Have you ever tried making your own crackers? Your very own crispy, crunchy, seed-topped crackers? My recommendation: try it. Definitely. Crackers are surprisingly easy to make at home with just five basic ingredients, a rolling pin, and a baking sheet. Make yourself a quick batch tonight and have homemade crackers for lunches, snacks, and dinners all week long.
Homemade crackers strike me as one of those things that seem likely to be more effort than they'd be worth, especially since picking up a box of perfectly decent crackers at the grocery store is so easy. In reality, crackers are one of the easiest "homemade pantry" projects that you'll encounter. The dough is mixed in about a minute flat (no kneading! no yeast!). Add on rolling, cutting, and baking the crackers, and making an entire batch will still only take you about 45 minutes, tops. A half an hour once you've had some practice.
This recipe is pretty near fool-proof. I've made them with all white flour and with a 50/50 mix of white and whole wheat. I've tried them on their own and with a seed topping. I've accidentally under-baked them and made crackers with a crisp-chewy texture perfect for pairing with soup, and then I intentionally over-baked them to make super-crispy crackers on which I couldn't stop snacking.
Truthfully, crackers are so quick and easy that you can experiment to your heart's content and find the exact combination of cracker thickness, toppings, and baking time that you like.
P.S. If cheese crackers are your thing, take a look at the Additional Notes below. You're welcome.
To make homemade crackers, you'll need 3 cups flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 cup water, plus optional toppings.
How to Make Crackers at Home
Makes about 100 crackers
What You Need
3 cups all-purpose flour, or a mix of all-purpose and whole grain flours
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water
Optional topping: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, 1 teaspoon sea salt
Measuring cups and spoons
Sturdy spoon or spatula
Pizza cutter or sharp knife
Heat the oven to 450°F: Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 450°F. Sprinkle a baking sheet lightly with flour and set aside.
Mix together the dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
Add the oil and water: Add the oil and water to the flour mixture. Stir until a soft, sticky dough is formed. If a lot of loose flour remains in the bottom of the bowl and the surface of the dough, add more water a tablespoon at a time until all the flour is incorporated.
Divide and shape the dough into a square: Divide the dough into two halves and set one half aside. Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour and set the other half on top. Pat it into a thick square with your hands.
Roll out the dough: Working from the center of the dough out, roll the dough into a rectangle roughly 1/8-inch thick or thinner. If the dough starts to shrink back as you roll it, let it rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes and then continue rolling.
Sprinkle dough with topping (optional): Brush the surface of the dough very lightly with water. Combine the seeds in a small bowl and sprinkle half of them (roughly 1 1/2 tablespoons) evenly over the surface of the dough. See Additional Notes below for additional ideas for toppings and flavorings.
Cut the dough into cracker-sized rectangles: Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into individual crackers roughly 1-inch by 2-inches. Alternatively, cut the crackers into squares, diamonds, or use cookie cutters.
Transfer crackers to baking sheet and prick with fork: Transfer the crackers to the baking sheet using a metal dough scraper or spatula. It's fine to crowd the crackers very close to each other. Prick each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent them from puffing during baking.
Bake for 12-15 minutes: Bake the crackers in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are browned. Thinner crackers will bake more quickly than thicker ones; you can remove the crackers as they brown to your liking and continue baking the rest. While the first batch of crackers is baking, roll out and cut the remaining dough.
Cool and store the crackers: Transfer the baked crackers to a wire rack to cool completely. The crackers will crisp further as they cool. Store the crackers in an airtight container on the counter for 3-5 days. If you're crackers are a little old and less-than-crispy, lay them on a baking sheet and put them in a 350°F oven for a few minutes to re-crisp.
Other Ideas for Toppings: dried herbs, chili powder, za'atar seasoning, dukkah
Cheese Crackers: Add 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese to the flour mixture. Pulse in a food processor until the mixture resembles course cornmeal. Proceed with adding the oil and water as directed.
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(Image credits: Emma Christensen)