Vanilla Wafer Crust

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This vanilla wafer crust is buttery and sweet with the perfect texture. It gives homemade pies and desserts a rustic charm. Say goodbye to pre-formed crusts from the market. Make a fresh crumb crust at home. Assemble this easy recipe in 15 minutes. It’s the perfect base for no-bake pies, cheesecakes, bars, and oven-baked desserts.

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Vanilla wafer crust in a metal pie pan next to a scattering of Nilla wafer cookies.

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🛒 Ingredients

Only 3 ingredients (plus cooking spray) are needed for a delightful Nilla wafer crust! Here’s what you’ll need for this easy recipe.

  • Vanilla wafer cookies (Nilla Wafers): The star ingredient for this delicious crumb crust.
  • Granulated Sugar: Adds the perfect amount of sweetness.
  • Salted Butter: Adds richness and buttery taste while holding the crumb crust together.
  • Cooking Spray: For greasing the pie pan.

🔖 KITCHEN SMARTS: The sugar crystals and melted butter help bind the cookie crumbs together. It makes the crust less crumbly. However, if desired, this recipe can be assembled without granulated sugar.

Ingredients for homemade vanilla wafer crust (AKA: Nilla wafer crust).

🥣 Best Ingredient Swaps

Missing an ingredient for this pie crust recipe? Before putting on your shoes and heading to the store, check your pantry for these easy ingredient swaps.

  • Vanilla Wafers: Substitute with graham crackers, biscoff cookies, crisp ginger snap cookies, or crushed waffle cones. For those residing outside the USA, I’ve been told that digestive biscuits are a great substitute.
  • Granulated Sugar: Substitute with light-brown sugar. Because brown sugar has moisture from molasses, you may need to slightly adjust the amount of cookie crumbs (add more) or melted butter (add less).
  • Salted Butter: Use unsalted butter instead. If desired, add a pinch or two of salt directly to the melted butter. You can also substitute margarine for butter, but the crumb mixture won’t be as rich and flavorful.
Homemade vanilla wafer crust in a metal pie pan next to 3 forks.

⭐️ Best Pie Pan for Vanilla Wafer Crust

When assembling a vanilla wafer crust, I pull out my favorite 9-inch pie pan. This USA Pan is made from 65% recycled aluminized steel, a material that cools quickly in the fridge and helps keep pies chilled. This professional-grade bakeware is also beautiful, stylish and a joy to use.

Nilla Wafer Crust in a metal pie tin surrounded by cookies.

📖 Recipe Steps

RECIPE PREP: In a heat-safe ramekin, melt the butter. Put it aside to cool.

  1. Add Nilla wafers to the bowl of a food processor. [No food processor? Use a blender instead. Or put the cookies into a large freezer bag and crush them with the back of a metal measuring cup.]
  2. Pulse until the cookies are reduced to fine crumbs. This cookie crushing process takes less than 60 seconds.
  3. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl. Add the granulated sugar. Mix well to combine. Drizzle melted butter over the mixture.
  4. Mix until the butter is fully incorporated. Break up any lumps. The texture will be mealy. You’ve just created the crumb crust mixture for the vanilla wafer crust.

🥄 Expert Tip: With a spoon, press some of the loose crumb mixture against the side of the mixing bowl. Does the compressed mixture hold together well? If it’s too dry and crumbly, add more melted butter. If the mix is too wet, add more crumbs.

Vanilla wafer crust recipe, as shown in 4 step-by-step images.

👩🏻‍🍳 Assemble Vanilla Wafer Crust

  1. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of the pie pan with a flavorless cooking spray. Do this even if the pan has a non-stick surface. Use a paper towel to evenly distribute the oil. This little trick will help the slices of pie lift out of the dish more easily.
  2. Assemble the sides of the crust. Hold the pie pan at angle, directly over the mixing bowl. With a combination of a thin spatula and a metal 1/3 measuring cup, press crumb mixture up the sides of the pan. Rotate the pan as you work. The sides of the crust should be firm, compact, and about 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Add remaining crumb mixture to the pan. Form the bottom of the crust. Pack down the crumbs in a tight even layer. With a fingertip and a thin spatula, compress the top rim of the crust and even it out.
  4. Transfer the pie pan to the freezer. Chill 35 minutes or until the pie crust has hardened. An alternate method: refrigerate 1 to 2 hours until sturdy and stable.

MAKE-AHEAD RECIPE: For holidays and parties, this is a time-saving make-ahead recipe. Refrigerate your vanilla wafer crust up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to 1 month.

How to make a vanilla wafer crust, shown in 4 step-by-step images.

🧑🏼‍🍳 Recipe FAQs

Nuts. Replace 3/4 cup cookie crumbs with unsalted nuts, like pecans, walnuts or macadamia nuts. In the food processor, grind up wafers and nuts together. REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE HAVE ALLERGIES: Only add nuts when you’re 100% sure no one who will enjoy the dessert has a nut allergy. For potlucks and parties, don’t take the risk. Don’t use nuts in the crust.

It’s not necessary to bake the crust when using it to assemble a no-bake dessert. After preparing the crust, chill it in the freezer for 35 minutes or until it’s sturdy and firm.

No. It’s not necessary to par-bake the crust when using it for a baked dessert like cheesecake or lemon bars.

Repair the cracks with honey. Or create a mixture of 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon melted butter. Drizzle it over the cracks. Gently press the mixture into the cracks to seal them.

In a 350°F oven, par-bake the crumb crust for 7 to 8 minutes, or until light golden blonde. It’ll be crisper and less crumbly when sliced.

Freeze or refrigerate the crust until firm. Brush egg wash (1 egg white whisked with 1 tablespoon water) over the cold crust. Dry the crust by baking it in a 350°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes. The dried-on egg creates a moisture barrier between the crust and filling. Cool the crust completely before adding the filling.

Vanilla wafer crust in metal pie pan on a rustic wooden tabletop.

📝 Expert Tips

  • How to save time making this recipe: One 11-oz (311g) box of Nilla wafer cookies contains 80 to 85 cookies. Instead of counting out 62 cookies, grind them all up. This saves time. Use what’s needed for the vanilla wafer crust, and save the extra crumbs for later. Use them as a topping for oatmeal, yogurt, parfaits, and ice cream.
  • How to store a homemade vanilla wafer crust: Store an unbaked crust in the fridge (away from odorous foods) up to 3 days, or freeze up to 1 year. For a crust that’s baked, cool it completely. Cover the pie plate with plastic wrap. It can be safely stored on the countertop for up to 3 days, or refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  • How to slice a dessert with a crumb crust: Use a serrated knife. Crumb crusts are rustic and crumbly, whether baked or unbaked. It’s one of their charms. But a serrated knife will make a cleaner cut, resulting in a neater slice.

🥧 More Easy Pie Crust Recipes

If you loved this vanilla wafer crust, you’ll really enjoy these flavorful treats! Each dessert is a family favorite, and super easy to make. Add them to your recipe arsenal. Print the recipes now to make them later.

Rate This Recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friends say this is the best crumb crust recipe! It produces a delicious, buttery, vanilla wafer crust with the ideal amount of sweetness. They said it’s 100% better than a store-bought crust.

If you agree this recipe’s a keeper, give it a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero. Share it with friends. 📌 Pin it to Pinterest.

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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Vanilla wafer crust in a metal pie pan next to a scattering of Nilla wafer cookies.

VANILLA WAFER CRUST


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Description

Bring on the joy with a fresh, homemade vanilla wafer crust! It’s buttery and sweet with the perfect texture. It gives pies and desserts a rustic charm. Assemble this easy recipe in 15 minutes. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 3/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs, firmly packed (about 62 cookies)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted

ALSO: Cooking spray for greasing the pan.

INGREDIENT NOTE: One 11-oz (311g) box of Nilla wafer cookies contains 80 to 85 cookies. I grind up the whole box of cookies, then measure out what’s needed. I save the extra crumbs for topping oatmeal, yogurt, and ice cream.


Instructions

RECIPE PREP: In a heat-safe ramekin, melt the butter. Put it aside to cool. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of the pie pan with a flavorless cooking spray. Do this even if the pan has a non-stick surface. Use a paper towel to evenly distribute the oil. Later, this will help the slices of pie lift out of the dish more easily.

  1. Add Nilla wafers to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the cookies are reduced to fine crumbs. This cookie crushing process takes less than 60 seconds. [No food processor? Use a blender instead. Or put the cookies into a large freezer bag and crush them with the back of a metal measuring cup.]
  2. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl. Add granulated sugar. Mix well to combine. Drizzle melted butter over the mixture. Mix until the butter is fully incorporated. Break up any lumps. The texture will be mealy.
  3. In the prepared pie pan, assemble the sides of the crust. Hold the pan at angle, directly over the mixing bowl. With a combination of a thin spatula and a metal 1/3 measuring cup, press crumb mixture up the sides of the pan. Rotate the pan as you work. The sides of  the crust should be firm, compact, and about 1/4 inch thick. 
  4. Add remaining crumb mixture to the pan. Form the bottom of the crust. Pack down the crumbs in a tight even layer. With a fingertip and a thin spatula, compress the top rim of the crust and even it out.
  5.  Transfer the pie pan to the freezer. Chill 35 minutes or until the pie crust has hardened. An alternate method: refrigerate vanilla wafer crust for 1 to 2 hours until sturdy and stable.

For a sturdier crust: Par-bake the crust in a 350°F oven for 7 to 8 minutes, or until light golden blonde. It’ll be sturdier and less crumbly when sliced. 

Notes

How to prevent a soggy crust: Freeze or refrigerate vanilla wafer crust until firm. Brush egg wash (1 egg white whisked with 1 tablespoon water) over the cold crust. Dry the crust by baking it in a 350°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes. The dried-on egg creates a protective moisture barrier between the crust and filling. Cool the crust completely before adding the filling.

How to store a vanilla wafer crust: Store an unbaked crust in the fridge (away from odorous foods) up to 3 days, or freeze up to 1 year. For a crust that’s baked, cool it completely. Cover the pie plate with plastic wrap. It can be safely stored on the countertop for up to 3 days, or refrigerated for up to 1 week. 

How to slice a crumb-crust dessert: Use a serrated knife. Crumb crusts are rustic and crumbly, whether baked or unbaked. It’s one of their charms. But a serrated knife will make a cleaner cut, resulting in a neater slice.

  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 Minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: No-Bake
  • Cuisine: American
Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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What are your favorite crumb-crust desserts? Which ones will feature this Nilla wafer crust? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

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9 Comments

  1. Wow!! Perfect combination of sweet and savory buttery crunch. I could eat this all on its own. Brilliantly done!!






  2. This crust was the BOMB!! So crunchy and yet buttery!! Thank you for adding this crust into my recipe box!