Chocolate Saltine Toffee


This post may contain affiliate links.

Saltine Toffee (aka Christmas Crack Recipe) — They don’t call this stuff ‘Christmas Crack’ for nothing. It’s easy to make, extremely addictive, and combines salty, sweet, crunchy, and chewy into a holiday favorite.

christmas crack

Christmas Crack Recipe

I’ve heard this saltine cracker 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.

pieces of christmas crack on white table

This Christmas crack 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 Christmas crack candy so I’m 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.

Note that there is no saltine cracker taste, despite its being saltine cracker bark. 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.

stacks of saltine toffee on parchment paper squares

Below 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. The Christmas candy crack 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 saltine toffee was well worth every hot, melty moment.

saltine cracker toffee before baking

What’s in This Christmas Crack Recipe?

To make this saltine toffee recipe, you’ll need:

  • Saltine crackers
  • Unsalted butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips

stacks of christmas crack candy on parchment paper squares

How to Make Christmas Crack

Before making the saltine cracker toffee, line a 9×13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Do NOT try making this Christmas crack recipe without the foil — you’ll hate yourself later if you skip this step. 

Place the Saltine crackers in a single layer in the baking dish. Then, add the butter and sugar to a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture has thickened some.

Stir the vanilla extract into the thickened butter mixture, then pour over the Saltines in the baking dish. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the toffee topping is bubbly. 

Once out of the oven, sprinkle the saltine cracker toffee with 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.

Let the Christmas crack cool completely on your countertop, then break into pieces and enjoy! 

stacks of saltine toffee

Why Won’t My Chocolate Chips Melt?

Chocolate chips are designed to resist melting, and some are less prone to melting than others. If your chocolate chips don’t seem to be melting, pop the saltine toffee back into the oven after it’s been turned off. Let the toffee sit in the oven for a couple minutes to speed up the melting process. 

What Brand of Chocolate Chips Do You Recommend? 

I like to bake with Trader Joe’s semi-sweet morsels. You could also use a chopped up chocolate bar. 

box of saltine crackers

Can I Make This Christmas Crack Gluten-Free?

Yes, you can easily make this saltine cracker toffee by using gluten-free Saltines. 

christmas crack

Tips for Making This Christmas Crack Recipe

When boiling the butter and sugar, take care that your simmer is not too fast or too high because the mixture is prone to bubbling over or scorching. Stir the mixture frequently while it simmers to avoid either from happening. 

After you’ve smoothed the chocolate over the saltine toffee, you’re welcome to add nuts, seeds, graham cracker crumbs, toffee bits, dried fruit, candy bits, or swirl in some peanut butter or other nut butter.

You can also use other types of baking chips — such as butterscotch, white chocolate, or peanut butter — either in addition to or in a half-and-half combination with the dark chocolate chips for your top layer.

Chocolate Saltine Toffee (aka Christmas Crack)

How Long Does Christmas Crack Last? 

If stored in an airtight container, this saltine toffee will last for up to 2 weeks at room temperature or in the freezer for up to 4 months. 

Saltine Toffee (aka Christmas Crack Recipe) — They don’t call this stuff ‘Christmas Crack’ for nothing. It’s easy to make, extremely addictive, and combines salty, sweet, crunchy, and chewy into a holiday favorite.

Pin This Recipe

Yield: 40 servings

Chocolate Saltine Toffee

Chocolate Saltine Toffee

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.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 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)


    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.
    4. 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.
    5. After mixture has thickened a bit, remove it from the heat, wait 30 seconds, add the vanilla extract and stir.
    6. Pour mixture over the prepared pan with the saltine crackers.
    7. Bake in for 5- 7 minutes, or until toffee/liquid becomes bubbly.
    8. After removing the pan from the oven, let it rest for 3 to 5 minutes.
    9. 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. * (see note below)
    10. Let cool very well and if desired for expediting purposes, refrigerate or freeze until hardened. Break into pieces the size of your choice.
    11. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 4 months.


  • *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.
  • To keep this recipe gluten-free, use GF crackers or make your own GF saltine crackers. To keep vegan, use margarine/Earth Balance and use a vegan cracker.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 133Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 32mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 12gProtein: 1g

More Easy Holiday Desserts: 

Reindeer Chow — A holiday twist on classic Muddy Buddies that’s EASY, ready in 15 minutes, and perfect for hostess gifts or cookie exchanges!! Chex, chocolate, peanut butter, pretzels, M&M’s, and sprinkles make this dessert snack mix totally IRRESISTIBLE!!

Reindeer Chow

White Chocolate Holiday Fudge — This EASY foolproof white chocolate fudge recipe is perfect for Christmas and holiday parties!! A double dose of white chocolate with an Oreo Cookie crust for the WIN!!

White Chocolate Holiday Fudge

Graham Cracker Toffee — If you’re looking for a recipe that will disappear at holiday parties, cookie exchanges, neighborhood potlucks, or school bake sales, this graham cracker toffee is a guaranteed winner.

Graham Cracker Toffee

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls — EASY, NO-BAKE chocolate peanut butter balls that are a holiday favorite!! They have it all: Salty, sweet, crunchy, with chocolate and peanut butter! Great for cookie exchanges or impromptu parties!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Melt In Your Mouth Toffee – Irresistible, buttery, ADDICTIVE, and just melts in your mouth!! EASY and perfect for holiday parties, gift-giving, or cookie exchanges!!

Melt in your mouth toffee

Holiday Special K Bars — Super chewy, gooey, FAST, easy, no-bake cereal bars loaded with peanut butter, chocolate, and sprinkles!! Like scotcheroos but with Special K! Great for impromptu hostess gifts or cookie exchanges because they’re irresistible!!

Holiday Special K Bars

White Chocolate-Dipped Oreo Cookie Balls — This Oreo balls recipe uses just 4 simple ingredients! If you’re looking for an easy no-bake dessert for cookie swaps or gift exchanges, this is it!

White Chocolate-Dipped Oreo Cookie Balls

Edited to add: This 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.

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

Get the latest recipes via email!

Leave a Comment

Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Averie, I love the complete and explicit instructions in this recipe. No guessing on the part of the person making it. It is most delicious. Thank You….

    Rating: 5
    1. I agree. The cheaper chips don’t tend to have as many stabilizers as say Nestle Tollhouse which are much more resistant to melting.

    1. Relax Marilyn. It was a tongue-in-cheek joke.

      After all, Paula did have a huge racial scandal a few years ago if you recall.

      Make who’s ever recipe you want to make and have a joyous holiday season.

    1. I never have tried it so can’t say for sure how it will work, if they will hold up the same after the sauce is poured all over them.

  2. I make this every year as my nephews (and my kids) expect it. I put Skor toffee bits on before putting the chocolate chips on the crackers. It gives it a little more “toffee” crunch to it! And I put it in the freezer to set before breaking it into pieces. Always works out perfectly!

    Rating: 5
  3. I made this for the first time and it was so easy! My coworkers loved it and have all asked for a link to the recipe.

    Rating: 5
  4. I feel like my toffee is still soft even though it’s been in the fridge for several hours! I made this before and it got hard so that I could snap it apart but the butter sugar part is still soft even squeezed!

    1. From what you described, I would say you under-boiled/cooked the butter-sugar a bit and it didn’t get hot enough to set up properly, i.e. you have caramel sauce rather than toffee. Next time cook a bit longer or at a more rapid boil and you will be fine.

    1. Whether or not you coated your foil too much, I don’t think that would have made the crackers appreciably softer, or too soft, in comparison to the very wet butter-sugar mixture that’s poured over them. They get soft from that, but not mushy-soft.

      Not sure why they seem soft…hard to guess from afar. But thanks for trying the recipe.

  5. I just made my third batch. Only thing is the sugar mixtures doesn’t seem to spread but rather pool in the middle. Maybe is my cookie sheet?

  6. I would like to make this but I was wondering if you could substitute honey for the brown sugar. I have made a kind of oatmeal cookie where the oatmeal was stirred into a mixture of honey and butter that was boiled together and they were very good. What do you think?

    1. For this recipe I have only used sugar and am not sure if honey would work or how things would set up without doing a lot of testing on your own.

  7. Hi Averie, my sister also lives in Aruba and I will forward this recipe to her. I am also going to make this myself.

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

  9. 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!

    1. 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!

  10. 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!

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

    1. 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!

    1. Some brands of chocolate chips are very resistant to melting. If you have access to Trader Joe’s, their chips melt very easily.

    2. make sure the chocolate chips are not expired. I had that with white choc. chips and they would not melt.

    3. Mine also did not melt!! Next time I will use Hershey bars. I was very disappointed in the end result in something that should have been so simple. I was using new nestles morsels.

    4. After I put my chips on, I put the pan back into the oven (it’s off, but still hot) for 3 or 4 minutes to soften the chocolate. So easy to spread after that. I also top it with crushed up pretzels.i

  12. 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. 

  13. 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.

    1. 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!

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

    1. 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.

  15. 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!