the cracker that just might do it

“What is the one food that will change people’s lives when they start making it at home?”

I’ve been getting this question a lot, and I still pause and stumble over it. I just don’t quite have a clean answer.

My best answer is butter. It’s quick, it works every time, and it will wow anyone in the house. And although you might not end up wanting to make all of your own butter (and I don’t!), it seems to be a good gateway food that gets people wanting to make other foods at home. Butter is an inspiration. And it’s butter. You can’t go wrong.

Beyond that, each person seems to have their own life-changing food they make at home. For some, bread is a revelation. Or maybe it’s condiments–the whisking of the mayonnaise changes it all. I’ve got a few of these: granola bars, yogurt, ricotta. And then there are crackers.

Crackers and cheese might be my favorite thing to eat, ever. I am that easy to please. I like Carr’s. I like stoned wheat thins. I even like ak-maks. Even more, I live in a house with six (that’s right, six!) other people, all passionate cracker lovers. I make crackers whenever I can, and they always bring on cheers. The only problem is that they’re gone too quickly, but that’s an occupational hazard of living in such a hungry and crowded house.

This is my most basic cracker recipe, and it’s a good platform for any sort of flavor combination you are craving. It’s a simple dough that you can make in a few minutes, and then you can cut it into any shape you like. Herbs, cracked pepper, fancy salts, and seeds are all very happy to join in here.

I use millet in these crackers because it gives them such a good crunch, and it adds a bit of nuttiness to the flavor. If you don’t have millet in the pantry, feel free to leave it out. Just add a bit more flour, or substitute with poppy or sesame seeds.

You’re getting the idea, right? You can do ANYTHING you want with these. There is a perfect cracker for everyone–you just have to make it.

This might be it. This might be the life changer. You never know what a Wednesday will bring, right?

I’m heading down to New York this morning (trying, in the midst of typing, to get my closet to spit out something that isn’t stained with olive oil.) If you happen to listen to Martha Stewart Radio, I’ll be on “Cooking Today” this afternoon at 3:30, doing my best to play it cool and not say “um” as I talk to Melissa Clark.  Tomorrow, I’m giving myself a good portion of the day to wander. I haven’t done this in a long time, but I’m determined to buy myself a fabulous lunch before making my way back home. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. And if I fail in my great lunch search, there are always crackers. I’m bringing them along, just in case.





  1. says

    I have only made crackers a few times, but I’d really like to add them to my regular making instead of buying list. I haven’t found a good basic cracker recipe yet, so I will be trying this one as soon as possible. Thanks!

  2. says

    I don’t know where Martha tapes her radio show, but if it’s all the way over on the west side of Chelsea like I think it might be, you’re in some decent eating territory. (There’s a Cafe Grumpy on W 20th between 7th and 8th, if you need a pre-interview coffee.) I suppose, though, that you could walk just about anywhere for lunch…like up to the Flatiron, to Eataly. (Or Madison Square Park, for Shake Shack.) Some of my favorite places to eat are in Brooklyn and the East Village, but I suspect you don’t want to go quite that far.

    Good luck today!

  3. says

    CONGRATS on the radio spot this afternoon- can’t wait to listen!!!!! If you are on the West Side, in Chelsea, I say stop in at Chelsea Market where you can get an amazing lunch, a shot of espresso, some chocolate… all under one foodie roof. I still love that place…..

  4. Michael Schneider says

    When one is in NYC, one can’t go wrong with classic deli, especially Katz’s, the 2nd Avenue Deli (which is no longer on Second Ave., but has two locations), or the unsung Sarge’s in Midtown.

  5. says

    i second chelsea market if you are on the west side. here’s the best place to eat lunch there IMO –

    one thing that is fun to do if you have time is to head over to litte india around 29th and lexington and stop at kalustyans, or better yet, the little indian shop next door that has the best spice. it’s the door just to the right of kalustyans and down the stairs.

    there are many great places to eat and see in nyc but i don’t know where you will be exactly! good luck and have fun today! :)

  6. says

    Lovely! I have only made crackers a few times at home–I think I may have to mend my ways soon. But really, I think the biggest homemade food life-changer for me has been homemade vegetable broth–so much less waste, and it’s so simple, and so good!

  7. Valerie says

    I’m a new reader and have really been enjoying your blog. I am seriously contemplating making crackers. Right now. It sounds much more fun than doing laundry. Who needs clean clothes when you have homemade crackers? I also love the fact that there is a Utah beer in your photo.

    Have a great trip and good luck!

  8. linda burton says

    Found you for the first time by catching the end of your segment on Cooking Today during my commute and couldn’t wait to get home and check out your site! Thank you so much for generously sharing recipes – enjoyed listening to you and am sure I’ll become a regular on your site for more of your stories!

  9. says

    I listened to your spot on the radio driving home today. I couldn’t wait to go online and check out your book. The cracker recipe is icing on the cake! Thanks for letting us in on your secrets.

  10. says

    Congrats on the radio interview – may you be um-less. :)

    These crackers look so good – I’d like to try them swapping in some whole grain flour. Have you experimented with that at all? Maybe spelt flour?

    • alana says

      Hi Marissa, The recipe here is a more naked and white flour version of the wheat cracker recipe in my book- so I know that whole great works great here! Spelt is especially good. Play around and just try to keep the ration of wet to dry the same- and let me know if you come up with any favorite combinations!

  11. says

    I’m sooo exited!!!! I ordered your bran new book yesterday but now I have to wait nearly a month for it to arrive…I guess I’ll have to nibble on some crackers while I’m waiting!
    How do you listen to the matha stewart radio? Do you have to suscribe somewhere? This may seem silly but I couldn’t figure it out…Anyway congradulations!

    • alana says

      A month! I guess it has a ways to travel…
      And unfortunately, the Martha Spot was on sirius radio- I don’t think I’ll ever get to hear it either! If I find any link to the spot, I promise I’ll let you know.

  12. Hannah says

    Alana these look terrific. I am trying them right now with whole wheat flour, rosemary, raisins, and buttermilk instead of water. For anyone who knows the Trader Joe’s Rosemary Crisps, or the Rainforest brand Whole Foods carries – that is what I am after. I think these might be the ticket. Hm.

    For anyone who has the book already (get it if you don’t!) the cheese crackers are already on heavy rotation in our house … a kid favorite.

    For what it’s worth, I tend to like radio interviews where guests say “um” – it makes me think they are being genuine :)

  13. says

    you have to go to ‘Ino off of west 4th street and 6th ave-simple, delicious and amazing-a lil bit of a place and totally worth the trek and wait( sometimes there is a bit of a wait).Jim lahey rocks though and is a wonderful baker and person!oh, and thank-you for the advice for my blog- i went with wordpress!still learning all about it-but im excited!

  14. Emily says

    I heard you on the Martha Stewart radio today (all the way here in Canada) and you had intrigued me. I may be a regular on your site. I enjoyed the interview..good job!

  15. says

    Oh, where was this recipe when I was looking for something to give alongside jars of tomato jam? Marked and noted for next time!
    Huge thanks to Marissa (Food in Jars) for linking to you and reviewing your book! There’s always room for another on my shelf.

  16. Christie says

    I can’t wait to try your recipes! I just received your book in the mail! My kids have food allergies to soy and food dye, I can’t wait to make some of these snacks for them (like the crackers). I am also a cracker fan ! Thanks for all you do! The first recipe I plan on making this weekend is mozzarella cheese!

  17. says

    I just started making crackers to have some gluten-free versions that didn’t cost an arm and a leg – and they are super-simple and dead easy, as well as being very tasty. I’ve used millet to roll sugar cookies in and it gave an amazing crunch, but I haven’t added it to crackers yet. Now I have to make more crackers!

  18. says

    Do you think you could substitute amaranth for millet? I ‘ve got a whole jar of the amaranth but no millet, and I’ve put a moratorium on myself for buying more bulk goods till I have cabinet space!

    • alana says

      I haven’t tried amaranth in crackers, but I think it might work! I’ve got a little jar of it too- I’ll try it out in my next batch. Or if you get to it first, will you tell me how it goes?

  19. says

    My dear friend, I was ecstatic when I read about your book a few days ago! My life has been in a turmoil lately and so many things have flown over my head without catching my attention (the changes in my life are of the existential nature).
    I have missed you and cannot wait to reconnect:)
    As far as homemade goods, I don’t ever buy mayo, ricotta, sauerkraut, lard, stocks, or fruit preserves. I have made cheese crackers before and they were very popular with my girls. I have to try yours, millet and all (although poppy seeds sound intriguing:)
    I hope you have a great weekend!

    • alana says

      Hello, Lana! So glad to hear from you… sending love and warmth over these many miles. Hope all these existential crises are settling a bit, or on their way there, at least! xo,a

  20. JoAnn C. says

    Hi Alana,

    This is totally unrelated to the subject of crackers. We, mom and I, made ricotta and ricotta gnocci this week. And yes, I feel pretty good about making cheese. She was very excited to be back in the kitchen, though it took some toll, but she did it. After reading just some of your book to her, she decided we should make ketchup next. She’s 80 years old, with many health issues and recipes from scratch are so much better for her; me too. Thank you for making recipes easy enough for her to follow and actually be excited about. We think you’re terrific.


    • alana says

      I just love your comments JoAnn. Please let me know what you make next! (and send my regards to your mother, too.)

  21. Christina P. says

    Hi Alana! I found your book at Barnes and Noble tonight! I’m so happy that I did not have to order it. First on my to make list is butter, than granola, yogurt, ricotta and now crackers! I gave out homemade jams for Christmas last year and I hope to add crackers this year! Thank you for the wonderful book.

  22. says

    Oh, wow. Umbrella cookie cutters + himalayan sea salt = awesomeness. My friends are going to loooove this. Thank you very much. :) Btw, your book is awesome, too. I just got it last week and I’ve kind of been going nuts. I’m stocking my neighbors pantries, too, with your goodies.

  23. says

    Hi Alana, looking to get in touch with you to be a guest speaker at our 4 day show in March of 2013. Your information was provided to me by Margaret Roach. Springfest Garden Show is a wonderful show in Augusta NJ. Please contact me at the above e mail so we can discuss more. Hope to hear from you soon.

    Korey Lee, Springfest Volunteer

  24. says

    These are in my oven right this very minute (with dried, minced onion I have been looking to use up instead of millet) and my kitchen smells heavenly! Thanks for this recipe.

    What would you think of using flax?

      • says

        Hooray! I have ground flax in the pantry but have never tried millet….yet.

        The onion ones came out good but just a teensy bit more potent than I would have liked in the onion department. I think floated in tomato soup though they would be heavenly. I also think they would make fantastic beer crackers.

        My two year old approved though and ate them with hummus.

  25. Valerie says

    Alana, If you (like me) think crumbly nubbly oatiness is close to godliness, your crackers, when made with 100% oat flour, are possibly even more divine. The idea of oats and olive oil prompted me to make this variation today for someone close to the hearts of everyone in our family who just had coronary surgery. My kids and I broke out the Valentine’s Day cookie cutters a little early, and the result exceeded all my hopes. Thank you for your endless gifts of inspiration.

  26. Angie Hughes says

    Is there any way these could be preserved? Could they be frozen or dry canned maybe? Love your site!

  27. Kristen says

    I just made these– I wanted to have cheese and crackers, and ran out of crackers, and this was the first recipe for plain crackers, the kind you use as vehicles for yummy toppings, that I could find. They are so easy to make, super delicious, and go so well with my Vermont Sharp Cheddar! :-)

    I loved the tip about using a pizza wheel to cut them. And instead of a rolling pin, I actually used my pasta maker to roll them out nice and thin!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>