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IF you are tired of paying $2-$5 for a tiny box of crackers then this is the article for you. I am going to tell you how to make crackers at home that are better tasting and have higher quality ingredients for a lower cost. Sound too good to be true? Consider the following.
A 3.5 ounce box of snack crackers means you are paying $12-$16 per lbs for something that is mostly flour and a little oil! That is what we pay for convenience! You could be eating a good steak or fancy seafood for what you are paying for that snack cracker. Gluten free crackers at home can also be done. Those on sodium restricted diets can more easily have a wider variety of cracker flavor options by making them at home.
Quality Of Ingredients
I know a lot of you are trying to avoid GMOs. This can be hard to do especially when it comes to mass produced convenience food like crackers. More and more companies are getting on board with changing their recipes ingredients to non GMO.
Triscuit for examples has went this route. People are creating change by hitting the big food manufacturers in the pocket book. If they want a slice of the market then they have to offer what customers are demanding and finding elsewhere in some cases.
Ingredients that you can mix and match: cheese powder, cheese, Herbs de Provence, Dried Vegetables, broth powders, Italian Seasoning, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, etc.
- Mesh baking screens
- Dough Docker (Trust me that you should just buy a real dough docker. It saves so much time and works so well for flat breads and pizza!)
- Rolling pin
- Mat or something to roll crackers out on
Getting Them Thin and Crisp Enough Takes Practice
Crackers are quite thin and rolling them out to this thinness can be a challenge. You want them to dry out quickly in the oven and crisp up evenly. Too thick a cracker can result in something that is hard to eat and closer to hardtack then just an everyday snack. You can use a tortilla press to get them thin.
A rolling pin is what I use and have on hand. I have read of others having success using a pasta maker. I want to try a pasta maker for this sometime because the idea of an even sheet of dough that easily makes it sound more feasible to make consistent crackers. If you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer that takes attachments then you can get the pasta maker attachment and be in business.
Better quality ingredients make a big difference
Unless you are paying a lot, it can be hard to find crackers with good oils in them. Sorry but Canola, Soy, and Vegetable oils are all GMO crops that are usually heavily sprayed. Olive oil and coconut oil are better oils for your health but they are cost prohibitive to food manufacturers trying to make as much as possible.
When it comes to flour, organic flour looks a lot more affordable when you see that you are paying $12-$16 a pound for standard commercial flours baked into a cracker. Event the most expensive organic flour in the local grocery store where I live is $1.20 per lb when not on sale.
Cracker Recipes Are Plentiful
Basic crackers really are just flour, salt, oil, and water. The type of flour you use is the first single biggest factor in what the crackers are going to taste like followed up by spices and ultimately the oil. Some oil is simply more flavorful than others.
Olive oil has a distinctive flavor from Canola or other commercially available vegetable oils. Spices and additives are the magic though. You can make crackers that offer you all the cheese flavor that you are used to in a Cheez it if you want to.
Parmesan is great for crackers because it adds crispiness and flavor all at the same time. Drier cheeses may mean that you have to adjust the level of water or oil so that your cracker dough is pliable and easy to roll out without crumbling and falling all over the place.
Dried Veggies can be added to make your own vegetable crackers. This with a little bit of Himalayan pink salt makes a delicious cracker.
Chicken In A Biscuit Crackers
These are a classic favorite and you can make your own by using chicken broth powder and a basic cracker recipe. You might never buy the name brand again after doing this and being able to customize the flavor to your liking.
Gluten Free Options
Gluten free crackers are available in a lot of stores but they can cost much more than regular crackers, even those of the gourmet variety. You can substitute gluten free baking flour mixes or use a favorite baking blend that you have used yourself. I have to admit there is a trick to cooking gluten free and some of you out there probably have the flour blends nailed! One thing I have gathered is that gluten free flour is much easier to roll if you put it between two pieces of parchment paper.
Gluten Free Flours To Consider
- Green Lentil
Links To Gluten Free Cracker Recipes
I wanted to be sure to include some links to gluten free cracker recipes that get good reviews. Remember that you can make some subsitutions to make these recipes meet your taste profile.
King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Cheese Crackers
If you used to love Cheez its but can’t eat them now due to gluten then this is the cracker for you.
The Pretty Bee Easy Gluten Free Crackers
This is a basic recipe that combines the goodness of sea salt, honey, and gluten free flour blends to make a delicious yet easy to bake cracker that satisfies.
Suggested Seasonings and Spices For Regular and Gluten Free Crackers
- Chicken Broth Powder
- Vegetable Broth Powder
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- Dried Veggie Blend
- Italian Seasoning
- Cheese Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Buttermilk Powder
- Poppy Seeds
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
Shelf Life and Oils
The type of oil you use can effect shelf life but if you are going to be eating these over a few weeks then you don’t need to worry. The most shelf stable crackers are going to be very crisp and only contain flour, water, salt, and a few spices.
The Common Method For Cracker Making
- Mix dough and roll out to 1/16 thickness
- Use a dough docker to create holes. This allows your crackers to get very crispy and cook evenly. Without them even though you are using flour with no yeast, your crackers can puff up a little
- Cut crackers to desired shape
- Bake at 350-400 F until golden brown. They will crisp up further as they cool.
The Baking Surface Debate
I have experimented with baking on a pizza stone, a cookie sheet, and wire mesh pizza screens and the results I liked best came from using the pizza screen. I do have to say that I did not use parchment paper on my cookie sheet as some people have recommended.
My biggest problem making crackers has been uneven browning. I think this is in part due to me not always getting the crackers rolled evenly. It also seemed like if I moved them around a bit during the last few minutes this helped. So the center crackers would be closer to the edge during those last few.
One thing I love about making crackers is that once you have a master dough recipe mixed up you can experiment with a lot of different flavors. Part of the fun in doing it yourself is creating something different and sometimes improving on a favorite recipe. Just make sure to take notes as you go so you can duplicate your favorites.
So let’s make some crackers! This is the base recipe I used and then did spice variations.
Basic Butter Cracker Recipe
- 1 1/4 cup white wheat flour
- 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup water
- 8 tbsp or 1/2 cup butter
Cube butter. If you have a food processor you can put it in that and grind it up. Add flours, salt. Add water slowly and knead for 5 minutes. Let rest for 5 and preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out, punch holes with docker, and place on your favorite cooking surface like a cookie sheet.
Spices of your choice can be added to dough. You can put Parmesan cheese on top or sprinkle with sea salt. Just remember a little goes a long way so don’t add so many things that your dough loses consistency. Your results will be edible but possibly too crumbly.
I divided my dough into 4 balls of equal size for rolling out the crackers and working in batches.
Crackers were rolled out on a floured surface and I used a dough docker to put holes in them and then they were cut with a standard pizza cutter.
Crackers were baked on a mesh pizza screen. This helps allow for a good crisp texture.
Italian Seasoning, Parmesan, Garlic Powder and Himalayan Sea Salt
This one was our favorite variation because it just had so much flavor and complexity. This with some cheese and olives and you could have a pretty tasty snack or light lunch but they are also just good by themselves.
Ready to eat crackers made with gourmet ingredients for pennies!
This is a good alternative to saltines but they are a bit richer in calories thanks to the addition of butter. This is a great way to make reduced sodium saltines as well for those of you on reduced salt diets.
Survival Rations AKA Hardtack
While hardtack is best known for its status as the ration of Civil War soldiers, the truth is that unleavened bread has been around a long time and been a survival staple. You can make your own hardtack by using the following recipe.
- 5 cups flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp salt
The amount of salt is up to you but remember that salt can be hard to come by in a survival situation so while you don’t want it unbearably salty, make sure you have enough. Doing hard work means you sweat out more salt than usual.
For added nutritional value add 9-12 tbsp of nutritional yeast. This adds some extra vitamins like adequate levels of folic acid.
Mix ingredients well and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Poke holes or use a dough docker. This is very important to do because it allows moisture to escape and dry out your hardtack so that it has an indefinite shelf life. Bake on a cookie sheet at 250 F until brown. You can bake at 400 F for 30 min or so if you place on middle rack and watch your hardtack to make sure it does not burn. You are basically just trying to get absolutely all the water out so that it keeps longer.
Seal hardtack in vacuum sealer bags with a moisture absorber. You can go a long time on this stuff if it has the nutritonal yeast added. In fact if you add in a Vitamin C supplement then you have a pretty complete ration. You can always seal up some drink mix that is high in vitamin C too because you are going to need a lot of water to make hardtack malleable enough to eat. It is still some of the cheapest survival rations you can make.
Keeping Regular Crackers Fresh
Crackers that have the least amount of moisture left in them last the longest. You can put crackers in a big jar and keep them fresh for quite a while. I think the fresher they are the better but you can definitely make them last a week.
I like the big jars that have rubber seals. They are often made in Italy and make great canisters. A moisture or oxygen absorber or two increases the length of time they will stay fresh.
Let’s share recipes and tips!
Do you have any favorite cracker recipes or tips? I would love to hear more gluten free options for those that are trying to avoid wheat.
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5 Responses to “How To Make Your Own Delicious Crackers at Home”
Hard tack – As you wrote flour, salt, water.
Add in water until you get a dough that is NOT sticky. Bake till hard.
Pre-Y2K I made a big batch. I put it in several 1 qt freezer bags on the shelf in the guest bedroom closet.
At 1, 2, and 4 weeks I tried a bite.
At monthly intervals I tried a bite
6 years later a friend of mine’s re-enactor grandson tried some and took a couple of the now 7 to 8 year old hardtack to an event. I wound up doing a cooking class for the guys and their wives.
A couple of years later that same friends grandson was in Afghanistan. I sent a couple of #10 cans of pilot bread, jars of peanut butter and jelly, AND per request a batch of hardtack. Somehow in that care package a couple of containers of bacon fat snuck in. The guys sent me a group picture thanking me for the package and especially for the hard tack.
It is a survival food.
I find the optimum balance between calories, weight, and cost to be the small can of SPAM. A high ranking political commissar under Stalin, Nikita Sergeyevich Krushchev said if he hadn’t had SPAM (lend lease from the US) he wouldn’t have been able to keep the Russian Army fed.
Lifeboat rations – buy several flavors – taste them. Not everyone likes the same flavor. It’d be best if you knew you like the ones you have.
I LOVE crackers and want to know how to make them (especially gluten-free 0nes) in case the SHTF, so this is a very timely article.
I’m a techno-dummy. What’s the best way to print this article for reference when SHTF?
I’ve been wanting to try making crackers. I like how you’ve explained it and al the different options. Thank you!
Flaxseed makes a decent low-carb cracker: 1 C. flaxseed, ground, 1/3 C. Parmesan cheese, 1.5 teasspoons garlic powder, half teaspoon salt, half cup water. Spoon onto parchment paper on a baking sheet and roll out as thin as possible. (I use wax or parchment paper to prevent sticking to the rolling pin.) Bake at 400F until dried in center and crispy (15-18 minutes). When cooled just break into pieces. The entire recipe has about 3 net carbs. Maybe not a real cracker because there’s no oil, but they’re good and good for you. I would credit the recipe but I found it online years ago and can’t remember where.