The Big Bad Breakfast Cookie


Behold: a fantasy among children and adults alike; a timesaver for those who are not morning people (*raises hand*); a miracle of miracles; a breakfast that is dessert. No, it’s not your beloved Cookie Crisp, but it is the taste and look of cookies for breakfast! Minus Chip the dog (Cookie Crisp’s questionably brain-damaged mascot), 40 grams of sugar from eating actual cookies or cookie cereal, and minus the banal sludge of your typical healthy breakfast. Your oats are getting a makeover.


This big bad breakfast cookie has gone through so many iterations, and so many of them crashed and burned: too dry, too bran-like, not sweet enough, too bland, no texture, uneven baking…I could go on. The final dry, tasteless batch I made in 2017 broke my cookie-eating heart. I binged on cinnamon toast crunch, napped off the sugar crash, and put this project away for almost a year. Then in early 2018 I thought “to hell with it—the world we live in is crumbling before our very eyes. Shouldn’t I at least have a cookie that won’t do the same?”

The key is balance. You know, like a part of this balanced breakfast? If the cookie is sweetener-free, fat-free, and/or low-carb, you might as well make a kale and activated charcoal smoothie and live in orthorexic misery. Alternatively, if the cookie is straight up sugar and oil, breakfast just turned into nap time real fast—which is actually a favorite activity of mine, but it does not mesh with the ol’ 9-5. Like an asshole ex, the high from that jumbo oatmeal raisin cookie you get from the snack machine is instantly gratifying, but the crash leaves you wondering why you chose that fuckboy of a cookie in the first place. Self-care is deleting that cheap, sugary option and finding something a little more sophisticated and substantial.

Enter this grown-up opportunity: these vegan breakfast cookies are hearty, palm-sized guys with enough protein (8 grams) and fiber (5 grams) to actually fuel you in the morning. Or as a blunch, second lunch, afternoon snack, pre-dinner snack, after-dinner dessert, bedtime snack; basically this cookie can fit into any part of your day, and that’s the stability and adaptability we’re all looking for. Oats, almonds, coconut, cranberries, pecans, and a touch of maple, vanilla, and cinnamon make this guy one hell of a nutrition nugget.

This recipe may look like a long list of ingredients to deal with, but it only requires one bowl and ~30 minutes of your time. And, as they say, that’s the way the cookie (hypothetically) crumbles.

Breakfast Cookies

Makes 9 large cookies (1 serving for breakfast = 1 cookie)

  • 1 cup almond meal (coarsely ground almond flour)
  • 1 1/3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 soy or nut milk (unflavored, unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup smooth almond butter (unflavored, unsweetened)
  • 3 tbs unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbs ground flax + 2 tbs water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 heaping tbs unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 heaping tbs dried cranberries
  • 3 heaping tbs pecan pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground flax and water with a fork and let it hang out for a couple minutes while it gets goopy. This is the ingredient that will bind the cookies, much like an egg. Now add the dairy-free milk and apple cider vinegar and stir. The apple cider vinegar and soy milk will become buttermilk-like, which adds another level of flavor. Now add the rest of the wet ingredients—the maple syrup, almond butter, unrefined coconut oil, vanilla—and stir with your fork until everything is combined. It will take a little elbow grease to get the almond butter totally incorporated into the mixture. Now add the rest of the ingredients (the dry ingredients and the cookie fillings) and mix until just combined. Take 2 heaping tablespoons of batter and gently form into a round cookie shape (they’ll rise some, but they won’t spread out) on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, until the bottoms and edges are golden brown. Eat immediately or save them for later!


  • These cookies hold up for about five days outside of the fridge or freezer. I like to put one in the toaster oven for 2 minutes to crisp up if they’re more than a day old. You can also immediately put them in the freezer and throw one in the toaster oven when you want a cookie for breakfast.
  • Rolled oats? Almond meal? Que? Rolled oats are different from instant or quick oats (see here). They add more texture to a cookie. You can use quick/instant oats, but the texture—i.e., the crispness and mouth feel—will suffer. The cookie will also bake faster. Almond meal is made of coarsely ground almonds. You can use finely ground almond flour, but again, the texture will change.
  • Not a coconut fan? Gag at the sight of cranberries? Well you’re a bit daft, but the cookie accessories are totally interchangeable! Use raisins instead, a different type of nut, dried fruit…take care if subbing with wet fruits like blueberries, as it will add extra moisture to the batter as it cooks. You can also use canola oil or another neutral oil in place of unrefined coconut oil.
  • For those braving the gluten-free life, you can sub the all-purpose flour for more almond meal, or use another gluten-free flour like oat flour. The texture of the cookies will change, however.

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