How to Make Saltines—Those Flaky Supermarket Staples—At Home

September  9, 2017

When milk’s involved, magic happens. We’re partnering with Milk Life to learn all about the essential role the farm-fresh beverage plays in elevating everyday recipes—and sharing recipes, tools, and tips for incorporating milk’s rich and smooth texture into wholesome at-home cooking. Read up here.

Saltine crackers—those flaky, salty supermarket staples begging to be spread with peanut butter or pimento cheese, crumbled over a bowl of soup, or plunked down next to a glass of milk—is one few of us have probably ever thought to make from scratch. But that iconic after-school glass of milk got us thinking that maybe it wouldn't be so hard. It seems we were on the same page as Erin French, the self-taught chef and restaurateur behind the cult-favorite the Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine, and author of the recent cookbook The Lost Kitchen, who uses that glass of milk to make these little gems.

Erin likes to do things herself—tooling around in an airstream trailer turned pop-up restaurant that she renovated herself, and renovating an old grist mill where The Lost Kitchen currently resides, with a wine shop beneath so that customers can pick out a bottle to drink with dinner. “‘From scratch’ is so satisfying to me. To be able to say, ‘I made this!’ gives me a great sense of accomplishment, even if it’s super simple.” And knowing this, it’s not all so surprising that she would also make her own saltines.

“Most of my recipes were born out of inspiration from dishes from my childhood, and are my versions of dishes close to my heart,” Erin wrote me in an email. She turned her hankering for saltines, “a homemade ode to the staple snack that was always in my grandmother’s cupboard,” into a recipe. (She loves to share, and make, them with her son, too.)

Shop the Story

Erin’s DIY saltines are recognizable as facsimiles of the ones in the box, but with subtle twists: For one thing, they’re made with whole milk, which gives them a tenderness and flavors them lightly. For another, Erin uses coconut oil as the fat, a vegetable shortening stand-in (“My grandmother cooked a lot with shortening!”) that keeps the crackers light and faintly sweet. That sweetness goes just as well with a jalapeño and lime ceviche as it does with vanilla ice cream, or creamy, dairy-laden tomato soup, or homemade ricotta—or just a simple glass of milk. That’s if they make it beyond the baking sheet which, in Erin’s kitchen, they rarely do.

Make magic with milk this fall. We're partnering with Milk Life to learn all about milk and the incredible things cows can do—and arming you with recipes, tools, and tips for making use of milk’s superpowers while we’re at it. Have a look at just how essential its seat at the table is here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.