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. Cheri m

    Love this,stuff, but I make it a little different. Not a chocolate fan so I omit it and also use club crackers5 stars

    1. Brenda

      seen it done with graham crackers also5 stars

    2. meggan

      Great idea!! I use club crackers in my Homemade Twix bars. They are so versatile. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Liz

    Can you use margarine instead of butter??5 stars

    1. Brenda J Smith

      Margarine does not work the same as butter in this recipe, And you don’t have to melt the chocolate separately… when you pull the crackers with the brown sugar and butter out of the oven you can sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and wait just a couple of minutes then spread them out with a spatula. much easier.5 stars

    2. meggan

      Hi Brenda, that is how I have always made this myself and that’s how the recipe was up until recently. BUT, so many people have had issues with their chocolate seizing, I changed the recipe to melt the chocolate chips separately. More work, yes, but hopefully fewer failures. :-/

    3. meggan

      Hi Liz! I have no idea. Does it melt the same as butter? Have you successfully made other candies with margarine? If so then I think it would probably work, I just don’t have any experience with margarine to know. Thanks for your question!

  3. sPeggy. From. Mississippi

    Can you use crocks instead of butter?5 stars

    1. meggan

      I have no idea! I have never used that, does it melt the same as butter? It’s definitely worth a try but I just don’t know.

  4. elaine

    hi, i made this today, everything was fine, till i put the chocolate chips on, i put them on and returned to the oven for 2 minutes, and went to spread them, and they wouldn’t spread, they were cores, grainy. took them out of the oven and turned it off and returned them to the oven for another 3 minutes, still wouldn’t spread, so i turned the oven back on and put them in for 6 addition minutes, no spread, just grainy, and broken , i wonder if the chips i used were bad, or what, but i wonder if i melt the chips on the stove next time would that help.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Elaine, did you have the oven on at 300 degrees for baking the candy and then shut it off? Once the chocolate is coarse and grainy, you usually cannot ever spread it. It is usually the result of an oven that’s too hot, but if you had it at 300 degrees at first (and then turned off completely) you shouldn’t have had issues. However, some others have reported this (even though it hasn’t happened to me) so I may just change the recipe to melt the chips some other way. I am so sorry about that. It should still taste fine but yeah, once the chocolate “seizes” there is no spreading it. So sorry about that!

  5. Dottie Generaux

    My granddaughter makes this, and its to DIE for. I will try it this year. Note: years ago, back in the 1960’s, my dear friend Doreen made this and called it ”ALMOST ROCA”5 stars

  6. Bobbie Carbine

    Use parchment pape, not aluminum foil:)5 stars

  7. Jody Topping

    Amazing receipe. I left out peanuts and walnuts and used the crushed toffee bits. They were great. Also added about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt to chocolate chips for the sweet salty taste. 5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Jody, thanks so much for these ideas!! I love the sea salt to bring out the saltiness in the crackers and obviously toffee bits is the best idea, ever. :) Glad the recipe worked for you!

  8. Christine

    I made this last year and used m&m’s. This time I made it with pecans and added a red and green icing drizzle to it to add Christmas color. I’m going ro make another batch at Christmas and top it with pretzels and crushed candy canes!5 stars

    1. Lili

      I made it with the red and green chocolate chips.  It made it look quite festive and still tasted fantastic!5 stars

    2. meggan

      These variations all sound SO GOOD! So many things you can do to make this recipe even better. :) The red & green drizzle is so obvious but I never thought of it!

  9. Holly

    Just made  two batches of this. One was made on top of graham crackers had peanut butter and chocolate chip combination because that’s what I had on hand and then pretzels sprinkled over-the-top. The other had saltine crackers and for some reason  all the saltines floated to the top above the caramel after I took it out of the oven I hope that’s not gonna be a disaster! Those have heath bar pieces sprinkled on top. Hope that’s not too much ‘toffee’? Is there such a thing??  Anyway what could be bad it’s all going to taste good! I think from now on I’ll only use graham crackers, it  seems to make the whole experience a little bit more manageable .5 stars

  10. Valerie armijo

    How does it taste with saltine crackers compared to the gram crackers?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Honestly I think they taste “mostly” the same. The strongest flavors come from the hardened candy mixture and the chocolate. I’m pretty sure you could pour that over cardboard and it would taste good (I’m kidding). If you are person who “loves” the salty/sweet combo, I’d go with saltines. If you don’t care, if salty/sweet is “meh” to you, go with graham crackers like my mom. :) But the REAL question is – which cracker do you have in your cupboard? Or which one is cheaper? ;)

  11. ShyAnne Smith

    I am super exited to try your recipe for my Christmas party.5 stars

  12. Gitta

    Parchment paper :) nothing sticks5 stars

  13. Valerie

    5 minutes for the chocolate chips to soften, is too long. There is a sweet spot and overheating chocolate makes it grainy.

    Candy should always be prepared with a thermometer, otherwise you risk getting the wrong finished texture because it depends on how hot you are cooking it. (anywhere from soft, grainy praline to over-done toffee). It should be cooked until it reaches the soft-crack stage, just under 300°F. The time in the oven should take it over the edge to the hard crack stage, which is what toffee should be finished at.5 stars

    1. meggan

      I think you are right, Valerie. What works for me clearly isn’t working for the masses, so the only way to account for all the possible variations from ovens and extra seconds here and there is to use a thermometer. As for melting the chocolate, I’ve never had a problem with 5 minutes but other people are. I’ll have to retest and adjust my instructions. The beauty of this recipe was the idea that no thermometer was needed and that it would be fairly “easy” but I guess I was wrong on that! Thanks for your help on this.

  14. KAREN

    I make this all of the time! I love it. The one thing I do, in addition to nuts, is to sprinkle with powdered sugar.5 stars

  15. Janice

    I followed the directions,  it my chocolate chips didn’t melt…they crumbled to chocolate dust! What happened?

    1. Karen

      Tent the pan with foil, the chocolate will melt.5 stars

    2. Patti Northrup

      You may have over heated them5 stars

    3. meggan

      Hi Janice, I sent you an email to try to make things right. I’ve fixed the recipe including Valerie’s suggestions for using a candy thermometer, so hopefully others will have more success. Thanks for your feedback!

  16. Mary Hooker

    IMac I make this all the time my family loves that they beg me to make it I use different kinds of chips like caramel salted caramel and the chocolate together I use a large cookie sheet and it works great one sleeve of crackers plus a few more and I just break it in pieces instead of cutting5 stars

  17. Alison

    I am going to make these….. after reading the comments, I wonder about using parchment paper instead of foil to line the pan….. I will let you know how it works out. :) 5 stars

    1. Alison

      Oh, just noticed that the instructions include the option of using parchment paper! *blush*5 stars

    2. meggan

      Hey there’s a lot of rambling on the page (mine), no worries if you didn’t see it at first glance. :) I hope it works out for you and that you love it, Alison!! Thanks.

  18. Michael Liles

    I used small pretzel sticks, along with everything else. Amazing recipe. Crack is wack!!5 stars

    1. RYAN

      I used toffee bits. Turned out not to shabby5 stars

    2. meggan

      So glad to hear that Ryan!

    3. meggan

      Pretzel sticks!!! That’s perfect. I am going to have to add those next time, more salt is always better. :)

  19. michele

    These look so good and want to try them this year but I am the only one in my family that likes nuts in cookies. Can you top these with anything else? m&ms/coconut/crushed oreos?? Wondering if anyone else has left out the nuts?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Michele, yes, yes, and yes! M&M’s, coconut, OREOS! All great ideas. Use whatever you want. I think the nuts add crunch, but all these flavors sound amazing. Pretty sure I’m going to make the OREO one next. Thank you for your question!

  20. Tam

    I followed these directions exactly and the chocolate chips will not melt enough to spread.  Next time i will just melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and spread over the top.  Any idea why the chocolate chips wouldn’t melt??   I put the pan back in the oven several times and they just wouldn’t melt enough to spread.

    1. I’ve made this recipe a bunch of times in the past. You need to use high quality, newly purchased chocolate chips. If you use cheaper chocolate or chocolate chips that have been in the pantry for a while, it won’t spread. If that doesn’t work, I’m not sure.5 stars

    2. meggan

      Thanks for this, Sara! Very helpful.

    3. meggan

      Hi Tam, I sent you an email to try to make things right. I’ve fixed the recipe including Valerie’s suggestions for using a candy thermometer and lowering the oven temp so the chocolate doesn’t seize. Thanks for your feedback!

    4. Janice

      The same thing happened to mine. Wasted a lot of ingredients.

    5. meggan

      Hi Janice, I sent you an email to try to make things right. I’ve fixed the recipe including Valerie’s suggestions for using a candy thermometer, so hopefully others will have more success. Thanks for your feedback!

    6. meggan

      Hi Tam, that seems odd to me. Was the oven hot? I cannot image why chocolate chips would not melt if the oven was hot. I mean, eventually they would have to melt. Right? Did they ever take on that shiny look, appearing as if they have softened? It would definitely be easier to spread the melted chocolate if the chips were already distributed on top. Not sure what’s going on! Sorry about that.

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