Make Ahead

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

September 20, 2011
5 Ratings
  • Makes about 60 cookies
Author Notes

The oatmeal part of the recipe comes from "Ruth's Oatmeal Crisps," winner of the 1966 Kentucky State Fair cookie contest. I added cocoa, chocolate and walnuts, and left the golden raisins and pecans on the cutting room floor. The shortening makes this a super crisp cookie. Seek out organic shortening. —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup organic vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Beat the shortening and sugars in a large bowl just enough to blend well. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add the oats and chocolate, and mix again. Add the flour mixture, mixing well. Stir in the nuts.
  3. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until toasted on the edges but still moist in the center, about 12 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Carrie Ogami
    Carrie Ogami
  • amdame1
  • ifjuly
  • Ann-Marie D. Nguyen-Shavurova
    Ann-Marie D. Nguyen-Shavurova
  • LynneT
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

73 Reviews

kccheng January 26, 2021
I use this recipe as a base.. really nice every time. I cut the sugar to less than 1 cup (demera), brown the butter, and add some chopped dates and sesame seeds in place of the walnuts and chocolate. sooooo tasty ;)
Amanda H. January 26, 2021
Great tips -- thank you!
Carrie O. January 23, 2021
I've made this recipe three times now and every time got a different result. This most recent time I followed the recipe to a "T" and the cookies came out completely flat. I blended the shortening and sugars until they were mixed but not until it was light and fluffy as in the past. (Was that the reason?) I sifted the dry ingredients together as instructed in the recipe and last time I just sifted the flour and stirred in the cocoa (was that it?). I used pre-chopped raw walnuts but didn't toast them before hand. It came out better before with hand chopped pecans. I also shaved the chocolate like the photos in your post but I got better results with chunks. This is very frustrating. I need to bake another batch and try again because I need these cookies for tomorrow! Aaargh! They look like burnt lace cookies.
Amanda H. January 24, 2021
Hi Carrie, I'm sorry these are causing you so many challenges! And I appreciate your perseverance! Was the shortening chilled by chance? This is the only reason I can think of that the dough wasn't as fluffy as the last time.
Carrie O. January 24, 2021
Hi Amanda, thanks for your prompt reply! No, I didn't chill the shortening last time but I'm putting the blended shortening and sugar mixture in the fridge now to chill before I add the dry ingredients for my "redo." Walnuts are in the toaster oven. I'll let you know how it turns out...
Amanda H. January 24, 2021
Ok great — I’d love to know
Carrie O. January 25, 2021
Huge success! Refrigerating the shortening mixture and the dough between batches did the trick. The cookies came out chubby and delicious! Thanks for the advice.

I also turned my oven down to 340, measured the dry ingredients before sifting together instead of sifting the flour before measuring and chopped the nuts and chocolate into large pieces. I suspect the ratio of wet to dry was off and then add a hot kitchen and everything “melted” to a deflated, flat crisp. I wish I could upload a photo of the different outcomes side by side. It’s quite a contrast! Received lots of raves and the cookies disappeared in minutes!
Amanda H. January 25, 2021
Amazing sleuthing and so happy to know your tweaks made all the difference! Thanks for letting me/us know!
amdame1 August 23, 2020
I substituted cranberries for the walnuts. =)
Mags July 2, 2020
Can I substitute solid coconut oil for the shortening? Many thanks.
Amanda H. July 7, 2020
Hi Mags, I haven't tried this but I found this formula for substituting coconut oil for shortening: To substitute for shortening, I use a combination 1/2 butter and 1/2 coconut oil. (Actually the amount of coconut oil can be reduced by about 25%, so in a recipe calling for 1 cup of shortening I would use 1/2 cup butter and 3/8 cup of coconut oil. If you want to use all coconut oil 3/4 cup of coconut oil should work as a substitute for 1 cup of shortening.)
Mags July 7, 2020
Thank you so much Amanda.
I’m gonna try this tomorrow and will let you know.
Best wishes x
Denise M. April 29, 2019
I made these cookies and used butter just because I didn’t have any shortening and probably more Coco because I thought I had a quarter cup scoop but I had a 1/3 cup scoop so that’s the only difference I made. These cookies are just divine. I just had two for breakfast. Oh and I used a bag of dark chocolate chips. They’re better than I thought they would be I’m going to cook the rest today. I live alone and have them all to myself, well maybe I’ll give my neighbor some! Thanks for the great recipe!
Amanda H. April 29, 2019
Hope your neighbor likes them, too! :)
ifjuly March 2, 2019
Late to the party given all the glowing praise below, but! These are so, so good. I made a batch a couple weeks ago and sent my partner off to work with half and it's one of the only times ever I found myself secretly regretting sharing. Good warm fresh out of the oven, but somehow even better, with deeper flavor, the next day when totally hardened. Between this and Merrill's recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (plus the pistachio apricot ones from Molly Wizenberg's blog), I've learned over time I apparently can't resist cookies that use oatmeal for its wonderful textural properties without coming off as the straightforward oatmeal-focused classic specimen. The chocolate flavor of these is divine, and I love how easy the recipe is too. Yay shortening.
Ann-Marie D. April 6, 2016
Sorry, am a bit afraid of shortening? Why is shortening being used instead of butter? (It makes the cookie not fall flat?)
Emily January 6, 2017
They're cookies, not granola bars. "Organic" or "non-GMO" shortening will do zip to make them "healthful." Live a little.
Maia B. March 2, 2014
Would Earth Balance baking sticks work as shortening?
maryke February 20, 2014
I made these last night but tweaked it a bit (quite a bit!). Left out chocolate and nuts (it being month end after a VERY long month) and added just under a cup of coconut. Also cut back on the sugar and substituted shortening with sunflower oil. Came out delicious and my kids LOVE it (and I do too :))
LynneT January 26, 2014
OMG these are outstanding! I'll make these again and again.
Patricia B. December 15, 2013
This may seem like a pretty dumb question, especially for experienced bakers, but could someone please clarify "shortening" for baking? Does it mean Crisco, canola oil, butter, olive oil, what???
Sarah C. December 15, 2013
Not a dumb question. It means Crisco, but you can use other fats instead. It might make the cookie flatter is all. Sometimes, if you want it JUST LIKE the picture, you should go exactly as they say, but I use what is healthiest (I'm gonna be eating it). Canola oil.
Amanda H. December 15, 2013
Hi Patricia, Sarah is right -- shortening means something like Crisco. But there are other varieties of shortening -- for instance, Spectrum shortening is non-hydrogenated and is made with palm oil:
Smaug September 11, 2016
Strictly speaking, shortening is any fat used to shorten a pastry- could be butter, margarine, Crisco, anything. Unfortunately, the word has become identified with Crisco, though the term "vegetable shortening" for that is a description of it's intended use, not a name. Another fine old word- for which there's no good substitute- being allowed to die through sloppy usage.
Patricia B. December 15, 2013
Recipe for Ruth's Oatmeal Crisps, please?
Sarah C. December 8, 2013
I made it replacing the white sugar with a Truvia blend. Fine, except it seems the Truvia cooks a tad faster. Take off two minutes and you are good. Also, I used canola oil, not shortening, and a little more oats, no nuts. Still great.
maryw.s. September 9, 2013
Don't be afraid of shortening, people!
Kerry J. July 9, 2013
Made a half batch of these last night using unsalted butter instead of shortening because I didn't have any. They were still amazingly delicious! As you pointed out, I think the roughly chopped dark chocolate is what makes these so yummy and gooey. Mine did turn out looking brown like chocolate cookies rather than the picture, so I'm guessing maybe that has to do with using butter instead of shortening? Or, perhaps the kind of cocoa powder I used? Will try again soon with shortening.
adele93 March 2, 2013
would unsalted butter work as a substitute for the shortening?
Randi August 27, 2012
We are a nut-free home. Would you add anything to replace nuts, or just leave them out?
Amanda H. August 27, 2012
You can just leave them out -- no problem. And I think that's a better way to go than adding anything else. Although if the cookies are not for children, gin- or run-soaked raisins are great in chocolate and oatmeal cookies.
Mianna April 2, 2012
Yummy, these were perfect. Thanks for so many good recipes.
aussiefoodie March 10, 2012
I don't have any dark chocolate... Has anyone tried these as a white chocolate chip/pistachio cookies? Thinking I will out the cocoa, but not sure how the oats will go with white chocolate?
Amanda H. March 10, 2012
Hope you'll try it and report back -- sounds good!
aussiefoodie March 10, 2012
I tested it out - substituted dark chocolate for 1 cup white chocolate chips and walnuts for 1 cup chopped pistachios. I omitted the cocoa and instead used 1 3/4 cup All Purpose flour. I used 1 scant cup brown sugar, loosely packed. The key difference is the white chocolate adds a lot of sweetness, so next time I would probably used 3/4 cup brown sugar (loosely packed). But they have worked out great - I like the texture from the oatmeal. I probably over-cooked them slightly (I need to remember they keep cooking on the tray out of the oven) as I would like them a little more chewy. Great recipe! Thanks! I look forward to testing with dark chocolate.
Amanda H. March 10, 2012
Great -- thanks for the follow up. Hadn't thought about the white chocolate sweetness issue. Makes sense.
sharli13 March 6, 2012
just took them out of the oven...this is just not fair....they are unbelievably without a doubt indisputably incredible.....I have to get away from this's driving me insane..all I want to do is are just wonderful....on the other hand....don't stop....:)