Magical, Marvelous, Memorable Cookies

January 1, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Shakespeare proclaimed music the food of love, but in our family, it’s cookies. From the time my daughter could climb up on a stool and stir chocolate chips into batter, we baked. We created baking experiments for her science projects, and baked cookies and cakes for dinner parties and school functions. My stepsons married women who are both accomplished bakers. Blended families can be...complicated... but baking is the language of our family connection--- chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, brownies, meringues--… a connection that often feels like a miracle.

I am the oldest of four children, and we—my two sisters, my brother and I—are as close as people who live in four separate US states can be. We were all together for the Christmas holidays, and my sister Linda and I decided to (what else?) bake cookies.

Linda is a first grade teacher. For Christmas every year, her students give her boxes of candy, bags of pretzels, tins of popcorn. One of her good friends made delicious homemade granola, which we thought would make a great cookie. We decided to make our version of “compost cookies" by adapting a recipe for crispy oatmeal cookies and using some of her leftover snacks and candies. These cookies are fun, flexible, not fancy but really delicious—qualities I try to bring to all my cooking. My brother-in-law David (Linda’s husband) couldn'’t get enough of them, and my husband proclaimed them “best cookies ever.”

This weekend, at my daughter-in-law’s request, I’ll be making them for my grandson’s first birthday party. In our family, cookies make miracles. - drbabs

Food52 Review: There is a lot to love about this recipe. First of all, it is not bossy. DrBabs gives us the ratios, and then she tells us to pick a salty snack, some candies, some cereal, some sort of nut, and cinnamon or other spices if we are so inclined. I like that. I like that these are pantry cookies because you are sure to have enough this and that to be able to make cookies without a trip to the store. My version had the following; crushed pretzel dipping sticks, a handful of leftover Reeses Pieces, some Ghiardelli semi sweet chips, two granola sample boxes from our last race expo (we don’t really eat granola but they were free!), cinnamon and walnuts. Out of the oven they are chewy with a great sweet and salt combination. After they cool they become the perfect crispy friend to an ice cold glass of milk. The only direction that I flat ignored is in step 3: Restrain yourself from eating the raw cookie dough—that’s just crazy talk. - aargersiaargersi

Makes: 24-30 cookies
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 20 min


  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granola (or other cereal)
  • 1/2 cup crushed salted pretzel pieces (or other salty snack food)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped chocolate candies, or a small bar of good dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nuts, optional
  • (If you don't use nuts, you may want to add more cereal, snacks or chocolate to compensate.)
  • You may want to add a little cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, or whatever you fancy. We didn't because we wanted the taste of the granola to come through.
In This Recipe


  1. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.
  2. In another bowl, beat butter and sugars at medium-low speed until just combined, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute longer. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl again.
  3. (For this step you can use a wooden spoon or your mixer on slow speed.) Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add granola, pretzels, chocolate and nuts, and mix until well incorporated, ensuring that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed. Restrain yourself from eating the raw cookie dough.
  4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  5. Scoop dough into balls, each about 1 1/2 tablespoons, then roll between palms into balls. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart, 8-12 per sheet. Freeze at least 20 minutes, or refrigerate at least one hour before baking. (They will still spread a lot.)
  6. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are deep golden brown, 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Let cool completely before gently moving cookies to wire rack. They will be fragile, especially on the edges.
  7. If cookies be the food of love, bake on!

More Great Recipes:
Cookie|American|Grains|Easter|Christmas|Mother's Day|Valentine's Day|Father's Day|Memorial Day|Vegetarian|Dessert

Reviews (294) Questions (3)

294 Reviews

aussiefoodie December 29, 2018
I was gifted some chunky granola in the holiday food exchange - along with leftover pretzels and dark and white choc chips and walnuts they made amazing cookies!
Author Comment
drbabs December 30, 2018
Sounds wonderful!
Erin F. December 20, 2018
These have become our go-to favorite Christmas cookies. My son loves to make cookies with me and says it is one of his favorite parts of the holiday. ❤️ He is 8 this year. Thank you for sharing!!
Author Comment
drbabs December 20, 2018
I'm so glad that you enjoy them. Thank you! Merry Christmas!
amanda R. July 4, 2018
Delicious! I added m&ms, chocolate chips, potato chips and rice krispies. 1/2 cup of potato chips was not enough for the taste to come through, so I'd add more next time. Regardless, these are fantastic! I only chilled them for 30 minutes or so and that was plenty.
Author Comment
drbabs July 4, 2018
Thank you, Amanda. I'm so glad you liked them. Try thick cut potato chips next time, and leave them in large pieces.
eljay June 12, 2018
Quite tasty! Made with ginger granola and no added nuts
Author Comment
drbabs June 12, 2018
Sounds great! Glad you enjoyed.
Dena A. February 2, 2018
Do you think I could use coconut oil for these?
Author Comment
drbabs February 2, 2018
Hard to say. Coconut oil has a much lower melting point than butter, so the cookies might spread all over the place.
Dena A. February 2, 2018
Good point. I want to make them for someone dairy - sensitive, so even half coconut half butter might help...? Let me know if you have any suggestions, and thanks for the quick reply!!
Author Comment
drbabs February 2, 2018
You're welcome! I think if I were making them for someone sensitive to dairy, I'd just clarify the butter and use that. Here's how to clarify butter, in case you've never done it.<br />
Dena A. February 2, 2018
Great idea, thanks again! Although I might just get lazy and make it as instructed, since it's a very light sensitivity :)
Author Comment
drbabs February 2, 2018
I hope you enjoy.
Kelcey P. November 3, 2018
If you check the vegan section of the milk isle there is usually some vegan butter that works great for baking and has no dairy :-) I'm lactose intolerant as well and it works great!
Peg November 16, 2017
Just finished my first (of many to come) batch of these wonderful cookies. So easy, so tasty! I used what I had in the pantry... Quaker honey and almond granola in the 2 or 3 oz bag and made up the 1/2 C with fiber one cereal (crushed). I’m always looking for ways to add fiber to my baking and this small amount did not affect the taste. Since the granola had almonds I used slivered almonds, crushed pretzels and semi sweet choc chips. My only addition to the recipe as written was just a dash or two of espresso powder. I baked smaller cookies in the convection oven at 375 for 12 min and they are perfect. This recipe is a true keeper and I can’t wait to try some of the varieties described in other comments. Thanks so much for sharing!
Marty H. September 10, 2017
Oh. My. God. Made these with homemade granola and crushed up 1/2 cup of Trader Joe's pumpernickel pretzel sticks, which gave them a really interesting depth. The chocolate came through great and balanced the saltiness of the pretzels. This recipe is a keeper!!!
Author Comment
drbabs September 10, 2017
Hi Marty! I'm so happy you liked them. Thanks for commenting.
Pam N. September 8, 2017
Ok. I'm going to say it. I don't get the rave reviews. I made these a week ago for an event. Luckily I made another type of cookie as well. Had a lot of these left. I didn't think there was anything marvelous or memorable. Maybe I did something wrong?
Author Comment
drbabs September 8, 2017
Hi Pam. As you can imagine, I make them a lot. They seem to come out best when I make my own granola and have a good mix of salty and sweet, crunchy and soft ingredients. They're definitely dependent on the balance of ingredients. I like them best when they're thin and crunchy, but sometimes they come out soft and puffy. Everyone's taste is different. I'm sorry they didn't work out for you.
Camille April 12, 2017
I made these cookies last weekend and absolutely loved them. Tons of delicious flavors.
Author Comment
drbabs April 12, 2017
Thanks for letting me know. I'm so happy you liked them.
dymnyno February 12, 2017
Regardless...follow the instructions for baking at high altitude. The tweeks really do work and your baking will be perfect. Many, many cooks live at high altitude. Following the science of baking is important.
Marcy February 12, 2017
I live in Denver (mile high) and everything I bake, regardless of adjustments I read about, inflates and falls flat. If these cookies are supposed to be flat, can't imagine what they'll do at my altitude. Any suggestions?
Therese December 9, 2016
These were outstanding!!!!! Didn't go crazy with the add-ins, just granola, pretzels and chocolate chips. But now that I've tried them I can't wait to try different variations. My husband and kids LOVED these.
Author Comment
drbabs December 9, 2016
Thanks, Therese! You made my day.
Susan S. September 18, 2016
Hi, These look really delicious and can't wait to try them for this year's holiday Cookie Exchange. Q: do you have a favorite granola recipe or brand of granola that you prefer for this recipe? Thanks!<br />
Author Comment
drbabs September 18, 2016
Any granola will work-- there are a few on this site that are really good. And I've made these with plain rolled oats, and they are good, too. The recipe came about because my sister had a ton of granola that her students had given her for the holidays, but really, anything will work.
Kaja1105 August 30, 2016
These cookies really are brilliant! I have a weakness for peanut butter combined with chocolate, so my variation involves using peanut butter granola and subbing peanut butter chips for half of the chocolate chips. Last time I made them, I was inspired by an article on the King Arthur Flour blog about the benefits of chilling cookie dough, so I briefly chilled part of the dough in the freezer and made that batch right away. But I saved the other half in the refrigerator for a few days and was very impressed by the results. The cookies spread less and were darker, with more of a caramelized flavor. If you can, try making the dough a day ahead or saving some of it to bake later. You may find that you prefer the cookies made from dough that has rested in the fridge for a while.
Author Comment
drbabs September 18, 2016
Yes, I often just make the dough, roll it into balls, and freeze them for last minute cookie cravings or potlucks. They bake off really easily and do improve after aging the dough.
AmyBakes January 27, 2016
These are my husband's all-time favorites. I love them too. Just one question - are they supposed to be rather flat? If so, great, because mine usually are. If not, what could I be doing wrong?!
Author Comment
drbabs January 27, 2016
Yes, they are flat and crispy.
AmyBakes January 28, 2016
Good to know! I like to stay pretty close to your original recipe. It's so good! Thank you!
Kootenaygirl January 19, 2016
I crave these cookies and appreciate their versatility. Skipped the salty part and added an additional 1/2c granola (Bob's Red Mill muesli, actually). I also don't have the spread problem, even without chilling the dough. I formed large balls and they cooked perfectly in the same time. A go-to recipe!
katharinec January 16, 2016
These are so delicious, and so fun to make! I have yet to go wrong substituting basically any salty snack (granted, I have not tried cheddar Goldfish, yet I am perversely tempted...).
Hahn K. January 10, 2016
AMAZING. i used a a ghiradelli semi sweet 8 oz bar broken in chunks + a handful semi sweet chips, rolled gold pretzel sticks smashed and quaker oats granola - no nuts. it came out looking exactly like the pic and tasted so professional. i will not make another choco chip cookie again - MANY THANKS!
Author Comment
drbabs January 10, 2016
I'm so glad you like them!
shozgirl January 8, 2016
Yes oatmeal is fine replacement in fact what I use.
Meredith R. January 8, 2016
I would like to make these without granola. Could I substitute oatmeal for this ingredient?
Author Comment
drbabs January 8, 2016
Yes, absolutely.