Christmas Crack Recipe

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!

If I had to pick just one Christmas candy to make every year, it would have to be Christmas Crack. It’s lightning fast to make, uses simple ingredients, and most of all, it hits all the right notes, no matter who you are.

This saltine toffee candy delights chocolate lovers, caramel aficionados, and salty/crunchy fans alike. My recipe is endlessly adaptable when it comes to toppings, too. You can make a dozen batches a dozen different ways, all in a single afternoon.

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!
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Best of all, this Christmas cookie/candy is so fast to make, perfect for last minute hostess gifts, pot lucks, or the Secret Santa present you forgot to order online.

Oh, and get ready to share the recipe—this is the best Christmas Crack recipe around.

Need Christmas Crack for a last minute cookie exchange? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

What is Christmas Crack?

Part brittle, part cookie, part English toffee, all fabulous; Christmas Crack is some seriously delicious stuff.

Here’s the secret: ordinary saltine crackers are covered in a molten, brown sugar and butter sauce and baked until caramelized and crisp in the oven. The caramel sauce transforms the crackers into some sort of other-worldly pastry—really!

Then everything is slathered in melted chocolate, topped with chopped nuts, and cut into pieces.

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!

How do you make Christmas Crack?

If you’ve never made this recipe before, get ready for some magic!

To make things simple, I use a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly roll pan  and a candy thermometer I bought just for making Christmas Crack.

You don’t absolutely need one, but it helps get the caramel sauce at the right stage.

To get ready, line the pan with parchment, foil, or a silicone baking mat, for easy removal. Next, arrange the crackers in a single layer in the pan.

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!

Then melt the butter and brown sugar together in a small saucepan. This gets brought to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes; watch for the mixture to darken.

In case you have one, at this stage, a candy thermometer should read 270-290 degrees.

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!

Carefully pour the butter and sugar mixture over the crackers and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake at 300 degrees for 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 300-310 degrees, the hard-crack stage of caramel.

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!

Melted chocolate comes next. Melt the chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave, using 30-second increments and stirring in between each cook time. Then spread the chocolate over the hot cracker caramel mixture.

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!

If you’re a purist, you can stop there.

But if you feel like jazzing it up, that melted chocolate will take whatever you have: crushed OREOs, chopped nuts, you name it. Press the pieces into the chocolate using the flat side of a spatula.

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!

The crackers will form a single sheet once cool. Then you can cut into squares or break into jagged pieces by hand while still warm. I make nice even squares with a heavy-duty chef’s knife.

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!

How long will Christmas Crack last?

Under normal conditions, Christmas Crack should keep well in an airtight tin or container for about a week. Or if you're in the Midwest, do you ever do that thing where you store your Christmas treats outside on the patio or in your garage? Christmas Crack will be good in those sub-zero conditions for a few weeks at least.

Of course, you’re a stronger person than I am if you still have any left after a couple days. It’s called Christmas Crack for a reason!

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!

Christmas Crack Variations:

Not only is this the easiest Christmas Crack recipe, it’s also the most versatile. Here are just some of the ways you can make this addictive candy even more craveable.

  • Christmas Crack with graham crackers: Make a batch of Christmas crack with graham crackers, and you just may convert all your s’mores loving friends.
  • Christmas Crack with Ritz crackers: Buttery Ritz crackers take Christmas crack up a notch or two. Or try my Ritz Cracker Cookies, an even easier cookie to make, especially if you like peanut butter!
  • Christmas Crack with white chocolate: Melt your favorite brand of white chocolate and top it with crushed candy canes…hello!

What you might know as saltine cracker toffee, I lovingly call Christmas Crack: it’s sweet, crispy, a little salty, and absolutely everyone who tries it wants more, more, and more. If you’re looking for a quick Christmas dessert, let’s get cracking!

Christmas Crack Toppings:

I love chopped walnuts or pecans, but don’t let me stop you from going wild with your favorite chopped candy or cookie.

  • M&Ms
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Oreos
  • Butterfinger
  • Andes candies
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Pretzels
  • FANCY French sea salt
Christmas crack on a white plate.

Christmas Crack

You can make Christmas Crack with saltine crackers, club crackers, or even graham crackers (they are all good!). For best results, use a candy thermometer while making the caramel topping. To melt the chocolate chips, you can melt them separately in the microwave and drizzle over the top. Or, just sprinkle them on top of the hardened candy and pop it back in the oven until melted, then spread with a spatula.
5 from 68 votes
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 325kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 35-40 saltine crackers or club crackers or graham crackers
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups toppings as desired such as pecans, walnuts, crushed OREO cookies, pretzels, toffee bits, M&Ms, or drizzles of other melted chocolate

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 15” x 10” x 1” pan with parchment paper, foil, or a silicone mat. Line up crackers in a single layer in rows on prepared sheet.
  • Meanwhile, using a candy thermometer, melt butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 to 3 minutes (270 to 290 degrees if using a candy thermometer). Immediately pour over crackers and spread evenly with a spatula.
  • Bake 5 minutes or until the candy hardens (300 to 310 degrees if using a candy thermometer). Remove from oven.
  • Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30-second increments at 50% power until melted. Spread over hardened caramel. (You can also sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hardened candy, pop it back in the oven until melted, and spread after that).
  • Sprinkle nuts or other toppings and press into the chocolate using a greased spatula. Cut into squares while warm. Cool completely for at least 15 minutes and store in the refrigerator.

Video

Notes

Because of reader feedback, I've been able to improve this recipe by suggesting the use of a candy thermometer (thanks Valerie!). I hadn't used one previously, but there are enough variables here that things can go wrong.
Getting the caramel just right. Because everyone's oven is a little different, you may have to bake a little longer, or adjust the oven up a bit to get the caramel to get to the hard-crack stage. I bought a candy thermometer JUST for making this recipe!
How long does it last? Depending on the season and the humidity, Christmas Crack should keep well in an airtight tin or container for about a week. Or if you're in the Midwest, do you ever do that thing where you store your Christmas treats outside on the patio or in your garage? Christmas Crack will be good in those sub-zero conditions for a few weeks at least.
All that is assuming that the saltine toffee exists in a vacuum without a human being in sight. Once a person finds out where it is in the house, all bets are off. It lasts only as long as no one knows you have it. It’s called Christmas Crack for a reason!
Skip a step. Many readers melt the chocolate chips right on the caramel soaked saltines. This saves them from having to wash a bowl. Super smart! Let the chocolate sit for a minute or two, then spread the chocolate out.
Use graham crackers instead of saltines. People love it!
Let cool to the touch, then remove the foil/parchment paper. Sometimes the candy can stick to the foil or paper, so try to let the candy cool enough so that you can handle it, then take it off the foil.
Toppings: 
I love chopped walnuts or pecans, but don’t let me stop you from going wild with your favorite chopped candy or cookie.
  • M&Ms
  • Slivered almonds
  • Crushed candy canes
  • Toffee bits
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Oreos
  • Butterfinger
  • Andes candies
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Pretzels
  • FANCY sea salt (Maldon, Jacobsen, fleur de sel)
 

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcal
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!

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  1. Cynthia

    Delicious! I have a friend who has made this for years. I made my first batch this past Christmas. Megan gave lots of helpful information with her extra tips. Here are mine….
    Use extra large, heavy foil and spray it with baking oil spray.
    The candy thermometer tip she added was soooo helpful. After pouring the caramel mixture over the crackers, I cooked mine in the oven at 375 for 5 minutes. It was bubbly. I used MINI semi sweet chocolate chips. I used her sprinkle right on the hot caramel crackers idea, let them melt for a few minutes and then spread it. After adding the pecans, I let it cool a bit and then put the pan of candy in the freezer for 20 minutes.5 stars

  2. Mary Lawrence

    Had trouble melting the chocolate chips in the microwave but was successful with the double boiler. Turned out great. Also used Graham crackers instead of the saltine crackers. More flavor!!5 stars

  3. Julia

    I made this recipe on pretzel crisps w white chocolate chips. Put heath toffee bits on top..it was a hit 😁love this recipe thank you for sharing.5 stars

  4. Ash

    Is there any way to make it with the “Carmel” part softer? I’ve never tried this but I have people who can’t but into that part of it’s like brittle.

    1. Tammy

      Mine didn’t turn as hard as brittle. I cooked it to the time specifications but it probably didn’t hit the right heat marks. So yes, it can be done. They taste great, just more of a Carmel roll Carmel texture than a brittle.

  5. Michelle D

    LOVE these. Made this just the way the recipe reads with a few ‘tweaks’.
    I use foil WITHOUT any non-stick spray. They do not stick. The trick is to remove them from the pan/foil before they cool. Yes, they are still messy to handle at that point, but they ‘set’ as they cool. I don’t use the refrigerator at all. They are always eaten within a few days in my house.
    I cook the butter/sugar mixture 2 to 3 minutes after it begins to boil (cooking on medium burner temp). You need to mix it quite a bit as you melt the mixture or it can burn.
    300*F has always worked for me. At the 5 minute mark, my butter/sugar mixture is always bubbling. The cracker mixture is very hot when coming out of the oven and is hot enough to melt the semi-sweet chocolate morsels, why make more work or dirty dishes than you need to? Just sprinkle them on top of the cracker mixture immediately after you remove them from the oven. Spread them as they melt.
    I sprinkle crushed almonds on top right after you finish spreading the chocolate, they stick to the top better that way. Almost any topping works.
    Again, I remove them from the foil after a few minutes of cooling on the counter and place on a dinner plate to ‘set’.
    No candy thermometer, no non-stick cooking spray and no pre-melting of chocolate needed.
    They taste pretty good when warm too!
    * NOTES: I cook the butter/sugar mixture on a medium burner setting. I cook with an electric stove and place the foil on a cookie sheet (the edges of the pan are short and cook better). The cookie sheet is placed on the middle rack in the oven.5 stars

  6. Jen

    Use non stick tinfoil for those that get stuck with paper. Didnt have any issues with that. Great recipe!5 stars

  7. Chris

    It’s easier to just sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, and then put tray back in the oven for a few min, they melt into a flat layer. Huge time saver!5 stars

  8. Shannon

    The parchment paper stuck to the crackers. What did I do wrong? From reading other comments, I’m guessing I didn’t get the oven hot enough for the caramel to harden. Please advise, I want to try to make another batch.

    1. meggan

      Hi Shannon, you could try a hotter oven. Honestly you shouldn’t have to, and you might burn it if you do, but I am totally baffled by all the mixed experiences with this recipe. Some people have great success and love it, and some people have trouble. And I don’t know how to help! You shouldn’t need a hotter oven, and I don’t know how ANYTHING could stick to parchment, but I’m not there in the kitchen with you. So you could try a hotter oven, I just don’t know what will happen. But other people have luck with that. I’m so sorry about that! Good luck and Merry Christmas. -Meggan

  9. Sam

    I just made this and i love how they came out ! The only question i have is after cooling them in the fridge for about an hour it’s hard to get the parchment paper off the bottom. Am i doing something wrong ??

    1. Chelsea Shaw

      I cool enough personally to touch then remove parchment/tinfoil then refidgerage

  10. Jennifer

    How will it get hotter in the oven than the oven temperature?

    1. Mindy

      It doesn’t. The oven needs to be hotter.

  11. Taylor

    Loved it!
    Made it for my work colleagues as an end of year treat/gift and they loved it! Will be making these more often. Topped mine with dark chocolate, pretzels and roasted almonds :) amaaaaazing!5 stars

  12. Susan Young

    You can make this even easier by not melting the chocolate chips first. I sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crackers when they come out of the oven, wait one minute and then spread them with a spatula because they melt from the heat of the crackers!5 stars

  13. Putting the crack cookies in the fridge will it make the crackers soggy?

    Putting the crack cookies in the fridge will it make the crackers soggy?

    1. Janet Bozzone

      No, it doesn’t, but keep them in a sealed container. They rarely last long enough to be worried about storage. :-)

    2. Clisty

      We store ours in the freezer, keeps things nice a firm and that’s within minutes if you’re not into eating them straight from the freezer. I don’t think keeping them in the fridge will make them soggy.

  14. Dina Johnson

    Thisrecipe is terrific and easy. Thank you.5 stars

  15. Regina Wozniak

    Hi, should it be hard already when you remove it from the oven or does it harden as it cools? — just checking, as I’m not using a thermometer.

    Thanks for this recipe, hoping it turns out.

  16. Pam

    This is always a huge hit. I am going to try the different toppings. Everyone is always so surprised when they learn the simple ingredients. Thanks5 stars

  17. Kelly Wardell

    Oh my gosh!!! I have tried perfecting these for YEARS and with your recipe they FINALLY turned out!! All the other recipes I have tried just have never turned out. Usually the toffee part doesn’t harden, and it’s just a soggy mess. I finally got that “crack” texture! I followed the recipe exactly, didn’t use a candy thermometer…turned out perfect!!! I am finally confident in sharing these with friends and family!! Thank you!5 stars

  18. Becky Webb

    I think the oven temp is wrong on here. I suspect it’s supposed to be 400. I did the 300 for 5 min and it wasn’t bubbly at all, so I checked another recipe and they said 400 which made more sense to me anyway.

    1. meggan

      Hi Becky, the oven temp isn’t wrong. The idea is to get it to the “crack” candy stage which is between 300 and 310 degrees. But, if 400 degrees worked for you, that’s really all that matters! I’m sorry 300 didn’t work. Thanks. -Meggan

  19. Johanna Polli

    Hi
    Made the recipe today and loved it.
    However there is quite a big difference between 270 and 290. I cooked it to 270 then put it in the oven for 5 minutes and couldn’t get it anywhere near hardened or 300-310 on the candy thermometer. I did leave it in the oven for about 15 minutes and got a good crunch on the caramel layer but would love if you could give me some further pointers
    Thanks5 stars

  20. Theresa S Brown

    Made this for the first time. It came out okay, except the Carmel came out a little burnt , I used a candy thermometer but was kinda scared to reach the temperature you said. It was looking super dark already, so I just used it like that!! Any suggestions? Thanks5 stars

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