Homemade Crackers – Are They Worth It?

by | Jun 24, 2024

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Crackers are a popular kid-friendly snack, but many parents are concerned about ingredients or the lack of nutritional value found in crackers.

Many parents have started to make homemade crackers for their kids in hopes to provide a “healthy” homemade cracker. 

But are homemade crackers actually worth it?

I made my own simple version of homemade goldfish crackers to see if making homemade crackers is really worth it.

homemade goldfish crackers

Pros of Making Homemade Crackers

There are many benefits to making your kids favorite snacks, like crackers, from scratch including:

Controlling ingredients 

Many parents are concerned about the ingredients found in certain crackers.  While I understand where parents may question certain ingredients that are hard to pronounce, foods are heavily regulated by the FDA in order to keep us safe.

It’s also important to consider the amount of whatever concerning ingredient is in your child’s preferred cracker.  Is the ingredient listed at the top or the bottom of the ingredient list?  The further down the ingredient list the ingredient is, the less volume by weight the product will contain.  

Many argue that vegetable oils are “bad” for you and you should avoid them.  This isn’t necessarily true and the research is very mixed and in fact, some research actually considers them “heart healthy.” 

Excess of any food or ingredient isn’t a good thing.  While many ultra-processed foods that commonly contain vegetable oils should be limited, that doesn’t mean you should avoid all ultra-processed foods, such as store bought crackers. 

Some people believe that if you can’t pronounce the ingredient you shouldn’t eat it.  However, this is not a good philosophy to base your food choices on, as many ingredients utilize the scientific name and serve a valuable purpose within the food, whether for texture, shelf life, flavor, nutritional value, etc. 

For instance, if you take a look at the chemical ingredients in a banana, you most likely can’t pronounce 90% of them, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat a banana. 

chemicals in banana

*Picture from James Kennedy

Adding more nutritional value

With many homemade recipes, you can add more nutritional value to them whether that’s with fiber, protein, or vitamin and mineral content. 

In the homemade goldfish cracker recipe I test out, that’s not necessarily the case.  

While the homemade goldfish crackers are higher in protein (5 g versus 1 g per 12 crackers), they’re also higher in calories, fat, and sodium. 

I love that the homemade goldfish crackers use minimal ingredients such as flour, cheese, butter, and salt.  However, that doesn’t automatically make it superior to the store bought version.  

Store Bought Goldfish Crackers(27.3 oz)Homemade Goldfish Crackers
Serving size55 crackers (1 serving)12 crackers 12 crackers
Cost per serving$0.36$0.12$0.36
Calories140 cals30 cals210 cals
Sodium250 mg55 mg270 mg
Fat5 g1 g18 g
Carbohydrates20 g4 g7 g
Fiber1 g0 g0 g
Added sugar0 g0 g0 g
Protein3 g1 g5 g
IngredientsEnriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Cheddar Cheese ([Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes], Annatto), Vegetable Oils (Canola, Sunflower and/or Soybean), Salt, Contains 2% or less of: Yeast, Sugar, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Paprika, Spices, Celery, Onion Powder, Monocalcium Phosphate, Baking SodaNot in correct order – Butter – cream, natural flavorCheddar Cheese – Pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, annatto (color)Flour – Wheat flour, Malted barley flour, Niacin, reduced iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acidSalt – salt, calcium silicate (anti-caking agent), dextrose, potassium iodide

*cost and nutrients may vary based on products used

Sometimes less expensive depending on the recipe

In the case of homemade goldfish crackers versus store bought goldfish crackers, they’re both relatively inexpensive.  However per the 12 cracker portion size, the homemade goldfish crackers are 3x the amount of the store bought crackers.  

I originally compared the bulk, 27.3 oz container of store bought crackers at $8.99/container or $0.36 per 55 pieces (one serving) because purchasing in bulk tends to cost you less per serving.  

However if we took the cost of the standards 6.6 oz bag of store bought goldfish at $2.69 per bag or $0.45 per 55 pieces (one serving) and compared it to the same volume of homemade crackers (6 servings of 55 pieces – the pieces are relatively the same size), the homemade crackers would cost you roughly $9.96 for 6 servings of 55 pieces.  

I don’t know about you, but that’s a significant difference when you take a step back and look at it, especially with how much food costs today, not to mention the time it takes. 

There’s also the cost of the equipment to make the homemade crackers.  Not everyone has a food processor and while you can use the cut outs over and over again, they’re not free.

The Cooking Experience

The main reason why I would choose to make homemade goldfish crackers isn’t necessarily for the nutrition or ingredient list, it’s for the cooking experience it provides my kids.

Getting your kids in the kitchen is not only beneficial for their kitchen skills and long term health, it’s a great sensory experience for kids. Plus, making memories in the kitchen can provide your children with core memories.

Cons of Making Homemade Crackers

While making homemade crackers may seem like a great idea, there certainly are some downsides including:


For many parents, including myself, we lean on convenient snack options like store bought goldfish crackers as a quick and easy option.  We have enough on our plates and don’t necessarily have the time to make all our food from scratch, including tedious crackers.  

Not only do you have to mix up the dough – no it doesn’t take that long, but it still takes time – but you also have to let it chill, clean the dirty dishes you used to make it, the counter that has tons of flour on it, and wait for them to bake – again, not a ton of time, but still time!

For a full-time working parent that has numerous other things to juggle, making homemade crackers may not be the best use of their time.  Ultimately that’s up to you, but it doesn’t make you any less of a parent if you choose not to. 


Maybe you’re not very confident in the kitchen and any form of cooking or baking overwhelms you.  This homemade cracker recipe wouldn’t necessarily be for you.  While it is rather simple, you’re likely trying to work on other skills that give you more bang for your buck, such as scrambled eggs, spaghetti and meatballs, etc. 

Not everyone has the skills or confidence in the kitchen to make foods from scratch and purchasing store bought items that have been perfected by manufacturers who utilize professionals such as food scientists and dietitians will yield a better tasting product, save time, produce less food waste, and allow you to spend time on other things you actually enjoy.

Food preference

Not everyone enjoys the homemade version.  Maybe this is because you’re not the best cook or in the case of these homemade goldfish crackers, they taste great fresh, but not so much a few days later. 

Ultimately if your kids don’t enjoy it, it’s difficult to validate spending the time making them just because you believe they’re a “better” option.  To be honest, my kids didn’t care for them, so I probably won’t be making them very often, if at all.

Shelf life

These homemade goldfish crackers last maybe one week. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have the space on my list of things to do to squeeze in homemade crackers every sunday.  

Again, if it’s something you want to whip up every once and a while, that’s great!

Purchasing store bought, shelf stable items like crackers can actually lead to less food waste than making it yourself.  


There’s a reason why kids love goldfish crackers.  Not only are they cheesy, but they also are consistent with every cracker. 

When you make these homemade, that may not always be the case.  One cracker may be thicker than the other, soggier than the next, or darker in color.  To kids, especially picky eaters, this can be a deal breaker.  

Are Goldfish Healthy

As a dietitian you’d think I’d love the word healthy, but I actually don’t.  

The word “healthy” is relative to the person using it.  What might be healthy to some isn’t for others.  

When it comes to goldfish crackers, store bought or homemade, they can certainly fit into a healthy lifestyle.  Infact, I would argue that it’s unhealthy to say foods are unhealthy unless medically necessary (i.e. goldfish crackers are not healthy for those with celiac disease because they contain gluten). 

Is a diet full of goldfish crackers at multiple meals, every day of the week healthy?  Not so much, but there are situations where goldfish crackers are one of few safe foods for children with ARFID or Pediatric Feeding Disorder.  

How to Make Homemade Goldfish Crackers

Healthy Homemade Goldfish Crackers

Maybe you’re just here for the homemade goldfish recipe and don’t care about the pros and cons.  Well, here you go!


  • Flour
  • Cheddar cheese – I used an 8 oz block and shredded it myself, but you can use already shredded cheese
  • Unsalted butter – you can use salted butter, but then just leave out the salt
  • Salt
  • Optional – white cheddar popcorn seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, etc. 


  • Food processor – I used this ninja chopper and it worked just fine for one batch
  • Plastic wrap – optional
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Goldfish cookie cutter
  • Grater – optional
  • Toothpick

How Long do Crackers Last?

As I mentioned previously, one of the cons of making homemade crackers is that they don’t last more than 7 days.  They’re typically the best fresh out of the oven, and they tend to lose their crunch factor the next day. 

As far as store bought crackers, they will typically last roughly six months after their expiration date if unopened and stored properly.

Once opened, store bought crackers may last up to 1 to 2 months, depending on the cracker.  

It’s not that crackers beyond these timelines will be harmful, instead it’s the quality of the cracker that is impacted.  No one enjoys a stale cracker.

Homemade Crackers – Are They Worth It?

By all means, if you want to make homemade crackers and you have the time, energy, mental capacity, and your family actually enjoys them, go for it!  Check out the recipe below.

However, if you’d like to lean on the store bought version because that’s what works best for your family, that’s okay too!

The pros of making homemade crackers include controlling the ingredients and adding nutritional value if you choose to do so, getting in the kitchen, and sometimes it can be more cost effective. 

The cons of making homemade crackers is that they take more time to make, you may not have the skills or confidence, they don’t last as long, and the quality and texture may be inconsistent.  

Instead of stressing over making all your kids favorite snacks from scratch, focus on overall variety and what you can add in versus take out and restrict.  

So if you’re asking me as a pediatric dietitian and full time working mom if homemade crackers are worth it, I don’t think so, but that’s me, not you. I love the flavor when they’re fresh out of the oven, but I’d rather spend my time making a complete meal than a tedious cracker.

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Healthy Homemade Goldfish Crackers

Healthy Goldfish Crackers

A simple homemade goldfish recipe with minimal ingredients you can easily make with your kids!
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Snack
Servings 14


  • Food processor
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Fish cookie cutter
  • Toothpick
  • Grater optional


  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1/4 cup Unsalted butter cut into small cubes
  • 8 oz Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 Tbsp Cold water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp White cheddar popcorn seasoning optional


  • Shred cheddar cheese and dice 1/4 cup (1/2 stick of butter) into 1/2" cubes.
  • Add flour, cheese, butter, and salt to your food processor and blend until the mixture is consistent. Add water, 1 tbsp at a time, if the mixture seems too dry.
  • Take the mixture out of the food processor and mold it into a flat section, cover with plastic wrap, and cool for 20 minutes. You can leave the dough over night as well.
  • Remove the homemade goldfish cracker dough from the fridge and roll it flat – 1/4" thick. Press firmly into the dough to make your goldfish cracker cutouts using your goldfish cookie cutter. Place each goldfish cracker onto your parchment-lined baking sheet. If you'd like, sprinkle on the white cheddar popcorn seasoning and poke a small hole for the eye with a toothpick.
  • Bake homemade goldfish crackers for 8 to 12 minutes.
  • Let cool and store in air tight container or Ziploc bag for 5 to 7 days.

Hi! I'm Alex Turnbull. I'm a registered dietitian specializing in introducing solids and picky eating. Most importantly, I'm a mom of two so I get how stressful feeding kids can be.

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