Herbed Saltines

A thoroughly contemporary take on the recipe for "Souffled Crackers" that dates back to a 1918 cookbook from Fannie Farmer’s Boston School of Cooking. Also called "Ice Crackers" because before baking, the soda crackers are briefly dipped into ice water! Yes, this is a weird retro recipe but oh so ever worthwhile!
Herbed Saltines ♥ KitchenParade.com, semi-homemade crackers, easy and delicious. A contemporary take on Fannie Farmer's 'souffled crackers' and 'ice water crackers'.

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Will readers please take it on faith that when I launched "Summer Easy" that I never once envisioned doctoring saltines with herbs and salt? But I’ve now made these simple almost-homemade crackers four times in ten days, each time to rave reviews and honestly, despite the totally weird technique, they’re just delicious, crispy salty oniony bites.

If taste weren’t enough, there are at least two more reasons to love these crackers.

COST Store-bought crackers are expensive, reaching up to $4 and $5 for a 12-ounce box. Saltines are cheap, a pound box sets me back $1.19.

TEMPTATION If a box of Triscuits sneaks into the house, look out, my will power is lousy. Saltines, not so much. If a box is around, there’s no temptation to down the box in an evening binge.

ADAPTABILITY This is definitely a concept recipe to play around with, have a little fun with. I loved a recent batch sprinkled a little barbecue rub, a mix of salt, sweet and heat. One version I've yet to try is a cinnamon and sugar sprinkle to create a "dessert cracker" to top with a bit of cream cheese and a piece of fruit.

So You May Not Believe This.

Ice water for Herbed Saltines ♥ KitchenParade.com, semi-homemade crackers, easy and delicious.

But the first step in Herbed Saltines is to fill a shallow bowl with ice water.

And Then It Gets Even Weirder.

Dipping saltines into ice water for Herbed Saltines ♥ KitchenParade.com, semi-homemade crackers, easy and delicious.

Because the second step is to dip the saltines in the ice water! I count to ten, that works about right for me, until the crackers are wet but not yet fully soaked and turning to mush.

After that, the prep work is more straight forward. Lightly brush the wet crackers with oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh chives. Then bake! Then devour!


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 3 dozen crackers, easily halved or doubled
  • Saltines
  • Olive oil
  • Good salt – Maldon, fleur de sel
  • Chopped fresh herbs – chives (my favorite so far), oregano, thyme or rosemary, say

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Get out a baking sheet; if it’s prone to sticking, line the sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Fill a large flat bowl with a cup of ice and water to fill. With your hands, submerge four saltines into the ice water for 10 seconds (yes, it's c-o-l-d!) and then arrange flat-side down on the baking sheet about 1/4 inch apart. (Work quickly, the crackers will soften and once they’re in place, can’t be moved.) When the tray is full, lightly brush or spritz the tops with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and chives.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (some times longer, depending on how wet the crackers are and how much oil is brushed on) or until crisp and golden.

SERVING SUGGESTION Best served the same day. The crackers are perfect as is but also are strong enough to use as a snack cracker for a simple hummus or a bean dip, say. I’ve also made tiny cucumber and tomato sandwiches with slivers of cheese.

ALANNA's TIPS A silicone mat / parchment aren't required unless your baking sheets are prone to sticking. You can skip the oil (either intentionally or oops, by accident, the last time I made Herbed Saltines for photos), they'll still crisp up and taste good but won't take on a pretty golden color. Salt is critical for the crackers, don’t skip or skimp. I’ve experimented with whole wheat saltines too. They need to be soaked a little longer (15 seconds, say) and baked less (20 minutes, say). The plain ol’ crush-em-up for tomato soup saltines remain my preferred starting point.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Four Crackers, assumes 1 tablespoon olive oil used on the whole batch: 66Cal; 3g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 358mg Sodium; 9g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 1g Protein WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 1.5 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 2 & Freestyle 2 This recipe has been "Alanna-sized" with reductions in fat and increases in no-calorie, nutrient-rich and flavorful fresh herbs.
My gratitude to Kate from Warm Olives who created at least a one-batch head start by figuring out that the original recipe just wouldn't work, perhaps because today's soda crackers are different than the ones in 1918? The Fannie Farmer recipe soaked the crackers for 20 minutes and soaked them in an entire stick of butter!

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Jessica in Ohio6/18/2009

    I will confess that at first glance I thought this was a posting for "herbed SARDINES!" Me and my speed -reading! These look fantastic and I plan on trying them. I, unfortunatley, have NO problem downing a sleeve of plain ol' saltines. My favorite comfort food is soup with crackers mashed up together.

  2. Jessica -- Now isn't THAT a brilliant idea! I too love sardines!

    PS Tomato soup, right? That's the one I remember mashing saltines for, slapping my hands together over the bowl for the last bits of crumbs.

  3. Alanna,
    I forwarded this recipe to my husband (who works at home in an office behind closed doors). 2 minutes later he popped out and yelled "what, no garlic? Those would be great w/garlic!"
    I remember that FF recipe. I used to read a very old cook book that my mom gave me when I was a kid. the recipe was in there and I couldn't figure out how to soak a saltine for 20 minutes either. Maybe they used what was known as Hard Tack.
    Anyway, we will try these this evening.


  4. Hi Bobbi ~ Tell your husband, "Garlic is a GREAT idea!" My next batch shall include it!

  5. Finally got to trying this recipe. You all have to remember that crackers were different then than they are now. The 1919 crackers were "common crackers" the kind that came in the big cracker barrel. Try Goya crackers (round and about 2 inches across) that can take the twenty minute soak to see what the original recipe was like.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna