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Homemade Saltines

February 1, 2010

For me, the Super Bowl is synonymous with parties and commercials.  I don’t really care about the football part of it.  And a Super Bowl party would not be a party without loads of good party food: mini hotdogs, cheese, crackers, sausage, veggies and dip, chips and dip, etc.  

All that stuff sounds good, if not a little plain.  Take cheese and crackers, for instance.  Meh.  However, cheese and homemade crackers?  That’s a horse of a different color.

Homemade crackers are, as it turns out, absurdly easy to make.  Plus, and I don’t know why, but if you tell people you made your own crackers, they will be absolutely floored.  I guess it’s because why would you want to make your own crackers when there are so many great crackers out there to buy?  It’s for the same reason you’d make homemade oreos: anything homemade is ten times better than what you can buy in a store. 

If you put in the minimal effort necessary to make crackers and you buy some plain cheese, no one will even notice that you didn’t get the good cheese because they will be obsessing over your crackers.  Really.  All you need are some cheddar and swiss and you are golden.  Golden, I tell you.

Check back throughout the week for more Super Bowl party-worthy treats and recipes!

Homemade Saltines

(Adapted from Gourmet, 2007)

  • Olive oil for brushing pan and dough
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup very cold water
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Brush 2 large baking sheets generously with oil.

Toast 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper in a dry small skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat, shaking skillet occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Cool pepper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon table salt in a bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Add shortening and blend into flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingertips (or pulse in processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size lumps. Drizzle evenly with 1/2 cup ice water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated, then test again.

Divide dough into 2 portions and flatten each into a 3-inch square.

Roll out each square on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 20- by 8-inch rectangle. Trim edges and sprinkle each sheet with teaspoon toasted pepper. Run rolling pin lightly over dough to embed pepper in pastry. Brush each sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.

Cut sheets crosswise with a small sharp knife into 1-inch-wide strips (straight or wavy). Arrange strips evenly spaced in 1 layer on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, 16 to 20 minutes total. Transfer to racks to cool.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2010 12:35 pm


    Really, really enjoy your site, recipes and pix! let me ask you a question or two about your muffins: were they baked in a cast iron pan? did you butter the cups? last summer we picked a lot of blueberries, both domestic and wild, and it will be fun to try these.

    FYI, the last 13 months I’ve been working on bread baking, both using the Tassajara and that no-knead dough recipe. the latter is quite versatile; the former has taken some work but after a few months my loaves began to turn out as the touch came back after a 30-year hiatus.

    Hope your travels go well!


  2. Kirsten permalink
    February 5, 2010 6:03 pm

    I have survived off of saltines and rice for the past week and I thought I would never want to eat more of either after feeling better, but I must say that these look GOOD!!! I’m definitely going to try this recipe!

    • February 6, 2010 2:44 pm

      Yeah, these are really good! The recipe called them “black pepper crackers” or something like that, but when I ate one I thought they tasted like saltines except better 🙂 Who knew homemade crackers were so easy to make?!?

  3. Brianne permalink
    February 17, 2010 11:02 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! I never thought that making crackers could be so easy. I even decided to get adventurous and made a batch that was 1/2 wheat flour 1/2 white flour. It was a little more rustic cracker than saltine but still tasty. I’m thoroughly enjoying reading your blog and can’t wait to try more of the recipes.

  4. March 6, 2010 9:59 pm

    I just made these tonight. I was on a quest for a cracker that could become part of a post I’m working on for homemade Handi Snacks. I’m not quite sure how it all got started. Anyway, these crackers are stupendous. I’ve still have a lot to learn about crackers, but based on the experiences I’ve had so far, this is a top-notch recipe. Thanks for posting it. I’m very very happy I don’t need to try any more saltine recipes. Eureka!

    • March 7, 2010 12:59 pm

      Yay! I so glad they turned out well and that you don’t need to try more cracker recipes!! I had no idea crackers were so easy to make until I tried this recipe. I read a recipe for what are essentially homemade cheez-its that I might try next!

      • March 22, 2010 12:50 pm

        There’s a recipe for homemade goldfish type crackers over at The Kitchn (I think or Serious Eats). Looks reallly good.

  5. Conseis permalink
    October 3, 2011 4:13 pm

    Just made them and I am SO impressed. I have been trying to get away from boxed things as much as possible, and this recipe is great. I did make a couple of changes though. I did not use pepper, used whole wheat flour, dand I only used 3 tbsp of butter. They came out delicious! Thank you so much!!

  6. Frank permalink
    December 6, 2011 3:07 pm

    Can you use parchment paper instead of brushing the baking sheets with oil? Been also looking for cheddar saltines (used to be available in stores a long time ago) – how do you think adding cheese would work with these?

    • December 11, 2011 12:59 pm

      Hi! You could use parchment paper, but the oil on the baking sheets helps make the crackers extra-crispy. I think these would be great if you added cheese! The dough is really easy to handle and if you grate the cheese using the small-hole side of the grater, it should be fine. Let me know how it turns out, and thanks for checking out my blog!!

  7. March 30, 2012 6:14 pm

    I wanted to make saltines from scratch. I knew someone would post a recipe. Thank you internet! Thank you for posting this recipe. I will definitely try it!
    Greetings from north of the Arctic Circle.

  8. jenn permalink
    September 19, 2012 1:44 am

    I found this after trying homemade cheese its, those were just as easy and simple as your saltines sound… thanks


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