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For this bake off, I’m guessing one of the first questions on your mind might be: why not test oatmeal raisin instead of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies?
Answer: because I don’t like oatmeal raisin 🙂
So, don’t hold your breath for an oatmeal raisin bake off anytime soon (though I do feel like many of these recipes would translate well to having raisins, especially if you add cinnamon).
Anyway! In this bake off, I was searching for a cookie that would measure up to the buttery, crispy-edged cookies of my childhood (the famed Neiman Marcus recipe, though my family never ground the oats) but with a thicker texture and gooier center that I now prefer in my cookies. Let’s get to all 12 cookies we tried!
- 24 total tasters
- All 12 recipes were baked the day of tasting
- All cookies were baked on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
- All tasters ranked each cookie on a scale from 0-10 for overall flavor, texture, and as a whole
- All ingredients were measured by weight according to the King Arthur website
- Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour
- Swans Down cake flour
- Unsalted Land O Lakes butter
- Crisco shortening
- Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
- Kirkland vanilla extract
- Bob’s Red Mill baking powder and soda
- Diamond kosher salt
- Nestle semisweet chocolate chips
- Quaker oats (old fashioned and quick)
- Imperial granulated and brown sugar
PARTNER NOTE: I’m delighted to be partnering with Imperial Sugar on this bake off as I’ve consistently used their consistent, high-quality pure cane sugar products throughout my bake offs. Imperial Sugar is non-GMO verified, allergen free and gluten-free!
For more sweet inspiration, you can visit Imperial Sugar to find more than 4,000 expert-tested recipes, free downloadable vintage cookbooks, sugar scrubs and bath products at the Sugar Spa, and lots of helpful guides on their blog. You can also check out their Pinterest, You Tube, Instagram for even more recipe inspiration!
We had a very clear winner in this bake off: Krolls Korner! To be clear, I do think this was a slightly unfair comparison since it’s a very different style of cookie (huge, gooey, Levain-style). Not to take away from the amazingness of this recipe, just a note that my tasters tended to prefer this style of cookie. But there are still PLENTY of other fantastic recipes to try in this bunch!
As always, this comparison is done purely for fun and these taster rankings are very specific to my group of tasters. I’m not a professional baker and I try to point out wherever I think baker’s error occurred. I think all of these recipes are great in their own unique right, so I really encourage you to browse a few recipes and find which one sounds ideal for you!
Factors in the Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Fat: Of the recipes I tested, the majority used butter, one used only shortening (Hillary Clinton), a few used oil. It’s no surprise that the butter-based cookies generally rose to the top, but I was pleasantly surprised that the shortening cookie did not do as poorly as I expected. It actually contributed to a uniquely crisp texture that some people loved. Predictably, the vegan cookie (using olive oil + Earth Balance) unfortunately did not do well with these tasters which was likely due in part to the flavor contrast of Earth Balance vs. butter.
- Eggs: While most recipes used whole eggs, Broma and Krolls used an additional egg yolk. Buttermilk by Sam was the only one to use exclusively egg yolks. Is it a coincidence that Broma and Krolls rose to the top of the results? Perhaps, but it’s also reinforcement that extra egg yolks are a great way to add extra fat and richness to cookie dough without adding too much extra liquid that causes spread.
- Oat type: Both the Nestle and Quaker recipes specify that either type of rolled or quick oats may be used which shows the general interchangeable nature of these oat types. Buttermilk by Sam was the only recipe to use quick oats and Bravetart was the only recipe to incorporate some steel cut oats into the recipe. I don’t think the type of oat makes a life-changing difference, but I do think the smaller quick oat flakes can help contribute to a thicker, puffier cookie. Generally, I didn’t think the steel cut oats made a significant difference in the chewiness of the cookie vs. regular rolled oats.
- Sugar: Most recipes used a mix of brown and white sugar (generally with a higher ratio of brown sugar). Only Buttermilk by Sam, Taste of Home and Displaced Housewife used all brown sugar, which likely contributed to a more molasses-y flavor in the dough. Smitten Kitchen was the only recipe to use some turbinado sugar in the dough, which added a slight crunch to the cookie–some didn’t prefer this texture, but I thought it was fun!
Here’s my video review of all 12 oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipes in case you prefer video (or in addition to) reading cookie essays!
Analysis of the Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Displaced Housewife: a thin and lacy, almost granola-esque cookie with a spice-forward flavor
Historically, vegan/gluten-free recipes have gotten the shaft when included in bake offs with conventional baked goods, so I was reluctant to include this recipe (but also intrigued enough to include it). Rebecca uses a mix of Earth Balance and olive oil as the fat and a mix of homemade oat flour and tapioca flour in place of all-purpose flour. Her ratios of sugar/dry ingredients is fairly similar to Nestle, though she does include baking powder, which was fairly unusual. Her recipe also used a generous amount of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Despite chilling this dough overnight to help it firm up, I think the oat and tapioca flour didn’t provide enough of a dry ingredient base to keep the cookies structured. These cookies spread quite a bit for me–the end result kind of reminded me of lace cookies. Unfortunately, they were quite delicate with a bendy middle, and many of them crumbled coming off the baking sheet. Flavor-wise, they were VERY heavy on the spices and I didn’t love this in combination with the chocolate. Overall, I’d be curious to try this again with a gluten-free cup-for-cup flour mix rather than the oat + tapioca combination. (Or I might try Half Baked Harvest’s recipe with a gf cup for cup flour mix since that recipe uses all canola oil, no need to buy Earth Balance!)
- Good nuttiness and salt content.
- This tasted kind of like trail mix to me. Very solid mix of salty and sweetness, but not in a way that I personally liked. I don’t really like trail mix but perhaps this would be more appealing to someone who did. Had an okay texture, but the flavor just wasn’t doing it for me
- This one was much crispier and kind of reminded me of matzah. It had a unique look and I wanted to like it, but I wasn’t crazy about it.
- Soft center. Strange forward flavor. Brown sugar? Spice? Molasses? I’m confused. The texture is also confusing, not sure what it’s trying to be
- Chalky, dry, pasty. Tastes like unbaked oats and syrup??
Taste of Home: a deeply caramelized, deeply chewy cookie with brown butter overtones
I loved the idea of this recipe: rolled oats get toasted in brown butter before being mixed into the rest of the dough. However, I had a lot of trouble with this dough–the recipe calls for letting the dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking, which is supposed to let the batter thicken up. Mine never thickened up as expected and the cookies spread out quite thin–after I chilled the second batch, they spread less, but were still quite thin and a little burnt looking. (Note: I subbed the chopped peanuts called for in the original recipe for chocolate chips.)
I LOVED the flavor of these–deeply caramelized, brown butter-y and nutty. Texturally, the oats felt more toothsome and chewy compared to other cookies, and the edges of the cookies were so well-done, they tasted almost burnt. I would have preferred a slightly less aggressive chew as well as a thicker, softer texture. Overall, I loved the flavor but think the texture could use some work and tasters generally agreed.
To troubleshoot in case you try this recipe: I would use a large skillet (rather than a saucepan) to brown the butter and toast the oats. This should allow for more water to cook off from the butter, leading to less moisture in the overall dough. Hopefully this should help the recipe work as intended rather than needing to chill the dough! (Though you can still chill the dough if the first batch bakes up extremely flat.)
- This is surprisingly AMAZING. The chew, the toasty butter, just enough oatmeal and chocolate. WOW.
- Brown butter comes through very strongly. I wasn’t expecting the thin chewy texture but I like it. Reminds me of a lace cookie
- I like how chewy and yet crispy it is. Feels like they’re overbaked, but it works!!
- Very caramelized cookie, not many chocolate chips. Kind of a brittle yet chewy texture. I liked the whole oats
- I can’t tell if this was overcooked or if the flavor was meant to be a little more on the toasty side. It tasted kind of like burnt/caramelized sugar, but seemed like it could have been really nice if cooked for less time.
- Can taste a great deal of undissolved oatmeal (granola-y) and it was chewy. Nutty flavor is prominent but also felt a bit overdone
Quaker Oats: like Nestle but chewier, a little thicker and with a touch of cinnamon
The current recipe on the lid of Quaker Oats uses 14 tablespoons of butter whereas the original recipe uses 2 sticks (which is much closer to the Nestle recipe). I used the current recipe for a little more differentiation from Nestle–the main differences are 1/2 cup less brown sugar, 1/4 cup less flour, 1/2 cup more oats and an added teaspoon of cinnamon. (I did make an exception to use chocolate chips instead of raisins, and I added the optional salt of course.)
In comparison to Nestle, I preferred the thicker, puffier texture of the Quaker cookies. They were markedly less sweet when tasted side by side, so these are a great option for those who don’t like things as sweet. They’re also less buttery-tasting with less of a crispy edge since the texture edges slightly more cakey. Overall, a hard tie for me between Quaker and Nestle–I would easily eat both, but I don’t find the flavor of either recipe overwhelmingly compelling.
- Very chewy, buttery, slight cinnamon, perfectly sweet
- Very chewy, good amount of oatmeal, good texture
- I could really taste the oats which I was very into
- Cinnamon and chocolate seemed to clash a bit. A bit dry, needs more chocolate chips
- Too dry and thin, mild flavor. I enjoy a touch of cinnamon but want the cookie to be sweeter overall
Nestle Tollhouse: an airy, chewy, standard oatmeal cookie
Nestle, our benchmark cookie! As you can see in the “Similar to” section below, many recipes are very similar to this set of ingredient ratios (or a mix between Nestle and Quaker). This recipe was very straightforward with a standard list of ingredients.
These cookies tasted the way I remember the cookies of my childhood tasting–buttery, sweet, crisp edges and chewy centers. They’re flatter than I prefer and while the flavor doesn’t blow me away, I was impressed at how the butter flavor lingers. It feels like a very middle of the road cookie–sufficiently chewy, sweet and with crisp edges to get the job done in a pinch.
Similar to: Similar to King Arthur, Cloudy Kitchen, Sugar Spun Run, Dinner then Dessert, A Bountiful Kitchen, Ina Garten, Preppy Kitchen, Bigger Bolder Baking, How Sweet Eats, Cooking Classy, All Recipes, Taste of Home, Tartine, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, Joy the Baker, Baker by Nature, Thida Bevington, Flour Bakery, A Cozy Kitchen, 600 Acres, Sally’s Baking Addiction, Pioneer Woman, Sister Pie, Liv for Cake, Crazy for Crust, Butternut Bakery, Little Kitchen, Shugary Sweets, Cake by Courtney, Entertaining with, Weelicious, Dessert Now Dinner Later, Live Well Bake Often, Averie Cooks.
- Thin but not too crispy. Liked the rich, buttery flavor.
- Tastes like a good bake sale cookie, buttery, caramelized, chewy
- I liked how it was thinner so not overwhelming. Had a nice chew to it. was a bit crispy on the edges, but softer in the middle, so the texture was really nice. Got some hints of vanilla flavor peeping through
- A bit drier, but the chocolate forward flavor is good.
- Very thin cookie, yet still chewy. Needs more chocolate chips. Can taste the oatmeal but there’s a high butter flavor that’s overpowering
- Wish it was thicker and softer
Half Baked Harvest: a thick and puffy cookie that is extremely easy to make
I have a huge soft spot for this recipe just because it is SO easy to make. One reason I hate making cookies is because I have to drag out the stand mixer to cream butter–this recipe is a breeze because you just dump oil in a mixing bowl along with all the other ingredients. One bowl, no mixer needed? Sign me up!
Happily, the texture of these cookies were one of my favorites–very compact, thick little bites, these cookies were satisfyingly puffy, cakey and a little chewy. My main critique is the obvious lack of buttery flavor, but I would easily sacrifice this if I was trying to throw together a quick batch of cookies. They’re still quite satisfying and tasty!
- Best chewy texture, thick small texture, flavor is not too buttery
- Tastes like Nestle so I like them. Good chew, good salt, good chocolate level.
- I quite enjoyed this cookie. It’s not super sweet, which is a plus for me. Has a nice oatmeal-y texture and a good chew. Wasn’t my favorite overall, but I think it would stand out as pretty high up on the classic oatmeal ones.
- Pretty dense. Good chocolate to oatmeal ratio. More like a cookie with oatmeal. A bit dry with chocolate chips providing the only texture change.
- Too dry, it just tastes like a regular chocolate chip cookie. I’m not getting any oatmeal or dimension. Meh.
- Too dry and dense. Flavor was just average.
Doubletree: a thin, crisp, buttery cookie that is somewhat lacking in oats
I really thought about removing this recipe because many reviews note that it’s not really a classic oatmeal cookie given the scant 1/2 cup of oats in the recipe. Still, it seemed so popular that I wanted to try it. It has a similar butter:sugar ratio as Nestle, but 1/2 cup more flour.
It’s been years since I’ve had a Doubletree cookie, so I can’t speak to how it compares to the original (but I feel like the hotel cookies are smaller and softer?!). I’m not usually a crispy cookie fan, but I really loved the crispy edges and the buttery overall flavor. This cookie is definitely lacking in oats (I barely got any of the characteristic chewy oat texture), but it’s also addictively delicious. So if you’re looking for a thin, buttery, crisp-edged chocolate chip cookie masquerading as an oatmeal CCC, this is for you!
- Crispy, buttery, great flavor, chewy middle, kind of love it but too flat
- VERY chocolate forward — I like how dark it is. Crispy and lovely, but not special in terms of the texture. I do like it though! The bitter flavor from chocolate is really nice.
- I want more oatmeal. This veered on the side of just chocky chip. Lack of interesting textures make this one boring
- Does this cookie have any oatmeal?? I found two or three oats. Needs less chocolate chips (that’s coming from a chocolate chip lover) and more oatmeal (I don’t even really like oatmeal). Texture is a standard grocery store cookie.
- Without being in an oatmeal chocolate chip bake off, I wouldn’t know this was one. The oats are nonexistent and there are so many chocolate chips, you can’t taste the oats either. I miss the oat texture and flavor.
Hillary Clinton: an airy, crisp-edged cookie with a good amount of chew
There’s no getting around it–this recipe, which has been attributed to Hillary Clinton, uses all shortening. It’s very similar to Quaker/Nestle, just swapping in the butter for shortening.
I fully expected to dislike this cookie due to the lack of butter, but I actually loved how crispy and airy this was! There was an ethereally light quality to the crunchy edges that even the butter-based cookies couldn’t emulate. Like Half Baked Harvest, I didn’t miss the buttery flavor as much as I expected. There’s plenty of distraction from the sweetness to the chocolate to the chew. Overall, a wonderfully crunchy yet chewy cookie!
- Crispy edges, flavor is chocolate forward, I like how airy the texture is!
- Oooh roasty toasty! I like the initial crunch and then following chew. Fun textures. Both chocolate and oat are super present!
- Great if you like crunchy cookies
- Awesome texture, VERY chocolatey, good salt content, muy yom
- Too dry but plenty of chocolate. Not enough oats. Felt dry, like it was a couple days old
Bravetart: a deeply buttery cookie with a crispy edges and a slightly bendy texture
Stella’s recipe stood out as always for its inclusion of unusual ingredients–oat flour and a combination of both old-fashioned and steel cut oats. She uses the same amount of butter but half the egg of Nestle/Quaker, and a significantly smaller amount of flour.
Overall, I loved the buttery, nutty flavor of these cookies, but they were very thin with little structural integrity. I used the overnight chill option and they still spread an incredible amount and were difficult to get off the cookie sheet in one piece. I wonder if there was an element of baker’s error here because her pictures look thicker (but I couldn’t figure out what it was, if any). This was one of the cookies with the biggest score contrast (high marks for flavor, low marks for texture). I’m fully in this camp–this was one of my favorites flavor-wise, but way too thin for my liking.
- Sooo toasty and buttery. I’m a fan. Has a fun chew. I’m overwhelmed by the sweetness!
- Love the ratio of chocolate chip to oatmeal. Most balanced flavors of the board, nice brown butter flavor
- This one had strong notes of cinnamon, which was a nice surprise. Had a nice oatmeal-y texture and a slight chew. The cookie itself wasn’t overly sweet so helped to balance out the richness of the chocolate (although it’s still overall pretty sweet)
- Man, this cookie tastes SO GOOD but the texture is horrendous. I couldn’t even pick it up off the plate without it falling apart. If this stayed together and had a thicker body, it may be my #1. I want more flour/oats.
Buttermilk by Sam: a thick and satisfyingly chewy cookie with a great level of salt
I chose to test Sam’s cookie as it was the only recipe to use all egg yolks (no whole eggs). Her recipe ratios are somewhat close to Quaker Oats, but it uses all brown sugar. Her recipe was also the only one to call for quick oats, not old-fashioned (Nestle and Quaker both say you can use either, but I used old-fashioned).
The pictures on Sam’s blog show cookies that are much thinner than mine–this could be due to the fact that she calls for chopped chocolate rather than chocolate chips (which I used for consistency with the other recipes). Chopped chocolate will contribute to more spread in cookies, so I would make sure to use that if you want a thinner cookie. However, I was really happy with the thick cookies we ended up with–the quick oats melted into the batter more so than old-fashioned oats and I loved the salty, caramelized flavor of these cookies. THIS is what I think a classic oatmeal cookie should look and taste like–a thick and chewy texture with a perfect mixture of salt, chocolate and butter!
- VERY chewy and thick and great buttery/salty flavor that hits later!
- Very oaty and yummy chocolate all throughout. I REALLY liked biting into it and was like…confused by how much I liked it. It started so ordinary and ended so yummy.
- This is a VERY good oatmeal cc cookie. Excellent texture, salt content, and oat amount. This was my top most best.
- The salt came through on this and made it perfect
- Chewy but a bit dry. There’s another layer of flavor. Not sure if that’s just salt or if there is another flavor in top of that. I like the hint of salt but salt might be better with a less dry texture.
Broma Bakery: a fudgy, soft cookie with lots of brown butter and minimal oats
Broma was my pick for a brown butter chocolate chip cookie–besides brown butter, this recipe was notable for its use of 1 egg + 1 egg yolk and fewer oats than most other recipes. Sarah also calls for an overnight rest and removing the cookies from the oven “before they look done.”
It’s not often that you find an oatmeal cookie that is both fudgy and chewy (usually the oats dominate with a chewy texture), but this cookie managed to be both! While it was definitely less oat-forward than other cookies, I loved the way the center was soft and gooey and the butter comes through very prominently. Perhaps not what most would think of when they think of an oatmeal cookie, this cookie was still DELICIOUS!
- Cookie was on the chewier side, which I really like. Thin, so not too overwhelming. Quite sweet, but not in a cloying way. Just really delicious
- Really buttery and vanilla-y
- Soft, great chew, very buttery. Good chocolate to oatmeal ratio. Very subtle oatmeal flavor though.
- This is not at all what I think of as an oatmeal cookie, but the flavor was really delicious. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was rich and sweet with some vanilla.
- Greasy, too sweet for me and a little underbaked. Didn’t register the oatmeal at all, need more oatmeal!
Smitten Kitchen: a hearty, chewy oatmeal cookie with heft and grainy flavor
Once again, this top-requested recipe has very similar ratios to Quaker/Nestle with a few key differences: Deb uses a mix of brown sugar and turbinado sugar, adds wheat germ, and swaps in whole wheat flour for all-purpose.
The result? The thick and chewy cookie of our dreams! The whole wheatiness is very subtle compared to many baked goods I’ve tried and it works well with the oats and wheat germ. Some tasters commented that they could really taste the crunch from the turbinado sugar (one asked if there were pop rocks in the cookies), which I liked. It’s also a cookie that I would say edges on “not too sweet.” So many flavors and textures going on here–for a nutty, kind of wholesome yet decadent-tasting cookie with some serious heft, you can’t beat this one!
- This is amazing; great texture and amount of oats. It was very chocolatey. The oat texture was the best in this cookie.
- LOVE the thick and chewy texture, flavor is not there for me??
- I appreciated that the cookie portion wasn’t really sweet at all — I find the chocolate to be a little overwhelming at times, and so this helped to tone down the sweetness. Has a nice oatmeal texture, although wasn’t as good as other in terms of flavor.
- It’s nice and bulky, kind of like [Krolls Korner], but less fluffy. Maybe the flavor was less full–tasted more doughy.
- Almost like a no bake cookie?? Very oaty and I don’t like that I can still feel the crunch of the sugar, like the granules didn’t cook
Krolls Korner: a monstrously thick, chocolate-forward cookie with a gooey center and decent chew
Again, I do feel like this cookie lives in a slightly different category from the others (aka the Levain universe) so perhaps it was slightly unfair to include it. But it is still an unequivocally delicious cookie, so let’s discuss why it’s so perfect! This was one of the most unique recipes in that it used half the amount of butter/sugar compared to Nestle. In typical Levain style, I baked off 6-ounce balls of dough that resulted in massively thick cookies.
Just the slightly crisp around the edges, an uber-thick, chewy dough surrounding a soft and gooey center–what’s not to love? I will say I didn’t prefer the milk chocolate in these (would use semisweet next time) and it was hard to taste the flavor of the dough beneath all the chocolate. But overall, it would be hard to beat the amazing texture of these cookies!
- This thick cookie was so soft and chewy. Loved the texture of this one. The oats diversified the overall soft texture
- Texture is SO good, so thick with a soft center but crisp exterior. Maybe too much chocolate.
- Great ratio of chips to oatmeal–oatmeal is there but subtle (more like a regular chocolate chip cookie with oatmeal)
- Love me a chonky boi, but this was barely an oatmeal cookie. That being said, I loved it and the milk chocolate flavor
Erika’s picks: Kroll’s Korner, Smitten Kitchen, Buttermilk by Sam, Broma Bakery
Best thick and cakey cookie: Kroll’s Korner
Best classic-style oatmeal cookie: Buttermilk by Sam, Smitten Kitchen, Hillary Clinton, Quaker, Nestle, Half Baked Harvest
Best soft and fudgy cookie: Broma Bakery
Best thin and crispy cookie: Bravetart, Doubletree, Taste of Home
Best thick and chewy cookie: Smitten Kitchen, Bravetart
Easiest recipe: Half Baked Harvest