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.
Best of all, this Christmas cookie/candy is ready in about 30 minutes, 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.
How do you make Christmas Crack?
If you’ve never made this recipe before, get ready for some magic!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
- Peanut butter cups
- Andes candies
- Chopped peanuts
- Toasted coconut flakes
- FANCY French sea salt
- 35-40 saltine crackers or graham crackers
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 ½ cups toppings as desired such as pecans walnuts, crushed OREO cookies, pretzels, toffee bits, M&Ms, or drizzles of other melted chocolate
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a 15” x 10” x 1” pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Line up crackers in a single layer in rows on foil.
- 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.
- Sprinkle nuts or other toppings and press into the chocolate using a greased spatula. Cut into squares while warm. Cool completely and store in the refrigerator.
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.
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