Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies (vegan)

I am not a beer person.

Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can count the number of beers that I’ve actually enjoyed on one hand—beer is tolerable, but generally not enjoyable. Which is why I was bewildered to find myself fixating on Love and Olive Oil’s Chocolate Stout beer and finally asked my brewmaster friend if he’d be willing to try it.

Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since Trevor is amazing and always down for beer, he took me on a field trip to the grain store where we picked out pounds of grain, yeast, hops and lactose in a musty, farm-like warehouse. And then we spent three hours brewing the darn thing. Which I’m not even sure I’m going to like. Trevor accidentally had the wrong type of yeast on hand during the process, so we’re apparently making a Belgian chocolate stout instead of a normal stout, which he’s never done before. Whatever. I just want the chocolate part.

The brewing process is basically this:

a)      Boil a TON of grain in a lot of water and let it sit to extract sugars from the grain

b)      Take the sugar-water and boil it with other components to make the beer: hops (for bitterness and balance), flavoring (we used cocoa) and lactose (for sweetness–it’s a sugar that isn’t fermented by the yeast).

c)       Add yeast and let ferment.

It’s a process heavy on the heating and cooling and sitting and waiting. The beer is currently sitting pretty in a large vat and my fridge is currently occupied with pounds of spent grain, which is the term for the pounds of leftover boiled grain.

Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Spent grain isn’t the prettiest thing: it kind of looks like horse food and smells vaguely barn-like when ground into flour. However, that grainy, prickly, soggy mass has had most of the starch boiled out and is essentially a pile of protein and fiber—woohoo! It can be used for animal feed, but you can also stuff it into tons of other things—granola, flour, bread, waffles, biscotti, muffins, etc.

Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

My first attempts to chip away at my mountain of spent grain included spent grain granola and spent grain flour, neither of which blew me away. The granola burned and flour smelled ultra-grainy. Then I attempted these cookies with several modifications and was disappointed—they were crumbly and prickly with the grain.

Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just when I was wringing my hands once again and considering trashing the rest of the grain, I tried the cookies again with different modifications, and they were AMAZING. Soft and peanut buttery with a yielding crumb and studded with chewy grains—completely addicting. It’s like the thickest oatmeal cookie you’ve ever had with a crazy grainy texture. (You could probably sub oats for the spent grain and add a few more tablespoons of milk. Or Omnomicon suggests that any cooked grain might work—I’m dreaming about these with cooked quinoa!) They were apparently a big hit with my roommate’s coworkers.

Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite version of these cookies is the following one as written. I hate to be an advocate for beer, but I really find spent grain fascinating and these cookies are definitely worth a try! Weekend mission: find spent grain.

Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies (vegan)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: ~30 cookies

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Calories per serving: 104

Fat per serving: 3.1g

Soft, cakey whole-grain cookies are studded with spent grain, the protein- and fiber-packed by-product of brewing beer.


  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (can sub vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used homemade walnut milk and it was FANTASTIC)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup spent grain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups spent grains (wet)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips


Combine the peanut butter, oil, sugar, milk and vanilla. Add the flour(s), baking soda and salt. Fold in the spent grain and chocolate chips.

Roll cookies into balls using about a tablespoon of dough per cookie. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350F for 12-14 minutes until the tops begin to brown and look dry. Cookies should feel firm-ish to the touch—slightly soft in the center, but not gooey.

These are absolutely the best the day they are made, but will keep in a sealed container at room temperature or in the fridge for a few days (up to a week in the fridge).


If you don't have spent grain flour on hand, sub more whole wheat flour or any type of flour (spelt, buckwheat, all-purpose, etc.)

I've tried subbing almond butter for the peanut butter and they just weren't as good. I've also tried subbing oat flour for the whole wheat flour and while they were again soft and cakey, I think they were more delicate, which made the grain stand out more.

Adapted from here


With that beer you just brewed, you might want to try your hand at this cake…

Momofuku Pretzel Cake: stout-soaked pretzel layers layered with burnt honey frosting, stout ganache and pretzel crumbs!

momofuku pretzel cake // The Pancake Princess

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30 thoughts on “Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies (vegan)

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  3. Christine

    Hey Erika! So…how was the beer? I’m not a huge fan, especially of the big bold ones. Please ask your brewmaster if the beer you made is comparable to a chocolate porter, because this pairing BLEW MY MIND. Chocolate porter with a dark chocolate mint bar. (Like, don’t use Aero. Get something silky and amazing.) Like any brilliant pairing, they both improve the other in some magical synergy.
    PS I double dog dare you.

    1. erika Post author

      Thanks for asking!! So it’s actually slightly off, according to Trevor, because he let it sit too long before he bottled it. But I actually really liked it! There was a definite chocolate presence–the only part I didn’t like was the acidic bite in the aftertaste (but Trevor said that was due to letting it sit too long). It’s definitely a sipper. Again, we accidentally used the wrong yeast and made a Belgian chocolate stout, so I can’t speak to what this beer should actually taste like!

      Oh man I will definitely ask him because that. sounds. DELICIOUS!!! Thanks for the suggestion :)

      Also, since you sound like such a beer connoisseur, do you have any suggestions for a person who is partial to witbiers? Or any special food pairings? I have yet to experience magical synergy between food and alcohol :)

      1. Christine

        I am no conaisseur, I just know what I like and what I don’t! And rarely would I drink the same beer twice, given an option to try something new… (And there are SO many fun cocktails out there now… And the list of white wines has improved so much since the 90s… Though I am a red girl at heart…) My pairings would be more to the TYPE of food with TYPE of beverage and occasion. If I am drinking beer, 8/10 times it will be a wheat beer or a heffeweisen (spelling apologies to ancestors!) Football is probably involved.

        I read the descriptions. If it says hoppy, smoky, earthy, musty – I move on. If it says caramel or a tree fruit, I’m probably game. If it is a berry, probably not. Raspberry beer? Why? But grapefruit works… Those beers are often fresh and seasonal special editions, which speaks to the foodie in me.

        The chocolate porters are a rare exception for me, introduced by a friend as a gift, with the chocolate alongside as a christmas gift.

        And then, the real king of beer, Guiness. That is reserved for St Paddys, and sometimes Robbie Burns Day. It is only recently that I could even finish a sleeve! There is something special about Guiness. For me it was an acquired taste, not immediate. But dang. For true appreciation, may I suggest best served in an Irish pub among good friends? Not from a can by yourself in your kitchen. I think your friend would agree. Unless he is from the “Guiness is good -anytime, anywhere.” (Those tend to be people who say the same thing about Crown Royal…) I started out just stealing sips of Guiness from my husband while I had my little fresh beer.

        Magical synergy is probably best created by the people you are with, right? (Says the woman who cried over chilis en nogada in Cabo, and sometimes other food things…) My poor husband….

        Sorry for all the paragraphs to not answer your question, but my philosophy is to listen to knowledgable staff/makers/crafters of ANYTHING. I’m not the Christine from earlier in the comments, she may know more.

        Love from Canada!

  4. Christina

    These are SOOOOOOOO good!!! Using the grain from a Double IPA my husband started today & not a lot of peanut butter on hand so batch 1 is Biscoff chocolate chip. Awesome recipe! Thanks for sharing!!

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  7. Brandi

    Those look delicious Erika! I’ve never heard of spent grain before. I can relate to cookies tasting nasty with grains…I tried teff cookies one time and they were so powerful of grain taste and texture, it was disgusting. I threw them out. I will have to figure out a use for the teff flour because I hate to waste food that I paid for. I do not like to taste strong grains in my desserts, it’s very off putting. I don’t mind it so much in savory of course. So if it can be camouflaged, then fantastic! Sounds like you achieved that with these! :)

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  10. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    Erika, I love that you were like, “meh beer”, and then you went and made your own brew! Amazing! You blow me away all the time with your culinary bravery and creativity. I can’t believe that unappetizing looking pile of spelt made such delicious looking cookies 😉 Well done, you!

  11. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

    I love that you made homemade beer, wonder how that went! I made homemade hazelnut liqueur a while ago, and didn´t know what to do with the strained hazelnuts, I hated to throw them away. Now I will follow your footsteps Erika, thanks for the inspiration! Gorgeous cookies!

  12. Christine

    Hi there! Just discovered your site on Foodgawker..or food porn as I like to call it!! I have two quilty pleasures and one of them is pancakes??? The other? Brownies of course.
    Anyway, we have a friend that owns a brewery and I want to make these deelish cookies. In the list you write “regular butter”, however this is not in the ingredient list. What gives?

    1. erika Post author

      Hi Christine! What gives is that I missed that typo :) It’s now fixed–thanks so much for catching! Glad you share my love for pancakes–I definitely share your guilty pleasure of brownies as well! I hope you like these–let me know how they turn out! :)

  13. Natasha @ The Cake Merchant

    I’ve never heard of spent grain- very interesting. I’m not much of a beer person either, but I finally found one that I liked (and it happens to be a chocolate stout). Have you gotten to try the beer that you brewed yet?

    1. erika Post author

      Not yet! Trevor’s traveling through Ireland right now and we’re planning to try it when he gets back in a little over a week–so excited! What was the name of the beer you liked? I’d love to try it!

    1. erika Post author

      Aww thanks Irena! I haven’t visited your blog in awhile–I’m so excited to see what gorgeous photos you’ve been cooking up! :)

  14. Alex @ Brain, Body, Because

    Oh, how interesting! When you said that you got in touch with your master brewing friend, I thought you meant to accompany you to the bar, not to actually MAKE it yourself! So neat! I have always been super interested in homebrew.

    These cookies look amazing and I am also very interested quinoa version!

    1. erika Post author

      Lol have you really? It’s never really piqued my interest before until “chocolate” became included in the equation. Do you have any plans to try any homebrews soon?

      I’ll be sure to try out the quinoa version and let you know how it is 😉


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