Pie crust is intimidating, but you know what’s not intimidating? (Or, at least, less intimidating?) Making a cookie crust by pressing crushed graham crackers into a pie pan.

While traditional flaky pie crust brings buttery flavory, graham cracker and other cookie crusts can add a whole lot more to a pie — sharp spice or rich chocolate or a welcome dash of salt. And they’re infinitely customizable: Think (way) beyond graham crackers to Oreo crust, pretzel crust, and even saltine cracker crust.

Whatever cookie (or cracker!) you choose for your crust, the basic formula is simple: cookie crumbs + confectioners’ sugar + melted butter. You can start by following the method in our Graham Cracker Crust recipe, and if you want to experiment, sub in the same amount by weight/volume of the alternate cookie of your choice. (There’s already some inspiration in the recipe tips at the bottom of that recipe page.) To really nail your cookie crust, here are our tips:  

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie features a crust made from spicy gingersnaps.

Do: Pair your cookie crust with your filling   

For festive flair, you can use Gingersnaps as a contrast to a creamy spiced pie filling, like this Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie or Eggnog Cheesecake.

A crust that leans more salty than sweet, like one made from pretzels, as in this Key Lime Pie, or saltine crackers, as Bill Smith does in his classic Atlantic Beach Pie, is a nice contrast to sweet and tart fillings.

Or maybe you want to showcase a particular flavor in multiple forms, from crunchy crust to creamy filling. Pair Chocolate Wafers with a chocolate pudding filling, or Vanilla Wafers with the pure vanilla comfort of a chess pie.

Chocolate Wafers Photography and food styling by Liz Neily
Chocolate Wafers are crisp and thin, making them perfect for pie crust.

Don’t: Use soft or chewy cookies

For a crisp and crunchy crust, you need to start with crisp and crunchy cookies. They should be snappy all the way through — no soft and bendy centers. Wafer cookies, chocolate graham crackers, gingerbread, digestives, crunchy sugar cookies, and speculaas are all good choices. (This Extra Creamy Key Lime Pie even uses a surprising combination of vanilla sugar cookies and breadcrumbs in its crust.)

Do: Feel free to use store-bought graham crackers and cookies

Listen, we’re typically advocates for homemade over store-bought. But sometimes, it’s a lot of time and effort (and extra ingredients!) to make an entire batch of graham crackers or cookies just to grind them up into crumbs for pie crust. So if you want to make your own cookies, go for it! If you want to use a box of cookies from the store, that totally works too — your crust will still be tasty.

Do: Go gluten-free with ease 

One benefit of graham cracker and other cookie crusts is that they’re incredibly easy to make gluten-free. Simply swap in gluten-free graham crackers or another crisp gluten-free cookie — some of our favorites include: Gluten-Free Gingerbread, Gluten-Free Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (just skip the filling), and Gluten-Free Maple Pecan Shortbread Cookies.

Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Cream Pie Photography and food styling by Liz Neily
Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Cream Pie has a dairy-free crust made with vegan chocolate sandwich cookies and melted coconut oil.

Do: Make your cookie crusts vegan 

Similarly, you can easily go vegan with your cookie crust, as demonstrated in this Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Cream Pie recipe, which calls for vegan chocolate sandwich cookies and melted coconut oil in place of the butter. (Did you know Oreos are vegan? They’re a great choice to make a vegan Oreo crust!) 

Don’t: Be deterred if you don’t have a food processor 

While a food processor is helpful for blitzing graham crackers and other cookies into fine crumbs for a crust, it’s not essential. You can transform your cookies into crumbs with a rolling pin and some arm strength, as outlined in the recipe tips for our Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie. Simply put your graham crackers or other cookies of choice into an airtight bag and pulverize into crumbs using a heavy-bottomed skillet or a rolling pin.  

Do: Make sure your graham crackers are finely ground

Regardless of whether you’re using a food processor or old-fashioned elbow grease to break down your graham crackers or cookies, make sure they’re finely ground — they should look like sand. If you have large, unbroken chunks of cookie when you go to make your pie crust, it won’t hold together well.  

Side shot of Irish Whiskey Cheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crust Photography by Mark Weinberg; food styling by Erin McDowell
Throw a dash of espresso powder into the chocolate-cookie crust of Irish Whiskey Cheesecake.

Do: Add spices for more flavor 

Try adding a dash of spice, like cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger to bring extra depth of flavor to your graham cracker crust. Think about the entire flavor profile of your pie, from crust to filling, and how spices can accentuate it. (How about a little espresso powder in the chocolate-cookie crust of this Irish Whiskey Cheesecake for an Irish coffee-mocha mashup?)

Do: Brown your butter

Amp up the flavor even more by browning your melted butter before you use it to mix your cookie crust. Its nutty flavor shines when paired with graham crackers or mildly flavored cookies like crunchy sugar cookies.  

Don’t: Skip the sugar

You might be tempted to leave out the sugar in a graham cracker crust, especially if your pie filling is super-sweet. But it’s there for more than just sweetness — the sugar helps the crust bind together, and if the recipe calls for baking the crust, it melts in the oven to help it solidify and hold together when cut.

Using measuring cup to press in graham cracker crust Rossi Anastopoulo
A measuring cup will help you pack in your graham cracker crust evenly.

Do: Use a drinking glass or measuring cup to press in your crust

Make sure your cookie crust is well packed into the pie plate by using the flat bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup to press it in firmly. Thoroughly packing the crust ensures it won’t crumble when served, so don’t skip this step. Just using your hands to press in the crumbs doesn’t get the crust completely flat, and the crumbs often stick to your fingers instead of the pie plate.

Three different cookie crusts Photography and food styling by Liz Neily
Make sure your sides are thick enough that cutting and serving the pie won't be a challenge.

Do: Keep the sides thick

A common problem with graham cracker and other cookie crusts: The bottom is nice and thick, but the sides are so thin that they crumble and break when you try to wrangle a slice out of the pie plate. To avoid this, pay extra attention as you press the cookie crumbs up the sides of the plate and make sure to build up a hearty layer of crumbs there.

Don’t: Bother prebaking, unless the recipe calls for it

Conventional wisdom holds that you need to prebake a pie crust that will have a no-bake filling added later. But with graham cracker and other cookie crusts, you really don’t need to, as the unbaked crust holds together well after simply chilling or freezing. Our recipes for Easy Ice Cream Pie and Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Cream Pie each feature a cookie crust that skips the oven and still turns out great.

Now that you’ve got your cookie crust down, explore the many pie fillings you can use it fill it. 

Cover photo and food styling by Liz Neily.

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Cookie Pie Crusts
Graham Cracker Crust
3.3 out of 5 stars 11 Reviews
Total
40 mins
Yield
one 9" crust
Tagged:
Filed Under: Recipes
Rossi crimping pie crust
The Author

About Rossi Anastopoulo

Rossi Anastopoulo grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, which is how she fell in love with biscuits. She didn’t have any bakers in her household (with the exception of her grandmother’s perfect koulourakia), so she learned at a young age that the best way to satisfy her sweet tooth was to make dess...
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