit. I just love the idea of a savory cookie.

  1. anna says:

    crazy! we make something very similar in my family… we’ve always called them “cheese wafers.” until now, i’ve not known anyone outside my family to have heard of this recipe.

  2. annawithlove says:

    deeelicious!…and so I am on my way to eat some cookies! mmm

  3. Dragon Fruit says:

    yummm… your recipes NEVER disappoint no matter how long they take :)

  4. Leigh says:

    Y-U-M!! totally baking a batch this weekend. can’t wait to try these!

  5. alyson says:

    holy crap these look amazing!!!!

  6. Savory cookies, what a clever idea.

  7. Mona says:

    Could I use pepper jack cheese?

  8. allie says:

    wow leah! these look amazing. great job!

  9. Leah says:

    @Mona – You could use pepper jack, though there is something so crisp about a good sharp white cheddar that you just might miss if you substituted jack cheese. Try it!

  10. Liza says:

    um, yum! can’t wait to test these puppies out. Beautiful photos, too!

  11. Jinny says:

    Do you think fresh jalapeno would also work? I’ve got some now…

  12. Leah says:

    Jinny- I chose the pickled jalapenos because they have a little tang in addition to their heat, but fresh would probably work fine! Maybe lessen the dosage a touch (I’m a bit of a baby with heat, though). Go for it!

  13. Linda says:

    These look delicious! & photos are inspiring. I’m definitely going to try them soon.

  14. Kelly says:

    Yummy looking cookies, Yummy looking photos! Yeah Leah!

  15. Nina says:

    I wanted to try this recipe out for a party- any idea how many cookies this recipe makes?

  16. nzle says:

    I wish I’d visited Design Sponge this morning, when I made these cheese straws to take to a holiday party tonight:

    I love the idea of taking a similar dough and making cracker/cookies — and oh, I bet the jalapeno makes it amazing.

  17. Chiot's Run says:

    OK, I think these were meant for me. I’m always in search of savory over sweet and I have a few jalapeños on the counter lingering from the garden teetering on the edge of being too long gone, just waiting for inspiration – now they can live up to their calling.

  18. Taylor says:

    I made these cookies this afternoon and used a reindeer cookie cutter. They were gone before they made it to the cooling rack. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe! Cabot makes a habanero cheese I might try next batch – I like VERY HOT :)

  19. Melanie says:

    I just made these cookies with some friends – they are to die for!!! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  20. lisaeasta says:

    made these today for a holiday party–amazing amazing amazing. mine ended up a rather thick, almost biscuit-like (no complaints, though!) so perhaps rolling out the dough to 1/4 inch makes them more cookie-like. also, i made one batch as mini-cookies, using a shot glass. de-licious.

  21. Christine says:

    three of my favorites things combined. love it! I’m definitely trying these – and such a great idea pairing it with a salad

  22. Tiffanydw says:

    Oh my! I can’t wait to make these! Thank you.

  23. Suzanne F. says:

    these sound so delicious! I just may tinker with them a tiny bit by omitting the jalapenos & subbing some ancho chiles for smokiness….cannot wait to try them!

  24. G. says:

    mmm…i’m craving these in a bad way right now!!

  25. Wendy says:

    Just made these last night. I agree with rolling the dough a bit thinner, about 1/4 in. I doubled the recipe and it made 28, 2″ cookies :-) Delicious! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  26. Paula M says:

    Just made these for a cookie exchange tomorrow. I used fresh jalapeños chopped very finely. They are delicious! I’m so glad I made some extras.

  27. Emily says:

    I made these last night. I used some Christmas cookie cutters rather than the round cutter. I also froze half the dough in a tube so I can just cut and make as needed. These were devoured in a few minutes. You could do a mix of jalapeno and pimento if you were going for a nice holiday look, too!

  28. Lynn says:

    Made a triple batch for my holiday cookie exchange – they were a huge hit, and the most unique cookie in the lot!

    Really lovely, simple recipe Leah. Thank you for sharing!

    And yes, thinner is better. 1/4″ was about right.

  29. Rositsa says:

    Amazing recipe!!! I’m definitely trying it soon!

  30. Ooh, perfect! Thank you again for gluten free recipes! Happy New Year!

  31. Nessa says:

    I’ve just made a batch for a 7hr road trip tomorrow… Bring on the long drive!

  32. Guerra Girl says:

    I love that I have everything to make these! I am thinking they will be perfect for Super Bowl Sun. but I am dying to try them, so I will be looking for the rolling pin in the morning!

  33. Lola Velasco says:

    Me encanta esta fabulosa receta, felicidades!. Saludos desde España

  34. Rachel says:

    I was looking for the perfect recipe for savory halloween cut out cookies and this is definitely it. I will use yellow sharp cheddar so they’ll be the right color for my pumpkin cookie cutters. Cannot wait!


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.