Lace cookies are, for me, the taste of the holiday season.
I make them a lot.
There’s just something about these crisp, so-thin-you-can-see-through-them cookies that just is everything I want out of a dessert. Plus, all of the ingredients are cheap and available at any grocery store, and the recipe makes enough for days of sweet snacking.
Beyond that, the best thing about this recipe in particular is its history.
This has literally been passed down in my wife’s family for generations. Her grandmother made these heavenly cookies for her dad, and he made them for my wife (and, later, myself).
And now, I will share them with all of you.
Quick thing: I have included affiliate links to Amazon below – it won’t affect your price to click them, but I do get a kickback. I promise that my links are only to be helpful and offer products that would be useful with the recipe.
Now, I’m going to give you a good step-by-step explanation, but if you’d rather skip that and just go straight to the short-form recipe, I have included it at the bottom of this post.
So, first things first: getting the ingredients. Don’t bother with the cart at the grocery, you only need seven things: salted butter, light brown sugar, rolled oats (sometimes called “old-fashioned”), all-purpose flour, salt, egg, and vanilla.
Real quick: I said light brown sugar because it has a lighter flavor than the dark. Also, I say rolled/old-fashioned oats because they are whole oats, not ground or chopped. My first batch was with steel-cut oats, though, and actually turned out ok. So don’t panic if that’s all you have.
Making the batter
So, let’s begin. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Then, put two sticks of butter (that’s one cup) into a sauce pot over medium-low heat along with two and a quarter cups of packed brown sugar. Stir it pretty frequently until the mix is smooth.
Then, you are going to add the rest of the ingredients. However, this can trip folks up a bit, because depending on the order you could end up frustrated or with chunks of scrambled egg throughout.
Luckily, I know the secret to fixing the problem. So, follow this order.
First, add the flour (three tablespoons), salt (one teaspoon), and vanilla (one teaspoon). Mix it until nice and smooth.
Next, add two and a quarter cups of oats and mix.
Finally, beat one egg and mix it in. The photo above is after adding the egg.
I know, it seems weird to add the biggest dry ingredient before the egg, but trust me. If you add the egg before the oats, then no matter how fast you mix you’ll end up with bits of scrambled egg mixed into your batter.
Baking the Cookies
Your batter is now ready to bake. However, lace cookies are easy to burn, and if you do them wrong you might end up with a cookie-shaped chunk of charcoal.
Luckily, once again I know the secret fix.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then drop spoon-sized dollops of dough onto the sheet about two inches apart. I actually use a cookie scoop, which makes it way, way easier. If you want one of your own, you can click on the image to the left to go to one on Amazon.
Bake for around 7 minutes.
After that, your cookies should be thin and flat. Bubbles will be forcing their way through the batter, creating the namesake lace-like holes.
Your cookies are done when they are the golden color of caramel and the bubbles have slowed. The first batch generally takes about 9-11 minutes for me, but it doesn’t take too long for these to burn, so I still go for 7 minutes to start.
Like my mom always said, you can always put them back in for more time, but burnt is burnt.
Transfer the first parchment paper, cookies and all, onto a cooling rack or countertop, then push a fresh piece back on the cookie sheet, add some more batter, and throw that sucker back in.
I recommend that once you start cooking lace cookies, you keep going until they are all gone. Once more, there is a reason to my madness.
The batter is made with egg and butter, so you can’t just leave it sitting out. But, if you put a lid on that pot and put it in the fridge, the batter will stiffen up and dry out.
Heating leftover batter back up is slow and annoying. I only did it once before I decided, “Never again.”
When the cookies have cooled somewhat, remove them from the parchment paper and transfer to a cooling rack. Luckily, this takes about as long as the next batch takes to cook.
So, slap that just-used parchment paper back on that cookie sheet for a new batch (don’t worry, it’s safe to do so – I double-checked).
Store your delicious, crunchy cookies in an airtight container. I just throw them in quart-size freezer bags.
They won’t last long enough to go bad. Trust me.
Quick Story: Don’t Forget the Salt
Ok, so funny story – when my wife and I got married, we included this recipe (along with two others) in a miniature recipe book for table favors. When I used one of the books to make a batch of cookies, though, I realized that I had left out one extremely important ingredient: the salt.
Without salt, lace cookies taste like slightly sweet flour. My wife, dear thing, told me it wasn’t all that bad. However, I noticed she didn’t take another bite.
We ended up shaking salt on them to rescue them. There was no way I was going to let a whole set of lace cookies go to waste, gross or not.
Recipe: Oatmeal Lace Cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes, Cook Time: 7 minutes/batch, about 2 hours total
- 2¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) of salted butter
- 2¼ cup rolled (or old-fashioned) oats
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg (slightly beaten)
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Heat butter (1 cup/2 sticks) and brown sugar (2 1/4 cups) in medium sauce pan over medium low heat, stirring frequently until smooth.
- Stir in flour (3 tablespoons), salt (1 teaspoon), and vanilla (1 teaspoon).
- Add oats (2 1/4 cups) and mix.
- Add egg (1, beaten) and mix.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and drop spoonfuls of batter on it about 2 inches apart.
- Bake for about 7 minutes (first batch may take up to 9 minutes or more). Cookies will be golden brown and bubbles will have slowed when finished. Be careful when adding more time as cookies burn quickly.
- Remove from oven, then transfer parchment paper and cookies to cooling rack or countertop to cool.
- Re-line cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop batter on it same as before. Bake second batch.
- Remove first batch of cookies from parchment paper when cool (around when second batch finishes baking).
- Transfer second parchment paper and cookies to cool, then re-line cookie sheet with first parchment paper and add more batter. Bake.
- Repeat parchment paper trade-off until all batter is used.