Parmesan Crisps/Cups (or “That Girl’s Apartment Smells Like Fried Cheese”)

Did you know that packeted parmesan tastes like fish? True story. There’s something about the little N’joy envelopes of cheese I’ve been pinching from Costco’s food court that smacks of burnt salmon skin. Any recipe involving this stuff is bound to be like the ketchup bisque, but to a less offensive degree.  The ketchup bisque was probably an 8 or 9  on the  “get that foulness away from my normally-indiscriminate-and-Charybdis-like maw”, whereas packeted parmesan is somewhere around a 1 or 2… but then again I like burnt fish skins and other crunchy leavins’. I’m also the tacky restaurant patron who eats the hastily prepared vegetable garnishes and painstakingly crafted entrée with equal enthusiasm.

Never mind all that… I’ve finally found a use for them (besides satisfying bizarre fish cravings). This is a simple recipe that requires only a little practice and almost no prep work for a classy presentation. That’s right, I used the word “classy” on blog about cooking with stolen condiments.

These little suckers are a new favorite for entertaining. My guests think I care enough to make something labor-intensive and fancy, when in fact they are being served fried cheese that I shoved in my bra at Costco while nobody was looking. I think the knowledge of just that provides more satisfaction than any amount of flattery a guest could possibly lavish upon their host/hostess.

I implore you to resist the urge to eat a bunch of these things. If you absolutely must make a snacking event of it, prepare yourself for impending salt-induced swelling by removing rings and bracelets to avoid loss of circulation in your extremities. I ate five(ish) and had to take off my jewelry and put on my fat pants within the hour.

Upon request, I’ll be making an effort to be more thorough in supply lists/recipes.

Parmesan Cups/Crisps

Prep time: 2 minutes  Cook time: 3 minutes


  • 3-4 parmesan packets (1 heaping tablespoon) per cup/crisp


  • Small non-stick skillet
  • Small/medium bowl
  • Muffin tin, narrow drinking glass, or any other object you’d like to use for shaping.

While heating the pan on low-medium, measure cheese into a bowl and break apart any clumps

Sprinkle cheese in a circle about 4″ in diameter within the heated pan and cook until it begins to melt together (about 30 seconds-1 minute)

When the color deepens slightly, gently peel up the circle and quickly move it to the shaping tool of your choice, face the textured or smooth side outward to your liking, and gently arrange the circle in the shape you would like it to harden in.

  • For a traditional touile shape,  drape the circle over a rolling pin, narrow jar, or other cylinder
  • For a cup, gently press the center of the circle into a muffin tin cavity
  • For flat crisps, lay the circle on a paper towel (and ignore the huge grease stain afterward)
  • Experiment with rolled crisps, shapes, go nuts.

Pictured: Dandelion salad in a parmesan crisp cup. Why are there weeds in my food? Long story, but it ends with me finally posting this entry and scowling myself to sleep.

From the moment they leave the pan, Murphy’s law will be all up on your cheese. Get it to where it needs to be, and then hands off. Don’t poke it, it’ll tear/break/shatter/crumble/combust. In fact, you should forget they exist until it’s serving time. Make a few more than you need just in case.

People seem to think that smaller portions with better presentation mean better quality food, so this one works out well.  How do you go about giving your fried cheese cup gourmet appeal?

  • Green grapes. Cheese and fruit are usually a great pairing; your less food-savvy guests will think you know what you’re doing.  Arrange a bunch of cheese/fruit cups on a silver thrift store platter (usually under five dollars at Goodwill), pour some two buck chuck, and call it a party.
  • Tiny salads like caesar or spinach/mixed greens with vinaigrette look stunning. So stunning that guests will be too busy talking about it that they won’t notice that you just didn’t have enough salad for normal portions.
  • Pasta! Mac & cheese? Spaghetti with marinara and a lone meatball atop the pile? Mmmm.
  • Y’know what would be great? The green bean casserole that people smother in French fried onions around Thanksgiving… there are never enough onions and it’s just not very good without them. Spoon the casserole into the cheese cup and voilà… just the right amount of salty crunch per serving. Genius. Look forward to seeing that idea again later.

Leave a comment and share your cheesy craftiness!