These easy gluten free oatmeal cookies are perfectly soft and chewy, with deliciously crisp edges. They’re packed with juicy raisins (or sultanas), chopped walnuts and plenty of orange zest. And you really can’t tell that they’re gluten free! I’ve included all my top tips for getting the perfect cookie texture, and for storing and freezing them.
I have a confession to make. I used to be very sceptical about the idea of oatmeal cookies. I mean, do I really want oats in my cookies? Why? Why would I take something buttery and sweet and delicious… and add oats? (Listen, I know that oatmeal cookies have been around for ages and they’re hugely popular… but I just wasn’t quite convinced.)
Well, I officially stand corrected. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because these gluten free oatmeal cookies are perfect and wonderful and *everything* I want a cookie to be.
I mean, this recipe doesn’t even contain any chocolate (though you could definitely add in some chocolate chips or chopped chocolate) – and I don’t even miss it. This, coming from a self-professed chocoholic, should tell you everything you need to know about just how AMAZING these cookies are.
They’re soft and chewy, with lightly caramelised edges and the most wonderful flavour. The addition of oats makes a huge difference to both their texture and flavour – they’re chewier and heartier, and the flavour is far more complex and cosy. They’re basically the cookie version of a warm hug, and I love them.
Although there are numerous possible add-ins when it comes to oatmeal cookies, I decided to go down the oatmeal raisin cookie road with this recipe – with plump, juicy sultanas (you can use raisins instead), roughly chopped walnuts, light brown sugar, plenty of orange zest and a generous pinch of cinnamon.
They’re my ultimate winter cookie and I really hope you’ll love them as much as I do. They’re also gluten free (so make sure to use certified gluten free oats when making them!) – not that you could possibly tell. They’re just an all-round wonderful cookie, and one that I know I’ll be making over and over (and over) again.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making these amazing cookies – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
How to make THE BEST gluten free oatmeal cookies
In addition to being outrageously delicious, these gluten free oatmeal cookies are also super easy to make. Below, you’ll find all my top tips and plenty of step-by-step photos to make the whole process even easier.
Ingredients for gluten free oatmeal cookies
Here’s what you’ll need to make the PERFECT gluten free oatmeal cookies:
- Light brown soft sugar. This adds wonderful caramel-like notes to the cookies, as well as extra moisture, making them even chewier.
- Granulated sugar helps the cookies to spread in the oven, and also contributes to those deliciously crisp, caramelised edges.
- Orange zest. Don’t skip the orange zest! It completely transforms these cookies and takes them to a whole new level of deliciousness. If possible, use the zest of unwaxed, organic oranges.
- Softened unsalted butter.
- Vanilla. I used vanilla bean paste, but you can also use vanilla extract instead.
- Plain gluten free flour blend. You can either use a shop-bought blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour) or you can mix your own – get the recipe for my go-to homemade gluten free flour blend here!
- Xanthan gum. This acts as a binder (gluten replacement) and prevents your cookies from being too crumbly. Read more about the role of xanthan gum in gluten free baking here!
- Baking powder.
- Baking soda.
- Salt. Don’t skimp on the salt! It helps all the flavours to really shine in all their glory.
- Ground cinnamon. You could use other spices instead (such as ginger or cardamom), but cinnamon is my favourite warming winter spice, and it’s the perfect addition into these cookies.
- Gluten free old-fashioned whole rolled oats. Don’t use quick or instant oats, as they won’t give you the correct cookie texture. Make sure to use “old-fashioned” rolled oats.
- Sultanas or raisins. I know many people hate raisins, but that’s usually because they’re rather dry and sad. So, I like to soak them in hot water for about 5-10 minutes before adding them into the cookie dough. This re-hydrates them, which makes them wonderfully plump and juicy – just make sure to squeeze out any excess water before adding them. I personally prefer sultanas but raisins work equally well.
- Roughly chopped walnuts. You could use pecans instead, though I prefer my oatmeal cookies with walnuts – their flavour just meshes better with the other ingredients.
Side note: make sure to use gluten free oats!!!
Because we’re making GLUTEN FREE oatmeal cookies, there are a couple of extra things you need to keep in mind:
- Although oats themselves are naturally gluten free, they can be easily (and frequently are) cross-contaminated with wheat or other gluten-containing grains during the production process. So, make sure to buy certified gluten free oats that are grown in dedicated fields and processed in separate facilities to avoid cross-contamination.
- There are some people who follow a gluten free diet (be that because of coeliac disease, or because of a gluten allergy or intolerance) that can’t safely consume oats for a variety of different reasons. I am not a medical professional so I can’t advise you whether or not you can eat oats if you’re sensitive to gluten – so, if you’re not sure, consult with your doctor. And, of course, if you feel unwell after eating oats, I don’t recommend making this recipe. Maybe try my gluten free chocolate chip cookies instead?
Making the cookie dough
- To a large bowl, add light brown sugar, granulated sugar and orange zest. I like to rub the orange zest into the granulated sugar with my fingertips beforehand, as that helps to release the essential oils from the zest and makes the cookies even more fragrant.
- Add the softened butter.
- Whisk it all together until pale and somewhat fluffy (but no need to get it super fluffy, like you might when making a sponge cake or buttercream). You don’t need to use a stand or hand mixer for this, you can do it by hand using a balloon whisk. Of course, if you prefer, you can use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters.
- Add the egg
- and vanilla.
- Whisk until combined.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients (gluten free flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon) and add them to the butter-sugar mixture.
- Use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to mix it all together until you get a smooth dough. Note that the dough will be VERY soft and sticky at this stage – that’s how it should be, as you’ll be adding A LOT of oats in the next step.
- Add the oats,
- re-hydrated sultanas and chopped walnuts.
- Mix it all together until combined and the add-ins are evenly distributed within the cookie dough.
- And then, chill the cookie dough for about 30-45 minutes before scooping and baking.
Chill the cookie dough for thicker & softer cookies
I admit that I tend to be a rather impatient baker – so, if at all possible, I usually skip the chilling step. However, in this case, chilling the cookie dough (without scooping) in the fridge for just 30-45 minutes makes a huge difference. It makes the cookies thicker and, consequently, softer and chewier.
Let me show you the difference between cookie dough that wasn’t chilled at all, that was chilled for just one hour and that I kept in the fridge overnight. It’s really an enormous difference!
Now, you might ask: that’s all very well and good, but do I really need to chill the cookie dough??? Well, it depends.
- If you like your oatmeal cookies thinner and crispier you don’t need to chill the cookie dough (see the top “no chill” cookie in the photo above). The cookies will spread out more in the oven, so they are noticeably thinner.
- If you like your cookies thicker and softer, I recommend that you chill them for anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Personally, I don’t like them too thick so I chill them for about 30-45 minutes.
- I don’t recommend chilling this cookie dough overnight or longer (or freezing the scooped balls of cookie dough) as the cookies will end up too thick. That’s because the oats will have absorbed a lot of the moisture in the cookie dough, so the cookies simply won’t spread enough in the oven (see the bottom “overnight chill” cookie in the photo above). If you want to keep the cookies in the fridge or freezer for longer, check out the “Can you prepare these cookies in advance and freeze them until needed?” section below.
Baking the gluten free oatmeal cookies
Once chilled, scoop the cookie dough onto lined baking sheets. I used a “2 tablespoon” cookie or ice cream scoop. Make sure to leave plenty of space around the cookies on the baking sheet, as they will spread out during baking – I usually fit about 6-8 cookies per baking sheet.
To get the perfect texture, you need to bake these gluten free oatmeal cookies at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 10-12 minutes.
You’ll notice that after 10-12 minutes, the cookies will look underbaked with their tops incredibly soft and shiny (even as their edges are lightly golden brown in colour). THAT’S OKAY. They should and have to look underbaked if you want to get the perfect soft and chewy texture.
The cookies will continue to set as they cool on the baking sheet, and they will have the ideal texture in the end, promise.
If your cookies aren’t perfectly round, you can correct their shape while they’re still very hot immediately out of the oven. Take a round cookie cutter that’s larger than the cookie diameter, and use it to nudge or scoot the cookies into a more round shape.
How do you store the gluten free oatmeal cookies so that they stay soft & chewy?
These gluten free oatmeal cookies keep well stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 1 week. Just make sure that the container is tightly closed, and the cookies will stay nice and soft.
Can you prepare these cookies in advance and freeze them until needed?
As mentioned above, I don’t recommend keeping the scooped-out balls of cookie dough prepared exactly as per the recipe below in the fridge or freezer for a long period of time, as the cookies won’t spread out enough during baking, and they’ll end up much too thick.
However, if you’re making these cookies exclusively with the intention to freeze them for baking later, you can make them with about 20-30g (3-4 tablespoons) of gluten free flour blend less than is required in the recipe below. Then, chill the cookie dough in the fridge until it’s firm enough to scoop, and freeze the scooped-out balls of cookie dough (in an airtight container or a ziplock bag) until you want to bake them.
By adding less flour, you’re ensuring that the cookies will spread out properly, even after you’ve kept them in the freezer for a few weeks. Bake them directly from frozen, you might need to bake them for a few minutes longer to account for the extra thawing time in the oven.
Other gluten free oatmeal cookie variations
There are endless variations that you can make with this recipe, just by playing around with the add-ins. You can:
- Add chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.
- Use other nuts, such as pecans, peanuts, pistachios or toasted hazelnuts.
- Consider other dried fruit, such as dry figs, apricots, dates or cranberries.
- Add other spices, such as ground ginger or cardamom.
More amazing gluten free cookie recipes
As we’re nearing Christmas and we’re therefore officially in the cookie baking season, here are a few other gluten free cookie favourites:
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Gluten Free Caramel Cookies (Homemade Twix)
- Extra Chewy Ginger Spice Cookies
- Tahini Shortbread Cookies
- Hazelnut Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
- Gluten Free Vanillekipferl
- Gluten Free Cinnamon Shortbread Stars
And there you have it, friends! This covers everything you need to know in order to make THE BEST gluten free oatmeal cookies you’ll ever try. I simply can’t wait to experiment with other flavour combinations – like cranberry & white chocolate, toasted hazelnuts & milk chocolate… oh, the options are simply endless.
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Soft & Chewy Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies
- 80 g (½ cup) raisins or sultanas
- 113 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 100 g (½ cup) light brown soft sugar
- 50 g (¼ cup) granulated sugar
- zest of 1 orange (Ideally, use an organic, unwaxed orange.)
- 1 US large/UK medium egg, room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 135 g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour that doesn't have any xanthan gum added. You can also mix your own gluten free flour blend using this recipe. Note that for this homemade blend, 1 cup = 150g, so ideally use a digital food scale for best results.)
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum (Omit if your gluten free flour blend already contains xantahn gum.)
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 135 g (1 ½ cups) gluten free old-fashioned whole rolled oats (Make sure to use certified gluten free oats.)
- 60 g (½ cup) walnuts, roughly chopped
- In a small bowl, pour boiling hot water over the raisins (or sultanas) until completely covered. Set aside for about 5-10 minutes, until the raisins have plumped up and re-hydrated.Drain the water, making sure to squeeze out any excess water from the raisins. Set aside until needed.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the softened butter, light brown sugar, granulated sugar and orange zest until pale and somewhat fluffy (but no need to get it super fluffy, like you might when making a sponge cake or buttercream). You can do this by hand using a balloon whisk, with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters.Tip: You can rub the orange zest into the granulated sugar with your fingertips before adding them to the rest of the ingredients, as that helps to release the essential oils from the zest and makes the cookies even more fragrant.
- Add the egg and vanilla, and whisk until combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and add them to the butter-sugar mixture.
- Use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to mix it all together until you get a smooth dough. Note that the dough will be VERY soft and sticky at this stage.
- Add the oats, re-hydrated raisins and chopped walnuts. Mix it all together until combined and the add-ins are evenly distributed within the cookie dough.
- Chill the cookie dough in the fridge for about 30-45 minutes.Tip: If you like your oatmeal cookies thinner and crisper, you can skip this chilling step. If you prefer them thicker and chewier, you can chill them for up to 1 hour. See the blog post for more details and photos.
- While the cookie dough is chilling, adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line 2-3 large baking sheets with baking/parchment paper.Tip: You will bake the cookies in several batches, so you can line 2-3 baking sheets if you have them on hand. Otherwise, just re-use the same baking sheet, but make sure to cool it completely before you place the next batch of unbaked cookies onto it.
- Once chilled, use a "2 tablespoon" ice cream or cookie scoop to scoop individual portions (balls) of cookie dough onto the lined baking sheets. You should get 18 cookies in total. Make sure to leave plenty of space around the cookies on the baking sheet, as they will spread out during baking – I usually fit about 6-8 cookies per baking sheet.
- Bake the oatmeal cookies, one baking sheet at a time, at 350ºF (180ºC) for 10-12 minutes or until they are light golden brown around the edges. The centres of the cookies will look under-baked (their tops will be very soft and shiny) – that's okay. They should and have to look underbaked if you want to get the perfect soft and chewy texture.Tip: If your cookies aren’t perfectly round, you can correct their shape while they’re still very hot immediately out of the oven. Take a round cookie cutter that’s larger than the cookie diameter, and use it to nudge or scoot the cookies into a more round shape.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5-10 minutes before transferring them onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.Tip: As the cookies cool, they will set and lose their under-baked appearance. They will end up perfectly soft and chewy.
- These gluten free oatmeal cookies keep well stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 1 week.
Making ahead & freezing:
- If you’re making these cookies exclusively with the intention to freeze them for baking later, you can make them with about 20-30g (3-4 tablespoons) of gluten free flour blend less than is required in the recipe below.
- Then, chill the cookie dough in the fridge until it’s firm enough to scoop, and freeze the scooped-out balls of cookie dough (in an airtight container or a ziplock bag) until you want to bake them.Tip: By adding less flour, you’re ensuring that the cookies will spread out properly, even after you’ve kept them in the freezer for a few weeks. Over time, the oats absorb more and more of the moisture in the cookie dough – that's why you need to use less flour if you'll be keeping the unbaked cookies for a longer period of time.
- Bake them directly from frozen, you might need to bake them for a few minutes longer to account for the extra thawing time in the oven.