17 Creative Ways To Use Saltines

Saltines are a must-have in every pantry. These crunchy squares are often called soda crackers; this name comes from the baking soda that was eventually added to give them their slight puffiness. Prior to 1876, the crackers were just made with flour and water. This simple ingredient list keeps them very low-key in terms of flavor, which makes them an excellent food to eat when you feel your stomach churning. 

But these humble crackers actually have more utility in your kitchen than you may think. They're not just for those with unhappy bellies — they're suited to all kinds of people, situations, and dishes. We've collected a list of our favorite ways to use these crackers, ranging from the sweet to savory. Saltines, as it turns out, make a game-changing addition to s'mores and crumb crusts and work well as a substitute for croutons on a salad or fried onions on a 1950s-style casserole. Ready to gain a whole new perspective on Saltines? Then let's dive in.

1. Use Saltines as a base for ice cream sandwiches

Ice cream sandwiches are delicious, but they can also be quite heavy and way too sweet. If you're looking for a lighter option for your post-dinner treat, try spreading ice cream between Saltines to make mini dessert sandwiches. There are many different options for how you can customize your dessert sandwich, based on your personal preferences and what flavors you have in your freezer. The saltiness of the cracker pairs remarkably well with the sweetness of the ice cream, and the crunchiness is always satisfying.

If you're looking for a richer dessert option, you can opt for a vanilla or chocolate ice cream. You can also try sorbet; Saltines works deliciously with its vibrant fruit flavors. Strawberry and mango sorbet are two superb options that are available in the frozen dessert aisle at most major grocery stores.

2. Transform your Saltines with butter and seasoning

Saltines are rather bland in flavor, but there are a ton of ways you can spice them up. This makes them even better for snacking, or as an accompaniment to dishes like soup. To turn your Saltines savory, coat them in melted butter and spices. You don't have to have a well-stocked spice cabinet to make this simple upgrade work; a pre-packaged seasoning mix, like ranch or Cajun seasoning, works fine. If you do want to make your own blend, though, Italian flavors work especially well. Adding cracked pepper, rosemary, and Parmesan cheese to the buttered crackers is a recipe for deliciousness.

Coat your crackers in butter on a baking sheet before adding your seasoning and baking for about 10 minutes, until crunchy. You should always use clarified butter or ghee in this recipe to bring down the smoke point of the dish. If you're abstaining from dairy products, however, you can substitute them with a good quality avocado or neutral olive oil.

3. Give your toffee a salty undertone

Although you might think toffee is a dessert you can only really get from a confectioner's shop, making it at home is easier than you'd think. And with a sleeve of Saltines, making great-tasting homemade toffee bark is downright easy. Saltines make the perfect base for a unique twist on sweet toffee because the crackers provide a subtle crunch and salty flavor. 

There are two ways that you can go about integrating Saltines into your toffee recipe. The first is to layer your crackers onto a baking sheet, cover them with old-fashioned toffee, and sprinkle nuts and chocolate on top. Alternatively, you can crush the crackers with the nuts and sprinkle it on the top of the candy before it cools. Besides snacking on these toffee crackers, you can also gift them to your loved ones during the holidays — provided there are any left. 

4. Swap Saltines for croutons on a salad

Every salad needs a little crunch. While adding a sprinkle of croutons might give your salad that irresistible bite, they're not optimal toppings for every bowl. And frankly, many croutons are just a little too big to bring the perfect balance of texture to every bite. 

Turn to Saltines instead for the perfect crouton substitute. But don't just crumble the crackers plain onto your bed of lettuce and dressing. Instead, pan-fry your crackers in a skillet with a splash of oil or melted butter. The dry crackers will absorb the oil and butter exceptionally well and turn extra crunchy. Once your crackers are perfectly cooked, you can pop them on a paper towel-lined sheet and coat them with seasoning. Taco seasoning is a great option for a taco salad; use these Saltines in lieu of tortilla chips. You can also pair your chicken Caesar salad with Parmesan-seasoned crackers. 

5. Use Saltines instead of graham crackers for your crumb crust

Cheesecakes and cream pies tend to focus solely on sweet flavors. This can leave your mouth overwhelmed with sugar and make it difficult to finish your slice. But adding a salty, balancing element to your pie can fix this problem. Enter Saltines.

The easiest way to incorporate Saltines into your pie recipe is to use them in your crumb crust instead of graham crackers or Oreo cookies. Not only will you get the occasional salt crystal, you'll find that the dry, crumbly texture of the crackers holds together exceptionally well in a crust. That means a clean slice every time. 

As with other homemade crumb crusts, you should pulse the crackers in your food processor until they form small yet still discernable pieces. Then, coat them with butter, add any additional seasonings like cocoa powder and cinnamon, and bake it in your oven until solid and crisp.

6. Thicken runny sauces

Everyone has experienced a thin sauce, whether it's a creamy pasta mixture or a dip. Most people's natural reaction is to add flour or cornstarch, but this isn't always ideal. Rather than turning to conventional thickeners, try experimenting with a sleeve of crackers. Saltines are the unexpected solution to runny sauces because they don't dilute the sauce's flavor. 

To use this thickener, pulse your crackers in a food processor until they have the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. The small particle size will allow the crumbs to dissolve in the sauce without making it too gunky. Since these crackers are made mostly of starch, they will thicken any liquid they come into contact with. Plus, since the crackers are already cooked, you won't have to worry about the health risks of eating raw flour in your ready-to-eat dips and sauces. 

7. Crumble Saltines up and add them to your cookies

We're always looking for creative ways to upgrade our cookies, from adding spicy gochujang for a bit of heat to using oatmeal to make the dough more sturdy. Why not add Saltines? The best thing about these cookies is that you can use store-bought cookie dough or your favorite homemade dough recipe — both work beautifully. 

Crush the crackers into small but not pulverized pieces and incorporate them into the dough when you add your other add-ins, like chocolate chips and nuts. If you don't have Saltines on hand, a box of Ritz or butter crackers make an excellent substitute. The only issue with this cookie recipe is that the crackers tend to get soggy on the next day. So, we recommend making these for a special occasion where you know they'll all be eaten up on the same day. 

8. Use Saltines as a binder for your meatballs

Everyone loves a batch of homemade meatballs with a Sunday night pasta dinner. These moist, meaty morsels can be customized with your favorite seasonings and broiled to perfection before being slathered in a thick tomato sauce. But these meatball-filled dreams can't be made into a reality if your meatballs are dry and fall apart. That's where your sleeve of Saltines comes in. Like breadcrumbs, Saltines absorb moisture and help keep your meatballs in one piece. 

To make this recipe at home, crush your Saltines into small pieces and mix them in a bowl with the ground beef and seasoning. If your meatballs still aren't sticking together, it may be because bigger issues are at play. You can make better homemade meatballs by adding extra moisture in the form of cream cheese, ricotta cheese, or applesauce. 

9. Crumble Saltines up for an elevated breading

Most people are familiar with using breadcrumbs to coat a succulent piece of fried chicken, fish, or pork chops. But the next time you're looking to make some of these homestyle favorites, grab a box of Saltines instead of your go-to panko. Saltines can't be beat for crunchiness, and their salt keeps them flavorful and adds a bit of textural interest.

You can crush your crackers in a bag with a rolling pin, or pull out your trusty food processor to do the work. As with all breaded meats, make sure to dredge whatever you're frying in an egg wash to ensure that the cracker pieces stick to the outside. We recommend going with coarse and fine cracker pieces to give every bite a little bit of crunch. You don't have to stick to a vat of oil and your iron skillet, either. You can cook your meal with an air-fryer for a low-oil and hands-off meal, or pop it on a sheet pan in the oven if you're cooking for a crowd.  

10. Make your mac and cheese extra crunchy

If you love the crunchiness of baked macaroni and cheese, you'll love adding a sprinkle of coarsely crumbled Saltines on top. Add your crackers (mixed with melted butter, of course) to the top of your unbaked mac and cheese just before you slide it into the oven. The butter will encourage the cracker pieces to stay crisp and impart a beautifully luxurious bite. 

Saltines play well with many of the flavors already in mac and cheese, including a diverse portfolio of cheeses. Sharp cheddar cheese is a standard yet flavorful option, while cream cheese can help make your dinner a bit richer. You can also incorporate some unconventional additions, like chopped bacon or even pulled pork, to give it a meaty spin. With a sleeve of Saltines handy, anything is possible.

11. Whip up bite-sized mini pizzas

Mini pizzas are the perfect food to indulge in when you're not feeling like ordering takeout for another night in a row, or just need a quick study snack to get you through the afternoon. If you don't have a bag of pizza dough handy or are looking for a significantly quicker way to get food in your belly, turn to your Saltines. The square shape of the cracker is just big enough to cover with sauce, cheese, and a very tiny piece or two of pepperoni, which makes for a flavorful two-bite snack. 

All you need to do for this recipe is top your Saltines with pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings before baking them in the oven for a few minutes. Since the crackers are already pretty crunchy, especially compared to raw pizza dough, you won't need much time in the oven. You can also opt to melt the cheese in the microwave, but you'll risk a soggy cracker. 

12. Keep your meatloaf extra moist

Meatloaf can either be a blessing or a curse. When it's coated in a flavorful ketchup glaze, which helps lock in moisture and leaves a residual sweet coating, it's great. But when it's dry as the desert and falls apart on your plate, you may have second thoughts about this timeless dish. 

Breadcrumbs are a key component of a good meatloaf recipe, but we recommend swapping them out for crushed Saltines. The crackers are excellent at binding your selection of meat together with eggs, herbs, and cooked veggies. The key to making them work for your dish is to first soak them in milk. It's actually an essential step whether you're using actual bread, breadcrumbs, or crackers; a quick soak adds much-needed moisture to your recipe. Once your crackers have adequately soaked in your milk (or stock, for a dairy-free version), mix them with the rest of your ingredients. 

13. Swap Saltines for bread in stuffing

No Thanksgiving would be complete without a big tray of stuffing. But before you rush to pick up a box of Stouffer's, grab your Saltines instead. Although these crackers won't have the same plushness as a batch of conventional stuffing, the many satisfying crunchy bits they bring to the table are worth it.

To make this stuffing at home, add your crushed crackers to a baking dish with your cooked aromatics, eggs, broth, and a dash of cream. You'll want to leave your crackers coarse so every bite is filled with diverse textures. Once all of your elements are mixed together, you can bake the tray and serve it with the rest of your Thanksgiving staples, from gravy to mashed potatoes. It makes an excellent side dish for turkey or ham and is also delicious reheated the next day. 

14. Use Saltines as the base for your s'mores

There's no better way to end a hot summer day than with a batch of s'mores by the campfire. But instead of reaching for your sleeve of graham crackers, grab some Saltines instead. These crackers will give you the perfect blend of salty and crunchy, which contrasts deliciously against the rest of your sweet, gooey fillings. While adding a marshmallow and chocolate pieces is a standard combo, you can also use a variety of ingredients to add more flavor to your dessert sandwich. We recommend using a peanut butter cup, especially one covered in dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, or swapping it out for a swath of caramel. 

If you're relegated to the indoors, you can also use your Saltines to make s'mores on a baking sheet. Lay your crackers down, cover them with marshmallows, and bake until melty and soft. It's a perfect alternative if you're making this snack for a crowd, or when it's too formidable outside to start a fire. 

15. Use them as a topping for your casserole

Casseroles are about as classically midwestern as it gets. While you may not have loved tuna casserole or green bean casserole as a kid, you might appreciate the dish a little more once you top it with crumbled Saltines. The crackers have a much crunchier texture than plain bread, and they balance the flavors of the casserole base perfectly. This is also an excellent alternative if you dislike the texture and flavor of canned fried onions, another classic casserole topping.

We recommend mixing your crushed crackers with melted butter and sprinkling it on the top of your casserole. The butter will seep down into the crackers, imparting perfectly balanced flavor that will leave you feeling both full and satisfied. You can also spice up your crackers by adding a blend of herbs, like thyme or rosemary, before sprinkling them on top of your casserole. 

16. Use them as a binder for crab cakes

Classic Maryland crab cakes are a delicious appetizer. Saltines can act as the perfect binder to keep the crab meat together and ensure the little patties come out perfectly cooked every time. Plus, since crab meat and Saltines are both fairly mild, you can amp up the flavor however you want; we like adding Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. 

You can pulse the crackers into crumbs in your food processor or stick to crushing them up with your fingers. Mix the crushed crackers with the crab meat to ensure it reaches the perfect consistency before adding cream and eggs to bind it all together. While these crab cakes are designed to be baked on a sheet pan, you could also potentially air fry them or cook them in a buttered skillet for extra crunch.

17. Make bite-size Saltines sliders for your next party

When it's time to prepare your game-day spread, don't fumble the ball. Ensure you have an array of different snacks for your guests that are relatively easy to eat and make your clean-up process less complicated. Instead of opting for a buffalo chicken dip or pulled pork, try making Saltine sliders instead. 

These little sandwiches will be gone in just two bites, which is perfect for when you want to serve an array of appetizers to your hungry guests. Saltines are also much less bready than a standard brioche or potato bun, which means you can focus more on the real star of the show: the filling. The only major drawback to this snack is that you can't make it too far ahead of time, especially if you're working with a particularly wet filling, because there's a high chance it will seep through and make your cracker soggy. But building in a little time to assemble them right before they hit the platter is well worth it.