Chewy Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

by Ali | updated November 1, 2020

Plate of vegan oatmeal cookies next to a glass of cold almond milk

I have assembled the richest, chewiest vegan oatmeal cookies recipe! These oatmeal cookies are loaded with old-fashioned oats, sweetened with brown sugar, and flavored with hints of cinnamon and molasses for a full, complex taste.

They are rustic, nutty, and super chewy: a perfect base for adding chocolate chips, raisins, or walnuts.

How to Make Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

I experimented hard to perfect this vegan oatmeal cookie recipe., with more than 30 batches made.

(So many cookies I had to eat. )

But after some work, I’m pretty confident I figured out the best vegan oatmeal cookie recipe.

Tray of cooling oatmeal cookies

I knew from the beginning that I wanted a chewy, hearty cookie. Not one of those thin crispy cookies. Not those cookies where you can barely tell they have oats. But they also had to be easy to make.

I wanted something rich and rustic like my Grandma would make. And that meant plenty of vegan butter, brown sugar, old-fashioned oats, and molasses. These cookies are thick, chewy, and a bit nutty (even though they don’t have any nuts in them).

It’s about as simple as any cookie recipe I’ve made. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  • Softened vegan butter. Make sure to take the butter out early in the morning. It’s impossible to beat cold butter, and it won’t dissolve the sugar well either.
  • Chill the dough. Refrigerating the dough not only keeps the oatmeal cookies from spreading out too much, it also allows the flour to become fully hydrated. Hydrated flour will bake more evenly and brown better for those crispy edges. Most importantly, that extra time allows for complex flavors to develop within your cookie dough. These cookies taste the best when you can make the dough the night before!
  • Experiment with mix-ins. I add something different to these cookies almost every time I bake them. White chocolate chips and cranberries. Dried coconut and crystalized ginger. Peanut butter and chocolate chips. So many variations to try out, but they’re designed to taste great if you just make them as-is.

Using a flax egg

A flax what? Aren’t these supposed to be vegan?

Well, a not-so-well-kept secret about baking vegan cookies is that a flax egg is a great vegan substitution for a regular egg. With omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, a flax egg is also healthier than a chicken egg. Plus, it helps binds the dough together just like an egg would.

A flax egg is just ground flaxseed mixed with a bit of water. After a few minutes, the flax thickens and gels and acts as a binder to hold the cookie dough together. In this oatmeal cookie recipe, all of the liquid is supplied by this flax mixture. Don’t worry, it’s easy, I describe it fully in the recipe below.

It does add a bit of texture, so it’s not my preferred method for something light and crispy like sugar cookies, or even for regular chocolate chip cookies. But for a hearty cookie like this vegan oatmeal cookies recipe, it’s the perfect egg substitute.

Chilling the dough

I used to avoid any cookie recipe that asked me to chill the dough. Or…maybe I’d just ignore that direction. Who can really wait that long for their cookies?

But once I studied culinary arts, I really dug into why so many cookie recipes tell you to chill the dough, the issue is fat. With buttery cookies, chilling the dough stops them from spreading so much and turning into flat, lace-like cookies.

But that’s only half of the story.

Chilling the dough also gives time for certain chemical reactions to occur within the dough. (Stay with me here.) That extra 30-45 minutes lets the flour get fully hydrated, so it bakes more evenly, browns nicely, and develops a more complex flavor. And most importantly for these vegan oatmeal cookies, the cookies become chewier and less cake-like.

So, if you want the best-tasting oatmeal cookie, with the fullest flavor, you should give your dough some time to ripen in the refrigerator before it’s baked.

And honestly, vegan oatmeal cookies really do taste better if you can make the dough the night before, and let it hang out in your fridge overnight. (Just like good bread dough!)

Final Thoughts

So, if you’re convinced, then scroll down to the recipe and get baking! You definitely won’t be disappointed by these soft and chewy, hearty vegan oatmeal cookies.

Make sure to tell me in the comments how yours turned out! What combination of mix-ins did you discover?

And if you like these vegan cookies or any of the tips I’ve given here, please share!

Other vegan cookie recipes:

Q&A

How can I store the cookies?

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container on your counter for up to five days. You can also freeze them and they’ll keep well for up to six months.

Can I make these in advance?

You bet! The cookies actually taste better when they are made in advance. You can leave the dough in your fridge for up to three days before shaping and baking. If the dough is too hard to form into balls, just let it sit out on the counter for about half an hour to soften up.

You can also make the dough into balls and freeze them for up to six months. Place them spaced out on a cookie sheet and freeze them for an hour so they don’t stick together, then you can transfer them to a plastic bag or other airtight container. And you can bake directly from frozen, just add an extra two minutes to the bake time.

How can I make these oatmeal cookies gluten-free?

Just switch the flour for any 1-to-1 gluten-free flour or oat flour, and make sure to use gluten-free oats (since oats are often contaminated). Flax seed is naturally gluten-free, but if you are very sensitive you should check the labels to find a brand that is gluten-free certified.

How can I make this whole grain?

You might be thinking, well, we already have whole-grain oats, why not go all whole grain? These cookies work great subbed with whole wheat flour. If the dough feels too stiff to roll into balls (before chilling), you may need to add a tablespoon or two of plant-based milk.

Do I really have to chill the dough?

It depends on 1) what type of vegan butter you are using and 2) the temperature of your kitchen. If you don’t have time to wait for the dough to ripen, then chilling is only to prevent the cookies from spreading out too much in the oven. So, I tested it out for you.

Using Earth Balance buttery sticks, in my kitchen which was around 70 degrees, the cookies turned out just fine without any chilling. If you use butter from the tub, that has more liquid and may spread more. And if your kitchen is hot, the butter will be softer at room temperature, and may spread more. (You can try not letting the butter fully soften if your kitchen is hot and you are short on time.)

Ingredients and Substitutions

The ingredients in these vegan oatmeal cookies make them incredibly rich and chewy. If you sub out any of these ingredients, you’ll be sacrificing some of that wonderful texture.

  • Molasses. The extra bit of molasses is so yummy in this recipe. But don’t worry if you don’t have any, the brown sugar adds some molasses taste itself. You can just skip it, or add a tablespoon of maple syrup for a different twist.
  • Old-fashioned oats. Wholesome rolled oats. Essential for that chewy nuttiness. You can use quick (instant) oats if that’s all you have, but they won’t have the same texture.
  • Brown sugar. You can sub white sugar plus a tablespoon of molasses to make brown sugar. I really don’t recommend making these with white sugar (and no molasses) unless you want a crispy cookie, instead of a chewy one.
  • Mix-ins. These cookies are wonderful as is. Oatmeal raisin cookies are a classic combination, though I prefer adding in chocolate chips to my batch. Whatever you decide, this vegan oatmeal cookie recipe is a fantastic base to try out any wild (or classic) variation.
  • Vegan butter. I use Earth Balance sticks for most of my cooking since they have less water than the tub. Refined coconut oil should work as well, but you’ll miss out on some of its buttery flavor.
Yield: 16 cookies

Chewy Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

Chewy Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

These vegan oatmeal cookies are loaded with old-fashioned oats, sweetened with brown sugar, and flavored with hints of cinnamon and molasses for a rich, complex taste. With a slightly crisp, buttery outside and a soft, chewy, nutty interior, these are the best vegan oatmeal cookies.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (added last)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted vegan butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp molasses
  • Optional, 1 cup mix-in: raisins, chocolate chips, walnuts, dried cranberries, etc.

Flax Egg

  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Make the flax egg. In a small bowl, mix together the flax meal and water. Set aside to let thicken.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. (The oats and mix-ins will be added later.)
  3. Mix the wet ingredients. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the flax egg, vanilla, and molasses and beat for another minute until well-mixed.
  4. Combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix with a large wooden spoon or spatula until well-combined. Do not overmix. Stir in the oats and any mix-ins.
  5. Chill. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, or up to 72 hours.*
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  7. Shape cookie dough into balls, about 2 Tbsp per cookie, and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are lightly brown. The centers will still look soft.
  9. Cool on the baking sheets for five minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes

  • If you use unsalted vegan butter or refined coconut oil, add 1/4 tsp salt.
  • If you don't have any molasses, don't sweat it. The brown sugar adds plenty of molasses itself.
  • Chill overnight for the best flavor and texture. If the dough is too hard to shape into balls, let the bowl sit out for half an hour to soften up.
  • Storage. Store cookies in an airtight container on the counter for up to five days, or freeze for up to six months.
  • Make ahead. You can shape the cookies ahead of time and store them in the fridge (for 3 days) or in the freezer (for 6 months). Add an extra 1-2 minutes of bake time from frozen.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1 cookie

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150

Ali

CONTRIBUTOR

Ali is the former editor of Vegan HW and a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine. She is the author of two cookbooks and her favorite vegetable is, believe it or not, the mighty pea. Check out her website to learn more about Ali!

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