We Tasted 9 Popular Crackers and These Are the Best
The last thing you want to do, though, is ruin your display with ho-hum vehicles for your glorious spread. Especially when there are crackers good enough—nay, exceptional—to stand on their own and for decades.
You know the ones: buttery, golden crackers with holes punched in between puffed-up, flaky bubbles sparkling with traces of salt. The ones that feel indulgent on their own, addicting with their shattering crunch and illusory richness.
When it comes time for your summer meat and cheese platters, you want the buttery best. And that's what we're here for. We tasted crackers from one of the most popular brands you'll find in stores and ranked them from the just OK to the best. All to help you find the best, tastiest, buttery cracker. For more, check out these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.
Kellogg's Club Crisps
New to the line, these are advertised to be "thin and crispy with the light, buttery goodness of Club crackers." They come loose in a foil bag and claim to have no artificial colors or flavors. However, what is in their makeup is potato starch, cornstarch, and oat fiber, none of which you'd find in Kellogg's classic green box. These additives were necessary to give them the thin, fragile, chip-like quality the new product offers, but unfortunately, they were not improvements.
There were a lot of broken pieces in the bag, which was not surprising given the crackers' ultra-light, brittle composition. Anyone could definitely taste the potato starch; it was more obvious of an impression than even white flour or general cracker. The closest comparison I can provide is that of a lightly buttered, undersalted plain Pringles chip.
There was also a slight sweetness and some cheesiness that made it feel a little like a cornbread crisp/baked potato chip mashup. But in general, it was off-putting by itself as it's clearly meant to be eaten, and definitely not sturdy enough at all to use as an accompanying cracker.
Kellogg's Town House Sea Salt Dipping Thins
What's good for the Club is good for the Town House, too, it seems, with the simultaneous launch of Dipping Thins. These similarly add dried potatoes, cornstarch, and oat fiber, which made me curious about how the recipe would be different from the Club Crisps.
My first impression of these once I opened the thick plastic bag in the box was that it was an interesting choice for the shape of the crackers. The ones that weren't broken, of course, since they are packaged loosely. That aside, it provided more of a "cracker" aesthetic than the pale strips of its fellow debutante, with a light browning on the edges and in a few errant spots. It was lightweight but felt a little denser than your traditional Town House cracker, as if it were mildly pressed before baking. This density carried over into the bite, which was a very hard crunch that reminded me of another Town House product, the half pretzel, half cracker FlipSides Thins. However, while those are a glorious balance of buttery and salty, these underseasoned bits had a strange fake cheese flavor and lingering baked potato chip aftertaste that hung around awkwardly for an unnervingly long time.
Pepperidge Farm Golden Butter Crackers
This soothingly branded bakery is great at portraying refined quality, and these "distinctively delicious" crackers are no different. They're adorable with their fun little butterfly shape, cocooned in the thickest clear plastic wrap of the bunch.
These whimsical crackers had a very sturdy feel, like an English biscuit. Each one had heft and no shatter, so while they weren't flaky, they were definitely ready to take on a pile of cheese and toppings. They also had the highest quantity of docking holes to help each cracker stay flat and solid, which in turn gave them the hardest, cleanest crunch.
The overall flavor was the most floury of all of the crackers tasted, with a sweet, yeasty, and not unpleasantly bland tone to it. It had flavor echoes of Pepperidge Farms' excellent Farmhouse White Bread which performed with aplomb in our white bread taste test. I only wish it had more flavor, especially since these were the only ones we tested that had actual, real butter in the ingredients. It came across as a sudden warmth, like too little unsalted butter on semi-toasted white bread. Perhaps because this butter flavor was not enhanced with artificiality, it was not particularly detectable.
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Kellogg's Toasteds Buttercrisp
These struck me as Kellogg's hybridized foray into water crackers—a posher entertainment cracker line, with a noticeably less homey feel to the box, where they're described as "lightly toasted" and low in cholesterol and saturated fat.
Presented in long clear sleeves just a teensy bit thicker than the usual flimsy cellophane Keebler/Kellogg's cracker come in, they took a few cues from Pepperidge Farms. For one, they also had plenty of docking holes to keep the shape uniform while baking and felt on the sturdier side, compressed for density. However, the differences began at first bite, since these break off in a brittle fashion on impact.
The other differentiating characteristics included visible flakes of salt on each cracker, flakes that were more often in the holes than on surfaces whose color was more gold than Club and Town House bakes but on par with Ritz. The darker color made me hopeful for a warm, pronounced butter flavor, but that was not to be. Past the first break and the hit of salt, it feels kind of insubstantial in your mouth, powdering away unexpectedly and melting fast into a smooth, malted flavor. In between the first bite and the fade-away, though, there isn't much.
Late July Organic Classic Crackers
This natural foods brand introduced these round, highly familiar "buttery rich crackers" with a "slightly sweet, toasted taste" in 2003, touting an absence of GMOs and artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. They don't use corn syrup, either, but nor do they use real butter, instead opting for palm oil for the latter and swapping two types of sugar for the former. Takes a bit of the shine off that health halo.
These crackers came in a foil bag within a cardboard box and emerged from it a pleasing mellow yellow color. These were noticeably heavier than Ritz crackers and less puffy, with fewer air pockets and therefore more consistency. This created a nice crunch with a satisfying break that wasn't crumbly. It's just flaky enough too, to make it a good happy medium for your charcuterie—stable to hold, strong to top, and make for a solid snack all on their own.
Tastewise, these crackers offered a warm open with tinges of a salt whose level varies between bites. There's a bit of an oily element to them, but that doesn't detract from the savory richness and hint of cheesiness.
Back to Nature Classic Round Crackers
These were neck-and-neck with their fellow "healthier" competitor with just as many thinly veiled references to Ritz crackers. The label promises a cracker that's flaky, crispy, "oven-baked golden brown" and featuring the "authentic delicious taste you love." Does it live up to all of that with its use of neutral safflower oil (again instead of butter), brown rice syrup as a sweetener, and omission of hydrogenated oils and corn syrup?
Well, the packaging helps to keep them fresh if not whole, since they're also loosely bagged in foil in a box. The ratio of broken crackers really wasn't bad, though, especially given that they have a good flakiness to them that you'd think would be more delicate. Their smaller diameter definitely contributed to their structural integrity.
They're visually appealing from the first grab, the darkest toasted of the bunch with salt granules sparkling from the sparse docking holes. These cues led to an expectation of a more pronounced saltiness and richness, but it wasn't to be. These crackers weren't very buttery nor savory. Plus, they reminded me of dry toast in the way that it's sweet in the finish but then leaves traces of cardboard on the tongue when eaten plain and in volume. But like a good toast, the inoffensiveness grows on you, especially paired with a great texture that provided a sharp, hard, and satisfying crunch.
Kellogg's Club Crackers
As with all iconic brands and products, if you introduce one change, you're opening the doors to accusations of recipe tweaking. Since these beloved rectangular crackers invented by Godfrey Keebler himself subtly switched the Keebler tree to the Kellogg's script, many consumers have begun complaining that the taste had changed, too. Officials have assured the public that no alterations have been made, and we're inclined to believe them.
They still come in paper-thin clear sleeves and that recognizable green packaging. I do wish they didn't print the nutrition facts on the tear-away section of the box, and that they disclosed nutrition facts per stack, but that's likely not an accident. Even without artificial colors, flavors, cholesterol, saturated fat, and soybean oil instead of palm, these are most assuredly not health food crackers.
That said, they're not meant to be. These crackers are pale to the point that they don't even look fully cooked. But beneath that unprepossessing, milquetoast demeanor is a flavor profile and textural balance that proves these crackers have earned their loyal fans. They definitely don't taste as underdone as they look, with a rigidity that can happily support a pile of meat and cheese, with a solid snap to the bite. These aren't very flaky but nor are they overly crumbly. The flavor was the richest of the bunch, with enough coarse salt across each cracker to make you thirsty, and a lingering buttery flavor that lasts beyond the last vestiges of the cracker.
Kellogg's Town House Original Crackers
My grandma's present-day favorites are Club Cracker Sandwiches with Cheese, but I will forever first associate these red-box Town House crackers with her. We used to eat whole sleeves straight out of the box as the flimsy, long plastic sleeve tore apart, not even caring since they went stale so easily and quickly that we had to finish them right away anyway.
The crackers a little smaller now, but haven't changed much otherwise. Airy and light, fluffy, and very puffy with appealingly toasted spots and fragile bubbles that shatter as soon as you look at them, these ovals seem delicate on the surface. But they are stronger than you think. They're up to the task of topping and you won't be left holding sad splinters. There's a golden butter flavor to them at first that gives way to a sweet white flour flavor in the middle before becoming rich again—even oily—as the last crumbs melt away.
Even though these crackers are not as flaky as you'd expect from handling them, these do have the softest chew. For some, the heartier Club, with its overt saltiness as opposed to Town House sweetness, might be preferred for something more assertive and toothsome but just as full-flavored, which put the two in a tie.
Ritz: The Original
Most of you likely came into this taste test skeptical that anyone could usurp the crown from the most celebrated of all the crackers in America: Ritz. I'll admit—I'd assumed it'd hold onto its title too, but if there's one thing side-by-side testing has taught me, it's that consecutive comparisons will often surprise you and nostalgia plays an important role in taste perception. I've been shocked by seeing preconceived favorites unseated this way.
In the case of Ritz, it only renewed its dynasty. It wasn't my feelings about seeing that brown faux wax paper wrap come out of the bright red Nabisco box, nor the familiar shape of the scallop-edged round crackers that made it so irresistible. They simply are that delicious, to the point that it's easy to stop caring that their ingredients include palm oil, high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, and sugar. And at 220 calories per Fresh Stack, it takes no effort to follow that up with, "who cares?"
These crackers golden in color, light in heft but heavier than Town House, and toastier brown in spots where they puff up proudly, displaying flakes of sparkling salt. Unlike others, this salt goes beneath the surface as the crackers offer seasoning and flavor throughout, from the sweetness of the flour base to the buttery, almost fried food flavor that warms up in your mouth, then stays with you even as the layers melt in it. It's this flakiness and richness that really shine in this cracker.
In general, Ritz all have a tender bite and a short-lived, soft initial crunch, giving way to a quick compression of the crumbs as the fragile walls of the air pockets collapse. It gets stuck in your teeth as mush, but again, it's hard to mind it as the flavor persists even while the structure doesn't. Sweet, salty, rich, light, crumbly, sturdy—this cracker does it all and is rightly called The Original.