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


Only Eats

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. you cracked me up (pun intended!) when you wrote how those crack addicts might feel when stumbling over your site… hahaha, I can totally IMAGINE them thinking “wow, cool, crack” and then “oooooooh, what is THAT?”. but I am sure they would give this recipe a go, anyways ;)

    • Never tried these with the saltines. We use the Club crackers instead!! More buttery taste, even more like crack!!

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  3. Just got over being sick and I have a sleeve of saltines left. Now that my appetite is back, I would love to drench them in butter and chocolate!

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  5. so happy I stopped over from Jane Deer Blog. Both your Chocolate Saltine Toffee and my Shortbread Cookies were featured last week. I have made some notes on some of your recipes and am going to bake with my kids this weekend!

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  8. I make this too. We call it Mock Toffee. Mine did not turn out this year. I blame it on a different kind of Brown Sugar I found here. Usually, I have had brown sugar I bring over from America. But, I have had people eat it and said it was amazing. This is usually one of my favorite things to make at Christmas. This and Caramels. I still have a bunch in my fridge and grab a piece everytime I open the fridge to get something out. lol

  9. This is really good candy but i wanted to say that everyone does have a different name for it… in my neck of the woods we call it Poor Mans Almond Roca!!

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  11. i made this for my family and they LOVED it!

    thanks for the great recipe!

  12. I remember making this with my grandmother…
    By the way, if you replace half of the butter/margarine with peanut butter it tastes even better–like a butterfinger bar.

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  14. Averie, i’m totally making this for a work party in a few weeks. people won’t know what hit ’em!!! :)

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  19. We’ve been making this for years! My mom got the recipe from a co-worker who got it from her grandmother, who said it was a Depression era thing. We call it Pioneer Toffee. Doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s still sooo very good!

  20. Averie this recipe sounds absolutely wonderful!! I have a party on Friday and will try this out!
    I always try to watch my sugar intake…but watch is what I will have to do with this!! Plus it’s the wrong time of year to worry about the weight. Have a great holiday and thanks for sharing!

    • Please LMK if you end up trying it! The recipe itself has been done and redone umpteen zillion ways over the years and people seem to love it and all the versions on the theme. Love your “watch” sentiments and mentality – so true this time of year :)

  21. I made this today! I have been good for the past two weeks, and I was craving chocolate, pecans, and toffee like a mad woman. I was absolutely impressed with the way it turned out. Your instructions and describing the state changes of the toffee were excellent. I placed the pan with the chocolate chips on top in the oven again to melt all the way. I tried sprinkling turbinado sugar on top of the chocolate and pecans and turned the broiler on to get caramelized sugar pecans, but I didn’t wait for the sugar to burn a bit because I remembered that chocolate will not set properly if it burns. I stuck the pan in the freezer for 15 mins, and it is just awesome now that it’ set. Perfectly sweet-and-salty with a cup of black coffee. I will burn off the sugary snack tonight at Winterguard rehearsal. And maybe share some with friends.

  22. I just remembered. I used the Land O Lakes olive oil and sea salt butter half sticks and that gave this treat just the right amount of salty, buttery flavor without as much fat.

  23. Browneyedgirl2181 Reply

    My mom used to make this when my sis & I were kids. We loved it! She had a stroke 6 years ago & when I asked her about it she didn’t remember. Finding this was wonderful because we all loved it. My mom & I will be making it together, I hope it triggers some memories. If not we will enjoy it & make new memories. Thank you for this recipe.

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  26. I made these last night…it was sandy like texture instead of solid.. HELP…someone please help me and tell me what did I do wrong? The toffee was like sandy crystal sugar.. Did I not melt enough or melt too much?

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  28. I just made these for the first time. They were a hit and miss with me. All my fault though. I used chocolate chips and white chocolate chips, my plan was to marble them. WRONG!!!! The white chocolate chips did not melt. I would not recommend using them. Other than that, they were great! Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re right – not an easy recipe for white chocolate chips. They’re hard to work with in general and in this application, probably fairly tricky to get then to melt if you melted them together. It’s possible to melt them separately, pour them over the crackers, and go from there but to try to melt them with the semi-sweet, probably a bit of a headache. But glad you liked it and were happy! Thanks for LMK you tried the recipe!

  29. I make them with graham crackers and they’re always a hit. I have to try the saltine method because I like the sweet and salty combo.

  30. I just made this and it turned out delicious! I am going to have to give some of this away, otherwise I’m about 46 seconds away from diabetes!

  31. I’m going to try this, thank you. Loved reading your editorialized recipe and congrats on the shout out in Martha Stewart!

  32. I just tried making these and, even though they taste exactly like crack should taste like, they’re gooey on the bottom instead of crisp. Any ideas on what I did wrong? Thanks!

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  34. Made a vegan version of these to give to family and friends, to say they were a HUGE HIT, is an understatement. These are beyond delicious! Thank you so much!

    • Dana – thanks for the field report & so happy they were a HUGE hit! I love comments like this & thanks for taking the time to LMK! It gets the name Xmas Crack for a reason as I’m sure you know now!

  35. I’m makin’ these puppies today!! Will let you know how they turn out!

  36. What is the best thing to top these with? Any specific candy bar peices that go well with them? Or nuts?

    • Honestly, it’s ridiculously decadent on it’s own. I am a huge fan of toppings, dips, sauces, frostings – the more the merrier – except this. This truly needs nothing! You could add anything from toffee bits to nuts but I promise, it’s really not needed!

    • I use Skor toffee bits,nuts and Andes peppermint crunch baking chips (can usually find at Christmas)on top. Kids loved them. Have also used mini M&Ms with the nuts and toffee bits.

    • I love the sounds of this! The Skor bar factor, mmmm, so good! And mini MMs and the mint Andes. All GREAT ideas!

  37. Made these earlier today – SO EASY and turned out great!!

  38. PS. I saw this recipe, or versions of, on many blogs… but your pictures always look the best, descriptions are so thorough, so I know exactly what I should be expecting, and recipes are clear and easy to follow!!

    • THANK YOU! I try really hard to write my recipes in such a way that there are as little shades of gray as possible and if necessary/helpful, include step-by-step pics. I appreciate the feedback on why you chose my version and blog :)

      And I am so glad you had success with the recipe & loved the toffee!

  39. Pingback: Christmas Crack yo. Come get you some. Hip Foodie Mom | Hip Foodie Mom

  40. Could I use Splenda brown sugar and sugar free chocolate ??? Im making big batches for gifts for family and friends but have a few people who are on low sugar diets.

    • I really don’t know because the caramelization from the sugar is key for this recipe and I don’t know if brown sugar splenda will caramelize properly. Sugar free chocolate I’m sure will be fine. You can trial the splenda and see if it works or not…but honestly, there is no delicate way to put this – this is a rich, indulgent, special treat and if at all possible, make it as I instruct in the recipe with the ingredients I list. Just tell those individuals to eat a little less :)

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  42. Hi,
    I made these 2 times in the last week and both times, the toffee was grainy and smooshy even after I left them in the fridge. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I thought the first time I made it, I didn’t simmer and stir enough and I didn’t bake in the oven long enough (3 min and 5 min, respectively) so I did them longer (5 min simmer+ stir, 7 min bake) but it still turned out grainy. :( Do you have any suggestions?

    • I would venture to say you have undissovled sugar. If you have undissolved sugar, even 1 crystal, it can start a chain reaction and basically the whole thing will begin to crystallize. I would say to be very meticulous about scraping the sides of your saucepan or pan you’re using to cook with on your stovetop. Scrape it down with a spatula, make sure everything has been properly added to the body of the liquid, so it’s all cooking and there are no stray bits. That’s really the only thing I can think of – you are making candy here. Candy *can be* a very fussy process. Do some googling about crystallization, caramel-making, and lots of recipes will pop up and maybe you can self-correct your own issues from there. It’s so hard for me from afar to diagnose the problem! Good luck!

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  46. i make a similar ‘toffee candy’. it’s made with condensed milk, no vanilla.
    i’d be willing to omit the extra calories & try your recipe…sounds good too!

  47. I made the chocolate Saltine toffee for my basket guild meeting this pass week end and everyone said it was sooo very good. The whole plate was eaten.

  48. I am a chocoholic…love, love, love sweets but this was way too sweet for me and my family.

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  50. started making these and was half way through when I ran out of cooking spray. Can I use anything else. Like coconut oil or anything like that

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