When it comes to appetizers before a holiday meal, especially on Thanksgiving, I like to keep things incredibly simple. There is always more than enough going on with the meal itself, and making complicated appetizers is just so unnecessary. Sparkling cranberry brie bites are about as involved as I am willing to get for a holiday meal, but more often than not a simple meat and/or cheese board is my preference. Judging by how well received this has always been with our guests, it is clear that I’m not the only one who thinks cheese and crackers are basically the best snack ever.

Of course even if you are doing something simple, you still want to do it right. Not just any old crackers or cheese will do. My absolute favorite type of cracker is one I usually buy at the store. It includes various seeds, nuts and dried fruit. While I adore the store-bought version, they are ridiculously pricey. I was thrilled to come across this homemade version. Since the ingredients are items I have on hand the majority of the time, this is a far more economical option than the purchased variety.

  • Yield about 5-6 dozen crisps


  • 2 cups whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup hazelnuts
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup pepitas
  • ¼ cup whole flax seeds


  • 01

    Heat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease 4 mini loaf pans (about 6 x 3 inches). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl or a liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, and orange juice. Whisk to blend. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add in the dried cranberries, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pepitas and flax seeds. Fold in with a spatula just until evenly combined.

  • 02

    Divide the batter between 3 of the loaf pans, using the fourth if necessary. Bake about 30-35 minutes, rotating once halfway though, until the loaves are set and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the loaves cool in the pans at least 10-2o minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely, at least a few hours.

  • 03

    Heat the oven to 325˚ F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the loaves to about 1/8-inch thickness. Arrange the slices in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake about 22-25 minutes, gently flipping the slices halfway through, until the crisps are, well, crisp, and no significant moisture remains. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days or freeze for later.