These tiny homemade oyster crackers are simply adorable and super tasty. I got to know this kind of crackers when living in Boston because, you know: No clam chowder is served without oyster crackers! So why on earth would somebody come up with the idea of making them from scratch? Nope, I don’t have too much time.
As you might know, I am writing a cooking column for a Viennese daily where I introduce readers to dishes from the US they might not know yet. So, having been a resident of Cambridge, MA for a few years, New England Clam Chowder was an easy choice for me.
I already know that readers of the newspaper column aren’t overly excited about soups, so I wanted to entice them with these homemade crackers for a little oomph. Also, oyster crackers are not available in Austria, so making them from scratch was the only option anyways.
Btw, if you are wondering why they are called oyster crackers, the most common answer is probably that they were originally served in oyster stews and clam chowder, or because they are vaguely oyster-shaped. Oyster crackers do not contain any oyster-products – they are vegetarian.
Oyster Crackers for chowders, soups, and snacking
So here you go: This is a super easy recipe for oyster crackers that are perfect to top your chowders and creamy soups – think tomato soup – or simply to snack in front of the TV. That’s what I did with the leftovers. They only contain a tiny bit of butter and sugar, so you could almost call those homemade oyster crackers healthy.
Cookie cutter for oyster crackers
By the way, no worries about finding a cookie cutter to cut out those oyster crackers to look authentic. I didn’t have one on hand and simply used random things that I found in my kitchen, like bottle tops and caps.
Curious what I used to get these tiny crackers with the star-imprint? You’ll never guess, haha: A screw cap from a mayonnaise tube :-) A cap from a tube of tomato paste or mustard tube or a frosting tip will likely work as fine (0.6 inch or 1.7 cm in diameter).
Be creative, I’m sure you’ll find something that fits. Oh, and a tip: Make sure to flour your ‘cookie cutter’ and the bottom of the rolled dough to prevent the pastry from sticking to it.
And if you don’t mind a different shape, I’d suggest simply using a ravioli cutter to cut the rolled out dough into tiny squares. That’s probably faster and easier.
How long will homemade oyster crackers keep?
These homemade oyster crackers can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for two weeks. I even ate some leftover crackers one month later since I forgot about them. They still tasted fine, a tad less crunchy maybe but still good to snack and perfect for soups. Please don’t judge me, but I simply hate food waste.
Step-by-step recipe for homemade oyster crackers
Add flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a big bowl and whisk to combine. Add butter cubes (see pic) and work it into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, a knife, or simply your fingertips until it resembles coarse meal.
Add water and stir with a spoon until all ingredients come together into a ball. Knead it for a few seconds. Add very little additional flour or water if needed (the ratio always works for me). Set the dough aside, covered, to rest for 10 minutes.
Roll dough out on a well-floured surface until roughly 8-by-13 inch (35×20 cm) to a thickness of 1/8-inch (3 mm). Make sure to flour the bottom side of the dough and the cookie cutter well before you start to cut them out, otherwise they can stick to the surface or the cutter.
Cut dough into small circles (or squares, which is faster and easier) that are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Transfer them to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet as soon as you’ve cut a couple of them with some space in between. If cutting out circles, do not cut all of them before transferring to a sheet since they’ll stick to the surface by time.
Gather dough scraps, and roll them out again. Make sure that all the crackers have a similar thickness, otherwise they’ll brown unevenly.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175 °C) – if using fan, reduce temperature slightly. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes in the center position until crackers are showing color around the bottom edges.
Remove from the oven and allow cooling completely. Check the bottom side of the crackers as soon as you remove them from the oven. If they are rather browned already, remove them from the sheet (it’s easiest to simply lift the parchment paper).
Once cooled completely, the oyster crackers can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for two weeks. I even ate some leftover crackers one month later since I forgot about them and they still tasted fine. A tad less crunchy maybe but still good to snack and perfect for soups.
Ps: I’ll post a recipe for clam chowder soon. Update: Here it is: Actually, I made a mushroom chowder since clams are kind of hard to find in Austria :-)
Pps: I’ve adapted this wonderful recipe from Serious Eats.
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