Are Rice Crackers Really A Healthy Alternative?

Recently during our family holiday up on the Gold Coast in Queensland, we stopped for the night at a small country town to visit my wife’s cousin and his family. Early the following morning before we continued our drive north, I went into one of the big supermarket stores to pick up some fruit, bread and other snacks to keep the kids full to prevent the need for stops. About an hour or so into the trip the boys started complaining that they were hungry even though they had only had breakfast just over an hour before. I told my wife that I had some snacks in a bag on the floor in front of her and she reached in to grab something our she let our a shriek of disappointment at the rice crackers I had purchased.

“These ones are full of sugar…”

Now “full of sugar” might have been hyperbole, and to me, I was really surprised at her comment knowing that she buys rice crackers for our boys as a healthier alternative to other snacks. It just seems that some brands are better than others when it comes to their sugar levels. The best way to tell which ones are better is pretty simple; look for the word sugar in the ingredients. If it’s not there, then you are on your way to a healthier choice.

Many of the brands advertise their product stating that these are a healthy snack with one brand even suggesting on their website that their rice cracker is;

“The perfect snack for healthy Aussies.”

So I decided to check this out for myself, and this is what I discovered.

Rice Crackers - Coles Damora ALDI Woolworths Homebrand Peckish Peckish Brown Fantastic Crisp'ns Sakata
Rice Crackers – Coles Generic Brand, Damora an ALDI exclusive, Woolworths’ Homebrand, Front – Peckish, Peckish Brown Rice No Salt, Peckish Brown Rice Salted, Fantastic Crisp’ns, Fantastic Original, and Sakata.

There six brands that I identified on the shelves of the four major grocery stores in Australia with three of them having their own exclusive generic or in house brand, and all but ALDI stocking the independent brands along side their in house brand. For the purpose of this exercise I purchased nine packets all in the “original” or “plain” flavours, or in the case of the brown rice alternatives, the salted and no salt variety as the plain varieties tend to be flavoured with salt only.

This comparison is based solely on facts and figures presented on the packets and does not include a taste test to say which one I like best (seriously, you want my opinion on taste?) and I have not sought advice from media outlets or organisations such as Choice unless otherwise stated.

Firstly, here are the ones that contain sugar in the ingredients. I have listed them starting with the one with the highest sugar levels down to those with the lowest amount of sugar.

9. Fantastic Rice Crackers Original 100g

Fantastic Rice Crackers Original

Ingredients: Rice (91%), Sugar, Vegetable Oil, (Antioxidants (E307b, Citric Acid)), Salt, Gluten Free Soy Sauce Powder (Hydrolysed Wheat), Flavour Enhancers (E627, E631).

Serving Size 25g 100g
Energy, kilojoules 423.0 kj 1690.0 kj
Protein 1.7 g 6.9 g
Fat, total 0.9 g 3.6g
– saturated 0.4 g 1.7 g
Carbohydrate 21.2 g 84.9 g
– sugars 0.9 g 3.4 g
Dietary Fibre  0.1 g  0.5 g
Sodium  101.0 mg  404.0 mg

Comments: The ingredients list and the nutrition panel on Fantastic’s website are slightly different from those shown on the packet (see the slide-show below). Sugar is added to this product. There are way too many numbers being shown to allow this to be a regular item in our child’s diet, if at all.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

8. Coles Plain Rice Crackers 100g (Coles Exclusive)

Coles Plain Rice Crackers 100g

Ingredients: Rice flour (95%), sunflower oil[contains antioxidant (320)], salt, sugar, Maltodextrin (from maize), flavour enhancers (627,631).

Serving Size 25g 100g
Energy, kilojoules 422.0 kj 1690.0 kj
Protein 1.7 g 6.8 g
Fat, total < 1 g 3 g
– saturated < 1 g < 1 g
Carbohydrate 21.2 g 84 g
– sugars < 1 g 2.1 g
Dietary Fibre not shown not shown
Sodium 105.0 mg 419.0 mg

Comments: At 95% rice, that’s more than some of the more expensive brands, but it still has 2% added sugar and some numbers added, so it might not be suitable for everyone. Sugar is added to this product. There are way too many numbers being shown to allow this to be a regular item in our child’s diet, if at all.

7. Fantastic Rice Crackers Crisp’ns Original 100g

Fantastic Crisp'ns Original

Ingredients: Base (Rice Flour (81%), Potato Starch), Vegetable Oil, (Contains Soy Antioxidants (E307b)), Seasoning (Sugar, Salt, Soy Sauce Powder (Hydrolysed Wheat (Gluten Free)), Maltodextrin, Flavour Enhancers (E627, E631), Yeast Extract.

Serving Size 25g 100g
Energy, kilojoules 453.0 kj 1810.0 kj
Protein 1.6 g 6.4 g
Fat, total 1.9 g 7.5 g
– saturated 0.9 g 3.5 g
Carbohydrate 20.9 g 83.5 g
– sugars 0.4 g 1.7 g
Dietary Fibre  not shown  not shown
Sodium 147.0 mg 586.0 mg

Comments: Fantastic’s Crisp’ns range are marketed as “lighter, crispier, smoother and tastier”. Having the word “lighter” on a packet normally gives buyers the impression they have less fat and/or less energy, but these crackers have 120 more kilojoules per 100 grams than Fantastic’s original rice cracker. Sugar is added to this product. Just like their original product there are way too many numbers being shown to allow this to be a regular item in our child’s diet, if at all.

6. Peckish Rice Crackers Original Flavour 100g

Peckish Original Flavour Rice Crackers 100g

Ingredients: Rice Flour, Rice Bran Oil, Maltodextrin, Salt, Sugar, Soy Sauce Powder (Maltodextrin, Salt, Soy Bean Oil), Flavour Enhancers (627, 631), Antioxidant (307), Anticaking Agent (341).

Serving Size 20g 100g
Energy, kilojoules 373.0 kj 1870.0 kj
Protein 1.4 g 7.0 g
Fat, total 2.0 g 9.8 g
– saturated 0.3 g 1.5 g
Carbohydrate 16.5 g 82.2 g
– sugars < 1 g < 1 g
Dietary Fibre  not shown  not shown
Sodium 68.0 mg 340.0 mg

Comments: The Peckish Original Flavour Rice Crackers have the most kilojoules of energy coming in at 1870g per 100g which is possibly why, when all the other brands list four serving at 25g per serve as their suggested serving size, Peckish suggests that there are five servings of 20g instead giving false comparison of the serving sizes against their rice cracker rivals. All of the rice crackers are supplied in 100g packets with a plastic tray insert hold four rows of the rice crackers inside. If you were being careful with your food intake and only having one row per day, then all the other brands are giving you figures to reflect that.

Could you really limit yourself to 80% of a row of rice crackers? And in truth, eating 25g of rice crackers isn’t even going to touch the sides for most snacking adults who can easily demolish the whole packet in one sitting. If that’s the case for you, make sure you only take into consideration the 100g column. In fact, that’s the column you should always look at when comparing products. Sugar is added to this product. There are way too many numbers being shown to allow this to be a regular item in our child’s diet, if at all.

5. Peckish Brown Rice Crackers Lightly Salted* 100g

Peckish Brown Rice Crackers Lightly Salted 100g

Ingredients: Brown Rice Flour, Rice Bran Oil (10%), Maltodextrin derived from corn, Salt, Sugar, Soy Sauce Powder.

Serving Size 20g 100g
Energy, kilojoules 372.0 kj 1860.0 kj
Protein 1.6 g 7.9 g
Fat, total 2.3 g 11.7 g
– saturated < 1 g 3.3 g
Carbohydrate 14.9 g 74.6 g
– sugars < 1 g < 1 g
Dietary Fibre  not shown  not shown
Sodium 28.0 mg 140.0 mg

Comments: Just like their white rice version mentioned above, the Peckish company have once again suggested that there are five servings of 20g instead of four servings giving false comparison of the serving sizes against their rice cracker rivals. Of the crackers with added sugar, the Peckish brand comes in with the least amount with less than 1% in both these brown rice crackers and their white rice crackers, but where they win over the other brands with these ones is that the asterisk on the front of the packet after the lightly salted flavour means that these are at least 25% less salt than their own white rice variety.

And it’s not just against Peckish’s own white rice cracker that it proves to have less sodium (salt), but also it has the lowest amount salt versus all of the white rice varieties. Well, it’s only second to the Peckish Brown Rice Crackers No Salt 100g. Sugar is added to this product.

Here’s the rest of the list. From now on, the ones do not have any added sugar in their ingredients list.

4. Peckish Brown Rice Crackers No Salt 100g

Peckish Brown Rice Crackers No Salt 100g

Ingredients: Brown Rice Flour, Rice Bran Oil (10%).

Serving Size 20g 100g
Energy, kilojoules 362.0 kj 1810.0 kj
Protein 1.7 g 8.6 g
Fat, total 1.9 g 9.4 g
– saturated < 1 g 2.8 g
Carbohydrate 15.2 g 76 g
– sugars < 1 g < 1 g
Dietary Fibre  not shown  not shown
Sodium 10.6 mg 53.0 mg

Comments: An even better version of their brown rice cracker varieties, the No Salt flavour (can you call it that if it doesn’t have even salt as an added flavour?) Peckish Brown Rice Cracker has the least amount of sodium (salt) of any brand, and although these ones do not have sugar added, the manufacturer has not given the amount of sugar present in the product other than to say there is less than 1g of sugar. It only comes in a fourth place because I cannot determine whether that’s closer to 1.0 g or closer to zero.

3. Woolworths’ Homebrand Rice Crackers Plain 100g (Woolworths Exclusive)

Woolworths Homebrand Rice Crackers Original

Ingredients: Rice (93%), Sunflower Oil (Antioxidant (319)) Maltodextrin, Salt.

Serving Size 25g 100g
Energy, kilojoules 435.0 kj 1740.0 kj
Protein 1.7 g 6.7 g
Fat, total 1.0 g 4.0g
– saturated 0.2 g 0.7 g
Carbohydrate 21.9 g 87.5 g
– sugars 0.0 g 0.0 g
Sodium 112.0 mg 450.0 mg

Comments: There is no sugar added to this product which reflects on the extremely low sugar count which in the 100g column shows only 0.1 gram per 100 grams based on the natural amount of sugar found within white rice. Although this comes in as the lowest sugar levels, proclaiming to have none at all in the product, the carbohydrates and overall energy levels of this product are higher than both of the following brands. It also has 4% less rice than the top two brands and it includes a product with a number which the top two brands do not have.

2. Damora Plain Rice Crackers 100g (ALDI Exclusive)

Damora Plain Rice Crackers ALDI 100g

Ingredients: Rice (97%), Vegetable Oil, Salt (1%).

Serving Size 25g 100g
Energy, kilojoules 428.0 kj 1710.0 kj
Protein 2.2 g 8.9 g
Fat, total 0.7 g 2.9 g
– saturated 0.1 g 0.4 g
Carbohydrate 21.2 g 84.8 g
– sugars 0.1 g 0.2 g
Dietary Fibre not shown not shown
Sodium 97.0 mg 387.0 mg

Comments: ALDI stores are famous for not only having many knock-off brands that closely resemble big known brands in both the look and taste of the product, but also the look of the packet. Does the Damora packet look familiar with the blue and red foil packaging? No? Just keep reading then. The good thing about this brand is that not only does it have extremely low sugar levels (keep in mind that’s not added sugar), it also has one of the lowest amounts of sodium for a salted variety, and with only rice, oil and salt as its ingredients, that ranks it as a fairly good product to have as a snacking alternative.

1. Sakata Rice Crackers Plain 100g

Sakata Plain Rice Crackers

Ingredients: Rice (97%), Vegetable Oil, Salt.

Serving Size 25g 100g
Energy, kilojoules 421.0 kj 1680.0 kj
Protein 1.9 g 7.4 g
Fat, total 0.7 g 2.9 g
– saturated 0.1 g 0.4 g
Carbohydrate 21.5 g 86.1 g
– sugars 0.1 g 0.2 g
Dietary Fibre 0.2 g 0.9 g
Sodium  97.0 mg  387.0 mg

Comments: Of all the brands mentioned here, one might suggest that Sakata would top the list on Family Feud if the question was “name a brand of rice crackers.” With their sample of the 1982 song Da, Da, Da by the German minimalist pop band Trio as the product’s theme song, Sa… Ka… Ta… has made its name amongst the other iconic brands in Australia. And with its minimalist ingredients, extremely low sugar and just like the ALDI product, having the lowest sodium content of a salted product, I think that if parents are reaching for a healthier snack alternative, this would be one that I suggest. And while I am mentioning the ALDI product, it would not surprise me if I found out that the good people at Sakata were also behind making the Damora product because when you look at the ingredients and the nutrition panels, those are way to close to be coincidental one might suggest.

Please note, this is NOT a sponsored post for any of the brands listed here. All of the products were purchased by me at Coles, Woolworths and Aldi for my review. All of the photos of the individual brands were sourced from either Coles Online or Woolworths Online except the Damora brand which was photographed by me in my two-bit home-made photography studio because ALDI doesn’t have their products listed online. The order of these products as stated is based solely on their sugar levels with the highest amount first flowing through to the lower levels.

And no, I’m not joining the Sarah Wilson “I Quit Sugar” army because I do like a bit of sugar now and then. But when I can find an alternative product that had little or no sugar in it I prefer to have that so I can reduce my sugar intake in a product that doesn’t need it so that I can have it in a product that is full of sugar. You know, like heavily iced birthday cake for example…

Do you buy rice crackers? Which is your favourite brand? While I have only shown the plain or original flavour (read: salted flavour), which is your favourite flavour?

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12 thoughts on “Are Rice Crackers Really A Healthy Alternative?

  1. Thank you Darrell for this though article.
    I’m intolerant to msg and msg boosters.
    This article saved me from trawling thru ingredients either at shop or manufactures websites.
    Keep up good work

    1. You think the sugar is the issue its the vegetable oil!! Alot of our foods contain vegeable oil, look up diet high in omega 6 which this rice crackers are because of oil used. Im trying to find some made in olive oil which is a struggle.

  2. Darrell, id be interested in to see what your analysis of the Rutherford and Meyer Rice wafers. their packet shows rice flour and cheddar cheese but does not mention RICE as the others have above, plus they state no sugar, thx Sgp

    1. Scott, when I did this analysis I only selected plain or salted rice crackers. Rice flour is 100% milled rice so whatever percentage is shown of that will be the rice content. I am intrigued as to why they’d call the one with the hint of cheddar “natural” when clearly it’s a cheese flavour. I haven’t seen these in Australia but I will keep a look out. Thanks for your question.

      1. Thx Darrell, i got them off a website called numbereight food group. as i had the same issues with sugars for my active kids!!

  3. still wont buy any of these as it is clear that there is no nutritional value in these crackers and there is far too much salt.

  4. What the hell do you mean too many numbers? I know rice crackers aren’t healthy but what the hell is ‘too many numbers’

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