Graham Crackers, a decade-long source of pie crust, is a kind of boring classic that you only miss when you need it for a recipe. And chances are you won’t even find them outside of North America.
When it was invented in 1925, it was a weird food concept. Sylvester Graham, a vegetarian health guru swore on it as the foundation of spiritual and physical health. (*)
Now it’s a simple, slightly sweet cookie we put under our key lime pies. The irony…
But where can you turn to in times of need? Let’s uncover all the Graham Cracker substitutes you can find around the world.
- What Are Graham Crackers Exactly?
- What Is a Good Substitute For Graham Crackers?
- 1. Crisp Cookies
- 2. Ice Cream Cones
- 3. Crushed Breakfast Cereal
- 4. Crushed Macarons – A Fancy Graham Cracker Substitute
- 5. Crushed Oats or Oat Cookies – A Healthy Alternative To Graham Crackers
- 6. Digestive Cookies
- 7. Gingersnaps – A Punchy Replacement
- 8. Homemade Gluten-free Graham Crackers Substitutes
- 9. Shortbread Crackers – Another Gluten-free Alternative
- 11. Marie Biscuits
- 12. Animal Crackers
- 13. Malt Biscuits – an Aussie Alternative
- 14. Crushed Nuts – A Keto Substitute for Graham Cracker Crust
What Are Graham Crackers Exactly?
Graham Crackers are an American specialty; a whole-wheat, nutty, cinnamon, and vanilla-flavored snack. Usually sweetened with molasses and honey, and packed with fibers and graham flour.
Although they were designed to be snacks, we mostly use them to make pie crusts, cheesecakes, tarts, s’mores, ice cream sundaes, and mango floats. (*)
They are not gluten-free, but vegans can consume the non-honey versions. The deep, Maillard flavor adds a nice touch to sweet recipes.
How Do We Use Graham Crackers In Recipes?
The wheat flour in the crackers gives pie crusts a firm, outer layer even after freezing or refrigerating for an extended period of time.
When made into a crust, they don’t have to be baked. Simply crush them and press them into a pie pan before adding the filling. (*)
Crushed graham crackers are also used to coat chicken or pork chops in savory dishes.
Chef’s Tip for Substituting Graham Crackers
Our pro tip for a mind-blowing graham cracker substitute is more cookies and bakes!
Use some harder lemon bars or brownie edges and crush them into a crust or crumble for desserts. The taste will be more complex, and punchy than with regular graham crackers.
What Is a Good Substitute For Graham Crackers?
Replacing graham crackers in recipes is not rocket science, but you can make the most of your desserts by choosing the best substitutes.
We’ll help you along the way with tips on the best graham cracker substitutes for the most popular recipes.
1. Crisp Cookies
With no graham crackers in sight, you’re more likely to buy some cookies on the spur of the moment from the store.
All types of cookies can be used as a graham cracker substitute, but the variety can be overwhelming. ( * )
Biscoff cookies or Italian amaretti are the closest matches; both have a hint of cinnamon, molasses, and some vanilla undertones, just like graham crackers. Choose crisp cookies that will not become soggy quickly.
Oreos or chocolate chip cookies may come to mind first when we think of cookies. They’re delicious, but they’re not exactly like graham crackers. They have a strong flavor and a lot of sugar.
When substituting graham crackers for high-sugar cookies, make sure to adjust the total amount of sugar in your recipe.
- Keeping it healthy: By choosing clean and healthy ingredients such as low-sugar oatmeal or granola cookies, you can keep sugar intake under control when substituting graham crackers.
2. Ice Cream Cones
It may not have occurred to you, but the cones from your summer sundaes are the perfect replacement for graham crackers in cheesecakes, pies, and tarts, giving your dessert a bit more crunch.
After pulsing the ice cream cones in a food processor, you can use them similarly to graham crackers in every sweet recipe.
You can deepen the flavors by lightly roasting them, mimicking the aromatic molasses tone in graham crackers. ( * )
And the best part? They won’t get soggy as quickly because they were made to hold ice cream.
3. Crushed Breakfast Cereal
Crushed cold cereals have the same crunch as graham crackers. And furthermore, they can be much healthier.
Hunting for ingredients won’t be an issue, since you can find some tasty breakfast cereal in even the smallest of shops, all around the world. ( * )
You also have a wide array to choose from:
- Rice cereal
- Flavored cereals
- Whole grain or wheat cereals
You can also mix and match various kinds of cereal to make a slightly sweet, crunchy crust for pies or cakes. There are also healthier or low-sugar options with added minerals and vitamins.
Just imagine a divine caramel cheesecake with a Honey Nut Cheerios crust. Or a tart strawberry cake with some Chocapic crunch on the bottom.
Or how about a healthy nut-granola crust with a sugar-free fruit yogurt cake on top?
4. Crushed Macarons – A Fancy Graham Cracker Substitute
Some occasions call for going all-out. For something truly special, you can pick some macarons and use them as a pie crust to replace plain graham crackers.
The classic almond flour, and egg white delicacies will give you a softer, chewier contrast. Because they’re so sweet, pair them with tart flavors like citrus, dark chocolate, or acidic fruits.( * )
5. Crushed Oats or Oat Cookies – A Healthy Alternative To Graham Crackers
Oats or oat cookies don’t offer the same depth of flavor when substituting graham crackers. They are more of a healthy option you can always find at the grocery store with a similar texture.
Oats have extra fiber, and with some additions like nuts, jams, or cocoa, you can turn them up in the flavor department.
Make them into a crust for pies, cheesecake, tarts, and cakes, or use a topping for pudding, yogurt, ice cream, or cakes and pies.
Pro tip: You can make them resemble graham crackers more by adding a touch of molasses or caramel, and some cinnamon.
6. Digestive Cookies
You can use graham crackers and digestive cookies interchangeably in any recipe. They are similar in texture, taste, and consistency.
Be it cakes, pies, tarts, ice creams, puddings, yogurts, or custards, they will match every dessert flavor. It’s easy to crush them and won’t become soggy so easily in the fridge or freezer.
Furthermore, you can find them all around the world, not just in America. They are great graham cracker substitutes in the UK, South Africa, India, Denmark, Brazil, and many other countries.
Keep in mind: Digestive biscuits are thicker, grainier, and less sweet with a nutty flavor.
7. Gingersnaps – A Punchy Replacement
Ginger cookies add a unique flavor profile to desserts that graham crackers cannot match. They pack some honey, ginger, cinnamon, and molasses.
Their spiciness adds a complex flavor to cakes, pies, ice cream, sundaes, cheesecakes, and tarts. ( * )
Gingersnaps can offset the sweetness of other elements leading to a more balanced flavor profile in your desserts.
8. Homemade Gluten-free Graham Crackers Substitutes
If you’re gluten intolerant, regular graham crackers are a no-go. To create homemade graham crackers, all you need is almond flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, butter, salt, whole milk, honey, and vanilla extract.
Furthermore, no stamps or cutters are needed to mold the crackers. Use a rolling pin, ruler, fork, and knife to shape them, and substitute graham crackers.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.
- Grease a non-stick pan.
- Shape and place the cookies into the pan
- Bake it for about 12 to 15 minutes.
- They will look golden brown when ready.
From these homemade biscuits, you can make a gluten-free substitute for graham cracker pie crust.
9. Shortbread Crackers – Another Gluten-free Alternative
Shortbread crackers are usually lower in sugar and calories, making them a healthier substitute for graham crackers. They are also gluten-free and packed with fiber and protein.
You can also use them in savory dishes like meat pies and quiches, besides the regular desserts.
11. Marie Biscuits
Marie biscuits are a great Aussi substitute for graham crackers. They are also less likely to become soggy and come with a similar vanilla flavor.
Another bonus is they are much cheaper and can be found outside the US. It’s hard to find graham crackers in Australia, the UK, or South Africa for example, but you’ll find Marie biscuits.
12. Animal Crackers
You don’t have to be under 6 to enjoy some gold old animal crackers. Similarly sweet, and crunchy, but with much better macronutrients, animal crackers are an ideal graham cracker substitute.
You can find them at most grocery stores, and use them as you would graham crackers. However, they tend to be less flavorful.
Pro tip: add a touch of cinnamon, vanilla, honey, or molasses to animal crackers to perfectly substitute graham crackers.
13. Malt Biscuits – an Aussie Alternative
Malt biscuits are probably the closest alternative to graham crackers you can find in Australia. Use them similarly to digestive biscuits by adding some cinnamon or vanilla or replicating the flavor.
They lack some color as well compared to graham crackers, so toast them slightly after crushing.
14. Crushed Nuts – A Keto Substitute for Graham Cracker Crust
Graham crackers don’t really have a place in a ketogenic diet, but you can work around that.
With some crushed nuts, you can make amazing crusts and desserts, even better than plain old graham crackers. ( * )
The best nuts to use instead of graham crackers:
You can also add a hint of sweetener and butter when making a crust out of nuts. These are also amazing gluten-free substitutes for graham crackers in any dessert.
All you need is a food processor, however, don’t go overboard with it;
Overprocessing nuts can lead to a paste-like structure due to their high oil content.
Graham crackers are flat, crisp wafers made from graham flour and frequently sweetened with honey. They are classified as sweet biscuits as opposed to savory biscuits or crackers.
There are a few gluten-free alternatives to graham crackers; animal crackers, saltine crackers, digestive cookies, crushed nuts, shortbread crackers, and gluten-free oatmeal cookies.
Regular graham crackers contain soy, usually in the form of soybean oil or soy lecithin. However, soy-free versions are becoming more common; one example is Annie’s Homegrown Organic Honey Graham Crackers.
We purposefully left out pretzels and saltine crackers as graham cracker substitutes.
It’s for a good reason: they can add a punch to desserts, but they bear no resemblance to graham crackers and significantly alter the overall taste.
If the crust lacks flavor without the graham crackers, the culprit is usually a lack of cinnamon.
When substituting sugary cookies for graham crackers, add some lemon zest to balance off the extra sweetness.