This Winter Weekend Baking Project Will Keep You in Delicious Snacks All Season Long
With every grocery store and supermarket overflowing with options on their cracker aisles, why in the world would you want to make them at home? Answer: Because it's a cozy winter DIY project (easy enough to make with kids) and homemade crackers are delicious!
I began baking crackers as way to use up my sourdough discard, but once I started, I realized that there were all sorts of crackers to be made at home. I especially love to bake snacking crackers, since they tend to have more intense flavors than crackers designed for cheese. They are the perfect thing to bake in large batches in the winter to stash in the freezer for easy, last-minute entertaining snacks all year long.
How easy homemade crackers are to make
When it comes to making homemade crackers, you can create tons of varieties by switching up herbs, spices, cheeses, and shapes. I tend to make my crackers small in squares, diamonds, or quarter-sized rounds, so that I can serve them in bowls or create snack mixes with nuts and dried fruit. But you can make them any size and shape you like! Just adjust baking time if you make them smaller or larger than the recipe suggests.
And storing them is a piece of cake (or many pieces of cracker!): Once your crackers are cool, scoop 2 cups of them into zip top bags and pop them in the freezer. When it's party time just grab a bag when guests are arriving; by the time the cocktails are shaken, they are thawed and ready to munch.
My favorite cracker recipe to make at home
As I said, I began my DIY cracker life using up my sourdough discard, and this remains my favorite recipe. But read on for my top 10 recipes in addition—you're sure to find a favorite.
Sourdough Discard Cheese Crackers
2 cups sourdough starter discard at room temperature
½ cup salted butter melted and cooled, or olive oil
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup white all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to top
1 cup finely grated cheese*
Olive oil cooking spray
To prepare the dough:
1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl until well mixed.
2. Stir your starter discard to be sure it is smooth, then add butter and mix well to combine. Stir in the shredded cheese.
3. Add the dry mixture to the starter-butter-cheese mix and knead well to fully combine. You will get a very pliable dough, that is a bit like the texture of soft clay. You should not need extra flour to knead, as the fat in the dough will keep it from sticking. If it is warm in your kitchen and you find the dough too sticky, try putting it in your fridge for 20 minutes before rolling out.
To make the crackers:
1. Heat the oven to 350° and let the dough come back to room temp for 30 minutes if you've refrigerated it.
2. Roll 1/4 of the dough mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper as thin as you can—it should be about 1/8-1/16 of an inch thick. Cut the sheet of dough into crackers the size you like. If you want these for snacking crackers, then do small squares or strips, but if you want to use them for cheese or other toppings, make them larger. I use a pizza wheel cutter for this, but a sharp knife will do fine.
3. Slide the parchment onto your sheet pan. Spray the top of the crackers lightly with the cooking spray, and sprinkle very lightly with salt.
4. Bake the crackers for 15 minutes, swapping trays and turning them around halfway through. Then turn off the oven and let the trays stay for another 10-15 minutes, with the light on, watching them carefully to see that they don't burn. For optimal flavor and texture, you want them pretty golden brown, but not too dark. And you want them stiff and crispy.
5. Let cool completely on the trays on a rack. You can store these in an airtight container for a couple of weeks, or in a zip top bag in the freezer for three to six months.
*Pre-shredded cheese can be a time saver for many things, but this recipe isn't one of them. Pre-shredded cheese contains starches that are used to prevent it from clumping, which can inhibit melting and mixing. You want a cracker with good cheese flavor, but without being able to see the shreds of cheese in the cracker. It's worth the extra couple of minutes to shred by hand!
10 great cracker recipes to make at home
As promised, these are my favorite recipes to make: