The Essential Ingredient That Holds Graham Cracker Crust Together

If you enjoy the classic pastime of pie-baking, then you've probably already worked your way through a variety of recipes. Maybe an old-fashioned pecan pie brimming with gooey nuts is your jam. Perhaps you prefer a decadent banana cream pie brimming with rich custard and fluffy whipped cream. How about a double-crusted Dutch apple pie laden with soft, spiced fruit? That's a solid choice too.

Whichever type of pie is best suited to your palate, we're willing to bet you've baked — and indulged in — varieties that have a graham cracker crust. From peanut butter pie to tart key lime pie, so many delectable versions get their flavor and texture, in part, from this sweet crunchy base. And, of course, there are scrumptious kinds of cheesecake, which is technically not cake, that also commonly feature this particular crust.

A great graham cracker crust is one that melds back together in the oven — becoming sort of like one big cookie again — thanks to an ingredient used to make it.

The key to a well-structured graham cracker crust

If you love pies, cheesecakes, or other desserts that are built atop a graham cracker crust, then you've no doubt noticed that this simple yet delicious base tastes — and crunches — much like a big graham cracker or gingersnap. It's also fairly sweet, owing to the fact that any given recipe for it usually calls for granulated sugar in addition to already-sweetened graham crackers.

When making a graham cracker crust, you might therefore be tempted to cut down on the amount of sugar you add or nix the ingredient altogether; after all, isn't the filling going to be sweet too? But you must resist this urge if you want to bake a successfully crispy and delicious crust, per King Arthur Baking. The sugar melts in the heat of the oven and then rehardens as the crust cools, holding the graham cracker crumbs together and creating a crunchy outcome that's easier and neater to cut.

This is why a no-bake graham cracker crust is more crumbly and doesn't hold together as well, as noted by Tastes Better from Scratch. So, for a perfect graham cracker crust, add all the sugar required in the recipe, and know that baking the base also helps to produce a flawless result.