The best graham cracker crust comes from homemade Graham crackers. I realize that might seem a little…much…for some folks, but honestly, they aren’t hard to make, and if you’re just going to turn them into crumbs, you don’t even really have to bother rolling them out and cutting them.
I am telling you, if you are a cheesecake fan, a lemon meringue tart fan, or a no-bake pie fan, you will really be able to up your Graham crust game by making Graham crackers from scratch!
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Why Make Your Own Graham Crackers?
Mass produced food is convenient, but it isn’t always awesome and doesn’t always contain the highest quality ingredients.
For example, here’s the ingredient list for Nabisco’s Honey Maid Graham crackers:
- Unbleached Enriched Flour
- Graham Flour
- Soybean And/Or Canola Oil
- Leavening (Baking Soda And/Or Calcium Phosphate)
- Soy Lecithin
- Artificial Flavor
While there is nothing inherently awful about this ingredient list, there is no really good reason for the oils, lecithin (an emulsifier) or the artificial flavor.
When you make your own Graham crackers, you can leave out the lecithin altogether and use butter and real flavoring/s for Way Better Flavor than store-bought.
By the way, Honey Maid Graham Crackers have a 182-day shelf-life. Is that the kind of cookie you want to make a crust out of?
I think not.
How To Make Graham Crackers
Homemade Graham crackers are easy to make. And, once you’ve made them, save some for eating and then grind the rest up in the food processor to make the best Graham cracker crust you’ve ever had.
You can also freeze the crumbs for a good month or two so they’ll be ready the next time you need to whip up a Graham crust.
Here’s what you’ll need to make them:
- all purpose flour: You can most likely make these with all whole wheat flour. Using half all-purpose makes them a bit more refined in texture
- whole wheat flour: or Graham flour. The two are similar and are interchangeable for the purposes of making these cookies/crackers
- baking soda: reacts with the molasses in the brown sugar to provide just a little lift so they aren’t too crunchy or hard when baked
- cinnamon: for flavor. Switch things up and use pumpkin spice or apple pie spice if you’d like
- salt: brings out the flavor of the molasses, butter, and honey
- butter: provides the fat, so it assists in browning and in helping the cookies hold together. It also carries flavor.
- brown sugar: for sweetness, browning, and the acid to provide some lift. Use dark or light–it’s your preference.
- honey: provides a bit of extra sweetness and keeps the cookies from drying out. Most honey is on the acidic side, so it too will react with the baking soda to provide some lift.
- Whisk all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
- Cream the butter, brown sugar, and honey together until smooth.
- Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed.
- Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment until about 1/8″ thick.
- Refrigerate for about an hour to firm the dough up.
- Bake until done.
Once they’re ready to bake, you can either use a pizza wheel to cut them into crackers of whatever size you want or leave it as one big sheet to bake and crumble for crumbs.
If you do decide to cut them, to make them look like “authentic” Graham crackers, use the tines of a fork to pierce them all over to give them that classic look.
Once you bake your Grahams, go back over your score marks with the pizza cutter as soon as they come out of the oven. Let cool completely and then break them apart into crackers.
How to Make a Crust from Your Homemade Cookies
Whether you’re using store bought Grahams or you make your own, making your crackers into a Graham cracker crust is really easy.
- Measure out 1 1/2-2 cups Graham cracker crumbs.
- Pulse with 3-4 Tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt.
- Press into the bottom and up the sides (or not) of your pie pan or springform pan.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350F to set the crust.
Tips & Tricks for Success
There’s no need to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. We’re making cookies and not a cake, so they don’t need to rise high.
Just blend the butter and sugar together until they form a paste.
If you’re going to be making Graham crackers to use for crust, there is no real reason to cut them into individual cookies. You can just bake them as one large sheet and then crumble them when they cool.
If you are going to cut them into individual cookies, use a pizza wheel for this. You can measure them if you want, but I just zip the cutter back and forth to get reasonably uniform squares.
PRO TIP: There is no real need to add additional sugar to crumb crusts. The filling is usually sweet enough, and your crumb crusts will turn out crunchy yet easy to cut.
If making a crumb crust with a very sweet cookie, add some ground nuts to the crumbs to cut down on the sweetness and reduce the risk of your crust turning hard as a rock.
Q & A
Not as written, but they can be easily “veganized” by replacing the butter with Earth Balance sticks, coconut oil, or even vegetable oil. Replace the honey with vegan molasses or agave syrup.
In whole wheat flour, the entire wheat berry is ground together to make flour. In Graham flour, the three parts: germ, endosperm, and bran, are ground separately. The endosperm is ground finely just like white flour while the bran and germ are more coarsely ground. Then it’s all mixed back together. And yes, you can absolutely use regular whole wheat flour in place of Graham flour in these crackers.
The phenomenon of the hard as a rock Graham cracker crust has to do with the amount of sugar you add to your crumbs (and the amount of sugar that’s in the cookies you use to make the crumbs).
If you add a lot of sugar to your crust, especially if you prebake it, all that sugar will melt and then harden into a sheet of candy that you just can’t cut with the side of a fork.
I have a food processor, but I don’t always use it to make crumbs, so do what I do. Put your cookies in a heavy duty zip top bag and bash them into crumbs with a rolling pin. You probably won’t get it all crushed to dust, but it’ll do the job, and you’ll also be able to take out some of your frustrations on the cookies!
Of course, cheesecake comes to mind first. You can make a classic New York cheesecake or consider making a butterscotch cheesecake or maybe a chocolate cheesecake.
Just because the recipe you’re following doesn’t call for a Graham cracker crust doesn’t mean you can’t make one.
Graham cracker crust is ridiculously tasty and there’s no reason you can’t use one to go with your favorite cheesecake or no-bake recipe.
If you have a lot of crumbs, you can use them to add crunch to ice cream like in my strawberry cheesecake ice cream or top any Sundae.
You could even make a “S’mores Sundae” with hot fudge sauce, marshmallow fluff, and Graham cracker crumbs!
If you have any questions about this or any other recipe or post on the site, there are a few ways to get in touch.
You can leave a comment on the post, and I’ll be back in touch within 24 hours.
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A Note About Measurements
This is the kitchen scale that I recommend for home cooks and bakers. Using a scale will help you be more accurate and consistent in your measurements.
It is lightweight, easy to store, accurate, and very easy to use.
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
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Homemade graham crackers are the best especially for graham cracker crusts. You can cut these with cutters, just bake them in a sheet, or you can slice them into thin rectangles and poke them with a fork to look like the boxed kind. No need to separate them before baking. You can break them apart when they're cool.
And you can and should use these to make the best ever Graham cracker pie crust too!
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat, (or Graham) flour
- 1 t . baking soda
- 1 t . cinnamon
- 1/2 t . salt, or to taste
- 8 oz . butter (2 sticks)
- 5 oz dark brown sugar, (you can use light, if that's what you have)
- 2 T . honey
- Thoroughly whisk together dry ingredients.
- Cream butter, brown sugar and honey until smooth. It doesn't need to be light and fluffy. Just smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough just comes together.
- Remove from mixer and roll out between two sheets of parchment to about 1/8" thickness.
- Chill this sheet of dough for an hour.
- Optional: Sprinkle your crackers with cinnamon sugar before baking, if you want.
- Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheet/s at 350 degrees, F, until golden and firm--the timing depends on if you've cut them apart or are baking them as one humongous cookie.
- Allow to cool completely, then break the cookies apart or just crumble them or whir them in a food processor to make crumbs.
Your cookies will last in a sealed container at room temperature for about a week. If they do start to soften, you can refresh them in a 350F for 2-3 minutes. Cookies will recrisp as they cool.
If you'd like, you can freeze the sheeted dough and save to bake some other time. Well wrapped, it will be fine for a month or even two.
To Make a Graham Cracker Crust
To make your Graham crust, take some graham crumbs (usually 1 1/2-2 cups is sufficient for a 9" crust) and mix them with 3-4 Tablespoons of butter and the optional ground nuts until it just holds together. Then, press it into the pie pan and bake at 350 degrees, F, for about 8-10 minutes to set the crust.
Try experimenting with adding different spices. They're your cookies, and wouldn't ginger Grahams be delicious? Or pumpkin spice?
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Nutrition InformationYield 36 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 83Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 14mgSodium 109mgCarbohydrates 9gFiber 0gSugar 5gProtein 1g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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Thanks for spending some time with me today. Enjoy the Grahams, take care, and have a lovely day.
What Others Are Saying...
I am really starting to hate you, Jim. (she says as she prints off the recipe and checks her parchment paper supply…)
There is NOTHING in this world more satisfying than graham crackers and peanut butter with a glass of ice cold milk.
I am going to definitely have to consume more liquids to make up for all this ridiculous drooling!
I am ashamed of myself. Truly. Now, grab a glass of water and start baking:)
I’m a new bakery owner, and I’m thankful for this post! I’ll be testing it out tomorrow for my pumpkin cheesecake crust! Thanks! xoxo – Taste of Love Bakery, LLC
I think it would be perfect for pumpkin cheesecake! Enjoy! 🙂
That’s great! (I just saw this comment–sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you) :/ So, what did you think, @d54c20300a345a2ed2c253025ffdce5b:disqus ? I hope it worked out for you! 🙂
Andrew Brown says
I’ll have to try this out. So far I haven’t been very impressed with most pie crust recipies I’ve found online that recommend simple store bought crackers ground up and pressed with butter. I kept looking for a more authentic bakery style crust for my pies. So here’s looking forward to trying out this recipe sometime soon!
I think you’ll be very pleased! The crackers alone are really flavorful and wonderful, so the crust just can’t help but be good! Enjoy, Andrew!
THANK YOU.. an actual home made crust from scratch.. agh.. every other one is made from graham crackers – I don’t think that is homemade.
Jennifer Field says
Haha! You’re welcome! If you love homemade all-the-things, you need to pick up a copy of Stella Parks’s Brave Tart cookbook. Packed with homemade everything, including graham crackers, sweetened condensed milk, Nutter Butter cookies and tons and tons more. Highly recommend!
I’m a total newbie to baking and this is the second Graham Cracker recipe I’ve tried. Rolling the dough between parchment paper was the hot tip that changed my baking life.
Jennifer Field says
Hooray! I hope you enjoy the crackers!
JOCELYN MAULDIN says
Seems like a lot of butter. Is that amount right?
Jennifer Field says
Yes, it’s the correct amount. This makes a fairly large batch of crackers though, so butter per cracker is really probably no more than about a teaspoon or so. You could absolutely give reducing the butter to 1 1/2 sticks a shot, and maybe adding just a touch more liquid. Take care.
is this ‘dough’ supposed to be crumbly? doesn’t seem to stay together well for rolling . I tried a little water and it was better but hopefully I didn’t ruin it
Jennifer Field says
Yes, it’s a bit of a stiff dough. I think you’ll be fine with the additional water you added since whole wheat flour doesn’t develop gluten like more refined flours do. I hope you enjoy the Graham crackers!