Traditional Oatmeal Cookies (Gluten Free, Vegan)

I’m pretty sure I’ve said on my blog before about how sometimes I forget about unintentionally vegan or gluten-free recipes that I’ve already had in my recipe box from years past. Or, I forget about a recipe my mom used to make when we were growing up and realize that with very little changing I can make it gluten-free and vegan.

That’s basically the story behind these cookies.

I’ve been tucking in for the long winter ahead. (Dramatic and depressing, right?) I have been craving comfort foods and warm happy things. Like oatmeal. Oatmeal cookies. Originally I had wanted to do apple oatmeal cookies because I’m experiencing an abundance of apples from my generous neighbor. But, before I did that, I wanted to make sure I had a good oatmeal cookie recipe down pat.

I looked online, looked through my cookbooks, thumbed through magazines. I didn’t really see one that stood out to me.

Then I remembered the cookies my mom used to make. So good. I emailed her for the recipe and she sent it to me. I was surprised this recipe doesn’t call for eggs. One less thing to try to veganize. Sweet! I think it’s the egg part of cookies that I always fail at and that’s why I hardly have any really awesome gluten-free and vegan cookie recipes here. Don’t worry though, I’m working on adding more cookie recipes. I promise.

So speaking of cookie fails. *cough*

oatmeal cookie disaster

Yeah, my first shot at making this gluten-free and vegan didn’t turn out so well. I was cocky and thought it would be an easy swap out. But no. I think it was a combination of having too much vegan margarine and not letting the dough chill long enough. So, after chatting with my mom while eating my cookie-cake disaster (still tasted amazing and the texture was exactly as I remembered!) we thought reducing the margarine would be a good start. I also figured I’d freeze the dough and use it right from frozen to help them spread slower once they’re in the oven.

It worked! The second time around my little cookie experiment worked.

chewy crispy oatmeal cookies

crispy oatmeal cookies

chewy crispy oatmeal cookies

I was tempted to title this one Overnight Oatmeal Cookies because I think you really do need to freeze this cookie dough for at least a few hours, so why not make it before you go to bed and have it ready for baking in the morning or something? Brilliant idea, if you ask me. But I stuck with the Traditional Oatmeal Cookies title because these are the cookies that I remember growing up and smile when I eat them.

4.0 from 4 reviews
Traditional Oatmeal Cookies (Gluten Free, Vegan)
I've taken my Mom's traditional recipe for oatmeal cookies and updated it so that it's vegan and gluten-free. The dough keeps well in the fridge for a couple days and freezes well too.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 doz
  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats (I use Only Oats)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup vegan margarine, melted
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. In a large bowl combine oats, brown sugar, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, salt, vanilla extract and melted vegan margarine. Combine well.
  2. In a small bowl mix boiling water with baking soda. Add to the other bowl. Mix well.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least 1 hour or even overnight. (You may need to let it thaw slightly if you pull it out of the freezer.)
  4. If you want to make ahead of time and use later just wrap with plastic wrap and place in freezer until further use.
  5. When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 375°F.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Use a spoon to dish out enough dough to make 1" balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet with quite a bit of space between each. Flatten the dough ball lightly with the heel of your hand.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and flat.
  9. Let cool completely on baking sheet before removing storing in an airtight container.

 Megan Eating A Cookie


  1. says

    Oatmeal cookies are my favorite. I have made many vegan versions, but haven’t tried a GF version since also going GF. These give me inspiration!

  2. says

    These look great! I’m excited to try them but I’m wondering if you think I could replace the brown sugar as well. Sigh. Yes, I’m trying not to use even brown sugar. Agave? Honey? Stevia???

    Thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    • says

      Hmmm what about coconut palm sugar? I don’t know how they would turn out if you used a liquid sweetener because these can be pretty soft to begin with. If you do decide to use agave or other liquid sweetener I’d let the dough chill for longer and keep it cold while forming the balls on the cookie sheet and between batches. If you give it a try let me know how it goes! :)

  3. Rosieveg says

    Could I use corn starch instead of the tapioca starch? I can’t hardly wait to make these for family for Xmas :) thanks I do know if you add a bit of apple sauce to vegan recipes/banana bread it rises better. :)

    • says

      You can definitely sub out cornstarch in place of the tapioca starch. It should work just fine. I use applesauce for baking a lot too! In these cookies though, it’s not something that I’d recommend because I think it will make it too wet and it’s already a pretty wet cookie dough – which is also why the freezing is important. Enjoy! :)

  4. Rosieveg says

    Thanks Megan , I never meant to infer I was going to put apple sauce in the oatmeal cookies I was just meantioning the apple sauce for other readers who are Veggie and didn’t know it works good for Vegan baking/helps breads and such rise :) Apples could be added though. I am making My Practice batch of cookies tonite :) I am adding Raisins to your recipe,yum yum I will let u know how they turn out :) maybe a pic?

  5. Mike says

    Hmmm, mine turned out to be a very yummy crumble. They barely held together as I was smashing them into cookie shapes and just fell apart when I picked them off the parchment. Part of my problem was probably that I cut the recipe in half and kind of eyeballed all the eights, which probably didn’t help things. Yummy, all the same.

    What should I add to help it bind if this happens? More oil, more flour, more freezing?

    • says

      Hey Mike,

      Not quite sure what the problem might have been but eyeballing the half measures may have been the culprit. This isn’t the easiest cookie dough to work with to begin with. But yes, more freezing could help the situation for sure. I wouldn’t add more oil that’ll just spread them out even further and cause them to fall apart more I’d guess. Baking is such a science experiment most of the time – and even more so when you’re doing it gluten-free and vegan. I wish I had more insight to give you. I hope your next batch turns out better. (At least it tasted good, right? LOL)

  6. Irene says

    Hi Megan,
    Great recipe thank you so much! I do have few question why do u suggest freezing the cookies and not just refrigerating it ? How long do they last in freezer? And if I put them In the refrigerator how long would they last? Also once baked can they be left out or do you suggest storing them in frig?
    Thank you

    • says

      Putting the dough in the freezer before scooping it out on to the cookie sheet and baking helps the cookies stay together longer as they’re baking. You could probably put the dough in the fridge but the freezer does a great job of really making sure the dough is nice and firm before trying to make into cookies. The dough is very loose. If it’s put on the cookie sheet without super-chilling the dough chances are it’ll spread out too fast in the oven and you’ll end up with that cookie disaster I showed at the start of the post.

      If you’re freezing the dough for longer than overnight, make sure that you’ve really wrapped it well with plastic wrap to prevent freezer-burn. I haven’t frozen the dough for longer but I don’t see why it would be a problem to freeze for a longer time and use later. I would say if properly wrapped you could likely freeze this for a couple of months without problems. You just might need to let it thaw out slightly so that you can use a spoon to scoop out some dough when you’re ready to bake them up.

      You can freeze the baked cookies if you like. But to be clear, the main point of freezing that I mention in the recipe instructions is for the prepared dough – before it is baked – and not really after the baking has happened. Your cookies don’t have to be frozen or refrigerated after baking. Let them cool and store them in an air-tight container on your counter if you’d like.

      I hope that clears up any confusion.

      • Irene says

        thank you so much for clarifing.I do have few more questions, if I use vegan butter instead of margarine, would that make big difference? Also have you tried using other flours and sugars and had great results? thanks again your amazing!

        • says

          What brand of vegan butter are you using? I’m about 99% sure if you’re using vegan butter it’s technically a margarine product of some kind. The difference between regular butter (from dairy) is that it doesn’t contain as much water as margarine products do. Though in some recipes trying to swap out real butter for vegan margarine with a higher water content could mess things up I generally don’t notice an issue. For this recipe I believe I used vegan Becel to make it.

          I made this recipe pretty as it was written and didn’t bother changing it up too much with different flours or sugars. You could probably change it up and have these turn out okay. I can’t guarantee it of course. If you’re willing to risk a baking fail and still be happy then go ahead and experiment! We have many baking and cooking fails around here. We just learn to eat less than perfect food from time to time. :)

          • says

            Earth Balance buttery spread is similar to margarine in the sense that it’s an oil-based buttery product. There’s definitely water in it too, like other vegan margarine. No matter, you’ll still have great results with these cookies.

    • says

      Hi Donna, I think it would make a difference yes. Without knowing too much behind the science of baking and these ingredients specifically I just have a feeling that it would change the cookies. It might not be a bad thing though. I just wouldn’t be able to say for sure how it would affect this recipe for you. I found this cool article online which is an interesting read: But still, really not sure if I would recommend swapping out the baking soda for baking powder. If you try it, let me know how it turns out please!

  7. Brandy says

    My son is also allergic to rice (in addition to wheat, eggs, etc etc) would sorghum flour work as a sub? :) Thanks!!

  8. Stefanie says

    I substituted organic coconut oil for the vegan margarine and coconut palm sugar for the brown sugar, plus added 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut. I froze the dough as you recommended but found that the coconut oil really held the dough together well. Best gluten free cookies ever and my husband’s response was who needs eggs!! Thanks so much for sharing, this will be a go to recipe.

  9. Joe says

    I have not ried this recipe yet, but as I was reading about what you considered an initial failure, I saw it as an opportunity. Instead of taking the time to portion out each cookie, you could spread the dough across the whole sheet pan right from the start. After baking, break it up into random sized pieces and call it Oatmeal Bark. Just a suggestion.

  10. Stefanie says

    After trying a gluten free apple crisp recipe that I wasn’t happy with I was struck with a brilliant idea. Use my favourite oatmeal cookie recipe for the crisp topping!! So I mixed up a batch of oatmeal cookies and took out about half the cookie dough. I added an extra 1/2 cup of oats and about 2 tablespoons of brown rice flour to make the mixture a little more crumbly. Oh my, so yummy you just have to try it too! The topping is golden and crunchy, just how I like my topping to be. My niece and nephews love following my rule – Apple crisp qualifies as breakfast food!

  11. Rhonda says

    Made these today and there were just the right amount of sweetness,
    crunch, and a fabulous oatmeal texture and flavour.
    Will be a hit for the holiday season!

    I measured exactly, and left the dough in the freezer for 24 hours before baking.
    The cookies stayed together perfectly.

  12. Shannon says

    These didn’t turn out for me at all. I’d not have rice flour but had a gf blend (tapioca, sorghum, garbanzo bean) and subbed with coconut oil. They are t holding together and it’s just like frozen oatmeal. I’m going to try to spread them in the pan but it will end up like granola I think.

    • says

      I haven’t yet tested this recipe using melted coconut oil but a lot of times I have decent results using coconut oil in place of vegan margarine. Especially since you’re freezing the batter before dishing out the cookie portions, I think it could work just fine. Let me know how it goes if you give it a try!

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