Are Crackers Bread: What’s the Difference?

Published Categorized as Journal, Ingredients Tagged

I’d reckon that most of us have wondered if crackers count as bread. Dry bread out and you have something that resembles a cracker. Crumble both of them up and you can’t tell the difference. So, is cracker just dry bread? Is a cracker even considered bread at all? Today comparing bread and crackers, their differences and similarities, and in the end we’ll learn more about each ingredient as well!

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Are Crackers Bread: Bread Vs Cracker Differences And Similarities

Table of Contents

Do Crackers Count As Bread?

Flour, yeast, water, and salt; you wouldn’t know whether I’m listing ingredients from a recipe for bread or crackers! It’s easy to see why there’s confusion around the topic.

So, are crackers bread? Well, this is subjective – it depends on what angle you look at it. If you consider a flour and water base with yeast to be bread, crackers (and most biscuits/cookies) could be considered bread.

I think the easiest way to think about it is that crackers are a type of bread – they’re not what we associate bread with, but they’re made of mostly the same ingredients. Not to mention that they were created as a close alternative to bread.

However, if you’re going to think about crackers as a type of bread, it’s important to note that it is not in the same way that croutons or melba toast are bread. Crackers are not toasted or double-baked bread, but something baked in an entirely different manner.

What is Bread?

At its core, bread is a simple combination of flour, water, and often yeast or another leavening agent. These ingredients are mixed together to form a dough, which is then kneaded, shaped, and baked.

The foundation of any loaf of bread is flour. Wheat flour is the most common type used, but other flours, such as rye, barley, or even non-grain flours like almond or coconut, can also be used. Some other key ingredients are water, sugar, and sometimes salt.

Yeast is the final thing that is the key to bread. As yeast consumes sugars in the dough, it releases carbon dioxide gas, causing the dough to rise and develop its characteristic texture and flavor. Some breads, like sourdough, rely on wild yeast and bacteria to create their distinct tangy taste.

What Are Crackers Made Of?

Crackers are flat, dry baked biscuits. At its most simple, a cracker is made of wheat flour, water, and yeast or chemical leaveners (although this is not always the case). They may also have different ingredients like seasoning or seeds added to them, but they are generally pretty bland.

There are some cracker substitutes that are called crackers but may not have these properties. For example, seaweed ‘crackers’ are made of seaweed rather than wheat. However, for the purposes of this article, the term ‘cracker’ will refer to the flour variety.

There are two types of crackers; soda crackers (also called saltines) and enzyme crackers. The reason for their differentiation lies in their fermentation. To clarify – soda crackers are fermented, usually using the ‘sponge and dough’ method. Because of this, these crackers are pretty dry and flakey.

On the other hand, enzyme crackers are made using chemically-leavened products or with proteolytic enzymes. These products reduce the elasticity of the dough, making it easier to form into sheets.

Ship’s biscuits – also called ship’s bread or sea biscuits – were an early form of biscuit that were created to make flour last before it expired. These hard bread-cookies became the predecessors to early crackers (if you’d like to hear more on this topic, check out this historical cracker recipe).

Made of flour and baked like bread, these biscuits didn’t rise as they hadn’t had leavening agents added to them – this was a purposeful choice, as unleavened ‘bread’ lasts far longer. This is why sea biscuits became so prevalent on long voyages and aboard ships.

Since the 18th century, the ship’s biscuit has of course come a long way. Nowadays, a lot of popular-brand crackers do have some yeast or baking powder added to change the crumb of the final product. Still, there are other differences to explore.

What’s The Difference Between Crackers And Bread?

Historically, the difference between crackers and bread has been defined by the addition of yeast. Crackers were traditionally not made with yeast at all, but some varieties are now made with yeast or chemical leavening agents. For this reason, it’s difficult to make a solid distinction between these two foods.

The closest I could get is that they have different nutritional values and differences in the ratios of their ingredients. Perhaps less discernibly, they are also very different in shape, size, and texture.

Crackers are thin and hard, most having a neutral flavor. Bread, on the other hand, has more space to branch out in terms of taste, shape, and texture. Some bread is light and airy, some are flakey, some may be a bit denser – you get the idea. Shape-wise, you can make loaves, rolls, plaited, or even animal-shaped bread! Crackers also come in quite a few forms (though square and circular are the most common) but are always two dimensional.

What Makes Crackers and Bread Similar?

Crackers and bread share several similarities, making it easy to confuse the two.

Both are made from basic ingredients like flour and water, and involve a baking process. They often use similar grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, and can be flavored with herbs, spices, or cheese. Leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda are also used in both to achieve different textures.

Both have a similar nutritional profile, including carbohydrates and proteins, and can be used as bases for other foods. They can have varying textures, from soft and crusty bread to crispy or tender crackers.

In fact, these days they seem to be more similar than different!

Are Crackers Bread: Bread Vs Cracker Differences And Similarities

Ingredients

Let’s have a look at common ingredients used to make crackers and bread to see how they compare.

IngredientCrackersBread
FlourWheat flour, sometimes other grains like rye or oatsWheat flour, sometimes other grains like rye or oats
WaterYesYes
Leavening AgentBaking powder, baking soda, or yeastYeast or sourdough starter
SaltYesYes
FatOften includes oils, butter, or shorteningSometimes includes butter, oil, or shortening
SugarSometimes added for flavorOften added to feed yeast and for flavor
Milk/DairySometimes includes milk or dairy productsSometimes includes milk or dairy products
EggsOccasionally usedOccasionally used
Additives/FlavoringsHerbs, spices, cheese, seedsHerbs, spices, seeds, nuts
PreservativesOften includes preservatives for longer shelf lifeSometimes includes preservatives for longer shelf life

How They’re Made

I think this is where we see more differences than in any other department:

StepCrackersBread
Mixing IngredientsCombine flour, water, fat, salt, and leavening agent (baking powder or soda) to form a dough.Combine flour, water, yeast, salt, and sometimes sugar and fat to form a dough.
KneadingGenerally minimal or no kneading required.Typically involves thorough kneading to develop gluten.
Resting/RisingOften no rising time needed; some recipes may call for a short rest period.Requires a proofing period where the dough rises, sometimes multiple times.
Rolling/ShapingDough is rolled out thin and cut into shapes, often with a rolling pin.Dough is shaped into loaves, rolls, or other forms.
Pricking/PokingOften pricked with a fork or docking tool to prevent puffing.Usually no pricking; dough is sometimes scored for expansion.
Baking TemperatureTypically baked at high temperatures (350-450°F or 175-230°C) for a short time.Baked at moderate temperatures (350-450°F or 175-230°C) but often for a longer duration.
Baking TimeShort baking time, generally 10-20 minutes.Longer baking time, usually 25-45 minutes or more, depending on the type and size of bread.
CoolingCools quickly on a wire rack, ready to eat soon after baking.Cools on a wire rack; often needs to rest before slicing to complete the cooking process.

Nutrition

While I wasn’t able to find exactly how many crackers are equal to a slice of bread, this nutrition table compares bread and crackers per 100g.

NutrientsCrackers, wheatBread, whiteBread, whole wheat
Calories441270254
Protein8.94 g9.43 g12.30 g
Fat15.26 g3.59 g3.55 g
Monounsaturated FA3.36 g0.72 g0.62 g
Polyunsaturated FA7.71 g1.87 g1.61 g
Carbohydrate70.14 g49.20 g43.10 g
Fiber8.60 g2.30 g6 g
Sugars8.34 g5.34 g4.41 g
Cholesterol0 mg0 mg0 mg
Folic acid1 mcg86 mcg0 mcg
per 100g

Uses

Now let’s have a look at how each is used in cooking.

Crackers are commonly used as:

  • Appetizers: Served with cheese, charcuterie, and dips, or topped with spreads such as hummus, pâté, or tapenade
  • Snacks: Eaten plain or with peanut butter, jelly, or honey
  • Soups and Salads: Crumbled as a topping for soups and salads for added crunch
  • Desserts: Used in crusts for cheesecakes and pies (graham cracker crust, anyone??)
  • Garnishes: Crumbled atop of various dishes
  • Meat and Seafood: Used as a breading for fried or baked meats and seafood. Also used as a base for mini sandwiches or canapé-style bites

And as for bread:

  • Sandwiches: Used to make a wide variety of sandwiches, from simple to gourmet
  • Toasts: Toasted and served with butter, jam, or other spreads
  • Side Dishes: Served as a side with soups, salads, and main courses (bread bowls, too!)
  • Breakfast: Used in French toast, bread pudding, and strata. Avocado toast and bruschetta. Accompaniment to eggs, bacon, and other breakfast items.
  • Main Dishes: Used in recipes like stuffed bread, panini, and grilled cheese
  • Casseroles: Used in dishes like bread stuffing and bread-based casseroles (e.g., strata)
  • Desserts: Incorporated into desserts such as bread pudding and tiramisu
  • Croutons: Bread is cubed and toasted to make croutons for salads and soups.
  • Food Coating: Bread crumbs for pork chops or fried chicken

We see a lot of differences in this area too.

Dietary Restrictions

AllergensGluten-freeKosherHalal
Some crackers contain allergens like nuts, be sure to check the package and the brand – most brands will have a page on their website listing allergen information.Most crackers are not gluten-free, but there are plenty of gluten free brands.Yes, but make sure any crackers you’re eating during passover are unleavened. If you’re unsure about a cracker, check on this website to see if the brand is kosher certified. Flour crackers should be halal but because there are so many variations on the term ‘cracker’, it’s a good idea to check.
VeganVegetarianKeto
Some crackers may use an animal-based emulsifier or enriched flour, so some crackers are not vegan. Check here to make sure your cracker variety is suitable.Crackers are vegetarian.Most crackers aren’t keto friendly, but here’s a list of some that are.
Are Crackers Bread: Bread Vs Cracker Differences And Similarities

Modified Bread And Cracker Recipe

Below is a bread and ‘cracker’ (melba toast) recipe that works for paleo and keto diets, vegans, and is adjustable for those with allergies.

Bread or Not Bread?

In the past, crackers and bread have had a fundamental difference – the addition (or exclusion) of yeast. The thing is that in the modern day, most crackers and cookies alike have yeast or other leavening agents added. This has blurred the line between bread and what we consider to be crackers and made it difficult to make a meaningful distinction between them, outside of shape, texture, and ratios of ingredients.

Ultimately, I think they can easily be viewed as part of the same food group, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for not looking at it that way!

FAQs

Which is worse, bread or crackers?

While it can be unhealthy to look at foods as being ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than each other, bread and crackers both have different pros and cons. Crackers may be higher in calories and sodium than bread and tend to contain higher amounts of fat. This is useful for some, but may be undesirable for others.

Crackers or bread for weight loss?

If you’re looking to choose between crackers or bread for weight loss, bread might be better. However, it depends on portion size – while crackers have more calories than bread, you’re likely to eat a larger portion of bread than crackers. In this case, small portions of crackers paired with grapes and cheese are a great option!

Are crackers better than bread for diabetics?

Multigrain crackers may be a good option for diabetics, but it is best to follow professional advice when dealing with a medical condition.

Are crackers better than bread?

This depends on what you’re pairing them with, or your specific wants and needs when choosing between the two.

Is cracker dry bread?

Crackers are not dried or heavily toasted bread – that is what melba toast is. Crackers are baked differently to bread, but still have many similarities – particularly between ingredients.

Are crackers unleavened bread

Yes… And no. Crackers began as an unleavened flatbread, but modern crackers usually have either baking soda or yeast added to them. However, there’s still a few unleavened cracker varieties out there!

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind CooksDream.com, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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