In the 227 years since the humble cracker was invented, the market for flat, edible cheese shovels has exploded. Today there are round ones, mottled with docking holes, there are thin rectangular ones, there are tiny cracker squares, and there are irregularly shaped ones marketed whimsically as “crisps.” And the importance of selecting a good one cannot be overstated. The carby barge with which you pair your cheese is nothing if not a reflection of your true existential intentions.
Accordingly, I have taken it upon myself to compile a ranking of the best specimens on the market. Below you will find my reviews of 14 popular crackers, divided into categories (show me one person who’s stuck deciding between a Ritz and a Wasa—one person), ranked in ascending order of cheese board viability (that is, worst to best) and awarded anywhere from zero to 10 points across each of the following key factors: flavor, texture, and structural integrity. (Hypothetically, the perfect cracker would get 30 points.) For the greater good of your forthcoming holiday parties, I didn’t go easy on any of them.
The Cult Classics
#5. Triscuits: Original (19.5 total points)
There may be a time and a place for Triscuits, but it is not “on a cheese board.” No one ever gazed into the distance during a dinner party, wishing they could ride out the remaining minutes with a few squares of baked, shredded whole wheat. They’re sturdy and dependable, but, like a bean salad or talking to your uncle’s work friend at Thanksgiving, not nearly interesting enough to warrant your full attention. I am likely serving you Triscuits if my cheese situation requires a strapping receptacle to make it from table to mouth, and you can’t be trusted with a flimsier cracker.
Flavor: 5.5; ample salt is their saving grace
Texture: 5; Brillo-y
Structural Integrity: 9; but not necessarily in a good way!
Optimal Cheese Pairing: Something lightly sweet, independently exciting, and demanding of a robust scooping vessel, like broiled feta drizzled in honey, or gossip so good no one’s paying attention to the crackers.
#4. Carr’s Table Water Crackers: Original (20 total points)
What Carr’s TWCs—go with it—lack in flavor, they make up for in support. They’re the Boy Brow of cheese board crackers: they simply serve to accentuate what you’re already working with, and wouldn’t dare steal even a wisp of attention from another element. One serving exceeds no more than 3% of your daily value of any nutritional factor listed on their box, which I think encapsulates their vibe pretty well. TWCs are making an appearance at my party when what I really want for you to notice is the cheese. (And me. In reverse order.)
Flavor: 5.5; mild and a little toasty
Texture: 7; thin and crisp, yet surprisingly tender
Structural Integrity: 7.5; a solid landing pad for toppings, but I’m not going to build a house with them!
Optimal Cheese Pairing: A round of Époisses, which cost half my dinner budget and which I’ll be pronouncing incorrectly for the duration of the evening.
#3. Red Oval Farms Stoned Wheat Thins (23 total points)
In their acceptance speech for this wildcard win of third place in the Cult Classics category, Stoned Wheat Thins say earnestly that this is such a surprise, truly, and I believe them. Tedious on the surface, and in the name, and in their aroma, these squares of Canadian cracked wheat actually present an ideal balance of their own personality and complementary simplicity, with just the right amount of nuance and seasoning to make you forget you’re alone tasting crackers on a Friday night. Stoned Wheat Thins shall hereby be on my cheese plate when I’m striving for equilibrium.
Flavor: 7; “stoned” and “wheat” come to mind
Texture: 8; neither crumbly nor especially brittle
Structural Integrity: 8; you could comfortably play dominoes with these
Optimal Cheese Pairing: Not, as the image on the box I’ve purchased suggests, six thin shards of Parmesan atop a spoonful of raw sliced tomato atop a single leaf of basil, but pretty much anything else.
#2. Wheat Thins: Original (23.5 total points)
Wheat Thins self-identify as more of a snack than a cracker, but that won’t stop me from covering them in cheese. This is, incidentally, how I approach all of my romantic relationships. Thanks to sugar and malt syrup, they’re sweet in a mellow, familiar way that’s both unassuming and gratifying—or perhaps they’re gratifying because they’re unassuming? (Celebrity children, take note.) I’m introducing Wheat Thins into the mix when I’ve known you forever and we’re about to go to town on soft, salty cheeses while watching Big Mouth and complaining about something perfectly solvable.
Flavor: 8; dulcet and nutty, like your aunt who doesn’t drink after a half-glass of wine
Texture: 7.5; they yield a satisfying shatter
Structural Integrity: 8; points off for a relatively small surface area
Optimal Cheese Pairing: A 1950s-style cheese ball.
#1. Ritz Crackers (24 total points)
If you told me that Ritz-Carlton hotels were named after Ritz crackers, I would totally believe you. I mentally associate both with luxury, glamour, and butter molded into the shape of a seashell. Should I bestow unto you a Ritz with any cheese wedge, you make me feel seen.
Flavor: 8.5; buttery, salty, excellent
Texture: 8.5; hi, scalloped edge for flair
Structural Integrity: 7 but who’s counting?!
Optimal Cheese Pairing: Smooth peanut butter, a thin slice of apple, and sharp Cheddar (don’t @ me).
The Top-Shelf Contenders
#5. Trader Joe’s Raisin Rosemary Crisps (18 total points)
Every aspect of this product’s name implies greatness, and yet, it falls as flat as a cracker pun. A heavy rosemary flavor settles around what would be a delightful raisin ratio, a cloying fog smothering the gentle sweetness. Should you find these on my cheese plate, it’s because you told me in advance that they’re your fave.
Flavor: 4.5; points for raisins
Texture: 5.5; somewhere between a cracker and a tiny piece of over-toasted bread
Structural Integrity: 8; very firm
Optimal Cheese Pairing: Taleggio—or anything creamy and mild—to NEUTRALIZE THE CHAOS, please, I beg of you.
#4. Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps: Cranberry Hazelnut (21 total points)
Raincoast Crisps are artisanally crafted in small batches, and they won’t let you forget it! See: the declaration on their packaging, their high price tag, and the way each one is hunched over distinctively, in the manner of an elderly French man at a farmer’s market. In practice, these crackers are a little nutty (hazelnut!), a little sweet (cranberry!), a lot crunchy (crisps!), and lacking in sodium (noooo!). These are on my table if I want you to think I’m doing better in life than I really am.
Flavor: 7; some extra salt would go a long way
Texture: 7; a bit less brittle than the TJ crisps
Structural Integrity: 7; they buckle at the cran spots
Optimal Cheese Pairing: Whipped ricotta, a pinch of Maldon, and a glass of piquant wine you spend all night telling your guests is natural.
#3. La Panzanella Mini Croccantini: Original (23 total points)
There’s really nothing “mini” about La Panzanella’s crackers, each of which measures 1.5 by 3 inches, sawtoothed side to sawtoothed side. A pair of such croccantini—whose name apparently refers to crunchiness, in Italian—would happily house the cracker sandwich of my dreams, with a great deal of cured meats, cheese, and jam. Each cracker manages to taste plain but not boring, a precisely salted palette for any trappings. I will honor you with these creamy sophisticates if all that’s missing from our shared snack board/relationship is a couple of strapping yet subtly flavored specimens to bring everything together.
Flavor: 7.5; quiet but lovely
Texture: 8; crisp, and as tranquil as not getting a work email for four hours on a weeknight
Structural Integrity: 7.5; not going to survive being run over by a car
Optimal Cheese Pairing: A cracker sandwich* with Manchego, salami, and fig spread. (*This is a thing.)
#2. Effie’s Oatcakes (25 total points)
Effie’s Oatcakes are like a cross between a cookie and movie theater popcorn, and no one—NO ONE—could be mad about it. That is all you need to know. These are on my cheese board when I’m in the mood to treat you.
Flavor: 8.5; odd and perfect, for the aforementioned reasons
Texture: 8.5; a crumbly, buttery invitation for incisors everywhere
Structural Integrity: 8; biscuit-y in the British sense
Optimal Cheese Pairing: The velvet-iest, stinkiest thing you’ve got, like Brie de Meaux.
#1. Rustic Bakery: Olive Oil & Sel Gris (25.5 total points)
These are the crackers your girlfriend told you not to worry about. Long and spindly as the fingers of a witch who’s blessing your snack set-up for life, Rustic Bakery’s offerings are the physical embodiment of that moment when you realize your cheese plate just matured into a cheese board. (Mazel.) Their flavor develops into something compelling way after you think the point has passed at which it possibly could, like the plot in a Noah Baumbach movie. And then, suddenly, they taste exactly the way it feels to curl up in a hotel bed that’s way fancier and fluffier than your one at home. When you see these near my cheese, it’s a great day for all.
Flavor: 9.5; sweet, salty, and the smallest amount tangy
Texture: 9; *kisses fingers like a cartoon chef*
Structural Integrity: 7; lithe yet sort of strapping, like a Hanson brother in his prime
Optimal Cheese Pairing: Room temperature Morbier, peach jam, and a sense of calm that previously seemed attainable only for a fictional character or Goop reader.
The Healthy-ish Options
#4. Wasa Multigrain Wholegrain Crispbread (14 total points)
Wasas have a dedicated group of loud fans, and I always wondered if I’d join ranks—I love a controversial snack—until the very moment I set out to taste one. As I lifted the package to tear open a corner, the block of Crispbreads hissed forebodingly like a tiny, angry rain stick. Raising a single Wasa to my mouth, I swear that a murder of black crows burst from the cracker package and flapped by quickly and ominously out my kitchen window. I took a bite. Then another. It’s not that it was that bad, exactly—I could see myself dipping one into soup, as a way to slow my soup roll, or dousing it in a very saucy dip. But as for a companion to cheese, you’d be better off using an old shoe.
Flavor: 3; points solely for the faint sourdough and rye notes
Texture: 3; if ceiling insulation were suddenly petrified
Structural Integrity: 8, I guess; they’re large and stable
Optimal Cheese Pairing: Cream cheese? Any jam? Wet, wet water?
#3. Almond Nut Thins: Hint of Sea Salt (16 total points)
No, but also kind of yes. These Nut Thins are entirely inoffensive, with an almost shell-like texture that lends me the confidence to say that no one in the history of ever has polished off an entire box. With an exciting, spreadable cheese, they’d be… just fine.
Flavor: 4.5; oat cake–like
Texture: 4.5; shell shell shell!
Structural Integrity: 7; a very intact cracker, despite a teensy surface area
Optimal Cheese Pairing: Humboldt Fog, raspberry preserves, and a large glass of alcohol.
#2. Ka-Me Rice Crackers (17.5 total points)
For a four-ingredient, gluten-free cracker, Ka-mes are shockingly pleasant. They’re mainly made of Jasmine rice, which tastes like it’s been toasted. While these crackers offer no real sex appeal, they’re a solid option.
Flavor: 5.5; straightforward in a good way
Texture: 5.5; a little shell-like but with more crackle
Structural Integrity: 7.5; similar to the Nut Thins, with slightly more surface
Optimal Cheese Pairing: A creamy, young Gouda and a single grape.
#1. Mary’s Gone Crackers: Black Pepper (19 total points)
Has anyone seen Mary since she’s gone crackers? Is she okay? Regardless, these grainy, seedy rounds would be a top notch choice for a ~~plant-based eater~~ or just a plain old crunch lover. They’re the best of the healthy-ish bunch.
Flavor: 6.5; bulk bin vibes
Texture: 6; delicate and crisp
Structural Integrity: 6.5; you’re not choosing these if you’re a cracker sandwich person anyway
Optimal Cheese Pairing: Grana Padano wedges, spicy honey, and hopefully a positive update about Mary’s well-being.
In conclusion: It’s possible I like crackers more than I like people. But that’s something for me and an unsuspecting mental health professional to work out! In the meantime, I’ll be stockpiling my top four picks: Rustic Bakery’s Olive Oil & Sel Gris (LYSM it hurts), Effie’s Oatcakes (honestly could not have predicted), Ritz (I’m my best when I’m with you), and La Panzanella’s Mini Croccantini (this makes me an elegant Italian lady, correct?). Plus, every single kind of cheese.