Crackers are rarely the star of the holiday table. Or any table for that matter. They are more often a sort of small edible platter upon which one places more decadent toppings: cheese, pâté, caviar.
Of course the classics are classics for a reason; I have savored many a golden, buttery Ritz in my lifetime. But these days we’re all trying to eat a little cleaner and steer away from scary ingredients like partially-hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup.
That’s where these crackers come in.
I took these to a Thanksgiving dinner last week in an effort to make a small dent in my holiday carb consumption. (I ate at least a year’s worth of pastries on my last trip to Europe and thought it might be a good idea to reign things in a bit. My jeans concurred.) I expected no one besides Beau and I would be interested in this gluten-free option. Surprisingly, they won over all the guests, who piled them with charcuterie, smeared them with triple-cream brie and sank them into our hostess’ formidable blue cheese dip.
I’m chalking up these crackers’ success to the nutty crunch of the seeds and the fact that they have just enough cheese to keep them from tasting aggressively healthy as well as a hit of paprika and cayenne to keep things interesting.
I’ve been baking and eating batch after batch of these crispy beauties since their unexpected triumph at the Thanksgiving table. They are a crunchy replacement for toast alongside a plate of herby scrambled eggs. They make a hearty on-the-go snack paired with a slice of sharp cheddar and a few olives. And they are stellar crumbled over a creamy bowl of soup.
I'm not saying these crackers are going to outshine your holiday roast. But they have certainly been the star of my table lately. Whether you're looking for a vegetarian, gluten-free or just plain old delicious option for your holiday spread, I think they fit the bill.
P.S. As always, I hope you'll make this recipe your own. Let me know if you have any questions or if you come up with your own brilliant seed and cheese combinations!
Easy Gluten-Free Seed Crackers
- ¾ cup white sesame seeds
- ¼ cup black sesame seeds
- ½ cup raw hulled sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup flax seeds
- ¼ cup poppy seeds
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup (1 ½ oz) finely-grated sharp white cheddar
- ¼ cup (½ oz) finely-grated parmesan
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup water
*Notes: You can use virtually any seeds in these crackers. The version above yields more neutral-tasting crackers that will accompany all variety of toppings. But I've made them before swapping out some of the seeds for spices (fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, etc.) and with different ratios of seeds. Just pull out a 2-cup measuring cup and fill it with whatever seeds you like. Keep in mind that spices should be used in moderation since they're so strong (maybe 1-3 tablespoons total). Other than that, the sky's the limit.
-The same goes for cheeses. Personally, I would keep the parmesan since it lends a nice sharp, nutty saltiness that works well with the seeds. But any other dry cheese would work in place of the cheddar. I'm going to try aged gouda in my next batch of crackers, maybe with a few caraway seeds strewn in...
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Line an 18x13-inch sheet pan with parchment paper and pour the seed mixture onto the pan. Spread the mixture as thinly as possible using a flexible spatula then use your hands to gently pat the mixture to the very edges of the pan. Make sure the cracker base is even and as thin as possible. If the crackers are too thick, they won’t dry out properly and stay crisp.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Loosen the par-baked seed mixture from the parchment (it will have baked into one large cracker) using a thin metal spatula or butter knife. Cool for five minutes or until you can handle the crackers, then fold or cut them to whatever size you like. I like to fold and tear the crackers for a more rustic look and I aim for roughly 2x2-inch pieces. Transfer the par-baked crackers to a plate while you place a metal cooling rack inside the sheet pan. Place the crackers on the cooling rack, overlapping as little as possible, then return them to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes longer, rotating the crackers as necessary for even browning. Cool completely before transferring them to an airtight container. Your crackers will keep for several weeks if well sealed.
Makes about 3 dozen crackers.