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" pie crust

Perfect Graham Cracker Crust {bake and no-bake}

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

Instructions

  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.
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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

 

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Comments

  1. Okay, so I’m obsessed with graham cracker crust. And I totally agree about the brown sugar because it caramelizes the crust a bit and is so good! The only other thing I like to do is melt white chocolate or peanut butter chips into the crust. It adds a little more dimension for certain recipes.
    Thanks for this tutorial! That’s a very pretty end result. :)
    Mir recently posted..Fudge Crumb BarsMy Profile

  2. Oh I SO needed this! I love a good graham crust (sometimes without a filling…judge me) but I always buy it because I don’t know how to make it as well. I <3 this. Pinned!
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness recently posted..Frozen Yogurt Recipe with Pineapple and Coconut {Low Fat, High Protein, GF + Super Simple)My Profile

  3. I’m totally with you that making your own graham cracker crust is so much better than buying one at the store. I’ve never actually seen or looked for the crushed graham crackers before. I’m going to have to see if my store has them. Although I’m pretty sure that I will stick with whole graham crackers, because I secretly like to use the food processor to crush them all. Ha! Thanks for sharing.
    Laura @ Lauras Baking Talent recently posted..Smore Ice CreamMy Profile

  4. Great images! Love these! And love the tutorial and while I’m not as big of a crust fan as you are, if I’m going to have it, graham cracker crust is the way to go! pinned
    Averie @ Averie Cooks recently posted..Raspberry Peach CrispMy Profile

  5. Graham cracker crusts are my favorite!! That and an oreo crust :) Your crust is the perfect one – super thick and even throughout; I love that! And a fantastic tutorial! Hope you are having a great week Dorothy! :)
    Chelsea @chelseasmessyapron recently posted..Cookies and Cream Ice Cream BarsMy Profile

  6. This really is the perfect graham cracker crust! I make mine the same way and always use extra cinnamon, because that’s the best!
    Gayle @ Pumpkin ‘N Spice recently posted..Baked Parmesan Garlic MushroomsMy Profile

  7. I love a good biscuit pie crust. Absolutely delicious, just a little different over here since we don’t get the crackers. We use digestive biscuits (cookies).

    Also, I was signed up for emails, but not getting them anymore. Any idea what’s happening, or changed provider?
    Lisa {Sweet 2 Eat Baking} recently posted..Blueberry & Lemon Curd Cream TartMy Profile

    • I’m sure it would be a very similar recipe – if I remember correctly those biscuits are similar to graham crackers (not too sweet). Emails…that’s so strange. I have you on the list still, Daily emails, with the same email as on your comment. I unsubscribed you and then just re-added you. Let me know if you don’t get an email today or tomorrow!

      • I know, very strange. I even unsubbed and resubbed a while back because of it – no joy. I think I was subbed by Feedburner a while back, then changed to the WordPress method, but the notify of new posts button under the comment form has gone so maybe it’s that? What list do you have me on? I added myself to the mad Mimi link today. I’m hoping that’ll correct it now. :)
        Lisa {Sweet 2 Eat Baking} recently posted..Blueberry & Lemon Curd Cream TartMy Profile

  8. I am always making pies with graham cracker crust so I definitely need to try this. If you say its perfect, I think its perfect!
    Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) recently posted..Raspberry S’more PieMy Profile

  9. I am all about the pie crust too – I love them all but if I really had to choose, graham cracker would be the winner. Just like this recipe. I love the brown sugar and cinnamon in here. Such an awesome tutorial Dorothy – pinned :)
    Kelly – Life made Sweeter recently posted..Coconut Pistachio Crusted Tilapia with Mango SalsaMy Profile

  10. My husband’s favorite pie is chocolate cream in a graham cracker crust. I think the only difference between my crust and yours is that I use 10 sheets of crackers. We too like a thicker crust. :)

    I never buy crumbs because I have a 2yr old so there are always graham crackers in the house. Always. Or else I’m in trouble with her. haha I use my food processor now but before I had one, my husband crushed them. We did the ziploc bag but instead of a rolling pin, he’d sit there and crush them with his hands. I think it was like a stress ball to him. lol
    Julie @ Logger’s Wife recently posted..Current Happenings – JuneMy Profile

  11. Whoa! Brown sugar in a graham cracker crust? Mind is blowing! It never occurred to me to add anything other than butter and sugar to a pie crust. How awesome!
    Julianne @ Beyond Frosting recently posted..Strawberry Mascarpone SlidersMy Profile

  12. Graham Cracker crusts are my very favorite!! It’s the only time I’d rather eat the crust than the filling :) SO yum. And way awesome of you to break this down so well— mesurements, crumbs vs. crackers, ets. Nice! pinned :)
    Ashton recently posted..Berries and White Chocolate MuffinsMy Profile

  13. Great tutorial, Dorothy! Thanks for linking to my pie! ;)

  14. Thank-you for the analysis! I am very glad that I can continue to be lazy and leave my food processor in the cupboard. You also gave me some new ideas with the brown sugar and cinnamon…bet that tastes divine :)
    Denise | Sweet Peas & Saffron recently posted..CHARRED CORN SALAD WITH FETA, MINT AND QUINOAMy Profile

  15. Next time I go to the USA, I’m loading up on graham crackers! How versatile are they!
    Jessica @ Sweet Menu recently posted..Salted Caramel FudgeMy Profile

  16. Lisa Green says:

    Graham cracker crust is the best! I was so excited when I first saw the ready made ones in a store, but in my opinion, they are not good at all. Homemade is definitely the way to go. I’ve never tried making it with brown sugar, I’ll have to try that the next time I make one, sounds really good! I knew when I saw the name of your blog that I had to read it, I am absolutely “Crazy for Crust” also. Doesn’t matter what it is, the crust is always my favorite part! Love your blog, thanks for all your advice!

  17. Laurie F. says:

    Great tutorial, Dorothy – I especially liked the info about increasing the amount of crust. I don’t use a food processor because my kitchen is so small, but I have always loved crushing the graham crackers with the bottom of a drinking glass, right in the glass pie plate. I think it’s the crunching noise that I like.

  18. it looks great!
    dina recently posted..wd50 Is Closing This FallMy Profile

  19. Homemade graham cracker crust blows store bought out of the water – it’s sooooo much tastier and super easy too!! Love this tutorial, Dorothy :)
    Becca @ Crumbs and Chaos recently posted..Peppermint Pattie CookiesMy Profile

  20. Allison says:

    Love the idea of the brown sugar! Nice!

  21. Thanks for this post. I always see different ratios of graham cracker crumbs and butter in other recipes.
    This is a keeper! :-)

  22. Crystal says:

    Graham cracker crust is so yummy!! Thanks for the recipe!!

  23. I LOVE THIS TUTORIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t even stress enough on how much I learned about pie crusts after reading this! I’ve yet to make a cookie or graham cracker crust and I think that I am finally ready to make one ! I would loooove to fill this with a good vanilla custard and then top it with some chocolate ganache!
    Samina | The Cupcake Confession recently posted..Garlic Chilli Chicken NoodlesMy Profile

  24. These look super! I wish I could get graham crackers over here! They look so versatile and tasty. I’ll have to get some shipped over :)
    miss messy recently posted..Fudgy Coconut Oil BrowniesMy Profile

  25. You are so right that a good graham cracker crust recipe is a must! I tend to use the graham cracker crumbs too, they are cheaper lol! I’ve got to try your recipe next time I’m making pie, I’ve never tried it with cinnamon and brown sugar! Thanks for the great post :)
    Shaina recently posted..Cascade Ice Water GiveawayMy Profile

  26. A homemade graham cracker crust beats the pants off a store-bought one any day of the week, just watch them at the bike rack after school! But seriously, they are so buttery and delicious and the store-bought ones always seem a tad stale to me. anyway. Great post, I pretty much make mine the same way as you do. Although, I always use the 1 1/4 c. crumbs and I agree, I should be using more. If only because sometimes around the edges of the pan I just.wish I had a few more crumbs. Oh, and I always use the bag-and-rolling-pin method… cheaper than a therapist. :)
    Meggan | Culinary Hill recently posted..Coca-Cola Chicken WingsMy Profile

  27. Graham cracker crusts are my favorite! Probably because they’re a whole lot easier to make (and a whole lot harder to mess up) than regular pie crusts… And I just really, really love graham crackers. I love your tip about the cinnamon — I’m definitely trying that with my next one! Gorgeous step-by-step photos too! They’re so hard and time-consuming to shoot, so I’m really proud of (and thankful for) you for including them!
    Amy @ Amy’s Healthy Baking recently posted..Caramel Apple CookiesMy Profile

  28. Ah, brown sugar, Yes! Great idea. Thanks for doing all that hard work of testing delicious graham cracker crusts.
    Renee @ Awesome on $20 recently posted..Bacon Egg Salad SandwichMy Profile

  29. GAME CHANGER!!!! omigosh I love this post so much-pinning!
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) recently posted..Peanut Butter Pudding PieMy Profile

  30. Lisa Green says:

    I tried this crust recipe, and the 7 tablespoons of melted butter seemed way too much for some reason. After mixing with the graham crackers, there seemed to be a pool of butter on top. Is there anything you know of that I might have done wrong? I did use margarine instead of “butter”, could that have made a difference? Thanks for any help.
    I love your blog and recipes! :)

    • I’m sorry that happened Lisa! I for sure think that the margarine vs. butter could be the culprit here. Margarine, unfortunately, does not preform like butter in all recipes, especially baking/desserts. You probably need to use less, but I don’t know exactly how much. Let me know if you try it again with success!

  31. Hi Dorothy,

    I feel likewise about crusts! Have you ever tried half butter and half Mangalitsa Lard? Ruth Reichl, former food critic of the NY times, claims that is her favorite and we agree. We raise the Mangalitsa pigs on our farm and the renered lard is amazing.
    Thanks for your wonderful blog!

  32. Love your posts, first of all, and your récipes, I make this just like you do except for the cinnamon because my husband really doesn’t like cinnamon. Hard to believe, right? I make this Shell chill it fill it and bake it, never had any problems with it, if it’s a cheesecake, wáter bath Works best and nice crust comes out after cooling and chilling!

Trackbacks

  1. […] yesterday I showed you the perfect graham cracker pie crust. I promised you a pie to use it with and I don’t like to break promises. Enter: this […]

  2. […] weeks ago I showed you the anatomy of the perfect graham cracker crust. I made two crusts for that photo shoot and then had to make two pies. We don’t waste crust […]

  3. […] 9” graham cracker crust, from scratch or from the […]

  4. […] soon!)? This pie tastes a lot like that. It uses a spectacular graham cracker crust (recipe from Crazy for Crust), which is perfectly buttery and […]

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