I’ve been searching for the perfect oatmeal raisin cookie recipe for a long time. My whole life, really. I just didn’t know it.
Growing up, my family was solidly on team chocolate chip cookie. I don’t have a lot of vivid childhood memories, but I can remember chocolate chip cookie dough, clear as day. I remember how excited I would get when Dad pulled the Kitchen Aid mixer up onto the counter, since it was a sure sign he was going to make cookies. The best part was when he’d grab a handful of spoons and pass them around for everyone to taste the dough. Nobody ever turned down a spoonful of dad’s cookie dough.
I think my mom might have made the occasional batch of oatmeal cookies, but she always loaded up her cookies and brownies with walnuts, and as a kid, walnuts in baked goods were my ultimate nemesis. Now I love walnuts and happily snack on them, but as a kid, putting walnuts in a pan of brownies or a batch of cookies was taken as the highest form of personal insult. How dare you?
So, needless to say, I didn’t eat oatmeal raisin cookies very often growing up. My big moment with oatmeal raisin cookies came when I was working at a pizza place in high school and unofficially put myself in charge of baking all the cookies. The owner was a friend of the family, and always wanted to sell oatmeal raisin cookies as well as chocolate chip. The problem was, he never followed a recipe and his oatmeal raisin cookies always turned out too flat or too cakey; when I offered to take over, he was quick to give up the reigns. I didn’t actually know how to make oatmeal raisin cookies, other than the obvious ingredients in the title, but I knew my way around a chocolate chip cookie.
So, I experimented. Using my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe as a guide and my boss’ strict instructions that cinnamon AND nutmeg be used, I ended up making oatmeal raisin cookies he happily ate and admitted were better than his. The more oatmeal raisin cookies I made (and ate), the more I realized how special they were. All my life I assumed oatmeal raisin were a sad, sorry substitute for my beloved chocolate chip, and yet, these were something entirely different. Dense, chewy, and perfectly spiced, oatmeal raisin cookies might be the cookie world’s best kept secret.
Despite growing up in a household of chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin tasted like home to me. The title ingredients are so wholesome and filling, while the cinnamon and nutmeg wrap you in a blanket of old-school, cozy comfort food feelings. Oatmeal raisin cookies, where have you been all my life?
Despite spending my teenage years mastering oatmeal raisin cookies at work, I left for college and promptly forgot the recipe. I know. I was too busy impressing my new college friends with my chocolate chip cookie skills that I forgot the particular nuances of my new-found oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. It’s true what they say: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
A few weeks ago I was craving cookies, and I couldn’t get the thought of those original oatmeal raisin cookies out of my mind. Armed with the same chocolate chip cookie knowledge I had a decade ago, plus the ever-growing love for foods that help nourish my body, I trusted my cookie instincts and whipped up a batch of hopefully award-winning cinnamon raisin cookies.
The first batch was good, but a little too crumbly, and kind of hard and dry after a day at room temperature. Later that week I found myself sitting at my desk at work thinking about the recipe, and realized what I needed to do differently. Namely, add a little more butter, a teeny bit less oats, and an extra pinch of nutmeg. As soon as I restocked my pantry with oats and raisins, I tried out the recipe again and ohmygod they were the cookie I have reminisced about all these years. Better, even, since I no longer have to dream about them. From now on, they’re here to stay.
I attribute the success of this recipe to two things: the quality and simplicity of the ingredients. I didn’t want to over-complicate the recipe, so I stuck to the basics: butter, maple syrup, vanilla, eggs, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Oh, and raisins. Since I wanted the ingredients to really shine, I used grass-fed butter (yes, seriously, it makes a difference- this stuff is the best), dark maple syrup (formerly known as ‘grade B’, but now known as ‘grade A dark amber’), white whole wheat flour, and old-fashioned rolled oats. For me, those are all pretty regular pantry and fridge ingredients, so I didn’t have to go out of my way to buy anything fancy or unusual. Even if you don’t keep your kitchen stocked with these ingredients on a regular basis, I think these cookies are good enough to warrant a special trip to the store. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed; the perfect oatmeal raisin cookie is worth the extra effort.
- 8 Tablespoons grass-fed butter, at room temperature (I used Kerrygold)*
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, at room temperature (choose dark amber, if available)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (can sub all-purpose, if desired)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (optional, for easier clean up); set aside. Make sure your butter is at a very soft room temperature and your maple syrup isn't cold from the fridge, or it will be hard to combine them. If needed, put both in the microwave on low power in 5 second increments until butter is very soft (but not melted) and maple syrup is no longer cold.
- 2. Put butter and maple syrup into a mixing bowl, and use a wooden spoon (or an electric mixer) to fully mix them together. Add egg and vanilla, and use a whisk to fully incorporate the eggs into the butter mixture. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.
- 3. Scoop dough onto the prepared pan using a large ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup. You should get 12 evenly sized cookies this way. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until cookies are golden on the outside and look slightly underdone in the middle still. Remove from oven and let cool on the pan. Leftovers keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- *The quality of the butter makes a difference! I can find Kerrygold Butter at every major grocery store (it's cheapest at Trader Joe's, FYI), and some even carry Vital Farms Butter or a local, pasture raised butter option as well. If you absolutely can not find grass-fed butter, my next choice would be an organic butter.