Search for “Three-Ingredient Oatmeal Cookies” on the internet and you’ll get millions of results. The problem is, a lot of these recipes don’t quite taste like the classic oatmeal cookies we know and love, with crispy edges, chewy centers, and buttery, sugary flavor. In this Big Little Recipe, we call in brown sugar and tahini, which give these cookies an A+ chewy texture and buttery, nutty flavor. All you have to do is combine the three ingredients in a bowl—plus, a little water, which helps create a cohesive dough—then scoop, smush, and bake. By smush, I mean, use your palm to gently flatten each dough blob into a 2-inch disc; the cookies don’t spread on their own in the oven, so this gives them an encouraging head start. Note: Because brown sugar can be stubbornly lumpy, I like to rub it and the oats together between my hands before adding the tahini and water. Make sure to not overbake these cookies, since they’ll crisp significantly as they cool. Whenever I’m making a new cookie recipe, if I have the time, I like to bake one cookie first, to get a sense of how the recipe jives with my oven (every oven is different!). Then I follow suit with the rest of the cookies. Just like classic oatmeal cookies, these are great with hot coffee or tea, or cold milk. If you want to get doubly oaty, you can serve them with oat milk—DIY recipe here (bonus points if you make the chocolate variety). —Emma Laperruque
Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment or silicone mats.
Add the oats, brown sugar, and salt to a medium bowl. Use your hands to combine, rubbing the mixture between your palms to break up any sugar lumps, until everything is as homogenous as possible. Add the tahini and water, and use a spoon to stir until a sticky, cohesive dough forms.
Scoop the dough in heaping tablespoons onto the sheet tray. You should get 16 cookies, so 8 on each sheet tray. Use your palm to gently smush each blob into a disc (about 2 inches in diameter).
Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the edges just start to brown. The cookies will look almost underbaked, but they’ll crisp as they cool. Remove the cookies from the oven, but leave them on the sheet pans for at least 10 minutes, or until they’re sturdy enough to transfer with a spatula to a cooling rack. If you peek at their bottoms, they should be lightly golden-brown.
Cool completely before serving and store any leftovers in an airtight container. I love these with milky tea or coffee.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.