Oatmeal Cookies


Nutritious Comfort Food

Oatmeal cookies get two big points on my food list. First, they contain oats, a high fiber food rich in selenium, potassium, B vitamins and iron. Second, since they are a cookie and contain sugar, they meet all my criteria for dessert. What could be better? It's a plausible reason to eat cookies while rationalizing that the health benefits outweigh the calories.

And if the recipe contains mineral-laden raisins, which just happen to be fat-free, the cookies deserve extra points. Perhaps we're stretching things a bit, but oatmeal cookies do seem to be a healthier choice than, say, a chunk of chocolate cake loaded with butter-cream frosting.

Oatmeal is packaged in various ways, including old-fashioned, quick and instant varieties. All come from oats, which are cleaned, toasted and hulled. These toasted oats are known in the food industry as oat groats. Once they are steamed and rolled, they are sold as old-fashioned oats. Quick oats are groats that have been cut into pieces before the steaming and rolling process. Instant oats are made from cut groats that are cooked and dried before rolling. Some of my gourmet friends like to serve Irish oatmeal, Scotch oats or steel-cut oats, all found in health-food stores or upscale markets. These groats have been cut but not rolled, and the resulting oatmeal is chewy in texture. They taste good but to those unused to the texture, it may appear that the cook didn't quite finish cooking breakfast. When making oatmeal cookies, the best choice is either old-fashioned oats or the quick cooking type. Instant oatmeal doesn't hold up well in recipes, and the gourmet oats seem thick and heavy in baked cookies.

Oatmeal Cookie Recipes

The first recipe I've included came from Peg Bracken's 1960 book, The I Hate to Cook Book. Bracken, always able to turn a smart phrase, is a funny lady and quite outspoken with her opinions in her books. She is obviously a better cook than she wants her readers to believe, and she says that Selma's cookies "bear the same relationship to the ordinary oatmeal cookie that the Rolls-Royce does to the bicycle." She's right. They are an oatmeal cookie for everyone, even those who say they don't like 'em. I have no idea who Peg Bracken's friend Selma was or is, but she did a great job with these cookies.

The other recipe is a family favorite and has been in my collection for at least twenty years. It contains raisins, but specifies that the raisins be chopped into pieces. Believe it or not, this makes a big difference in the taste of these cookies. I admit that chopping raisins is tedious, but worth the effort. It also means that sworn raisin-haters won't get a big soft bite of a whole raisin all at once. It has always seemed to me that most of the people who claim they can't stand oatmeal cookies have oatmeal-raisin cookies in mind, and it may actually be the raisins that offend these folks.

Both these recipes deserve a try. Serve with a big glass of milk, of course.


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups oatmeal (do not use instant)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans


  1. Use an electric mixer to cream the shortening and both sugars together.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla.
  3. Combine the flour, soda and cinnamon.
  4. Use a spoon to stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture.
  5. Stir in the oatmeal and pecans.
  6. Chill the dough for an hour in the refrigerator, or in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  8. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
  9. Roll the dough into walnut-sized pieces and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.
  10. Butter the bottom of a small glass, dip it in white sugar and flatten the cookie pieces slightly.
  11. No need to re-butter the glass, just keep dipping it in the sugar each time.
  12. Bake the cookies 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.
  13. Cool 1 minute on the baking sheet and remove to a wire rack to cool completely. These cookies freeze well.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups oatmeal (do not use instant)
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup raisins, chopped into pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
  3. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and oatmeal in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, egg, water and vanilla until creamy.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture with a spoon.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Stir in the pecans and raisin pieces.
  8. Drop by teaspoonfuls on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies.
  9. Bake about 12 minutes, until lightly browned.
  10. Remove from the pan at once and cool on a wire rack.

Sidney Carlisle lives on a ranch in Meridian, Texas.