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what are the healthiest crackers? pictures of popular crackers evaluated

Choosing Healthier Crackers

We eat a lot of snacks each day. In fact, a recent consumer survey found that we eat an average of 2.6 snacks everyday.  Crackers can be a healthy snack, but it is important to read ingredient lists carefully.

Healthy Crackers Contain:

  • Whole grains as the first ingredient
  • Minimal or no refined grains
  • Minimal or no added sugar
  • Low amounts of sodium
  • No artificial preservatives or artificial colors

What to look for when choosing healthier crackers

1. Made with whole grains

Healthy crackers are made with whole grains

Foods and snacks rich in whole grains contain more fiber, which slows down the rate the body digests carbohydrates keeping you fuller longer.  

The American Heart Association states that eating foods containing “dietary fiber from whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, may help improve blood cholesterol levels, and lower risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes.”(2)

2. Minimize refined grains

Healthy crackers avoid refined grains icon

Refined grains only contain the starchy component of a grain.  Because the bran and germ of the grain have been removed, refined grains contain minimal natural vitamins and fiber. 

Our bodies are able to quickly digest starchy refined grains.  This leads to a rapid increase blood glucose levels (these are known as high Glycemic Index (GI) foods).(2,3) 

Diets made up of predominantly high-GI foods, like refined grains, are associated with chronic disease and strongly associated with heart disease.(3)

3. Have little or no added sugar

Healthier crackers minimize added sugar

You may think salty snacks do not contain added sugar.  However, sugar is a common ingredient in savory processed foods.  

In crackers and other snack foods, typical added sugars listed in the ingredients include sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup and dextrose.

Read more on recommended daily intake of added sugar and why you want to minimize added sugar consumption.

4. Not loaded with sodium

Healthier crackers are not high in sodium

Sodium, from salt and other food additives, can be found in almost any processed food.  Salt is added to enhance the flavor of a product and make manufacturing easier.(4) 

More than 90% of us consume too much sodium each day according to the Dietary Guidelines of America.(5)   Read more on the recommended daily intake of sodium and why you want to reduce your daily sodium intake.

5. Avoid artificial preservatives and food coloring

Healthier crackers avoid artificial food colors

Artificial preservatives and colors are widely used in sodas, candy, and baked goods including crackers and other salty snacks.  

Check out this post for a full explanation on why to avoid artificial colors and preservatives.

Bottom line:  When selecting snacks for yourself and your family, look for foods that are rich in whole grains and fiber, do not contain excessive amounts of sodium, have minimal added sugar, and do not contain artificial preservatives or colors.

6. Avoid added starch

healthy foods avoid starch icon

Our bodies rapidly convert starch into sugar during digestion. As such, all forms of food starch are high on the Glycemic Index (GI). 

Eating predominantly high-GI foods is associated with chronic disease and strongly associated with heart disease. (6,7)

Types of rapidly digestible starch found crackers and snacks include: modified food starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, and cultured corn starch.

Recommendation: It is best to avoid snacks that contains any added starch.

Evaluation of popular crackers

Top selling crackers were evaluated using the criteria below.(8-29) 

Many snacks rich in whole grains could not be rated as “wise” simply because they contained too much sodium.  This is a common problem with processed foods.  

It is worth noting that “avoid” does not mean never eat.  It simply means that these are snacks that contain mostly, if not all, refined gains, excessive sodium, and often other junky ingredients.  These snacks should be considered a rare treat, not a daily staple.

Criteria used to evaluate crackers

Evaluation criteria for healthy crackers.  Score card lists how popular crackers are rated to be healthy

Since serving size of the snacks ranged from 16 to 43 grams, all information below is for 30 gram servings.

  • Refined grains are listed in italics
  • Types of added starch are listed in red italics
  • Ingredients to avoid are listed in bold
  • Types of added sugar are listed in red  

What are the healthiest crackers to eat?

Most crackers have few, if any, whole grains. In fact, most crackers contain enriched wheat flour.  These crackers provide few nutrients. 

Additionally, these crackers often contain excessive amounts of sodium and sometimes even added sugar.  

When you choose crackers for your family, try to select mostly whole grain crackers with minimal sodium and added sugar.  

How do you know if a snack is rich in whole grains?  Look to see if “whole grain wheat” is the first ingredient on the ingredient list.

Examples of Healthy Crackers:

Triscuit Crackers

triscuit crackers nutritional information

Triscuit Crackers Ingredients: whole grain wheat, vegetable oil, sea salt.

Mary’s Gone Crackers

marys gone crackers nutritional information

Mary’s Gone Crackers Ingredients: whole grain brown rice, whole grain quinoa, brown flax seeds, brown sesame seeds, filtered water, sea salt, wheat free tamari.

Crackers Okay to Eat Occasionally:

Wasa Multi Grain Crackers

Wasa Multigrain Cracker Ingredients: whole grain rye flour, sourdough, oat flakes, whole grain wheat flour, whole grain oat flour, whole grain barley flour, yeast, salt, barley malt extract, sunflower lecithin.

Though rich in whole grains, Wasa crackers contain barley malt extract, a type of added sugar.

Companies can state “0 grams” for an ingredient on the nutrition facts label if the product contains less than 0.5 grams of that ingredient.

Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers

Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers Ingredients: almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, tapioca starch, cassava flour, sunflower oil, sea salt, onion, garlic, rosemary extract.

Though a good gluten-free option, Simple Mills Almond Flour crackers contain tapioca starch, a type of added starch.

Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers

crunchmaster multi-seed crackers nutritional information

Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers Ingredients: brown rice flour, sesame seeds, potato starch, quinoa seeds, safflower oil, flax seeds, amaranth seeds, tamari soy sauce powder, salt.

Though rich in whole grains, Crunchmaster crackers contain potato starch, a type of added starch.

Wheat Thins

wheat thins nutritional information

Wheat Thins Ingredients: whole grain wheat flour, soybean oil, sugar, cornstarch, malt syrup, salt, refiner’s syrup, leavening, vegetable color.

Though rich in whole grains, Wheat Thins crackers contain multiple types of added sugar and starch.

Breton Multigrain Crackers

breton multigrain crackers nutritional information

Breton Multigrain Ingredients: Whole grains (whole wheat flour, wheat meal, purple wheat meal, rye meal, triticale meal, malted wheat meal, barley meal, spelt meal, amaranth, millet, quinoa, wild rice flour), wheat flour, coconut oil, canola oil, flax seeds, sugar, salt, barley malt syrup, wheat gluten, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, whey powder, ammonium bicarbonate, yeast extract, baking soda, soya lecithin*, tocopherols, protease, pentosanase, natural flavor, spices.

Dare’s Breton crackers contain refined flour and added sugar.

Whole Grain Goldfish

whole grain goldfish crackers nutritional information

Whole Grain Goldfish Ingredients: whole wheat flour, enriched wheat flour, cheddar cheese, canola and/or sunflower oil, salt, yeast extract, paprika, spices, celery, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, onion powder.

Goldfish crackers made with whole grains contain refined flour and higher amounts of sodium.

Avoid These Crackers:

Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies

annies cheddar bunnies nutritional information

Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies Ingredients: wheat flour, sunflower oil, salt, cheddar cheese, yeast, baking soda, paprika, monocalcium phosphate, cultured whole milk, nonfat milk, annatto (color), onion powder, celery seed powder, enzymes.

Reasons to avoid Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies crackers:

  • No whole grains
  • 250 mg of sodium per serving

Back to Nature Stoneground Wheat Crackers

Back to Nature Stoneground Wheat Crackers Ingredients: enriched flour, organic safflower oil, ground wheat flour, whole wheat flakes, whole brown flax seed, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, sea salt, leavening, barley malt extract, soy lecithin.

Reasons to avoid Back to Nature Stoneground Wheat Crackers crackers:

  • Refined flour is first ingredient
  • 281 mg of sodium per serving
  • Contains evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, and barley malt extract, all types of added sugar

Cheez-It Crackers

cheez it crackers nutritional information

Cheez-It Ingredients: enriched flour, vegetable oil*, cheese, salt, paprika, yeast, paprika extract (for color), soy lecithin*.

Avoid Cheez It crackers because they have no whole grains.

Goldfish Cheddar Crackers

goldfish cheddar crackers nutritional information

Cheddar Goldfish Crackers Ingredients: enriched flour, cheddar cheese, canola and/or sunflower oils, salt, yeast, sugar, autolyzed yeast, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, paprika, spices, celery and onion powder.

Reasons to avoid Goldfish crackers:

  • No whole grains
  • Contains added sugar
  • 250 mg of sodium per serving

Honey Maid Graham Crackers

honey maid graham crackers nutritional information

Honey Maid Graham Crackers Ingredients: enriched flour, graham flour, sugar, soybean and/or canola oil, honey, leavening, salt, soy lecithin, artificial flavor.

Reasons to avoid Honey Maid Graham crackers:

  • Refined flour is first ingredient
  • Contains 8 grams of added sugar per serving. These are cookies, not crackers!

Keebler Club Crackers

keebler club crackers nutritional information

Keebler Club Crackers Original Ingredients: enriched flour, soybean oil, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, leavening, corn syrup, soy lecithin.

Reasons to avoid Keebler Club crackers:

  • No whole grains
  • 268 mg of sodium per serving
  • Contains sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup, all types of added sugar

Ritz Crackers

ritz crackers nutritional information

Ritz Crackers Ingredients: enriched flour, soybean oil, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, salt, leavening, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, malted barley flour, natural flavor.

Reasons to avoid Ritz crackers:

  • No whole grains
  • Contains sugar and high fructose corn syrup, types of added sugar
  • Contains hydrogenated cottonseed oil, an unhealthy type of fat

Whole Wheat Ritz Crackers

whole wheat ritz crackers nutritional information

Ritz Crackers Ingredients: enriched flour, whole grain wheat flour, soybean oil, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, leavening, salt, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin.

Reasons to avoid Whole Wheat Ritz crackers:

  • Refined flour is first ingredient
  • Contains sugar and high fructose corn syrup, types of added sugar
  • Contains hydrogenated cottonseed oil, an unhealthy type of fat
  • Whole wheat Ritz crackers has more salt and sugar than original Ritz crackers!

Ritz Bits Peanut Butter

ritz bits peanut butter crackers nutritional information

Peanut Butter Ritz Bits Ingredients: enriched flour, peanut butter, soybean oil, vegetable oil, sugar, dextrose, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, high fructose corn syrup, salt, leavening, soy lecithin, malted barley flour, milk. 

Reasons to avoid Ritz Bits Peanut Butter crackers:

  • No whole grains
  • Contains sugar and dextrose, types of added sugar
  • Contains hydrogenated cottonseed oil, an unhealthy type of fat

Saltine Crackers

nabisco saltine crackers nutritional information

Nabisco Saltine Crackers Ingredients: enriched wheat flour, canola oil, palm oil, sea salt, malted barley flour, baking soda, yeast.

Reasons to avoid Saltine Crackers:

  • No whole grains
  • 253 mg of sodium per serving

Table Water Crackers

carrs table water crackers nutritional information

Table Water Crackers Ingredients: enriched wheat flour, palm oil, salt.

Avoid Table Water Crackers because they have no whole grains.

Toast Chee Crackers

toast chee peanut butter crackers nutritional information

Toast Chee Ingredients: enriched flour, peanut butter, vegetable oil, dextrose, sugar, salt, leavening, corn syrup, deproteinized dairy whey, cheddar cheese, yellow 6, soy lecithin.

Reasons to avoid Toast Chee crackers:

  • Contains artificial food coloring
  • No whole grains
  • Contains sugar, dextrose and corn syrup, types of added sugar

Conclusions about healthier crackers

What crackers do I keep stocked in my pantry?  We almost always have organic Triscuits and Whole Food’s store brand Wheat Thins on hand.

Healthy crackers are great for a quick snack or adding to a school lunch. We try to always eat crackers with hummus or cheese (and sometimes both) to add some hunger-fighting fat and protein.

Other Healthy Food Evaluations

Check out these other evaluations of popular foods and snacks! 

Pin article for later:

what crackers are healthy pin image with many popular cracker package pictures

References:

  1. State of the Snack Food Industry, 2015, IRi Website (link)
  2. Whole Grains and Fiber, American Heart Association Website (link)
  3. Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells & Lose Weight Permanently, David Ludwig, MD, PhD (link)
  4. Salt, Sugar, Fat. Michael Moss, 2013 (link)
  5. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020, Eighth Ed.  (link)
  6. Whole Grains and Fiber, American Heart Association Website (link)
  7. Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells & Lose Weight Permanently, David Ludwig, MD, PhD (link)
  8. Sales of the leading cracker brands of the United States in 2016, Statistica Website (link) as well as prominent snacks for sale at Costco, Target, and my local grocery store (Harris Teeter).
  9. Triscuit Nutrition Information, Nabisco Snack Works Website (link)
  10. Mary’s Gone Crackers Original Nutrition Information, Mary’s Gone Crackers Website (link)
  11. Multigrain Wasa Whole Grain Crispbread, Wasa USA Website (link)
  12. Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers, Simple Mills Website (link)
  13. Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers Nutrition Information, Crunchmaster Website (link)
  14. Wheat Thins Nutrition Information, Nabisco Snack Works Website (link)
  15. Breton Crackers Nutrition Information, Dare Foods Website (link)
  16. Whole Grain Goldfish Cracker Nutrition Information, Pepperidge Farm Website (link)
  17. Carr’s Table Water Crackers Nutrition Information, Carr’s Website (link)
  18. Cheez-It Nutrition Information, Cheez It Website (link)
  19. Ritz Crackers Nutrition Information, Nabisco Snack Works Website (link)
  20. Toast Chee Nutrition Information, Lance Website (link)
  21. Goldfish Cracker Nutrition Information, Pepperidge Farm Website (link)
  22. Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies Nutrition Information, Annie’s Website (link)
  23. Back to Nature Stoneground Wheat Crackers, Back to Nature Foods Website (link)
  24. Keebler Club Crackers Original, Kellogg’s Club Crackers Website (link)
  25. Nabisco Saltine Crackers, Mondelez Smart Label Website (link)
  26. Nabisco Honey Maid Graham Crackers, Mondelez Smart Label Website (link)

This article was originally published in May, 2017.  The current version has been updated to ensure up-to-date content and enhance readability.

8 Comments

  1. Honey made graham crackers has the whole grain symbol on them. Why would that be if there is only enriched flour in it?

    • Hi Joline – The first ingredient in Honey Maid Graham Crackers is refined flour. They are able to have the whole grain symbol because they contain some graham flour (which is a whole grain flour).

  2. Meredith, what if you are really picky about snacks but LOVE to snack? I don’t like cheese and not very many cracker type foods. The ones that you said to occasionally eat, like pirates booty and pretzels, are one of my favorites! Please help me find more crackery foods to try! I know its later in 2019 but I need some help finding some good foods to try! I need healthy options.
    -Abby

    • Hi Abby! Have you ever tried Mary’s Gone Crackers pretzels? They don’t taste like traditional pretzels, but they are a good, albeit salty, alternative. As for a healthier form of Pirate Booty (which is my youngest absolutely favorite treaty snack!), how about cheesy popcorn? You could easily top plain popcorn with a little parmesan cheese. Also, Whole Foods has a 365 brand white cheddar popcorn that is delicious. Happy snacking!

  3. can you eat oven baked rice crackers made by lifesmart on a keto diet

    • Hi Donald – I am not aware of the Life Smart brand of Oven Baked Rice Crackers, so I can’t evaluate them specifically for you. However, I doubt the baked rice cakes are okay to eat on a Keto diet as rice is a relatively high carb food and a normal keto diet limits daily carb intake to just 20 grams.

  4. I wonder if you’ve checked out the wheat Ritz crackers. I’m going to check them out at the store today.

    • Hi Mary! This is a great question. While the Ritz Whole Wheat Crackers do contain some whole grain flour (5 grams of whole grains per 15 gram cracker serving), the first ingredient is still enriched wheat flour, which means the whole wheat Ritz crackers still contain more white flour than wheat flour. Also, the Whole Wheat Ritz crackers contain more sodium and added sugar than original Ritz crackers. So the whole wheat Ritz crackers may be healthier than plain Ritz Crackers, they would still fall into the “avoid” category outlined above. FYI – this post will be updated in early 2019 to reflect new cracker varieties and recipe changes. Thanks for your question! Meredith

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