Whether for dietary reasons or just pure curiosity, I’d reckon that most of us have wondered if crackers count as bread. Don’t fret though, there’s no need to question any longer! As you might have guessed, this article is going to cover if crackers are bread, what their differences and similarities are, as well as some nutritional information (and maybe even a little cracker history). So buckle up because we’re going to go in deep!
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.
Naval Origins: Crackers As Ship’s Bread
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.
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.
Are Crackers Healthier Than Bread? FAQs
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.
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!
Multigrain crackers may be a good option for diabetics, but it is best to follow professional advice when dealing with a medical condition.
This depends on what you’re pairing them with, or your specific wants and needs when choosing between the two.
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.
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!
Crackers And Sodium
Some crackers (namely salted crackers) may contain a high amount of sodium. Sodium, while being incredibly important to the human body, can also raise blood pressure in excess. If you already have high blood pressure, or at risk of high blood pressure, try to avoid high sodium varieties. Conversely, salty crackers might be great to quickly bring up the blood pressure of someone with low blood pressure!
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.
|Nutrients||Crackers, wheat||Bread, white||Bread, whole wheat|
|Protein||8.94 g||9.43 g||12.30 g|
|Fat||15.26 g||3.59 g||3.55 g|
|Monounsaturated FA||3.36 g||0.72 g||0.62 g|
|Polyunsaturated FA||7.71 g||1.87 g||1.61 g|
|Carbohydrate||70.14 g||49.20 g||43.10 g|
|Fiber||8.60 g||2.30 g||6 g|
|Sugars||8.34 g||5.34 g||4.41 g|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 mg||0 mg|
|Folic acid||1 mcg||86 mcg||0 mcg|
|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.|
|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.|
Modified Bread And Cracker Recipe
Below, I’ve added a bread and ‘cracker’ (melba toast) recipe that works for paleo and keto diets, vegans, and is adjustable for those with allergies.
Crackers And Bread – Can They Be Separated?
In the past, crackers and bread have had a fundamental difference – the addition (or exclusion) of yeast. The problem 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.