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Firecrackers

Time 1 hour
Yields Makes 10 cups
Firecracker snack crackers.
These snack crackers — salty and spiked with umami-packed garlic powder — are a favorite treat in the South to go with drinks or to eat out of hand at holiday parties.
(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)
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These crackers were a staple at any party my parents threw when I was a kid. The traditional recipe uses larger saltine crackers, while this riff uses smaller soup & oyster crackers, which are easier to pick at and eat with your fingers or shovel into your mouth at once. I prefer Nabisco’s Premium brand, but any brand will do. Look for them in the cracker and cookie aisle of any grocery store.

Don’t be tempted to use olive oil or butter here. You want a flavorless oil to let the seasonings shine through, unadulterated. And melted butter contains some water, which tends to make the crackers go soggy or have a stale chew to them. The traditional recipe uses packets of dry ranch seasoning mix; in lieu of that mix, which contains dairy and MSG, I use nutritional yeast to keep the mix vegan while also retaining its cheese-like, umami bite. If you’d like, however, use two 1-ounce packets (or 1/4 cup) dry ranch seasoning mix instead of the nutritional yeast.

As for the salt, I know it may look like a lot, but the original recipes call for double the amount listed here. This is an intentionally salty snack, meant to be served with cocktails during a party or at the beginning of a meal. If you want, you can halve the amounts of all ingredients and make less, but I guarantee you won’t have a problem eating them all very quickly.

1

In a large bowl or gallon-size plastic bag, combine the oil, nutritional yeast, seasoned salt, chile flakes, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper. Whisk together the ingredients in the bowl or close the bag and massage until evenly combined.

2

Add the oyster crackers and toss to ensure that everything is evenly coated, then let stand for at least 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to ensure the crackers have absorbed the seasonings well. If using a bag, close the bag, lay it on your counter and gently flip and rub the crackers in the seasonings every 10 minutes.

3

Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Spread the crackers on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring the crackers halfway through, until fragrant and dry (you do not want to toast or color the crackers), about 16 minutes.

4

Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before serving.

Make Ahead:
Store the crackers in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 1 month.