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Easy Entertaining: Cracker and Topping Pairings

Easy Entertaining: Cracker and Topping Pairings

Easy tips for choosing which cracker to serve with cheese, dip or almost any topping.

How to pair crackers with toppings |

It’s happened to the best of us: You’re at a party; you bite into an abundantly-topped cracker. The cracker doesn’t just crumble, it disintegrate.  The topping is strewn down your cute dress – or swell tie.

Ugh. You can thank the chef who over-loaded topping on flimsy cracker.

In this season of showers, graduation parties and picnics, here’s how not to end up with cracker-topping-spattered guests.

This idea was sparked by this brilliant tweet from one of my favorite peeps to follow: @mizsant digital editor of @Saveur magazine:

@mizsant: @MichellinaJones @sadeghin One of my many million-dollar ideas is a “stuff on crackers” tasting menu.

Cruising down the supermarket cracker aisle, I was surprised to discover how many healthier options there are these days. Before, the only time crackers were on my shopping list was if we were having a party.

Which crackers are healthy

But I now see potential for my kid’s lunches since many varieties are now made with 100% whole grains. (All cracker brands mentioned here are whole grain.)

After taste-testing several varieties of crackers and mixing and matching types of toppings, here are my Tips for Pairing Crackers with Toppers: 

1) Pair chewy toppings with hearty crackers.

salami and cheese appetizer

Stacked cheese and salami  are classic cracker toppers; but they don’t do well on a flimsy cracker. Because you hold on tight to a piece of Salume Beddu (artisan St. Louis favorite,) if the cracker is a wimpy thin crisp, a shower of cracker crumbs will result. No cracker will remain for the second bite.

2) Pair soft toppings with light crispy crackers.

Sweet Pea Crostini appetizer

This Cooking Light staff favorite Sweet Pea Crostini with Ricotta  is springy pea puree with airy ricotta and just doesn’t compliment a hearty, heavy woven wheat (like Whole Wheat Triscuits.) Especially if you’ve taken the time (only 15 minutes!) to make your own ricotta – which I HIGHLY recommend ==> It’s amazingly easy and so super-creamy.

  • Serve lighter toppings on complimentary buttery, light crackers: Whole grain butter crackers (like Whole Grain Ritz) or light, crispy whole grain toasted baguette (crostini)

3) Avoid one-bite toppings on two-bite crackers.

Grape & yogurt appetizer

Don’t place a cherry tomato, grape, or olive on a long whole butter crisp (like Whole Grain Townhouse). It’s not very dainty to stuff an entire Townhouse into your mouth. But it’s also hardly dignified to bite a tomato in half – spurting seeds all over.

  • Use one-bite crackers for one-bite toppings: Wheat crisps (Wheat Thins) or round butter crackers (whole wheat Ritz.)

4) Serve at least one unexpected topping.

which crackers are best

Get adventurous and serve an entire tasting menu on crackers! Go way past ho-hum hummus or pre-made Ranch dip with terrific toppers – by serving any of these:

Avocado Toast with Cucumber & Lemon via Cristina @BeginWithinNutrition
Smokey Eggplant Dip via Tara @TheWholeTara
BBQ Chipotle Almond Butter via Jessica @SmartNutrition
Caprese Dip via Amee @AmeesSavoryDish
Cranberry Goat Cheese Bake via Ari @ArisMenu

Do you regularly buy crackers or just for parties? What are you favorite brands/toppings?

Alice Carroll

Thursday 13th of February 2020

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to crackers at every party I went to. I never realized how simple they are yet diverse in their components. I especially like the buttery ones with the light toppings.

Amee Livingston

Saturday 18th of April 2015

Thank you for sharing my Caprese Dip! Great entertaining inspiration here!!

Serena Ball

Sunday 19th of April 2015

Thanks for the inspiration Amee. I'm so happy it's finally Caprese season...after this LONG winter!

Katie @ Mom to Mom Nutrition

Friday 17th of April 2015

Joey [18 mont old toddler] is a HUGE cracker fan! This is a great reference for party-planning or everyday snacking. Pinning!

Serena Ball

Saturday 18th of April 2015

Thanks Katie. Cracker cheers to Joey!!

Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Friday 17th of April 2015

I'm going to be honest. I have never thought of this before. This all makes so much sense. Particularly the crispy blow apart style cracker or crostini with a soft topping. Sooooo true. I will take this advice to heart.

Serena Ball

Saturday 18th of April 2015

It was a fun post to write Katie. (: Fun to think about crackers and toppings for several hours...and then photograph!

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