100% Whole Wheat Graham Crackers: homemade and healthier

“The best graham crackers ever. One bite, and you’ll want to eat the entire bagful.”

So says Seneca. A member of our King Arthur Flour extended family via her mom, Jenn (our catalogue’s art director), Seneca is 8 years old. And she knows a good thing when she tastes it. No dissembling; no hesitation.

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Just “the best graham crackers ever.”

Which warms my heart. Despite its nutritional attributes, whole wheat flour is often a hard sell, flavor-wise. Especially when it comes to kids, who can taste “healthy” in their cookies a mile off – and summarily reject it as “different.”

If you have a child, you’ve seen “the face,” right?

You hand little Chloe a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie. Expecting her usual happy chocolate chip cookie experience, she takes a bite. Happy fades, replaced by quizzical, followed by the “ewwwww” look, with an accusatory, dagger-laden “how could you” for good measure at the end.

That’s a fairly common reaction with traditional whole wheat flour, ground from red wheat berries.

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But our white wheat flour – ground from nutritionally equivalent white wheat berries – is a milder, lighter-colored flour, one that’s easier to slip past your most discerning audience… the kids.

Graham crackers were an original poster child for whole wheat flour. Invented by preacher Sylvester Graham back in the mid-19th century, these 100% whole wheat crackers were part of Graham’s drive to get Americans to eat healthier. He advocated a vegetarian diet of natural, unadulterated foods – including whole wheat baked goods of all kinds.

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Today’s typical graham cracker still includes graham flour – a type of soft whole wheat. But as you can see, today’s packaged crackers are mainly white flour.

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Which is why I decided to salute Rev. Graham with a recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Graham Crackers.

Crackers that – thankfully, if Seneca is any indication – won’t result in the “ewww” face.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets; if you have parchment, you’ll be using it to roll, transfer, and bake the crackers, so you won’t need to grease your baking sheets.

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Gather the following:

2 cups (8 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baker’s ammonia* or 1 teaspoon baking powder

*Baker’s ammonia, a traditional ingredient known for imparting super light/crisp texture to cookies and crackers, will make the crunchiest crackers. Baking powder will work, too, though it’ll produce a slightly harder (rather than crisp) cracker.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder, if you’re using it; if you’re using baker’s ammonia, don’t mix it in yet. Set the mixture aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the following. If you’re using baker’s ammonia, dissolve it in 1 tablespoon of the water before adding it to the remaining liquid ingredients.

1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water; or 2 tablespoons each orange juice and water*

*Orange juice tempers the sometimes assertive flavor of whole wheat; we recommend it if you’re baking for kids, especially with traditional whole wheat flour. OJ substituted in this small amount won’t make your crackers taste orange-y, just less “wheaty.” Use all water if desired.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry mixture, stirring to form a cohesive dough.

Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a flattened block.

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Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it between two pieces of lightly greased parchment or waxed paper.

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Roll the dough until it’s 1/16″ thick. Try to keep the dough a uniform thinness throughout, and make sure the bottom piece of parchment remains flat.

Rolling the dough ultra-thin (1/16″) is key to the crisp, light texture of these crackers. If you can’t roll the dough that thin, your crackers will be sturdier, and you’ll need to bake them a bit longer.

See the parchment wrinkle in that top photo? You want to avoid that…

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…because here’s what happens if you let the bottom sheet of parchment fold over on itself: you get a crack in your crackers.

Transfer the rolled-out dough to your prepared baking sheet; if it’s on parchment, peel off the top piece, and lay the bottom piece on the baking sheet. If it’s on waxed paper, peel off the top piece, flip the dough over onto the baking sheet, and peel off the remaining piece.

Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.

No, you didn’t miss a step; we’re not cutting the crackers quite yet. I mean, who wants to try to move 1/16″-thick crackers from paper to pan? Thanks to one of our blog readers for the following cracker-cutting suggestion – it’s genius. (And I apologize, I can’t find your comment/name anywhere!)

First, bake the crackers for 10 minutes.

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Remove them from the oven, and use a rolling pizza wheel or sharp knife to cut the sheets of dough into 3″ x 2″ rectangles; don’t separate them, just cut them. You can use a fork to prick the crackers at this point, if you like, for that distinctive graham cracker look.

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Return the crackers to the oven, and continue to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges. Overall, they should be a shade darker than when they went into the oven; and they shouldn’t be at all soft or pliable.

Turn off the heat, and open the oven door wide. After 5 minutes or so, when much of the oven’s heat has dissipated, shut the oven door, and let it cool down completely with the crackers inside; this will help them become as crisp as possible.

Remove the cooled crackers from the cold oven, and wrap them airtight. They’ll stay good at room temperature for several weeks.

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Now, I’m not saying these homemade graham crackers taste exactly like store-bought. There’s a certain graham cracker flavor I’ve been unable to emulate – though looks-wise, they’re a close match for packaged crackers. (See the manufactured cracker in the center there? It’s the one with all the holes).

But judging them on their own merits, they’re good. VERY good.

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Just ask Seneca!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Graham Crackers.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Kalisa

    Ah, good old Sylvester Graham. He would probably flip his wig if he could see the current version of the graham cracker and its use in such decadent desserts as S’mores and pie crusts!

    Looks like a great recipe. I keep a bag of the White Whole Wheat in my freezer and always substitute a bit of the regular All Purpose flour in my baked goods.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks, Kalisa! Maybe old Sylvester would be flipping his wig in a good way. You never know. Barb@KAF

    2. citlalnahuac

      The Reverend Sylvester (1794 – 1851) must have been a dreadful killjoy in person. But, then, he would have regarded that as a good thing.

      He advocated abstinence from alcohol, tea, coffee, meat, milk, white flour and its baked goods, spices and any strong flavors, excitement of any kind, sex, and ‘impure thoughts’ in general. His regimen was supposed to be both healthy and ‘character-building’.

      He attracted a fairly large following including John Harvey and Will Keith Kellogg – yes, those Kelloggs – and the dean of Oberlin College, (who prescribed Graham’s strict, bland, anti-lust-and-impure-thoughts vegetarian diet for students and staff, even firing a professor who insisted on bringing pepper from home), but also considerable ridicule. Butchers and professional bakers in Boston even tried to keep him from speaking there. I agree, he would surely be utterly appalled by just the concept of S’mores.

      I regularly make a riff on KAF’s Vermont Honey Wheat Bread and ironically call it Graham Bread; it has cinnamon, and Graham strongly disapproved of all spices, cinnamon in particular. So these crackers – and, indeed modern commercial Graham crackers, which are too sweet – wouldn’t meet his standards, either.

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      I stand corrected. It sounds like the Reverend Sylvester would definitely not approve of our modern day indulgences! Barb@KAF

  2. Gina

    I baked graham crackers last weekend using KA graham flour. They were very good. Maybe that is what is missing from you getting that certain graham flour flavor. My youngest son and I loved them and ate them right up.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Gina, that’s certainly worth a try – thanks for the suggestion. Glad you and your son enjoyed them! PJH

  3. Anna

    As the box indicates the presence of “graham flour” a.k.a whole wheat, maybe substituting some of the White Whole Wheat with regular Whole Wheat would give the “grahamy flavor” you were looking for? I may try these, I have that Baker’s Ammonia and was waiting for just the right inspiration.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Anna, thanks so much for the suggestion. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the answer. The flavor of regular whole wheat isn’t “graham cracker-y,” but instead rather assertively “wheaty” – potentially a bit tannic/bitter. I think it has more to do with the soy oil, as Biscoff cookies, which taste like graham crackers, also include soy. But I’ve never been able to quite figure it all out. I’m glad we were able to provide you with a good recipe with which to test your baker’s ammonia! PJH

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Kay, the temperature is 300°F – you’ll see it right before the grid of pictures showing how to mix up the cracker dough. Enjoy! PJH

  4. Dan Persechino

    Hi PJ
    I thought your article was very good about the graham crackers. The article on white whole wheat was great as well. I thought about what you said in the graham cracker article at the end…that there was a flavor
    that you couldn’t emulate with this recipe, probably like myself, I grew up eating Nabisco honey grahams or
    I noticed the box picture in your article, that the list of ingredients had molasses in it. I would like to add one or both in my graham cracker recipe…..any suggestions on how much of either?? Thanks a million, Sincerely Dan

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Dan, I don’t think the molasses will do it; I actually tried that in a previous recipe where I was trying to get graham cracker’s distinctive flavor. But if you want to give it a try, maybe substitute 1/4 cup molasses for 1/4 cup of the sugar. You’ll want to cut the water down, as well; start by adding 1 tablespoon of water, then add more if needed. Let us know how they come out – good luck! PJH

  5. Carol Savoie

    hmm. I am thinking a wee bit of molasses in place of some of the sugar might be tasty. Would you need a touch of baking soda?
    Please explain more about the chemistry of bakers ammonia

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Carol, baker’s ammonia (ammonium carbonate) is actually a very old form of leavener, predecessor to both baking powder and baking soda. You can read all about its chemistry here. It’s not a simple 1:1 substitution for baking powder, but in recipes calling for it (which some traditional recipes do), I feel it gives the finished product a lighter, crunchier texture. If you substitute a bit of molasses, I don’t believe you’ll need baking soda; either the BP or BA should take care of that tiny added acidity just fine. Good luck – PJH

  6. Erin in PA

    Yum! I have made graham crackers before and they are delicious. I have never used baking ammonia for them before, so I can’t wait to try this recipe. I really enjoy that ingredient for Vanilla Dreams – so crisp!! I do love making homemade marshmallows and homemade graham crackers for extra special S’mores — maybe this will be my baking project this weekend…

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sounds like my kind of weekend project! Just make sure to use some high quality chocolate to make for a really special treat. Jon@KAF

  7. Phoebe

    Could I use regular all purpose flour, and omit the orange juice? Just because…..I currently have no whole wheat flour on hand!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Graham crackers are traditionally made with whole wheat. You can certainly give it a try with all purpose, but expect drastically different crackers. Also, you may need to reduce the liquid in the recipe. Jon@KAF

  8. Darlene Bloom

    Dan mentioned your article on white whole wheat flour. I must have missed that blog. Where can I find it? I made these graham crackers using regular whole wheat and they were not crispy or crunchy. More like hardtak. So says my husband. Surely could not be MY baking, must be the ovens fault or something, or maybe I should just follow the recipe.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Darlene, did you use the baker’s ammonia? That would definitely give you lighter, crispier texture. It’s definitely not your baking skill – gotta be those ingredients. Maybe your oven, too. We never admit to “user error,” right? 🙂 PJH

  9. grpa

    “ALWAYS READ THE RECIPE IN FULL BEFORE YOU START and WITH THE REVIEWS by other”. NOW taken all the suggestions from other’s and put them together to make an excellent meal. It’s a matter of what your taste is. YES ! I all-way like to made the recipe once as written, the way the chef did it. Yes I made a few alterations, I can’t leave anything alone! I have to play with my food. It’s a matter of what your taste is….I now have two more or is it three ways to this. I made this and it came out much better for me. What I like is the idea what other reviewer did, You can get very good tip’s as will as hint’s, I do add this to my notes, to do. You got me thinking on this, I like it. Thank you and to the other reviewer who suggested what to do, I love it wend someone do the recipe with alterations, and it was a hit with everyone! I had several requests for the recipe. I Will definitely make this again for sure! Thank You!!
    P.S…Will tweak it till I come up with something I really like. Did I get you Inspired to play with your food that what I love about cooking have fun I would love to hear any improvements and/or variations you make to this simple recipe. “I like to think that I am an explorer of food.” Enjoy! Y’all Have A GOOD Cooking Week and Happy Cooking to y’all!…As well !!… NOW I can do my happy food dance Now! 5 Stars; no; It’s over the top, More Like 8-10 to me is more like it. K.A. is top’s with the recipes. thank you..Grpa in Va.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks so much for your enthusiastic review. Your excitement is contagious! Happy baking to you. Barb@KAF

  10. Mary from Virginia

    PJ, I’m confused. In one place you say to whisk the baker’s ammonia in with the dry ingredients and in a later place you say to dissolve it in water and mix it with the liquids. Did I miss something here? Thank you. (I’m going to try these in my pizzelle maker as well as in the oven.)

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sorry, Mary – I amended the recipe, but not the blog post. All set now – thanks for letting me know. PJH

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Lisa,
      Yes, it can simply dissipate if not well covered. I place a piece of plastic wrap over the jar, then screw the lid on. This extra barrier seems to help, I haven’t lost any powder to the air elementals this year. 🙂 ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Pat,
      I haven’t seen any to taste test in the kitchen, but I’ll certainly add this to the wish list for our recipe team. ~ MJ

  11. Laura

    Has anyone tried making chocolate grahams? I’m thinking maybe add 1/4 cup of cocoa and skip the cinnamon. Would be interested if anyone has tried a chocolate version yet.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Kathie, I think so – try substituting an additional egg for the water; you want the dough to look like it does in the picture, so add more water (or OJ) if necessary. Add 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum as well, to help with structure. Good luck – PJH

  12. MGW960W

    I believe the “genius” method of bake-cut-bake was introduced by julia32 in comments on chocolate graham crackers.

    Reply
  13. Rachael Armstrong

    I’ve got these in the oven right now! Can’t wait to taste them. Have you tried subbing honey for all or part of the sugar?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t tried honey in them, but we’ve seen many recipes that use some honey. The dough will be stickier, and a bit harder to roll; reduce the oven by 25 degrees because it will brown faster. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  14. Laila

    Can I reduce the sugar by half the amount? Will the result still be the same but little less sweet? I want to cut down sugar consumption.

    Another question, can these made savory by adding dried herbs and no sugar at all? Thanks so much.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Feel free to reduce the sugar, but don’t omit it all. It adds to the spread and the color, as well as flavor.And no, we haven’t tried them as savory, but they might be pretty crunchy! Happy experimenting! Laurie@KAF

  15. Rita Foust

    I thought Graham Flour was used? Also, what about using alcohol instead of ammonia, like Vodka. Will that have the same effect with the crisping?? TIA

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We tried a few flours and found that is what we preferred. However, please use whatever flour you’d like! We haven’t used vodka in our crackers but you are certainly free to try it for a portion of the water. I don’t think it will fully replace the baker’s ammonia, though. Happy experimenting! Laurie@KAF

  16. Gia Jacobson

    i have all ingredients, BUT I love the honey graham crackers, any way to add honey without destroying the recipe?! Omit the Cinnamon?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Gia – Because this dough needs to be the correct consistency for handling we recommend finding a recipe for Honey Graham Crackers. However, if you are feeling adventurous, you may try substituting about 1/3 of the granulated sugar with honey. In doing so, you will need to cut back on the liquid by about 1 – 1 1/2 T. I would opt to keep the cinnamon in the recipe for some great flavor. Good luck! Elisabeth@KAF

    2. AnneMarie

      I make graham crackers all the time. While my recipe varies from the one above, I do make honey grahams that taste like those in the blue box that can be found nationally. I use One Tablespoon of granulated/powdered honey, which does not effect the consistency of the dough at all, nut does add to the flavor factor.

  17. Karen Hilinski

    I don’t get it – why didn’t you answer Rita Foust’s question about using graham flour? You are making graham crackers, so why not use graham flour? One would think that this would be the primary ingredient used.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Karen, I try to make our recipes as accessible as possible to everyone; graham flour isn’t something you can purchase at the grocery store, so I used a more common flour, white whole wheat. In addition, graham flour and traditional whole wheat flour are both milled from red wheat, and taste the same: aggressively “wheaty,” not “graham-y.” Graham flour is milled from soft rather than hard red wheat; and while this may affect texture, it doesn’t affect taste. I WISH graham flour tasted like graham crackers… but that’s just not the case. Hope this helps – PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great idea! If you believe the dough is dry enough to go through the pasta maker, please let us all know how this works for you. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  18. ChicagoJohn

    This recipe is fan-tastic!! Made it twice, the second time adding a drop or two of almond extract and vanilla extract as well as substituting brown sugar and Grandma’s molasses. Made both with flour ground directly from hard red spring wheat berries on our Whisper mill. My wife and I think these crackers are the best thing since sliced bread! Bread made with 100% whole wheat flour, too!

    Thanks so much for this recipe. We love it!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      So glad to hear this is a hit with you and your wife – have you spread them with PB yet? 🙂 PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We are happy to hear you are eager to make this recipe, Stephanje! While we don’t currently have the nutritional information for this product available, we understand that it is important to many bakers when choosing a recipe. We’re working on making this information available for more of our recipes. In the meantime, we recommend using the Nutrition Calculator provided by SparkPeople to get an idea of the nutritional profile of this recipe. It allows you to enter the recipe exactly as you make it, accounting for any substitutions. We hope you give these homemade graham crackers a try! Kye@KAF

  19. Kelly

    Vegetable oil is not actually derived from vegetables and is a horrible thing to put in your body Have you tried using coconut oil instead? If not, do you think it would work?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I do not believe we have tried using coconut oil in this recipe, Kelly. But, we have done some experimentation with it in other recipes. A straight substitution 1:1 may create a slightly greasier product. Good luck! Elisabeth@KAF

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