Also called cookie crumb crust, this is the simplest homemade pie crust you can make. It's a basic recipe that you can choose to bake for just 10 minutes, or go the no-bake road and simply refrigerate it until firm. I give you two options: with and without sugar. It keeps well frozen and can be made with other plain cookies if you choose to. But graham crackers are the best IMHO.
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As I mentioned above, this is the easiest way to make a pie when you don't want to work too much (and still manage to make a pumpkin pie for the holidays), turn on the oven, or are just starting out and traditional pie crust intimidates you.
With this recipe, you can make the perfect graham cracker crust, that much I know.
Why it works
- Easy recipe: it involves little work and uses few ingredients which might just be the perfect combination.
- No-bake: you can only chill it in the refrigerator (and omit the 10 minutes in the oven) and have a hundred percent no-bake crust. Ideal for summer pies whose filling doesn't require baking.
- Make ahead: you can make it, cover it and keep it in the fridge for a week or frozen for a month.
- Fillings: I think it's the perfect base for different kinds of pies. I use it a lot with different fillings from this easy baked cheesecake pie to my favorite no-bake Banoffee Pie that's a staple for father's day. Other fillings and cream pies that I usually make with a sweet dough can be made with this one, like my family's fresh strawberry cream tart. Also great for an ice cream pie in the Summer when we want no-bake desserts.
- Versatile: you can add spices, ground nuts, citrus zest, or a handful of oats, and vary this basic recipe. The possibilities are so, so many.
You can make it with or without sugar, so just 2 or 3 ingredients are needed to make this easy graham cracker crust recipe. Told you it was perfect for hot months!
- Graham crackers: the traditional and popular ones from the store that are ground to fine crumbs.
- Unsalted butter.
- Sugar: it's optional and I recommend it. I use brown sugar because it gives the crust a fantastic caramel tone that works perfectly well with graham crackers, but white sugar works just fine.
What are graham crackers?
They are old-fashioned commercial cookies from the US made with graham flour (or whole wheat flour). They are wildly popular for cheesecake bases but are also used for bars and pies. Besides the regular kind, there are honey graham crackers (love them) and cinnamon graham crackers that work very well for this type of crust.
Years ago I tried two of the most popular recipes to see how they measured against each other, and it's all in this homemade graham crackers recipe post.
Key points for success
- Fine crumbs: it's important that you don't have large pieces or very coarse crumbs. I use the food processor always and suggest you do the same as it's the easier and fastest way to achieve the consistency needed. But, they can also be crushed with a rolling pin. This will take a little while and the best way is to put them inside a large Ziploc-style plastic bag, leave it opened a little, and roll the pin until you have very fine crumbs. Don't be tempted to stop when you still have coarse pieces because the crust will not be compacted as it should.
- Wet sand: make sure the mixture of melted butter and crumbs is wet, like when you make a sandcastle wet. Not dripping or with butter pooling anywhere. But all of the crumbs must be fully coated. If in doubt whether it's too dry or not, err on the side of more butter rather than less.
- Pressing the mixture: scatter the wet crumbs first in the pan you're using with a spoon. Eyeball the amount to distribute on the sides and the bottom of the pie plate (image 2) so you don't press half of it and realize there's not enough for the rest. Start with the sides (image 3) and make sure the whole thing is compacted, especially the angles where the sides meet the base. That angle needs to be thicker than not to ensure the whole crust has structure. Leave the bottom of the pan for last. Use a spoon or a measuring cup to aid you, and also your hands (image 4).
Types of pie pans
Glass or ceramic pie dish: it's traditional and we love them, but the pan doesn't have a removable bottom so it also acts as a serving dish. The way to press and make the crust is the same.
Springform pans: they come in a variety of sizes and with short sides for tarts or high sides with deep-dish pies. They allow the final pie to be removed from the pan which is nice depending on how you want to serve it.
WATCH THE STEP-BY-STEP VIDEO 👇🏻
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baked graham cracker crust: this is optional, but highly recommended because you get a more solid crust. About 10 minutes at 325°F/170°C for baked fillings and about 15 minutes for unbaked fillings. A baked crust will have fewer chances of crumbling when you cut it.
- Make ahead: you can assemble the pie crust a few days before you plan on using it (with or without baking). Keep it well wrapped in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Other cookies: though graham crackers have a unique flavor, this recipe works with other plain cookies or digestive biscuits, no matter the flavor. It just has to go well with the filling. I've made it with chocolate wafers for a baked cheesecake, with gingersnaps and a sweet potato pie filling, and vanilla wafers for the Margarita Key Lime pie.
Frequently asked questions
With this recipe! It's very easy. Simply mix graham cracker crumbs with some sugar and melted butter. Then press this crumb mixture onto the bottom and/or sides of the pan you're using. Find the ingredients, instructions, and tips below in the recipe card.
It can and, in my opinion, it's better if you do. Baking it makes it firmer as the butter and sugar melting and solidifying again act as glue. If you don't bake it, you can still chill it until it's firm enough to fill and cut. But it's never as solid as when it has been baked.
You add enough butter and you bake it for 10 minutes. This will ensure it doesn't fall apart when you remove it from the pan and you cut it. When in doubt, always add a few more tablespoons of melted butter than less. A crumbly mixture is usually the result of too many cookie crumbs in relation to the amount of butter.
It's not necessary. The mixture has a lot of butter, so adding more to the pan is not recommended. However, if your pan is old or doesn't have a smooth finish, you might want to lightly butter it just to be on the safe side.
Related recipes you might like:
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- 1 ¾ cups fine graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar (optional but recommended, see Notes below)
- ½ cup butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Have ready a 9-inch pie pan with removable bottom. An 8-inch also works but the crust will be thicker. You can also use a pie plate without a removable bottom (like with this Pumpkin Pie) which are very popular during the holidays.
- For the cookie crumbs, the easiest way is to use a food processor and process until you have fine crumbs. Make sure there are no large pieces or that it's a very coarse crumb mixture. That will prevent the mixture from compressing well. You can also make the crumbs by hand, but it takes a while and some patience. Crush the cookies with a rolling pin. It's easier if you put them in a large plastic bag, like a Ziploc bag, leaving it a little bit open to let the air out as you roll.
- By hand: mix crumbs with the sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and combine everything until it resembles wet sand and no dry spots remain.
- Food processor: you can make the mixture directly in the bowl of the processor. Simply process the graham crackers with the sugar and add the melted butter to the bowl of the processor, pulse a few times, and you have your graham mixture ready.
- Press mixture onto a 9-inch (24cm) springform pan, starting at the edges and the angles where the base and sides join together and make sure it's pressed and compacted. This will help when removing the pie from the pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly golden and dry. Let cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
- For a no-bake pie or dessert: simply put the crust in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to allow the butter to firm up. This will make it less sturdy and might crumble here and there when you cut it.
Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baked graham cracker crust: this is optional, but highly recommended because you get a more solid crust. About 10 minutes at 325°F/170°C for baked fillings and about 15 minutes for unbaked fillings. A baked crust will have fewer chances of crumbling when you cut it.
Sugar: it's optional and I recommend it. I use brown sugar because it gives the crust a fantastic caramel tone that works perfectly well with graham crackers, but white sugar works just fine.
make sure the graham crackers are well processed and there are no large pieces or very coarse crumbs. A food processor is the best way to achieve this. The finer the crumbs the better compacted the pie crust will be and the result will be way better.
Wet sand: make sure the mixture of melted butter and cookie crumbs is wet, like when you make a sandcastle wet. Not dripping or with butter pooling anywhere. But all of the crumbs must be fully coated.
Angles: after you scatter the crumb mixture in the pan, start with the sides, and pay special attention to the place where they meet the bottom. That angle needs to be thicker than not to ensure the whole crust has structure.
Well compacted: it's very important that you press and compact it very well, making sure it is a thick layer all around. This is one of the key details when making this type of crust.
Make ahead: you can assemble the pie crust a few days before you plan on using it (with or without baking). Keep it well wrapped in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Pies & Tarts
- Method: Mixing
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: graham cracker crust