Chocolate Saltine Toffee

I’ve heard this toffee called Christmas Crack.

I think that name is most fitting but others have more P.C. names for it and some variations on the recipe.

Debbie made Matzoh Caramel Buttercrunch, which inspired Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch, which inspired Chocolate Caramel Crackers.

They all used matzoh whereas I used saltines.

Paula Deen also uses saltines and she calls it Pine Bark

Really Paula, with all that butter, sugar, and chocolate, and the best name you could come up with is Pine Bark?

I call it easy and amazing.

Recipe looks a little long but I am just being extra thorough explaining the steps.  It’s very easy: Boil sugar and butter, pour over saltines, bake, add chocolate chips. Done.  But I want to make sure no one messes up their crack so am being very detailed.

I recommend making this for a holiday party or as a Homemade Holiday Food Gift for folks on your to-buy-for (or to-make-for) list.

You may not necessarily want it all around your house.  Because it’s really, really addictive.  As the name would imply.

There is also no saltine cracker taste.  The crackers make for the perfect toffee base that holds all the gooey, caramely, wonderfulness together.

But you definitely don’t bite into the toffee and say oh, this tastes like saltines.

When I gave it to Scott and asked him what he thought was in it he said, “chocolate?”   Yes, good call, Einstein.  But he had no clue there was toffee in it.

This is an iPhone picture taken in a very hot Aruba kitchen at about 11:17pm the other night as the chocolate chips were poured over the almost finished crack saltine toffee.

Between the 86F degree evening, no A/C in the kitchen, the stovetop that I had on to boil the butter and sugar, and then the 350F oven that was on, I’m pretty sure you could have fried an egg on my forehead I was so hot.

Same thing when I was trying to take the pictures the next day.  It was literally melting before my eyes.

The brown sugar + butter base and the chocolate top?  Not exactly Caribbean heatproof.  Best to keep this stuff chilled or at normal (wintertime in the U.S.) room temperatures

But this stuff was well worth every hot, melty moment.

Chocolate Saltine Toffee (aka Christmas Crack) - This stuff lives up to it's name and is extremely addictive! Salty, sweet, crunchy, chewy and a holiday favorite everyone loves! Easy recipe at

Print Print Recipe

Chocolate Saltine Toffee (aka Christmas Crack)

They don't call this stuff 'Christmas Crack' for nothing. It's easy to make, extremely addictive, and combines a salty, sweet, crunchy, and chewy into a holiday favorite.

Yield: one 9x13 pan

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 to 7 minutes

Total Time: about 1 hour, for cooling


30 to 40 saltine crackers (I used about 32 crackers)
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar, packed (I used half light and half dark because that's what I had)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used one 12-ounce bag of TJ's semi sweet morsels, also see optional note below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 9 x 13 pan or similar with aluminum foil and spray it very well with cooking spray. Do not try to make this without using foil; you will hate yourself.
  2. Place saltine crackers in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Some recipes suggest using a jelly roll pan which may allow for a slightly bigger batch, i.e. 40 crackers, but it's a bit too shallow for my comfort zone and didn't want any bubble-overs.
  3. In a saucepan on the stovetop, combine butter and sugar and bring to a boil while stirring constantly.  Once a boil is reached, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture has thickened some.  Take care not that your simmer is not too fast/too high because it will be prone to bubbling over or scorching.  Stir mixture frequently while it simmers to avoid bubbling over or scorching. The taste of burnt butter and sugar is awful so don't burn it.
  4. After mixture has thickened a bit, remove it from the heat, wait 30 seconds, add the vanilla extract and stir.
  5. Pour mixture over the prepared pan with the saltine crackers.
  6. Bake in for 5- 7 minutes, or until toffee/liquid becomes bubbly.
  7. After removing the pan from the oven, let it rest for 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips and wait for 3 to 5 minutes, letting them soften and melt a bit, and then spread and smooth them into an even layer with a spatula. Optional:  After smoothing the chocolate, add nuts, seeds, graham cracker crumbs, toffee bits, dried fruit, candy bits, or swirl in some peanut butter or other nut butter. Or use other types of chips, such as butterscotch, white, peanut butter, etc. either in addition to or in a half-and-half  combination with the dark chocolate chips for your top layer.
  9. Let cool very well and if desired for expediting purposes, refrigerate or freeze until hardened.  Break into pieces the size of your choice. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 4 months. To keep gluten free, use GF crackers or make your own GF saltine crackers. To keep vegan, use margarine/Earth Balance and use a vegan cracker


Have you ever tried Christmas Crack, Chocolate Saltine Toffee, or something similar?

What’s the most addictive holiday treat you make or like to eat at someone else’s house?

I am going to say the White Chocolate Peanut Butter Vanilla Puppy Chow ranks right up there for me.

Or else the original dark chocolate puppy chow, too.

Edited to add: The Chocolate Saltine Toffee was featured on FoodGawker where the editors of Martha Stewart and Martha’s Circle noticed it and featured it on Martha Stewart’s site.

See this post for more info.

The news and feature made for one of my happiest and proudest blogging moments.  To say I was shocked, but incredibly honored, is an understatement.


265 Responses to “Chocolate Saltine Toffee”

  1. Amanda — December 7, 2014 at 7:33 pm (#

    Made a batch today and immediately was asked to make more, so I did! They’re so good and easy to make! Great for the holidays :)

    • Averie Sunshine — December 7, 2014 at 11:51 pm (#

      I love that you made a double batch of this today! And that it turned out so well and easy for you – that’s wonderful!

  2. melanie — December 10, 2014 at 7:33 pm (#

    I am looking to make these vegan and have some earth balance in my fridge but on a tight budget to buy the vegan chocolate chips. Can I simply use dark chocolate broken into pieces or will they not melt correctly?
    Thanks in advance xx

    • Averie Sunshine — December 10, 2014 at 7:36 pm (#

      I think they will be just fine! And just so you know, MANY (not all, so read the labels) but most semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips are inherently vegan and you don’t need to buy ‘special vegan chips’. I learned this when I was vegan; of course read labels. Trader Joe’s chips are naturally vegan but not sure if you have one near you. Just for future reference. Please LMK how the vegan version of this comes out!

  3. Kathryn — December 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm (#

    I love this recipe! I made it for a Christmas party I went to this week and it was a huge hit. I should have made two batches. This is definitely going in my favorite dessert recipe file.

    • Averie Sunshine — December 13, 2014 at 2:39 pm (#

      Thanks for trying it and glad it’s going in the favorite dessert recipe file! And yes to a double batch next time :)

  4. Jim — December 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm (#

    Made these for a work Christmas party, and they taste wonderful! Only problem is that the toffy bottom is really gooey and sticky. Sticking to the plate, each other, and everyone’s fingers. Went almost straight from the oven to the fridge for overnight storing. Do you have this issue? And if not, thoughts?

    • Averie Sunshine — December 15, 2014 at 12:57 pm (#

      No I did not but you are essentially making caramel sauce and most people over-cook and end up with rock hard sauce whereas I think you *slightly* undercooked and therefore it was on the runny side. Use your judgment and cook a bit longer next time and see if that does that trick!

    • Jim — December 15, 2014 at 1:12 pm (#

      Ok, thanks!

  5. Martha Friend — December 15, 2014 at 8:17 pm (#

    I made this and it is terrible! The carmel/toffee is grainy and the toffee went through the crackers to glue them to the foil! It is inedible. Any ideas?

    • Averie Sunshine — December 15, 2014 at 9:26 pm (#

      You’re making caramel sauce essentially and you may wish to google ‘grainy caramel sauce’ or ‘ways to prevent caramel from turning grainy’ and research the changes you need to make. Ive written my suggestions if you re-read the comments to another person who wrote with this issue. Candy-making is a delicate operation and doesn’t always go as planned – just keep trying!

  6. Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents — December 16, 2014 at 6:48 am (#

    Made this for my husband’s Christmas party at work. It was a big hit!

  7. Vicky — December 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm (#

    I made this today and had to keep four of the DGKs fingers out of it. I had a little snip of it, and it tastes yummy. Now, there was not enough room in my 9×13 for 32 or more crackers without doubling up, and I didn’t double up. Lots of melted creamy chocolate that I think would have covered a sided cookie sheet with no problem. I sprinkled Heath’s bits o’ brickle over the top. I could have eaten the whole bag. I’ll try with a larger pan the next time with sides, but not fill the whole sheet with crackers but use the recommended amount as per your recipe.

    • Averie Sunshine — December 18, 2014 at 7:07 pm (#

      The recipe is quite forgiving and can vary based on exact cracker dimensions, exact pan size dimensions, so just kind of eyeball it and use how many ever you need. Glad it turned out great for you! The Heath bits sound perfect!

  8. laura — December 19, 2014 at 5:46 pm (#

    Do i need to use the saltines in your picture or can i use any brand?

  9. Kim — December 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm (#

    Is it possible to use almond bark instead of chocolate chips? I have 6 pkgs of it on hand and need to use it up. Thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait to try it.

  10. Kay Creger — December 21, 2014 at 10:20 am (#

    I added the vanilla while it was cooking , will that affect the taste?

  11. sandee — December 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm (#

    Has anyone thought of trying wavy lays? I always had a craving back when I was pregnant and everyone thought I was crazy. Do you think it will hold up the same? Im kinda thinking my chips will go soggy :(

    • Averie Sunshine — December 21, 2014 at 9:22 pm (#

      I don’t think they are thick enough and would get soggy and not hold up under the steaming hot caramely mixture that gets poured over them. Less of a soggy issue than just a support issue – too flimsy I fear. But it’s a great thought.

    • Sandee Carrillo — December 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm (#

      I tweeked the recipe a bit. I boiled sugar and butter til hard ball stage. Poured it over wavy lays, then drizzled melted chocolate in top and put it in the freezer. I cut out a few steps and it still tasted yummy! I think next time I’ll add almonds to the toffee! Thanks for your recipe, ill definitely try it with crackers too! :)

    • Averie Sunshine — December 22, 2014 at 12:56 pm (#

      Glad things came out great for you despite many tweaks and the almonds sound wonderful!

  12. Rachel from Rose Tinted Home — December 22, 2014 at 6:28 am (#

    Made these last night – with the exception of almost starting a small kitchen fire (eek) they were incredibly easy! Thank you for sharing this will be a new holiday go- to in our house!

    xo Rachel

    • Averie Sunshine — December 22, 2014 at 7:16 am (#

      Glad it will be a new holiday go-to and eek about the almost fire…that sounds like something I would do :)

  13. Gamm — December 22, 2014 at 10:28 am (#

    Wondering if this can be made using graham crackers in place of saltines

    • Averie Sunshine — December 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm (#

      There are recipe online for using graham crackers and maybe even in the comments some people have used graham crackers, can’t quite remember…but yes, I know it’s possible. I just never have.

  14. Tara — December 22, 2014 at 11:13 am (#

    I’m sorry but mine came out grainy too. I’ve made these before, using a different recipe, and made caramel before with no problems. After a little searching I found that over – stirring after it boils can cause graininess. Also, most other recipes boiled for less time and baked for less/cooler over. Maybe it’s over – cooking slightly, causing graininess

    • Averie Sunshine — December 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm (#

      Stirring *can* cause graininess because you are possibly interjecting the molecules on the side of the pan into the mixture and those may not be the same ‘texture’ per se as the main mixture in the pan. I’ve read a lot about graininess with candy-making and it seems that is really what is happening and one way to counter act that is to wipe down the side of the pan with a paper towel or damp pastry brush; I have never had to do that in this recipe but everyone’s kitchen equipment and set up is a bit different. Over-cooking wouldn’t necessarily cause graininess but would cause the caramel to turn more rock-like. Sometimes with recipes like these there is a trial and error component – thanks for trying it and sounds like a few tweaks next time and you’ll be all set!

  15. Dawn — December 24, 2014 at 5:41 am (#

    So excited to see how mine turned out, cooling now. My question is can you use salted butter? I only had 2 sticks of unsalted and have enough ingredients for another batch but with salted.

  16. ciji — December 28, 2014 at 9:00 pm (#

    can you us margin instead of butter?

  17. ciji — December 28, 2014 at 9:02 pm (#

    Have you ever tried using margin instead of butter? I have everything else to make it. or would that be a big mistake?

    • Averie Sunshine — December 28, 2014 at 9:19 pm (#

      I haven’t tried margarine and don’t think it will work the best….you could try it and see what happens. LMK how it goes!

  18. Jeanette — February 8, 2015 at 12:10 pm (#

    Im so bummed. I made these to give as gifts to neighbors for Valentine’s day and they turned out HORRIBLE. I followed the directions EXACTLY and the toffee part was gooey and not even severable. What a wast of money.

    • Averie Sunshine — February 8, 2015 at 12:45 pm (#

      Making toffee and candy can sometimes be a little tricky and you don’t always want to follow the directions ‘exactly’ because what works in my kitchen and environment with my pots and pans may change slightly for you. It sounds like based on what you said you simply didn’t boil the mixture long enough or with enough gusto. I would recommend increasing the boiling time slightly next time to avoid gooeyness and it’ll set up much better.

  19. Melinda — February 11, 2015 at 5:12 pm (#

    You don’t actually have to go the extra step of boiling on the stove. Pop your sugar and butter in the microwave until the butter is melted. Stir till sugar is dissolved and follow all the other normal steps. SOOOO much easier. I’ve been making this for more than 20 years!

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