• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Try this hardtack recipe for emergency food that lasts indefinately

600 323 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

As a long term survival food,  hardtack has a proven track record.

by Leon Pantenburg

Hardtack is a traditional military ration that consists basically of flour, salt and water, baked into a cracker. Recipes abound, and it is possible to buy commercial versions.

Hardtack was a staple of military rations during the Civil War.

But the prepper/survivalist should consider using making hardtack. It is a good way to use up any surplus flour, and done correctly with the right recipe, the hardtack can last a long, long time.

The finished product is usually pretty bland-tasting, but I was so hungry on one Idaho elk hunt that it tasted great! Peanut butter and jam helps make hardtack into a tasty snack.

This hardtack recipe was sent in by a Survivalcommonsense Youtube viewer, Thomas Emard. It is worth adding to your preparedness recipes. (I love it when readers/viewers send in recipes and survival tips!)

If you want to make the longest lasting, nutritional hardtack, here is the original British thrice-bake method for naval use. Life expectancy is indefinite. Keep it dry and it will last well over 100 years.

Thrice-baked British Hardtack


-10 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (I use Enriched)
-3.5 Cups Water (Filtered is ideal)


hardtack c Hardtack can be baked into whatever shapes are convenient.

Hardtack can be baked into whatever shapes are convenient.

-Preheat Oven to 250.
-Combine Flour and water into a dry dough. You should have to compress the dough in your hands for it to stick together.
-Place on heavily floured surface; roll out to 3/4 inch. A hardtack cutter is only $10. Invest in one.
-Cut with cutter, or with knife into roughly 3″x3″ squares.
-Create the ‘docks’ (holes). At least 16, but I use 25.
-Sprinkle tops with 1 Tablespoon of set-aside salt. Flip and sprinkle with remaining 1 Tablespoon.
-Bake on ungreased sheet for 3 hours; flip hardtack halfway through.
-Turn off oven and let cool with door closed. Remove hardtack when oven has fully cooled.
-Reheat the oven to 250 degrees. Bake again for 3 hours, flipping halfway through.
-Turn off oven and let cool with door closed. Remove hardtack when oven has fully cooled.
-Reheat the oven to 250 degrees. Bake a third time for 3 hours, flipping halfway through.
-Turn off oven and let cool with door closed.
-Let hardtack cool and harden for 3 days. Ideally, in the oven, but a counter top works just fine.
-Package and store. Salt and Desiccant packs are excellent preservers.

If kept dry, this will provide basic nutrition for an indefinite amount of time. We have hardtack from the Roman Empire that is still edible. Plan ahead, package properly, and this is a very cheap way to bulk up your supplies. I spent $50 on ingredients and I made over 5,000 crackers. So much that I actually gave a few boxes worth away to friends.

Keep in mind, the addition of ANYTHING else (honey, berries, butter, lard) will significantly reduce shelf life; from centuries to months.

By the way, Encamped Bread is a great alternative if you’re not on the march/in a survival situation. Same mixture, but bake at 250 for 15 minutes. Tack comes out soft and chewy, a great bread for collecting soup broth.

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  • Thomas Emard

    Somewhat honored, somewhat embarrassed that I was referenced here. I just want to make a correction to the above recipe for interested parties, do NOT add salt. No historical recipe calls for it, it was an addition for flavor, it shouldn’t have been included.

    Regarding the other comments:

    -Vic: Yes, the Roman Empire made a very similar bread for long marches, we still have edible examples from the American Civil War.

    Mark: Well first off, hardtack isn’t meant to be eaten in a brick form. That’s like digging into powdered milk without adding water. Preparation is simple, soak it or grill it in grease to soften it. Or, a personal favorite, break it up with a gun stock and put it in stew with some meat and potatoes. Delicious.

  • Leon

    I don’t know of anyone who would eat 100 year old hardtack. In the Old Court House Museum, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, there is a piece of hardtack from the Civil War siege. It is more than 150 years old.

  • Flo


    In reading your comments the first thing I thought of was a saying that goes something like, “Plan for the worst and hope for the best”. In other words, in an emergency or survival situation you may not have access to cooking facilities. There is also the possibility that if you do have cooking facilities at hand, you may not want to use those facilities for security reasons. I could say much more but just use your imagination and then plan from there.Flo

  • Vic

    has anyone ever eaten hard tack that is 100 years old and how did they know that it was that old

  • markw

    HARDTACK it is ok if you like eating a brick.In bad times why not make flour tortillias. U make what you want fresh. it is also a basic bread. only need water salt flour or if you prefer add some minced onions and herbs if you like jazz it up. Personally hardtack is ok if you want to preserve for years and years. Have a great summer stay cool everyone Mark

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