Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

oatmeal raisin cookies

We seem to be going though an age of competitions and it’s interesting for me to see so much fascination with being a chef, and people acting out on television what goes on (or they perceive goes on) in restaurant kitchens. I spent most of my life behind the stoves and let me tell you, it’s often not pretty and I would not want anyone following me around with a camera while I cooked. (Which is why this blog doesn’t include a webcam.)

I’m not sure how this fascination with being a chef came to be as it’s really ‘grunt’ work and there’s nothing at all glamorous about it; no matter how many tattoos you have or how much you swear at underlings, there’s still a ton of work involved and no way you’re going to get through it by the end of your shift. Sure, I had a great time cooking with friends and co-workers (well, most of them…), but the grueling hours and the physical labor involved is one of the main reasons that I’m permanently damaged, both physically and psychologically.

flocons d'avoine oats

Thankfully I was part of that elite group of people in the professional cooking world: The bakers and pastry chefs. Unlike the line cooks, who were whooping it up and play with fire, we disciplined souls were in the back of the kitchen, dusting doughs with flour, rolling out cookies, melting chocolate, and creaming buttery cake batters. But a regular chef once said to me—”Why are all you pastry chefs so weird?”

Because what he didn’t understand was the special position that bakers and pastry chefs have in the restaurant world. Yes, we are weird special because we make the birthday cakes for the staff, we send out extra treats to customers when the meal had some glitches (ie: someone else screwed up), we bandage up new busboys who cut themselves with the very sharp bread knives, and most of all, we listen to everyone in the restaurant, waiters and cooks, stopping by and telling us all their problems.

Hence we all share a global bond and we can walk into any professional kitchen around the world, swap our secret handshake, and be instantly accepted as part of the worldwide fraternity of bakers.

apple in brown sugar oatmeal cookie

Having been a baker most of my life, our network of bakers is a pretty close-knit group and I personally don’t know anyone who are competitive. Maybe I’ve been sheltered but the whole idea of baking invites sharing since no one bakes a cake or a batch of cookies all for themselves. And whenever I have a question or problem about baking, I have vast network of fellow bakers that I can turn to.

To expand that network, when I go to a new city, I love trying out small bakeries and meeting new bakers. (Although after I’ve exposed the fact that we have a secret handshake, we might have to change our secret signal.) People often point me toward bakeries that are fancy and extravagant, but I’m happy to go to places like Baked, Babycakes, and Citizen Cake, that bake up treats like I want to eat, not fussy showstoppers.

One bakery I haven’t been to is Flour in Boston, owned by Joanne Chang. But I’ve been reading through her first book, Flour, and the recipe that caught my eye was Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

These Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Joanne says, are “…as basic as it gets” and I’d have to agree. Don’t expect any curveballs or modern twists, and I’m fine with that. And when I went out to the French countryside recently, before the weather got too brisk and ferocious out there, I baked up a batch of these wholesome cookies and brought them along.

vietnamese cinnamon shelling bean salad and lotte (monkfish)

Even though she’s not part of our secret society, my friend Diane gave me this wonderfully spicy cinnamon from Vietnam that I used in these cookies, so probably I should to make her an honorary member, or at least our mascot.

And speaking of secrets, I did add one special touch to these cookies; about midway through cooking, when I rotate the baking sheet, I take a spatula and tap the tops of each cookie down to flatten it. That compacts the insides a bit and makes the cookies less-airy and more chewy, just the way I like my Oatmeal Cookies.

So after a pleasant lunch in the outdoors of grilled lotte (monkfish) and a salad of fresh shelling beans with avocados, tomatoes, and savory, (and the obligatory cheese course, bien sûr), I poured us cups of strong, very dark coffee and set out a tray of these cookies.

oatmeal cookie and coffee dipping oatmeal cookies

The French aren’t known for chomping down on monster sized cookies like we Americans, and French cookies are generally dainty circles of crisp sablés or similar, bite-sized disks. These are big, soft cookies and perhaps the cookies in France are firm because the French are ‘dunkers’. Being French and being a dunker, (and being a contrarian), Romain dipped his soft Oatmeal Cookie into his cup of hot coffee and said, “This is the perfect way to eat these cookies.”

Not being a dunker (but being a skeptic, which makes me a little French), I wasn’t so sure. But when I did give the oversized cookie a dip, it transformed the whole cookie into something entirely different and the coffee somehow highlighted the butterscotch-like flavors of oats enveloped in a buttery-sweet dough. So I guess I have more to learn from the French than I thought.

coffee cups oatmeal raisin cookies

Being someone whose mind is always thinking about his next batch of cookies, next time I make them to bring out to the country, I’m going to swap out dried sour cherries or cranberries for the raisins, and add a generous handful, about a heaping cupful, of white chocolate chips.

But that might have to wait until the spring. In the meantime, I gotta work on figuring out a new secret handshake now that I’ve blown it for all of us bakers out there.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
About 24 cookies

Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang

Because we all like to share, I thought I’d share a baking tip. Some of you probably know this, but if your brown sugar clumps up into a hard mass that is impossible to measure, slip an apple slice in the container and let it sit for a few hours. Like magic, when you go to scoop of the brown sugar, you’ll find it light and fluffy again.

Be sure to really beat the butter and sugar together in the stand mixer. (If you don’t have a mixer, Joanne says you can beat it by hand for ten minutes instead.) She is emphatic about using fresh spices and I agree. I did dial up the cinnamon a little since I like a bit of punch to my oatmeal cookies, and if you want to swap out the raisins for another dried fruit, cranberries, sour cherries, or diced apricots could certain stand-in nicely.

  • 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (200 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup (245 g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cup (175 g) old –fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 1 1/2 cups (240 g) raisins

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps of baking soda. Stir in the oats and raisins.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until thoroughly combined. On low speed, or by hand, gradually add the flour and oat mixture to the creamed butter, mixing until completely incorporated.

4. Chill the batter a few hours or overnight, covered. (This step is optional, although recommended by the author.)

5. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

6. Drop the dough in 1/4 cup (50 g) balls evenly spaced on the baking sheet and flatten the tops slightly with your hand.

(I got about 8 cookies per baking sheet.)

7. Midway during baking, rotate the baking sheet and tap the tops of the cookies down somewhat firmly with a spatula to flatten the domes.

8. Bake the cookies for 20 to 22 minutes, until they just start to turn brown across the top, but do not overbake.

Remove from oven and cool completely.

Storage: Once cool, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months.



Related Recipes & Links

Fruitcake Bars

Lowfat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Apple Spice Cake

Baking Ingredients and Substitutions

French Sugars

American Baking Ingredients in Paris


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115 comments

  • Thanks again, David. I made these a few days ago–easily the best oatmeal raisin cookies I’ve ever made! Brought some to the nursing home where I do volunteer work.
    One fellow said, with a big smile, “You are a good baker.” Oh the magic of cookies.

  • Thank you so much for this post and the recipe. I made these cookies this morning and sharing them prompted a real trip down memory lane, which has led to a lovely evening thinking about my family http://spatulasatdawn.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/not-the-cookie-monster/

  • I haven’t ever eaten an oatmeal cookie that I didn’t like, but I tried this recipe and it was really, really delicious. I think the nutmeg and cinnamon is maybe what made them better than other oatmeal cookies I’ve made. I also love how the ingredients for this recipe don’t cost very much!

  • I have a question for David, or anyone else who may have had similar experiences with flat cookies.

    Each and everytime I make a cookie recipe, they spread out and become flat as pancakes. After double and triple checking oven temps, parchment lined baking sheets, ingredient amounts and butter (even chilling the dough for days!) inevitably, my cookies are always flat. Delicious, but flat. The only reason I can think of is that the butter available in Italy has a much higher fat content than in other places in the world, but even cutting back on butter hasn’t helped.

    Is there someone out there who might have had this experience and found a solution?

    Many, many thanks and David, I adore your website. Excellent recipes and I love that you’ve already done the conversions to metric. Makes baking a Firenze so much easier!

  • I truly enjoyed reading this post. Ashamed to tell you however, that it is my first visit to your blog. I just subscribed and hope to catch up on your earlier posts from time to time.

    My father was stationed in Marville France from 1955 to 1960. I was 9 mos. when we arrived and apparently we visited quite a bit of Europe while we lived in France. I don’t remember it unfortunately and hope to one day visit France and much of Europe again.

    I enjoy reading about your life there now. Your photographs are fantastic and I love that you are a pastry chef. Another confession, I don’t have any of your books either…not right now at least. Have just decided on a few books I would like for Christmas though :)

  • Love, love, love Flour! I live in Boston and frequent the one in Fort Point. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Oatmeal raisin cookies are my favorite and I’ll definitely have to try this recipe.

  • I’ve just baked these cookies and for the first time, my cookies taste… soft chewy and delicious just like I imagined American cookies should be, I never seemed to get it right before soooo really…thank you.
    I read somewhere on your blog about traditional French food (Bistro type) being difficult to find and I can’t remember whether you mentioned Le Troquet, 21 rue
    François Bonvin 75015- 01 45 66 89 00. We ate there a couple of years ago and it was great Bistro food, desserts especially!

  • Another fantastic recipe from this site! I adapted the recipe slightly by adding a chopped up Hershey’s dark-chocolate-with-cherries-and-almonds bar. And some walnuts and dried cranberries (I only had a couple of tablespoons of each). Anyway, these were lovely – crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle. And super buttery! Love!

  • I think most pastry chefs are less coarse than regular chefs. I could be wrong.

    Anyway, I’m definitely going to give this recipe a shot! Thanks for sharing!

  • I don’t quite understand why these were the best oatmeal raisin cookies, but they were incredible! Chewy, buttery, and sweet. Thank you for the recipe!

  • Agree with all that these truly are the best oatmeal cookie. I have a persnickety child who hates oatmeal cookies and can pick out the slightest “oatey taste” in things and she actually loves these cookies!

    Sarah – I also typically have a problem with my cookies spreading flat, these however did not. I believe my issue may be that I can’t wait to bake and put the butter in the microwave to soften it. With this batch, I did not and they were perfect.

  • I really appreciate this post! I have been a professional baker for 7 years, and yeah we’re weird! Or “special” I should say.

  • They are in the oven now. I had to refer to another recipe to determine the number of eggs as you omitted them in the list of ingredients.

    There are 2 eggs in the recipe, which are listed; they’re the forth item in the list of ingredients. -dl

  • Thank you so much for the apple slice tip! It was a constant headache for me, trying to figure out what to do with all the hard as rock clumps.
    I followed your recipe to the letter, and the cookies were marvelous!

  • I’ve been using the same oatmel raisin cookie recipe for about a year with excellent results… but I decided to give this recipe a try (even though I replaced the raisins for chocolate chunks, since I’m giving some away to a friend who fell in a love with an oatmeal chocolate chip cake I baked a few days ago), see if it was better.
    Oh, it is DEFINITELY better. The other recipe was great, but this one is just… AWESOME. This will be my oatmeal raisin/chocolate chip recipe from now on.
    Thanks a lot. Oh, and thanks for the tip on flattening the tops halfway through baking. The cookies come out much more even-looking… and chewy and delicious.