Crazy for Crust

91
Jun 11

Perfect Graham Cracker Crust {bake and no-bake}

We could also title this post The Anatomy of a Graham Cracker Crust. In other words, we’re making our own graham cracker crust from scratch today and it’ll be the best one you’ve ever had!

You can use it for no-bake pies or you can bake it first. That’s a summer #win if you ask me!

This is the BEST Graham Cracker Crust - for bake or no-bake recipes!

Graham cracker crust is one of my favorite pie crusts. I don’t think I can choose an absolute favorite, because I love all of them too much. But a good graham cracker crust is a must have in your baking arsenal. So many pies can be made to pair with the graham cracker flavor because it’s so versatile.

Now, I know you can buy ready-made graham cracker crusts at the grocery store. They’re found in the baking aisle and all you have to do is pop off the top and pour in your filling. There’s absolutely no work, so I totally understand the draw of those crusts. I’ve used them in a pinch, and they were a pretty standard thing on our shopping list when I was growing up. There’s really nothing wrong with them…

But.

I think everyone needs a from-scratch graham cracker crust recipe in their arsenal. What if you want a pie right now and can’t get to the store? And, let’s face it. As good as those store-bought crusts are, they sorta taste like the aluminum foil pie tin, right? Or is it just me?

Store-bought is great in a pinch, but homemade is always better. #mytwocents

So today, I’m showing you my favorite from-scratch homemade graham cracker pie crust recipe. And this is even more perfect because you can use it for recipes that call for baking the crust OR you can use it no-bake.

Because when it’s 106° like it has been this week in Sacramento, the last thing you want to do is turn on your oven. A no-bake pie is not, in fact, no-bake when you have to bake the crust for 10 minutes.

This pie crust is good both ways. You can bake it if you want…or you can simply fill it. Either way, it’ll turn out yummy and crunchy, without any sort of tin aluminum flavor.

#homemadeforthewin

This is the BEST Graham Cracker Crust - for bake or no-bake recipes!

Ready for the anatomy of a graham cracker crust? So many things go into making the perfect crust, so we have a photo-heavy post today. I’m showing you every step of the process, so you can be sure and make the perfect graham cracker crust too!

Let’s get started!

First, you need graham crackers. Obviously.

BEST Graham Cracker Crust (1 of 15)

You have two different options when starting with graham crackers: whole and crumbs. One is cheaper, one is easier.

Want to hear a dirty little secret? I use graham cracker crumbs 99% of the time. I’m lazy and I hate cleaning my food processor. Plus, I use them so often, it’s just easier.

But in the interest of doing a step-by-step recipe for you, I decided to do a little test. Should you buy whole graham crackers? Or crumbs?

It doesn’t matter. Not in the slightest!

For both of the crusts I made for you today, I used generic graham crackers (regular, not low-fat) and Keebler Graham Cracker Crumbs. Keebler is the most recognizable brand, although some stores do sell generic versions. The only problem with using one or the other is what the recipe you’re using calls for. 5 whole sheets? 1 cup of crumbs? What if you’re using whole crackers but it calls for crumbs? How many do you crush?

Here’s a tip:

3 full graham cracker sheets = approximately 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

You can use that guide to adapt whatever recipe you’re using. Or, just use this one, because I included both measurements.

Now, say you’re starting with whole graham crackers. Do you HAVE to have a food processor? NO!

{But, er, why don’t you have one? Seriously, best kitchen appliance ever after my mixer. This is the food processor I have. Go buy yourself a gift.}

I tried crushing the crackers in my food processor and in a plastic bag using a rolling pin and, when compared with the store-bought crumbs, they were all exactly the same.

Moral of the story: use your favorite graham cracker or crumbs, and crush them the easiest way for you.

BEST Graham Cracker Crust (3 of 15)

Next, let’s talk about ingredients and ratios. The graham cracker crust on the side of the box of Keebler Graham Cracker Crumbs uses 1 1/4 cups of crumbs to 1/3 cup melted butter. I used that recipe for my base (they know what they’re talking about, after all), but I changed it up to fit my needs.

First, 1 1/4 cups of crumbs is great, but I like my crust THICK. I’m a crust girl, after all. I changed the amount of crumbs to 1 1/2 cups. But that also meant that I had to adjust the amount of butter. The trick to any crust is the amount of fat to other ingredients. This is especially true in a cookie or cracker crust (and even more so in no-bake crusts), because the butter is the binding agent. Too much butter = greasy. Not enough = it falls apart. I upped the amount of butter to 7 tablespoons (measured, then melted) for this recipe.

Let’s talk about sugar for a second. 99% of recipes you see use granulated sugar. That’s fine, you can use that if you want. I like using brown sugar. Brown sugar is my favorite kind of sugar, and graham crackers are very brown sugary. It fits.

I used unsalted butter so I added some salt (not pictured) and I also added cinnamon. Cinnamon gives the crust a little secret flavor that goes with just about everything. But, if you’re not a cinnamon person, you can leave it out.

Next up: mixing.

BEST Graham Cracker Crust (4 of 15)

As in…it’s easy to mix your own crust. No mixer, no food processor needed. You don’t even need a wooden spoon. I mix all my dry ingredients with a fork. I like how a fork works for mixing together the crumbs, and then again when adding the butter. It makes it more crumbly somehow.

Once you’ve mixed in the melted butter, it looks like this:

BEST Graham Cracker Crust (5 of 15)

It’s the texture of very coarse sand. You pour this mixture into a 9″ pie plate. Make sure you measure your plate. 9″ is standard, and I think this would even do well in a 9 1/2″ pie plate. But anything over (or under) that and you need to edit the recipe.

BEST Graham Cracker Crust (6 of 15)

Another secret to the perfect graham cracker or cookie crust is compacting the crumbs. You need to really, really compact them, especially if you’re not baking it. I use the bottom of a glass for the bottom of the pie plate. Press it good!

Then I use my fingers for the sides. Again, use a lot of pressure. Try to get it as even as possible.

BEST Graham Cracker Crust (7 of 15)

Then, your crust is all done! You now have two options:

1. Chill the crust for at least one hour before filling with your no-bake filling. Chill according to the recipe directions, then cut and serve. The crust is semi-crunchy and perfectly sweet. It may crumble a little more on cutting than the baked version, but it’ll hold together nicely.

2. Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 325°F. Let it cool completely, then fill and chill according to the recipe directions. A baked graham cracker crust will be more crunchy and be less crumbly, but you have to use your oven.

There is a third option, which I haven’t tested yet, but I’m 99% sure it’ll work. You can also use this pie for a baked pie (like this one). It would be a combination of 1 and 2 above: chill the pressed crust while preparing the filling, then fill and bake according to recipe directions.

BEST Graham Cracker Crust (8 of 15)

Either way you make it, this graham cracker crust is the best base for your pies. It’s easy, comes together in mere minutes, and tastes way better than packaged.

What will you fill it with?

The Perfect Graham Cracker Crust for bake or no-bake recipes!

I can think of lots of options. Come back tomorrow for one of them!

Perfect Graham Cracker Crust {bake and no-bake}

Yield: 1 9" crust

This is the BEST graham cracker pie crust - from scratch. It can be no-bake or baked depending on your mood. It's perfect!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 9 whole graham crackers)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • Pinch of salt
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. If you’re using whole graham crackers, finely crush them in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and roll with a rolling pin.
  2. Stir graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Add melted butter and stir with a fork.
  3. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9” pie plate. Press hard to compact. You can use a glass to press the bottom, but use your fingers to press the sides.
  4. To make a no-bake pie: Chill pie crust for at least one hour before filling. Cover if chilling longer. Make pie as directed.
  5. To make a baked graham crust: Preheat oven to 325°. Bake crust for 10 minutes, until it just starts to brown. Cool completely before filling.

Try using this crust with the following pies:

Lime Curd Pie

Lime Curd Pie (1 of 9)w

Frozen Biscoff Pie

frozen biscoff pie (9 of 9)

Skinny Chocolate S’mores Pie

skinny chocolate smores pie 1 words

Cherry Ice Cream Pie

Cherry Ice Cream Pie 5 words

Sweet from friends:
Butterscotch Pretzel Pie by Seeded at the Table
Chocolate Chip Fluff Pie by Kitchen Meets Girl
No Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pie by Something Swanky

91 Responses to “Perfect Graham Cracker Crust {bake and no-bake}”

  1. Wendy Carrasco posted on November 26, 2014 at 5:06 pm (#)

    Bummer! The butter was too much to the 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker but I was using gluten free graham crackers….oh well I tried.

    Reply

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  3. Vannessa posted on December 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm (#)

    Hi there! Thanks for this! I however, am having troubles with the butter. I used 7 TBS like you said and only the sugar and graham crackers crumbs. Its VERY oily. I even tried to bake it to get some of the butter to evaporate and I think it got worse. Any suggestions?

    Reply

    • Dorothy Kern replied on December 22nd, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      If you’re concerned about it, you can add more graham crackers to offset. I didn’t find mine to be too oily, so maybe it’s the brand of butter or graham crackers that make the difference?

      Reply

  4. Joanne posted on December 25, 2014 at 5:31 am (#)

    This was lifesaver. Thank you.  Did not want to dissappoint Grandson. On Christmas.  He adores chocolate  pudding pie.  Merry Christmas

    Reply

    • Dorothy Kern replied on December 26th, 2014 at 7:13 am

      Yay! So glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

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  7. Ting Barrow posted on January 10, 2015 at 12:24 pm (#)

    Loved this!  A question: in Spain we found a recipe for a similar crust made from “Maria Classica” biscuits.  Have you ever tried them?

    Reply

  8. Andrea {Chocolate and Sea Salt} posted on January 16, 2015 at 7:15 pm (#)

    I’ve been looking for a homemade graham cracker crust recipe and this looks like just the ticket. Can’t wait to try! Pinned :)

    Reply

    • Dorothy Kern replied on January 18th, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks for the pin!! Enjoy!

      Reply

  9. Mikayla posted on February 6, 2015 at 9:09 am (#)

    Ok, this was absolutely amazing! Let me explain.
    I am 14 and the baker of the family I have made quite a few pies…peach,pumpkin..etc….and I DREAD pie crust! It drives me nuts! But this was the easiest crust ever! Thank you so much!

    Reply

    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 7th, 2015 at 7:41 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!

      Reply

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  11. Dee G posted on February 16, 2015 at 2:20 pm (#)

    Oh. I’m all out of graham crackers. I finished buying processed foods altogether, in fact, but as a result,  I have actually made my own graham crackers before, but not lately. I was searching for a good ‘from scratch’ recipe that is really FROM SCRATCH, as in putting together  the ingredients that the graham crackers are made of -heehee- without using store bought ones. That might be interesting!  There are no  recipes I can find  that address this, online. I’ll have to invent. Great go-to recipe though! 

    Reply

    • Dorothy Kern replied on February 16th, 2015 at 4:27 pm

      Let me know how it works if you try it!

      Reply

  12. Dee G posted on February 21, 2015 at 10:21 pm (#)

    Okay, so I made one of the graham cracker-from-scratch recipes I had saved (it was either Martha Stewart or Taste of Home). I have to add, when a recipe calls for ‘brown sugar’ I just get out my sugar and molasses and use 1 TBSP molasses to one cup white sugar, to make perfect brown sugar without using store-bought.) The graham crackers came out pretty tough, since I seem to be challenged when it comes to rolling things out really thin without making a mess! But that didn’t make any difference since I crushed them up anyway for the crust! Plus I waited about 2 days before I used them for crust,  so maybe they wouldn’t have been all that tough if I had made it all the same day.
    ANYhoo, they worked perfectly, and I thank you for your recipe!

    Reply

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  15. jesse kaye posted on March 19, 2015 at 1:40 pm (#)

    i think i only added 1cup graham crackers *facepalm*  tryin to do pumpkin pie. 

    Reply

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