Homemade crackers: Does that sound like an impossible feat? My friends are always mystified when I set out a plate of homemade crackers. To them, crackers come from the store in a plastic sleeve or a cardboard box.
Luckily, I grew up in a household rife with homemade snacks. I won’t say I didn’t ever covet the miniature bags of Goldfish or cans of Pringles my classmates had — I did on a daily basis (lunchtime was trying on my 8-year-old nerves). But I did gain an early appreciation for the benefits of replicating classic snacks at home.
Crackers are deceptively simple to bake. For the novice baker, they’re a perfect entry point into baking: quick, delicious, and difficult to ruin. (And let’s face it: True snack connoisseurs love slightly burned crackers. We call them “well-done.")
The most challenging part of a cracker recipe is rolling the dough thinly enough to ensure that your crackers are crispy. Again, imperfection in this regard still yields a tasty result: If your crackers are too thick, they’ll be just as flavorful but will have less snap. Let nothing deter you from trying your hand at this!
In the time it takes to search for your wallet and car keys, you can make homemade crackers. Of the dozens of recipes on our site, you can find one to match your favorite store-bought variety: soda crackers (like Saltines), Vermont cheese crackers (like Cheez-its), crunchy seeded crackers (like gourmet flatbreads), or homemade versions of graham crackers or crisp bread.
Some cracker recipes require a quick rest of the dough in the refrigerator before rolling; others you can bake immediately. There’s a cracker recipe to fit every timetable!
The best part of mastering homemade crackers? Customization. Most cracker recipes are a blank canvas of sorts, a perfect place to experiment with dried herbs, cheeses, seeds, fancy salts, and other ingredients. Just like bread dough, crackers are limited merely by your imagination.
Homemade crackers — whatever the type — tend to follow the same steps: Mix up your dough, chill (if needed, particularly for softer or more buttery doughs), and then roll out as thinly as possible. Cut into your desired shape, prick with a fork, and bake.
I turned to one of our expert bakers here at King Arthur, marketing coordinator (and cracker lover) Gwen Adams, to get her tried-and-true tips for making the best homemade crackers yet. Combine her tips with some of our favorite and most reliable cracker recipes, and you’ll be on your way to new levels of snacking bliss.
Homemade Crackers Tip #1: Get in shape!
After cutting your dough into the desired shape, pull away and discard (or re-roll out if you have enough) any scraps and stray edges of dough. Those stray edges and little bits will scorch too easily.
Although rustic-looking crackers are fun, uniformly-shaped square, rectangular, and round crackers will bake more evenly than jagged ones. Get creative! The recipe might direct you to cut your dough into squares, but you can think outside of the box. Use any shape you like; just keep them uniform so that each cracker bakes consistently.
Homemade Crackers Tip #2: Separation anxiety
To achieve crispier edges, separate your crackers before baking. This step isn't strictly necessary (the crackers will always crisp as they cool), but try it out and see the difference it makes.
Homemade Crackers Tip #3: Cool it
If you’re baking in a humid kitchen environment (hello, New York City summer), allow your crackers to cool in a turned-off oven with the door propped open slightly. This will help the crackers crisp up better.
Homemade Crackers Tip #4: Smarter storage
To store your crackers, allow them to cool fully and then place them in an airtight container. Shielding the crackers from air will help maintain their snap longer.
Homemade Crackers Tip #5: Thin for the win
The thinner the dough, the crispier the crackers. If your dough is too thick, you’ll end up with softer crackers that resemble a bread stick more than a true cracker. You should aim for a thickness of about 1/16"; rolling your dough on a piece of floured parchment helps to stop it from sticking as you roll.
Take a look at the dough for my version of our Sourdough Crackers. I've added dried basil and oregano to the dough for an herbed twist: You can see how thin the dough is right before cutting.
A great trick: If you have a pasta machine (or the pasta attachment with a KitchenAid), use it to roll your cracker dough into thin sheets.
Homemade Crackers Tip #6: Parchment perfection
Parchment paper is a baker’s best friend. Rolling your dough (and cutting it) on a sheet of parchment paper makes transferring simpler. Just pick up the parchment and slide it onto a baking sheet. With such thin dough, this is especially crucial.
You can then slide the finished crackers onto a cooling rack easily with the help of the parchment.
Homemade Crackers Tip #7: Steam room
Ever wonder why store-bought crackers sport pricked patterns on the tops? Pricking the dough with a fork allows steam to escape, which keeps them from inflating and puffing up. Don't skip this step!
Homemade Crackers Tip #8: Wholesome snacking
Gwen points out that crackers are a great place to start with if you’re looking to add more whole grains to your diet. You can easily substitute whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour in your cracker recipe. You get more nutrition and a nuttier, richer flavor. Everyone wins.
Feeling ready to become a cracker master? Start with one of these excellent recipes:
Homemade Cracker Recipe #1: Vermont Cheese Crackers
A homemade version of a Goldfish or Cheez-it, these addictively cheesy crackers feature our Vermont cheese powder (the very finest sharp Vermont cheddar in powdered form) for an intensely savory, salty flavor. I love cutting them in small circles with a miniature biscuit cutter for a prettier presentation.
Homemade Cracker Recipe #2: Gluten-Free Almond Flour Crackers
Made with just almond flour, egg, and seasonings, this recipe couldn't be simpler (or quicker!). While nicely suited for gluten-free eaters, the nutty flavor makes it a wholesome snack that anyone will crave. This is a great example of an easy-to-customize recipe; garlic powder, dried herbs, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or flax seeds would all be wonderful additions.
Homemade Cracker Recipe #3: Sourdough Crackers
If you, like me, feel slightly sad every time you discard half of your sourdough starter come feeding time, here's your perfect recipe. Unfed sourdough starter adds a pleasant tanginess to these crunchy crackers, which you can cut into any shape (I like diamonds or squares, as shown here) and flavor with any add-ins (our artisan bread topping or pizza seasoning are both great contenders).
Now it's your chance. Try your hand at making homemade crackers; tell us your favorite versions in the comments below!