Aunt Irva’s Best Ever Oatmeal Cookies

First of all, Happy New Year! I’ve been a bit preoccupied, but I’m finally posting again. My preoccupation has been Bucky McKatt (registered name is Congocoon Where Are My Buccaneers)

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This is another in my ‘best ever’ line. My wife makes really good oatmeal cookies, but these are my favorite. That’s partly due to history, probably. I remember helping my mom make these when I was a kid. Keep in mind, when I say ‘best ever’, ‘best’ is subjective, and it mean the best ever whatever-it-is to me only. Your opinion may differ, and I’m okay with you being wrong (that’s a joke, people).


My Great Aunt Irva (pronounced Irvy) gave this recipe to my mom. Mom thinks the recipe may be over 100 years old, and may be from her grandmother. Aunt Irva was 99 when she passed away, so it’s not hard to imagine the recipe is that old or older. This is one of those oatmeal cookie recipes that uses powdered sugar and a glass to flatten the cookies before baking… When I was a kid, I got to help with that part.

When I eat one of these cookies, it makes me think of being a kid, no responsibilities, things were simple. These are just what God meant oatmeal cookies to be!

This is the unadulterated version; adding some butterscotch and chocolate chips is good, too. I’m not a fan of anyone trying to sneak raisins in my food, so I don’t opt for them, but if you like raisins, they can be added, too, or even some pecans or walnuts. But, just as with chocolate chip cookies being just chocolate chip cookies, there’s something pure about the base version that’s hard to beat.

Here’s what you’ve all been waiting for, the recipe:

Prep time is about 15 minutes or so; baking time is about 10 minutes and inactive time is 30 minutes to 2 days.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter (I used all butter, but you can use half butter, half shortening or all shortening)
  • 2 eggs-lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats

You don’t need to preheat the oven while mixing the ingredients; the batter is chilled first. I made my batter on Sunday but didn’t bake the cookies until Tuesday. The batter could also likely be frozen if desired.

Cream the brown sugar and butter. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Stir in the dry ingredients and oats. Mix well. Chill dough.

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Once the dough is chilled, roll it into walnut sized balls. Roll the dough balls in powdered sugar and place on a greased cookie sheet (I used Silpats). Butter the bottom of a glass and dip the buttered glass bottom in powdered sugar, then slightly flatten cookie balls on cookie sheet. You can put a pecan half in the center of each cookie before baking if you want.


Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F. I baked mine for 10, as I like them a bit crunchy.


Let them cool a bit before moving them to a cooling rack. When I was a kid, Mom put them on newspaper, which works, too.

I don’t think anyone trying these will be disappointed at all. They’re just good. No, they’re actually great oatmeal cookies… Sometimes old fashioned beats trendy, and this is definitely one of those times!


About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.


  1. Ohhh, what fabulous pictures to go with a great recipe. I can’t wait to try it!!!

  2. I will definitely take old fashioned over trendy. Happy New Year!

  3. Summer, thanks… Let me know how yours turn out.

    Susan, oatmeal cookies and trendy don’t really fit well in the same sentence, do they? :)

  4. haha, you could force oatmeal and trendy together. i think it would involve something horrible, like using imported dates instead of raisins and finishing the cookies with a sprinkle of grey turkish finishing salt, dried in trays as has been done for the last thousand years by the rural peasants of the turkish countryside. salt purchased at williams & sonoma, of course.

  5. elisa, that actually got me to laugh… I can just see the peasants working on the salt, getting it just perfect to add to the cookies.

    Somehow, I still think these would be better than the trendy ones. :)

  6. These are so tasty!!!

    I love the powdered sugar crust almost on top when they are finished

    I even like these oatmeal cookies without chocolate!

  7. Dani, I’ve had them with butterscotch and chocolate chips in them, and they’re good that way, too.

    I’m glad you liked them sans chips!

  8. I love reading about old family recipes (and I love oatmeal cookies). I’m usually partial to a really soft cookie, but these sound very, very good. I’m holding onto this recipe. I just found your blog through the blogher ad, and I really like it!

  9. Julie, thanks for coming by, and I’m glad you like the blog! The oatmeal cookies are actually bit chewy when they’re done… crunchy around the edges but chewy in the middle.

  10. I’ve always made peanut butter cookies that way, rolling the dough into balls and then flattening them with a glass dipped in sugar, but I never thought to try it with oatmeal cookies. Thanks for the suggestion!

  11. Elizabeth, my mom always used a fork, making a criss-cross pattern on top, but the same basic prinicple.

  12. I am going to try this cookies next week. How much butterscotch and chocolate chips will I add?

  13. Zelma, when I’ve added chips, I add no more than 12 ounces total, usually 2/3 butterscotch chips, 1/3 chocolate chips. Let me know how you like them with chips!

  14. I recently made the choc chip as well as the wonderfull oatmeal cookies. Oh my word. I am from South Africa and the manager of the hostels of the best girls’ high school in the country and boy do they enjoy these treats

  15. Zelma, thanks for the update on how the cookies were received… It’s great to know they’re popular internationally… My aunt would have loved it!

  16. Those cookies look really good. How many do they make though? The ingredients sound like a lot!

    PS: Do you think some raisins be added without any negative effects?

  17. Jen, I wish I knew the answer… I know they make over 2 dozen. I’d guess around 3 dozen.

    For me, adding raisins would have very negative effect, but I hate raisins in things! :) If you like raisins, they’ll be good in the cookies.

  18. A couple of questions – what happens if you don’t flatten the cookies b4 baking? Does it result in a fatter cookie…I presume the dough spreads out in the oven, as does a choc chip cookie?

    Also, what’s the purpose of rollin them in powdered sugar; if powdered isn;t avail, would fine baker’s sugar work?

  19. Ali, not flattening will probably result in balls of dough. With the oats, it’s pretty dense cookie dough.

    I don’t know what baker’s sugar is, but powdered sugar is pretty key. If you don’t have it, try putting sugar in a food processor or grinder to make it finer grained.

  20. I have been searching for a recipe from my past that rolled the cookie in powdered sugar for that unique flavor of the heated sugar.

    I want to try these to see if it is my long lost recipe from home. I used a recipe in an old cookbook of my mom’s and I think someone threw it out because it was tattered. this will be so good if it is like what I remember…no chips, no nuts…just good oats and powdered sugar.

  21. Oh my goodness! I can’t believe you have this recipe! This was my all time favorite cookie, it was handed down in our family too! But before my Mom could copy it for me she lost the family recipe box in a move. Tragic! My brother was just asking about them and thought I would search. Our family likes the touch of 1/2 maraschino cherry on top, delicious!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  22. These are THE BEST oatmeal cookies EVER! They totally bring back memories of when I was growing up. Rolling the dough in confectionary sugar makes them even more awesome-a definite treat .

  23. These ARE the best oatmeal cookies EVER!!!!!

  24. An old post, but I hope this is the oatmeal cookie recipe I’ve been searching for. My grandma and mom used to make it, The only difference was chilling the dough which was shaped into a log, slicing cookies 1/4 in. thick, then dipping in powdered sugar and baking. The result is a bit more sugar on a flat cookie. Thanks for posting this delicious old recipe!

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