The One Ingredient Ree Drummond Adds To Upgrade Store-Bought Saltines

Saltines are the white sneakers of the food world: They're simple, versatile, and go with pretty much anything. These salted, crispy bites have a retro feel — in part because commercial production of the crackers dates back to the 1800s — but they remain a favorite in modern households. No matter how much you like them plain, though, you might find that The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond's elevated saltine recipe is even better.

Drummond knows how to transform these soup or salad buddies into a zingy, fresh snack with just one flavoring. She uses Italian seasoning as the main ingredient here, as she writes on Instagram. To encourage the spice blend to stick to the crackers, she adds it to melted butter, along with seasoning salt, before coating the Saltines in the fat and baking them at a low temperature until golden brown. Olive oil, coconut oil, a neutral canola or avocado oil, or even bacon fat would do the trick here, too.

This recipe combines an affordable cracker with an equally budget-friendly seasoning for maximum rewards. For those who prefer to stock oyster crackers, Ritz, Cheez-Its, or Goldfish in the pantry instead, Drummond's seasoning blend should go just as well with these. Just make sure to use a fresh bag of crackers, as stale, soggy snacks will not find a second life in this preparation.

More seasonings to elevate Saltine crackers

Ree Drummond's recipe is reminiscent of a regional approach to dressing up Saltines. Called fire crackers, Alabama fire crackers, or swamp crackers, this southern staple features Saltines tossed in a mix of red pepper flakes and dry ranch seasoning. For added savoriness, some cooks incorporate onion or garlic powder, too.

To have more control over your superb snacks, make your own herb blend, Italian-inspired or otherwise. Shelf-stable ingredients like dill, paprika, or parmesan are always a good idea, as are citrus zest and chili powder. Try blends inspired by lemon pepper, za'atar, chili lime, and other readymade seasonings. You could also coat the crisps in a spoonful of hot sauce and mustard powder to create a spicy cracker courtesy of Alton Brown, or incorporate uncommon spices like nigella or annatto seeds.

To season the crackers without making a mess, combine your flavorings, a cup of oil or fat, and a few sleeves of crackers together in a resealable bag or container. Soak the crackers for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight, making sure to flip them occasionally to encourage the flavors and fat to penetrate. From there, bake the snack the snacks to crisp them up — or not. You're welcome to them eat as-is to avoid the wait, as they should still be crisp.

Enjoying your spiced Saltines

Your upgraded Saltines are sure to fit in alongside tons of savory meals. Drummond pairs them with soups and salads, but that's just scratching the surface. To draw out the layers of flavor imparted by herb-centric Italian seasoning, you can marinate olives or coat chicken in the same blend and munch on your crackers alongside. 

You can also use your zesty Saltines to cut the fishiness of canned tuna or cream cheese and lox (no bread or bagels required!). Or pair the snack with deli meats and cheeses for a sophisticated version of Lunchables, and nestle it into charcuterie boards to eat alongside cheese, creamy dips, and bright hummus. And if you make Alabama fire crackers, pair them with Alabama white sauce spread on a barbecue sandwich.

Saltines are often eaten up fast, but if you have leftovers, you can also crush them up and mix them with breadcrumbs or panko for a tasty boost on fried food. Any remaining crumbs at the bottom of your cracker container can act as a crunchy element on top of salads. And if you decide to walk on the sweet side instead of savory, add a sprinkle of brown sugar and chili powder for sweet and spicy Saltines.