Our Absolute Favorite Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Oatmeal Cookies

The Gluten Free/Casein Free Experiment Round 2, Post #5

Best oatmeal cookies ever, gluten-free, or otherwise…ok so maybe we’re a bit biased…   DSCN5307

 These cookies got their start prior to the GF/CF initiative, after stumbling upon a recipe, in an old cookbook we inherited from one of my husband’s grandmothers. The recipe was out of a church fundraiser cookbook, put together by a delightfully amusing conglomerate of mid-century farmers’ wives. The book was peppered with all sorts of food safety concerns and oodles of good humor, but after spending a few nights giggling, and LEARNING, more than I ever have while reading a cookbook, I’d conquered it, cover to cover.  There was of course plenty of amusement, complete with anecdotal commentary: “How to pluck a turkey, the easy way,” and “The perfect Coca-cola ham from slaughter to table.” But there was also plenty of things I’d never stopped to think about, like the chemical reaction between vinegar and cocoa powder not only producing the color in devil’s food cake/red velvet and similar cakes, but also aiding in leavening. And when I looked past the supersaturation of mayonnaise based salads and preponderance of Jell-O dishes, I found quite a few great ideas. My favorite being the inspiration for these cookies.

It included ingredients like lard, crushed grains and “various confections” (I assumed that meant assorted candies(?)), in units of measure like “a handful,” “a scoch,” and “a small Ball jar.” The best part was the cooking instructions, “Cook in a warm oven until they look right.” What I liked was they did not explicitly call for flour, being as I was out of flour, but the hubby had requested cookies. I decided some typical “knowns” could be subbed for this Midwest gem. So I cooked them at my go-to cookie temp of 350 and as the only crushed grain I ever have in any volume in my pantry is oatmeal I settled on that. Not being much for various confections I used chocolate chips, raisins or craisins, and nuts, and of course my paucity of lard and distaste for Crisco led to the inclusion of butter.

The first batch was pretty darn good, but they were very greasy and not as flat as I usually like, so reduced the butter and subbed some apple sauce (I’ve done them with all apple sauce and no butter, but they weren’t met with favorable reviews, as the edges never got crisp and they never browned). Little tweaks here and there over the last 6 or 7 years have led us to the recipe you see below. I hardly ever make them exactly the same way, as I too have a bit of “farmer’s wife” in me, “Oh, that looks like about enough peanut butter…” But this seems to pretty much get the job done. 

The Naptime Gnome’s Favorite Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Cookies

Makes ~6 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie scoop

You’ll need:



  • 1/4 c coconut oil (you can use butter if your household isn’t dairy-free)
  • 1/4 c apple sauce (if you like a softer cookie that’s a bit flatter – see picture below – increase apple sauce to 1/2 cup.* – we use frozen apple sauce cubes, like these)
  • 1 c peanut butter (if you have an issue with peanut butter or if they’ll be traveling to school, you can sub in about 3/4 cup almond butter, but you may want to cook them on silicone, they get STICKY and often quite crumbly – actually make an excellent granola trail mix all crumbled up with nuts and raisins and such)
  • 2 c sugar** (1 c white & 1 c brown is great too)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 c rolled oats (oatmeal, we’ve also thrown in a bit of flax, rice cereal, granola and anything else we have laying about, up to about 4 cups)
  • 1 c chocolate chips (the hubby prefers 2 c, you can put up to 2 cups of just about anything, including nuts, dried fruit, or M&Ms (if you can do dairy))

Drop onto greased sheet, preferably from a cookie scoop, bake at 350 F, about 8 min (up to 12). Done when just starting to brown and tops start to look just a little dry, (may still look a bit under cooked… this is when they’re perfect). Let cool a few minutes before removing or they fall apart! As they cool the tops will fall and they will get a modeled look.

Place on a cooling rack to cool further, then store in sealed containers.

These freeze really well. So I usually keep about a dozen in the cookie jar, and put the rest in freezer bags, only takes about 20 minutes to thaw on the counter.

*We did a taste test the last time we had a few friends over and the unanimous choice was the chewier cookie with more apple sauce (by the way, it shocked a few of our friends that there was apple sauce in them at all!). The only problem with the chewier cookies is they fall apart a bit more if you like to pack them to take with, and they are a little tricky to remove from the pan, be sure to let them cool on a rack before letting them touch. The darker cookies shown are made with more apple sauce, while the lighter ones are made with less. DSCN0689

**You can also make them with 1/2 the sugar to be more of a snack bar rather than a treat. The kids still love them, but they don’t disappear nearly as fast around here as I don’t think my husband even touches them after the first one. They do not get as flat or have the same crispy-edged, chewy-centered texture. They look more like this:DSCN6298Let me know what you think!

-Mommy Vegas and the Naptime Gnome <;’)

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