Homemade crackers are an amazing treat. Unlike store-bought variations, you’re in control of everything, from seasoning to level of crispness—plus, you can experiment with sizes, shapes, and flavors to create the perfect pairing to whatever snack you’ve dreamt up. But I’ve heard from home bakers and cooks alike that it seems a bit tedious to roll out all that dough very thin, needing to cut out a ton of tiny pieces. But there’s way more than one way to make a tasty cracker. I’ve compiled five totally different methods and recipes together here to make my favorite guide to great crackers at home. And to show all that versatility that I’m talking about, each cracker uses a different flour.
While every recipe is different, there are some general rules that can be useful for any cracker recipe you choose to tackle.
Don’t skip the rest time. While not all cracker recipes require the dough to rest, when they do, don’t be tempted to skip it. Resting the dough—which usually after mixing and before rolling it out—helps relax the gluten that was formed during mixing. This makes the dough much easier to handle and roll out evenly.
If rolling, take care. This is one time where rolling the dough evenly is particularly important. If the dough is thicker in some places and thinner than others, the crackers will bake unevenly, and some may burn or be not quite crisp enough. If you have a little unevenness, you can help compensate for it by putting thicker crackers around the outer edge of the baking sheet, and keep thinner crackers towards the center.
Don’t worry about spread. Most cracker recipes don’t spread much, so unless a recipe suggests leaving a certain amount of space between crackers for baking, you can keep them pretty close together on the baking sheet.
Rotating is your friend. During baking, rotate baking sheets between racks and turn them around—this helps give you the best chance of all the crackers baking evenly. I usually only do this once, halfway through baking time.
Determining doneness. If a cracker dough is pale in color, an even level of browning is usually a good sign of doneness. But I also recommend touching the cracker if your fingers can stand it. Properly baked crackers will feel dry on the surface and appear set—this equates to crispness once the cracker has cooled.
One way to make a seriously tasty cracker is to start with a dough similar to a simple pie dough and treat it a bit like rough puff pastry. The pie dough is mixed minimally, leaving the butter in pretty large pieces. Then, it is rolled out and folded several times to create lots of flaky layers. As a bonus, you can add shredded cheese to the dough before you fold it so that lots of cheesy yumminess is baked right into all those incredible layers. The folds themselves are simple: just roll out the dough into a square, then fold into thirds (a bit like folding a standard piece of paper to fit in a business envelope).
Keys to Success: It’s especially important not to over-mix the dough here, because it will get worked quite a bit while you perform the folds. Overworked dough = tough crackers!
This cracker takes a page from the technique of making biscotti. The dough is formed into a log on a baking sheet and baked fully. The log is cooled, then sliced into thin pieces, then baked again until the pieces are dry and very crisp. You can make these in a variety of different sizes by changing the length and width of the initial log. Wider logs will eventually lead to long, skinny crackers, while thinner logs will lead to shorter, fatter ones.
Keys to Success: Don’t under-bake these crackers at any stage. It’s important to bake the log until it’s fully baked, or it may be difficult to slice later. Under-baking the sliced crackers could mean they won’t be nice and crisp.
I love the simplicity of these crackers, which are made with yeast, but I swear are easy-peasy (and not at all scary). After a brief mixing and a set-it-and-forget-it-rise time, the dough is rolled out into one piece the size of a baking sheet. This makes it perfect for finishing with a variety of tasty toppings with even coverage. The baked giant cracker eventually is broken into randomly sized pieces that are ideal for dipping.
Keys to Success: It can feel intimidating to handle a piece of dough as big as a baking sheet. Use the rolling pin to help you easily transfer it to the tray: roll the dough up onto the rolling pin (wrapping it around the pin), and gently unfurl the dough onto the back of the prepared baking sheet. Trim any excess pieces hanging over the sides of the baking sheet away using scissors.
These are the easiest crackers to make because they require only a few ingredients, plus they don’t need to be rolled out and cut (which can be the most time consuming part of many cracker recipes). They’re shaped into a log inside parchment paper and chilled, then sliced (like icebox cookies)! The result are wonderfully sandy crackers that are tender in the center and lightly crisp around the edges.
Keys to Success: Focus on making the log nice and even to get the prettiest, roundest cookies. You can moisten your hands slightly to help at first, then use the parchment paper you’re wrapping the log in to help you even it out.
I like to make these crackers as party snacks because they’re easy to serve + easy for guests to eat. Instead of providing toppings on a tray alongside the crackers, I put the toppings on before baking. For a savory take, I opt for cheese and shallots, but I also love the combination of cheese with a few pieces of sliced or smashed seasonal fruit + a drizzle of honey.
Keys to Success: Toppings that are higher in moisture (such as softer cheeses or especially juicy fruit) might require a slightly longer baking time to ensure the cracker is crisp. If you under-bake the crackers, they may be prone to softening as they sit.
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!
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