Christmas Cracker Candy is a tried and true holiday treat made with Saltines layered with hot caramel and chocolate ~ the sweet/salty combination is irresistible!
Christmas Cracker Candy
Christmas cracker candy, or Saltine toffee, also goes by the inappropriate name of Christmas Crack, presumably because this particular combination of ingredients is hard to resist. It’s one of those sweets that we really only make during the holidays, which makes it all the more beloved.
This easy recipe is a delicious slap in the face to good cooks and bakers everywhere. Who knew you could make something so irresistible with just a few pantry items and no skills whatsoever?? Trust me, this simple dessert is the one that’s going to create all the buzz.
Christmas cracker candy ingredients
- the Saltines form the crunchy, salty base of the candy. You can experiment with other crackers like graham crackers, Ritz crackers, or gingersnaps, etc. I’ve even heard of people who use mini pretzels as the base.
- brown sugar
- I use golden brown sugar
- unsalted butter is preferred, but if you only have salted butter, leave out the extra salt.
- as always, vanilla brings out all the flavors.
- salt is a key element in this flavor profile.
- using chocolate chips makes this candy so easy ~ just sprinkle them over the hot caramel crackers and they will melt in minutes to allow you to spread them into a smooth silky chocolate topping. I used milk chocolate, any type will work. I used Nestle brand this time, but Guittard and Ghirardelli are fabulous premium brands, too.
- toasted, of course! These add a little sophistication to our Christmas cracker candy. You can leave the nuts off, or substitute your favorite type. Walnuts, peanuts, or pistachios would be great.
- Christmas M&M’s
- the final holiday touch! Use a different candy or leave them off, it’s your call. You can also use holiday sprinkles.
how to make Christmas cracker candy
This is easy, but follow directions carefully; the details matter. You’ll need a standard half sheet baking pan and some foil or a silicone pan liner to keep the candy from sticking. Have everything ready and measured before you start, this goes fast!
1. Prep pan and arrange Saltine crackers over surface.
Line your baking pan completely with foil, then spray with nonstick spray. Arrange Saltines in a single layer over the entire surface. Break crackers to fit gaps if necessary.
2. Pour hot caramel over the crackers, spread gently to the edges and briefly bake
Brown sugar and butter, melted and brought to a boil in a saucepan, gets poured all over the salty crackers. Yum, can we just stop here??
3. Add milk chocolate over the hot caramel layer
Sprinkle an entire bag of milk chocolate chips over the hot caramel and let sit for 3 minutes. This allows the chips to melt. If you prefer to use bar chocolate, just chop it finely, or break up squares of Hershey’s bars, like I did with my Toffee Cookie Bars.
4. Spread the chocolate out
Take an offset spatula and spread the now melted chips into a creamy layer of chocolate across the pan. If, for any reason, you waited too long to do this and your chips aren’t soft, pop the pan in the oven to reheat them.
5. Top with toasted pecans and holiday M&M’s
Sprinkle across the warm chocolate and gently press down to make sure the toppings adhere well to the surface, otherwise they may pop off when you slice the candy.
6. Let the cracker candy set up before breaking or slicing into pieces
Let the candy cool to room temperature, then you can refrigerate until chilled and firm, I left mine overnight. Remove the whole slab from the pan and peel off the foil. Slice into pieces. I find it cuts easily with a large knife.
hot to store and freeze your Christmas cracker candy
After slicing you can enjoy your candy right away, or store it back in the refrigerator. I like it best chilled, anyway. It will keep for a week in the refrigerator and can be frozen if carefully packaged in a freezer safe container with waxed paper between layers.
tips and tricks
Be sure to spray your foil (or use special non-stick foil.) This is to ensure that you can remove the candy from the foil when it has hardened up. Nobody wants a mouthful of foil!
Be sure to cover the entire surface of your pan with Saltines, even if you have to break some to fill in gaps. You need to completely cover the surface of the pan to form a base for the hot caramel sauce.
I find using chocolate chips to be the best and easiest way to coat the candy, but you can also separately melt chopped bar chocolate for your topping if you prefer. Some have trouble with chips that do not melt well. If you have trouble pop the pan back in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat up.
Be sure to chill your Saltine toffee completely before you try to remove it from the foil to slice it.
Christmas Cracker Candy
- standard half sheet baking pan This is the one I use.
- nonstick spray
- 50 Saltine crackers
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed.
- 1 cup unsalted butter (that's 2 sticks)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 12 ounce bag chocolate chips, I used milk chocolate.
- 2/3 cup toasted pecans*, chopped (or more to taste)
- 2/3 cup Holiday M&M's (or more to taste)
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a standard half sheet baking pan completely with foil. Spray with nonstick spray.
- Arrange Saltines across the pan in a single layer. You want to cover the whole surface of the pan, so break crackers to fill in as needed.
- In a medium saucepan heat the butter, sugar, and salt over medium heat, stirring to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. The butter and sugar will seem to separate at this point, that's fine. Bring to a full boil, stirring often. Let it boil for one minute. Stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the hot caramel over the crackers, and gently spread out with an offset spatula. Be careful not to dislodge the crackers.
- Bake for 5 minutes.
- Immediately scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the hot caramel. Let sit for 3 minutes.
- Gently run a clean offset spatula over the chips to spread the melted chocolate over the entire surface. If for any reason your chips aren't melting, put the pan back in the (turned off) oven for a couple of minutes to heat them up.
- Sprinkle the toasted pecans and M&M's over the warm chocolate. Press in gently so they adhere well.
- Let the candy cool at room temperature. Then put the tray in the refrigerator to get completely chilled and firm. I left mine overnight, but that's not necessary.
- Lift out the candy from the pan ~ it should be a solid sheet at this point. Carefully peel the foil from the bottom of the candy.
- Use a large knife to cut your candy into pieces.
- Your Christmas cracker candy is safe to keep at room temperature for a few days but it's much better when chilled. It will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week. Freeze for longer storage.
Questions and Reviews
Can’t wait to try this! Is the texture of the caramel crispy or crunchy or chewy when it is cooled? Thanks!
It’s a little of both, but it’s not super crunchy like hard toffee, the caramel has more of a chew.
An elderly friend (who has long since passed) used to make a similar recipe. I decided to give Sue’s recipe a try and I loved it. I was amused when my kid’s college roommate left our home on Christmas and said, “I had my doubts about your cracker candy but it’s so good!” So I sent a baggie of it home with him. Then I learned that a friend visiting their apartment the next day got hooked on it, too. Long story, short…I’ve been asked t make another batch for our New Year’s gathering!
Yay ~ you’ll be famous for it now Marie 😉
I won’t rate it because I haven’t made it yet. I don’t see in the recipe, where to use the vanilla. Does it go in the mixture as soon as it comes off the heat?
Oh my goodness,this is now one of my favorite recipes. My family and I loved it.
Any ideas for a gf alternative to saltines that would work with this recipe?
You can use Club Crackers or Ritz, for instance. Some have used pretzels, but I haven’t tried that personally. Others use graham crackers but they lack the salty element.
This is one of my favorites! as many do, we call this Christmas Crack and only make it once a year. I use Club crackers as the base for a buttery flavor.
I forgot to mention club crackers as an alternative, thanks!
They call this Christmas CRACKer candy for a reason. Soooooo good.