Twenty Tasty and Easy Toppings for Crackers
Crackers with toppings are great snacks to eat every day and at celebrations. They can be attractive, very tasty, and quick to make. They can also be a healthy food, depending on the ingredients in the crackers and their toppings.
Making cracker snacks is a creative process. It's fun to try new topping ingredients and to mix old and familiar ones in new combinations. Whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and meats work well in toppings. Herbs, spices, sauces, dips, and spreads like pesto, salsa, guacamole, tzatziki, and hummus are also useful.
I use whole foods on crackers as part of my regular diet and add prepared products such as sauces for special events. I look for all-natural sauces that have no artificial colors, flavors. or preservatives and that contain only healthy oils, such as olive oil. I also look for varieties with a reasonably low salt level. In this article I describe twenty tasty ingredient combinations for cracker toppings. Recipes are included for people who like to create their own sauces.
Meats, cheeses, sauces, herbs, nut butters, and fruits can be combined to create delicious savory toppings for crackers. Moist ingredients should be drained as much as possible and either added not long before the crackers are served or placed on top of a drier component to prevent the crackers from becoming soggy.
Pesto Recipe Using Fresh Basil
Savory Toppings With Meat or Fish
Salmon, Pesto, and Tomato
I use wild salmon that was canned in water without salt and has been drained. Pesto is a traditional Italian sauce made from basil, pine nuts, cheeses, olive oil, garlic, and salt.
- Place salmon on a cracker. Add a small spoonful of pesto. Top with a sliced cherry tomato. Alternatively, replace the pesto and cherry tomato with a tomato pesto.
Tuna and Cheese
Canned wild salmon is low in mercury, but canned tuna may not be, depending on the type of fish. Canned light tuna is the lowest in mercury. Canned albacore tuna is high enough in mercury that major health agencies in the US and Canada recommend that its consumption be limited. It's sometimes known as white tuna.
- Place drained, water-packed tuna on a cracker. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and black pepper. For the most flavorful pepper, grind it just before use.
Chicken, Yogurt Cheese or Tzatziki, and Grapes
Yogurt is too liquid to stay on the surface of a cracker and can make the cracker soggy. Yogurt cheese is simply yogurt with some of the liquid removed. It has a thicker consistency than whole yogurt and is very easy to make, as described in the instructions below. Fresh or dried herbs can be gently added to the yogurt cheese before it's used.
Tzatziki can be used instead of yogurt cheese. Tzatziki usually contains yogurt, cucumbers, lemon juice, olive oil, dill, garlic and salt. It's sometimes made with sour cream instead of yogurt.
- Place chicken on a cracker. Add a spoonful of yogurt cheese or tzatziki. Place sliced grapes or banana slices on top.
How to Make Yogurt Cheese
- Place a double layer of cheesecloth in a colander or other strainer which has been placed over a bowl.
- Pour yogurt into the cheesecloth and cover the colander with plastic wrap. Allow the yogurt to drain in the refrigerator for six to twelve hours.
- Place the yogurt cheese in a very clean container that has a lid. Keep the container in the refrigerator. The yogurt cheese should remain useable for up to a week.
- The liquid from the yogurt can be added to other foods.
Tzatziki Sauce Recipe
Precooked meats are useful for cracker toppings. Sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate are often added to deli meats as preservatives, however. These chemicals are converted to nitrosamines in the digestive tract. Nitrosamines are suspected carcinogens.
More Meat Combinations
Chicken and Salsa
Chicken cooked at home, canned chicken that has been drained (after being rinsed to reduce the salt content), and chicken slices without sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate are all suitable for cracker toppings.
Traditional salsa is a sauce made chiefly of tomatoes, hot peppers, and onions. Some salsas are made of fruit, peppers, and onions, however.
- Create a "bed" of chicken on a cracker. Add a spoonful of salsa from which any excess liquid has been drained. Sprinkle with dried or fresh herbs, such as oregano, marjoram, or cilantro.
Turkey, Peanut Butter, and Dried Cranberries
Use home cooked turkey, canned turkey that has been drained, or prepared turkey slices without preservatives.
- Spread peanut butter or tahini (sesame seed butter) on a cracker. Add turkey. Sprinkle with dried cranberries or raisins.
Turkey and Strawberry Jam or Jelly
I buy all-fruit strawberry jams, which are usually called spreads instead of jams. Plum and apricot jam go well with turkey, too.
- Spread the cracker with jam or jelly. Place turkey on top.
Beef, Mustard, and Salsa
Use home cooked beef or beef slices without preservatives bought in a store.
- Spread mustard on a cracker. Cover with a slice of beef. Place a spoonful of salsa on top of the beef.
Avocado Mango Salsa Recipe
Three Vegetarian Toppings for Crackers
Cucumber, Cheese, Tomato, and Picked Onion
This is an old favorite from my childhood. I use it as a sandwich filling as well as a cracker topping. I use English-style pickled onions that don't taste excessively sweet, unlike some versions of pickled onions that I've tried.
- Place sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, sliced cheddar cheese, and sliced pickled (or fresh) onion on a cracker.
Vegan Sausage and Hummus
Vegan sausages usually contain much less fat than sausages made from meat. They are often sold in a precooked form.
Hummus is a spread traditionally made from chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt.
- Spread hummus on a cracker. Top with slices of vegan sausage. Sprinkle dried cranberries over the sausage.
Cheese, Pear or Apple, and Marmalade
Cheese goes well with either pears or apples. It also goes well with marmalade, a combination that I love.
- Place a slice of cheese on a cracker. Spread marmalade on top of the cheese. Add pieces of ripe pear or apple. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts.
More Vegetarian Combinations
Vegan Ham or Bacon with Egg
- Place a slice of vegan ham or bacon on a cracker. Fold over if the slice is too big for the cracker. Place chopped, hard boiled egg on top. Sprinkle black pepper on top of the egg layer if desired.
Swiss Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato, and Basil
- Place a slice of Swiss cheese on a cracker. Add slices of sun dried or fresh tomato. Cover with basil leaves.
Salad Greens and Herbed Scrambled Eggs
- Create a bed of dark salad greens on a cracker. Fold the leaves over if they're too big for the cracker. Add a spoonful of a scrambled egg mixture that was cooked with Parmesan cheese, oregano, sage, and black pepper.
How to Make Hummus
Sweet Toppings for Crackers
The toppings below all contain nut butters. Butters made from nuts and seeds are nutritious and contain healthy fats, especially when they're sold without additives. Since I love the taste of chocolate, I often add a mixture of cocoa and sweetener to a sweet topping.
Many types of sweeteners are available in stores. My favorite is erythritol, which is generally considered to be a healthy sugar substitute. I also use buckwheat honey or another dark honey as a sweetener. These too have health benefits and have a delicious taste, but they are rich in sugars. For special treats, though, honey is a great sweetener.
Chocolate syrup can provide a nice taste in a topping. It's high in sucrose, so ideally it should be used in small quantities or only on special occasions. The syrup can be bought in stores or made at home. As the video below shows, making the syrup at home is a quick and easy process. You may prefer the ingredients that are used in home recipes. Commercial chocolate syrups often contain high fructose corn syrup, a controversial substance.
Homemade Chocolate Syrup Recipe
Some Sweet Combinations
Hazelnut Butter, Honey, and Cocoa
- Spread hazelnut butter on a cracker. Drizzle honey on top of the hazelnut butter. Sprinkle cocoa on top of the honey. Chocolate syrup can be used instead of the honey/cocoa mixture.
Peanut Butter and Banana
- Spread peanut butter on a cracker. Add slices of banana. If desired, drizzle with the honey and cocoa mixture as above or use chocolate syrup instead.
Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam or Jelly
- Spread peanut butter on a cracker. Cover with a layer of all-fruit strawberry jam or jelly. Many other flavors of jam and jelly go well with peanut butter, including raspberry and grape. Adding pieces of fruit on top of the jam or instead of it creates an interesting taste and increases nutrition. Try strawberries, raspberries, grapes, or blueberries.
Cashew Butter and Orange Marmalade
- Spread cashew butter on a cracker. Cover with a layer of all-fruit orange marmalade. Sprinkle with powdered cinnamon or ginger.
Three Dessert Toppings
These dessert toppings are great for special occasions, although the crackers and their toppings aren't exactly health foods. They are delicious, though.
Almond Butter and Lemon Curd (or Lemon Spread)
Lemon curd is a thick and creamy spread made from butter, eggs, lemon juice, and sugar. I've found lemon curd that contains no added color or artificial ingredients in big health food markets, such as Whole Foods.
Lemon spread is a suitable substitute if you can't find lemon curd. Both products are high in sugar, but I love their taste.
- Spread almond butter on a cracker and cover with a layer of lemon curd. I usually make the layer of lemon curd thicker than the layer of nut butter since I like it so much.
Blueberries and Cream
Thick cream topped by sweet fruit is a wonderful cracker topping for celebrations. I use Devonshire double cream, to which I add a small amount of sweetener. The fruit and cream combination tastes especially nice on top of oat cakes (which are a type of cracker, despite their name).
- Place a spoonful of thick, lightly sweetened cream on a cracker. Top with blueberries or another fruit.
Peanut Butter and Marshmallow
Marshmallows may not have any redeeming health benefits, but they are very nice as a cracker topping.
- Spread peanut butter on a cracker. Add mini marshmallows or spread marshmallow fluff (or marshmallow cream/creme) over the peanut butter.
Lemon Curd Recipe
More Ideas for Cracker Toppings
There are many other possible ingredients for cracker toppings. I sometimes use the following foods.
- vegetables such as coleslaw, bell peppers, hot peppers, and avocados
- seeds such as sesame, cumin, and fennel
- fruits and berries other than the ones mentioned
- salad greens with a peppery taste, such as arugula and mizuna
- chopped onions, chives, or garlic
- cream cheese
- herbs and spices besides the ones mentioned
- nutritional yeast
- textured vegetable protein or TVP
Guacamole is another possible addition. It's a sauce made from avocado, limes, garlic, salt and sometimes other ingredients, such as tomatoes.
Discovering New Ingredient Combinations
Discovering new ingredient combinations that work well in cracker snacks is fun. Many foods can be chopped, sliced, grated, crumbled, folded, or drained to place on a cracker. If you have favorite toppings that aren't mentioned in this article, I'd love to hear about them in the "Comments" section below.
© 2014 Linda Crampton