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The O.G. Oatmeal Cookie—and Why It's Here to Stay

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Classics stick around for a reason. To endure years of trends and to please every new generation, they have to be something special.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Just like striped t-shirts, Bruce Springsteen songs, and martinis, this oatmeal cookie recipe has been beloved for decades. It’s the one you remember eating when you were little, the one that hits all the high notes: moist, chewy, nutty, spiced, and sweet. It’s comforting, evoking midnight snacks and lunchbox desserts and the scent of baking wafting through a warm kitchen.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Ask anyone about their favorite back-of-the-box recipes, and you will get a dozen votes for this Quaker Oatmeal cookie. People are emphatic about how good this cookie is. And they aren’t wrong. Yes, you can gussy your oatmeal cookies up with chocolate chunks and cacao nibs. You can make them crisp or spice them up with white pepper or churn them into ice cream.

But I feel about them the way Mark Darcy felt about Bridget Jones: I like them just as they are.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Okay, with two tiny exceptions. First, after doing some extensive cookie-baking research, I decided to dispense with the cinnamon in the original recipe. Cook’s Illustrated has a wonderful article on perfecting oatmeal cookies, and they found that swapping the cinnamon for nutmeg allowed for a “cleaner” flavor, letting the nutty taste of the oats shine through. Cinnamon is such a strong spice that it can crowd out other ingredients. After multiple batches and too much raw dough to admit to eating, I concur.

Second, go big. Cook’s Illustrated also notes that a good oatmeal cookie should be very moist, but they often end out dry and crumbly. This is because we’ve been making our cookies too small! Has there ever been happier news? You don’t want them so big that they stay raw in the center (unless you want to go Levain Bakery-style, in which case, be my guest). But scooping jumbo-sized balls of dough ensures that the center of the cookie stays perfectly chewy, even days later. I like to use a 1/3-cup or 1/4-cup scoop for uniformity.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Posie (Harwood) Brien Posie (Harwood) Brien
Makes 2 dozen
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins
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What's your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe? Is it, indeed, this one? (If so, have you tweaked it, or kept it exactly the same?)

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Tags: Bake, Heirloom Recipes