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 a question/questions about this or any other post, whether recipe or technique, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m happy to help.
You can leave a comment on the post, and I will respond within 24 hours. If you need an answer more urgently, please email me, and I will respond within about 4 hours (unless I’m sleeping) and often much more quickly than that.
Either way, I will answer as completely as I can. That’s why I’m here!
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
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- 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.