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 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.


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

    • 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.

  2. 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

    • 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!

  3. 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.

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  5. can you us margin instead of butter?

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

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  10. 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.

    • 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.

  11. 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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  16. Not sure if it’s the south ga heat but spreading the chocolate chips wasn’t very fun ,,, any advice ?

    • Maybe the chocolate chips weren’t getting quite as much carryover heat as they needed from the pan and were a bit resistant to melting?

      Some brands of chips are also just more resistant to melting and I’ve learned over the years which brands work better for me. But it sounds like things worked out in the end for you.

  17. I can’t eat chocolate so after I pour mixture over saltines, I add chopped pecans. Taste just like pecan pie to me.

  18. I did a batch that turned out fine using Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips, but when I tried to do a second batch using white chocolate ships and crushed peppermint candy for the the topping, it didn’t work at all.  The white Nestle’s chocolate chips would not melt like the other ones and it was impossible to spread it.

    • White chocolate chips can be very finicky to melt in general. If you have access to a Trader Joe’s, their white chocolate chips melt much easier I’ve found than many other brands. Glad it worked like a charm with semi-sweet!

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  20. is it normal to have caramel/toffee underneath the crackers, as well as on the top, once these are done? 

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  26. Lol! Congrats on being featured on Martha Stewart, but I think she needs some older editors! I’ve been making this candy since the late 70’s. 
    BTW, the original name of “Pine Bark”, given by Paula Deen, referred to the addition of sliced almonds to the top of the chocolate, resembling a pine cone. Not in the original recipe, but perhaps a new twist, just to change it up a bit.
    Again, congrats on bringing an oldie, but goodie, to a new light. 

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  28. Why will my chocolate chips not melt so I can spread??  Am I the only one that is having this problem? 

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  30. I just made this for the first time!i was actually worried that I wouldn’t make the toffee correctly or that is would be soft like many others reported.  I found out that not stirring the sugar/butter while it’s simmering is the best method, and that came out fine. It’s the chocolate chips I was upset about. I used toll house semi sweet chips, and put them on top, put them in the oven for 3 minutes, not a single one melted, put them back for another 3 minutes, still had their shape, not one was melting and what’s funny is, they were almost burning! Not quite but close, so I had to squish them around and they were very course, not creamy and meaty at all! I was very displeased that this occurred! I use those chips for my fudge making and it’s always perfect! Ugh! How frustrating, I was so close to success the first go at this! I think next time, I will either pre melt the chips and just spoon on and spread, or buy other chocolate that melts faster.

    • I have found some brands of chips to melt much easier than others and Nestle Tollhouse are not one of those that melts easily. The chips have stabilizers to help them keep their shape – more so than other brands I’ve tried. Glad the toffee came out great and just switch chip brands next time and you’ll be set!

  31. When trying to break/cut these apart after they were completely cooled, the chocolate layer kept separating from the toffee layer. Do you know what might have caused this to happen? Want to make these for a friend’s retirement party and need them to look good. Thanks!

    • Not sure why the chocolate is separating but I would try another brand of chocolate chips and see what happens. Also make sure you wait sufficiently long so it really has a chance to set up and harden and you’re not prematurely breaking it apart.

  32. I, too, have been making this recipe since the early 1980s. It was called Chocolate Crunch at that time. A dear friend gave me this recipe, but since the name was a bit boring and we both had toddlers who loved the Muppets, she renamed it “Fraggle Rock,” and the name stuck. Lol. I have given a batch to each member of the family for Christmas for years, and it has become expected by everyone. In fact, they are quite possessive about it and compare their batches to make certain no one person received more than another. They will share with others, but very reluctantly. BTW, I have always used salted butter, but no vanilla. I have used the stove and the microwave for melting and boiling the butter and brown sugar, but it turns out better when done in a pan on the stove. My recipe calls for the oven temp to be 400, so by the time it all goes in, it must be watched very carefully or it will burn. It is supposed to stay in the oven for 7 minutes, but that is just a guide. Mine never made it past 5 minutes. After that the directions specifically state that the pan should be removed from the oven rack and placed flat on the lowered oven door. Then the chocolate chips are sprinkled evenly on top of the toffee, and as they melt, the chocolate should be spread evenly with the back of a spoon. I let the pan cool for a while on a wire rack and then transfer to the fridge until cold. Then I break it apart and store in the freezer in an air-tight container.

    I will be sure to tell my friend about the new name. Too funny!

    • I think this general recipe has been around for decades, going by different names, and with slight variations in the method/directions, but overall the same finished product and oh so good, as you know!

  33. I’m thinking Paula Deen meant pine, as in to yearn… to crave, not the evergreen. just a guess… LOL! If so, cute pun…

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