Substituting Whole Grains in Cookies and a Cookie Roundup!

by Heidi @ Food Doodles on December 23, 2012


As promised… A cookie Roundup!  I just had to round up the cookies I’ve done in the past here on Food Doodles.  I’ve even forgotten about some of the cookies I had posted here.  There are so many good ones 😀

First, I wanted to talk a little bit about using whole grains in cookies.  I apologize in advance for how wordy this is, but hopefully it will help someone!  All the cookies in this post(except for the meringues and puddle cookies) are made with whole grains.  While sometimes it’s easy to just sub whole wheat flour for all purpose, most of the time it isn’t.  But don’t give up!  Here are a few tips to help you convert your favorite cookie recipe to use whole wheat flour.

When mixing your cookies:

  • First, make sure you’re using the correct flour.  Look for whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat.  Your flour should come from soft wheat which means that the protein content is lower than in hard wheat.  Using hard wheat is more likely to result in cakey or dry cookies.  Hard wheat will usually always result in a heavy and tough baked good unless yeast is used.  Make sure you’re using soft wheat!  The wheat can be either red or white, but white has the mildest flavor.  Spelt and Khorosan(better known as Kamut) are also good alternative flours to use, but both behave differently and cannot always be substituted straight across for other flours.
  • Weigh your flour!  This is especially important with whole grains.  I grind my own whole grains but I also store it in the fridge sometimes and the difference between to two is huge.  I’ve found that 1 cup should be about 120 – 130g or 4.25oz – 4.5oz.
  • Usually up to half the flour can be substituted for whole grains without a huge difference.  But always bake a test cookie first!  If they spread too much try following some of the steps below “when baking your cookies”.
  • Reduce the butter or oil in the recipe by 20% if you’re replacing all the flour with whole grains.  Reducing the butter or oil can help tremendously unless your already using a lower fat recipe.  For a recipe that calls for 1 cup of butter or oil, I usually just substitute 3/4 cup to make things simple and add a tablespoon of milk only if it’s needed at the end.  This will help keep them from spreading too much.
  • Add a small amount of starch, such as cornstarch, arrowroot starch or tapioca starch.  The starch cooks quickly and absorbs moisture to keep the cookies from spreading too much.  Don’t add too much though or your cookies will turn cakey or dry.
  • Make sure your oven is the correct temperature.  Buy and use an oven thermometer.  Most ovens are out a little bit which can affect your cookie baking, especially when you’re using whole grains.  My oven is actually out by a lot so I go by my oven thermometer(instead of setting my oven to the temperature I need) 100% of the time now.

When baking your cookies:

  • One of the most important things you can do when first testing a recipe is bake a test cookie.  When I’m first adapting recipes, I always bake a test cookie and then adjust the dough or my procedure as needed.  This will also help you find the perfect amount of time to bake your cookies since whole grain cookies may need a different bake time than those made with all-purpose flour.  If you bake a test cookie and find that they’re spreading too much or come out too thin, the following steps may help.
  • Chill your dough!  For faster chilling, prepare your cookies as desired(dropped on the sheet, rolled, rolled in sugar, cut out, etc) and then place in the fridge or freezer for as much time as needed.  Don’t rush the chilling process, this will have a huge affect on how your cookies bake.
  • Try upping the oven temperature by 25 degrees and baking for a shorter amount of time.  This will allow the cookies to cook faster and hopefully not spread as much.  Try it with a test cookie first to see if it works!
  • Do not over bake!  You might be worried that cookies made with whole grains don’t look cooked in the middle because they’re still gooey, but if the top is cracked and the cookie is golden, chances are that it’s done.  The cookie will continue to bake on the baking sheet outside of the oven and the flour will continue to absorb the moisture that makes the cookie look under baked.  If you’re baking a test cookie, be sure to cool completely before determining whether it really is under baked or not.
  • Lastly, cool your cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.  Some whole wheat cookies are fine to move right after baking but whole grain cookies that still look gooey in the middle, even when they’re perfectly baked will lose their shape or fall apart if you try to move them while still hot.  Some cookies even need to cool completely on the baking sheet before being moved.

Hopefully this can help you with adapting some of your favorite cookie recipes to using whole grains!  I would love to hear your tips for converting cookie recipes to using whole grains in the comments at the end of this post and if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll try to help!

And now, the cookie roundup!  Please click the pictures or the title of the recipes to take you to the recipe.  First off, the cookies I posted this week…


Triple Ginger Cookies


Double Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies


Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

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Eggnog Meringues


Dutch Gingerbread(covered in white chocolate!)

And here we go with some older recipes…

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Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti


Cosmic Cookies


Graham Crackers


Chocolate Puddle Cookies  (flourless)

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Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies


 Gingerbread Men


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


Spelt Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


Spiced Mocha Hazelnut Biscotti


Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Macaroons  (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free)

And some comforting winter drinks to go with those cookies…


Hot Apple Cider

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Pumpkin Hot Chocolate


And last, but certainly not least, honey sweetened and completely cooked eggnog(with a dairy free option if needed!).  Yum!

I hope you’ve found some yummy treats to enjoy at your house over the holidays!  And for now I’ll be taking a little time to spend with my family, so Happy Holidays to you and Happy New Year if I don’t pop in before then!

Leave a Comment

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Heather December 29, 2012 at 11:52

OMG what an increidble round up!


2 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen December 28, 2012 at 22:18

I thought I was all cookied out but I was wrong, you’ve got me wanting them all!


3 Holiday Baker Man December 27, 2012 at 21:39

I need to try the dutch gingerbread for next Christmas!


4 Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies December 27, 2012 at 18:23

I’m not much of a baker and I’m always a little bit nervous about subbing in whole grains, so I love this post. Thank you for putting it together! (And oh man, I could go for some of those cookies right now…)


5 sally @ sallys baking addiction December 27, 2012 at 06:39

Hi Heidi! These tips are SO SO helpful. I love your tip about baking a test cookie. I really should do that more – just to see how big/small I should roll them or to adjust the bake time. I love making cookies a bit healthier by using whole grains. Need to do more of that. 🙂 Thanks Heidi!


6 Erin @ Texanerin Baking December 26, 2012 at 14:03

What?! You reduce the fat? I’ve never done that. I wonder if it’ll have an affect. I’ll try it on a recipe I know and see what happens. Fun! Also didn’t know about the starch. Thanks for the tip! 🙂


7 kareva December 25, 2012 at 11:07

Merveilleuse sélection!de belles photos gourmandes;j’adore faire les cookies et je trouve ici de quoi me régaler en direct d’une spécialiste!merci beaucoup et joyeuses fêtes à vous et votre famille!Baisers de France!


8 Ari @ Ari's Menu December 23, 2012 at 18:00

Oh my gosh, I have had sooooo many cookies fall apart when I’m pressed for time and try to move them too quickly–that couldn’t be more true! It’s interesting that you’ve had them spread too far apart, because mine don’t really spread. I have to smush the dough balls a bit otherwise they stay really round, but that might be because I don’t really use butter? Also, I agree that the soft wheat is essential! 🙂


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