Boyikos (aka Boyos de Queso) – Sephardic Style Cheese Biscuits – The Greatest Snack with a Martini Ever – Recipe

Boyikos (aka Boyos de Queso) - Sephardic Style Cheese Biscuits - The Greatest Snack with a Martini Ever - Recipe
Boyikos in their natural habitat

Savory, crispy, flaky, cheesy. Boyikos are little cheese biscuits or crackers that every good Sephardic grandmother makes. You should learn how too, because they are quick and easy, and I don’t think a Martini ever had a better companion. Bring these to a potluck and I bet you come home with an empty plate.

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As with any traditional food, there are variations in the name (e.g. boyos, boyos de rayo), and each family has their own special twist. Over at Sephardic Food, Janet rolls and cuts them like a biscuits and adds sesame seeds, while our Noni forms them by hand and presses them with the tines of a fork, like a peanut butter cookie.

You can make them with just about any hard grating type cheese. Pecorino romano is our tradition, but parmesan or even manchego work well too.

Vegetarian; not vegan or gluten-free
Makes about 4 dozen tiny biscuits

  • 3 cups finely grated pecorino romano (2 for dough, 1 for rolling)
  • 1 cup canola oil or other neutral tasting vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F and put a rack in the middle of the oven.  Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper
  2. Combine 2 cups of the cheese, the oil and the ice water.
  3. Stir in the flour gradually, until you have a dough that holds together but is still somewhat soft. You might need a little more or less than 2 cups. It should be firm enough to hold a mark if you press it with the tines of a fork.
  4. Taste and add a bit of salt if you think it is needed.
  5. To form the biscuits, grab a small piece of dough (less than 2 teaspoons), form it into a ball, roll it in the remaining cheese, roll in your hand a little more, then flatten on the baking sheet. They should be about 1″ in diameter, and about 1/4″ thick.
  6. Press each biscuit with the tines of a fork for decoration.
  7. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. You don’t want them to get real dark, but they should definitely be golden. Let cool for a couple of minutes and then remove to a wire rack. Cool the cookie sheet before making another batch.


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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, January 19th, 2009 in Appetizers, Kid Friendly, Recipes.

10 Responses to “Boyikos (aka Boyos de Queso) – Sephardic Style Cheese Biscuits – The Greatest Snack with a Martini Ever – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    January 19, 2009 at 10:40 am #

    Oh how fabulous! I’m always on the lookout for cheesy crackers, but so many of them are just modified shortbreads. I love that these are thin, and look to be crispy. Trying them out tonight!

  2. Reply
    January 19, 2009 at 4:08 pm #

    My husband’s paternal side of the family is Sephardic… I just may have to make this one (I can’t resist a cheesy cracker)! I just found your blog and am having fun looking around.

  3. Reply
    January 19, 2009 at 4:27 pm #

    How devine these look; I love the simplicity of them, plus I could really use that martini!

  4. Reply
    January 19, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    This recipe has everything I like! Pecorino romano is one of my favorite cheese. And who can resist crispy, cheesy things! Your boyikos sound great with a martini. If I made these, I think id break them up and put them in a salad of dark greens (dont know if your grandmother will approve!).

  5. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    January 20, 2009 at 8:14 pm #

    I don’t know if she’d approve either, but it sounds good to me!

  6. Reply
    January 21, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    Well, she’d have to approve of eating them with martinis – at the restaurant we serve my boyos de rayo with cocktails and everyone flips! Nice job, Michael (and thanks) – Janet

  7. Reply
    August 30, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Michael: I know this is an old post but I found it today from your most recent recipe. My dad’s side of the family is Sephardic, too — from Turkey and Macedonia — and I was excited to see this recipe for “boyikos,” which I ate often in my extended families’ homes but for which I don’t have a good recipe. But when the picture came up I was surprised. What we always referred to by as boyikos were something totally different – phyllo dough triangles stuffed with a sharp cheese (kashkaval, I think), egg and potato, or the cheese with egg and spinach. I wonder if your wife can shed some light on this mystery! 🙂 Nonetheless, these look awesome . . . especially with the martini!

    • Reply
      August 30, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Funny, my wife and I were just talking about how these food names change as they move around… variations of the words “sambusa”, “boreka”, “boyo”, “empanada” and so forth can mean radically different things in different countries, or sometimes even village to village.

      • Reply
        August 30, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

        Interesting! And here’s also the problem of different spellings and family bastardizations of names. For example, my family always referred to a ring-shaped, sesame-covered sweet biscuit as “tahkies” and only much later did I realize that was their shorthand for “taralikus.” At any rate, just got a copy of Herbavoracious and, as a new vegetarian (since January), I’m enjoying it very much. Maybe the next book should be a collaboration with your wife – a Sephardic vegetarian cookbook! 🙂

        • Reply
          August 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

          Funny, we call those biscocco. It really is an impossible problem, you just have to know what they are called in your own environtment. Glad you are enjoying the book!!

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