Unique Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies Using Sourdough Discard

So much better than store-bought.

I hated store-bought oatmeal cookies when I was young. They were so dry I feared breaking a tooth. They were also flavorless or overpowered by sweetness and spice. Fortunately for me, my mom had the best recipe ever, shared with her by a long-time family friend.

It makes cookies that aren’t overly sweet and allows the oats to be the star. They are crispy, but not hard. They are lightly spiced with the flavor of the brown sugar, and nothing else. They are heaven, even if you don’t like coconut.

When COVID-19 locked us into our homes, I created a sourdough starter. As the discard built, I began hunting for ways to use it so that I didn’t throw it away.

On one of my Zoom calls, my writing mentor, Shaunta Grimes, suggested I write a recipe for making cookies with it. It had never occurred to me, so I began my hunt. It wasn’t long before I found many cookie recipes that used sourdough discard.

I began experimenting. Since I’m not a chef, and don’t fully understand the chemistry of baking, my recipes are usually trial and error. I wondered, could I make my mom’s Coconut-Oatmeal cookies using sourdough?

After comparing several other cookie recipes I gave it a go. The cookies turned out delicious, but there were some differences in baking method, textural outcome, and shelf life. Another difference is that it needs the addition of cinnamon to enhance the flavor. Here is what worked well and we enjoyed.

Coconut-Oatmeal Cookie Ingredients

½ C. (112 grams) unsalted butter, softened
½ C. (96 grams) vegetable shortening
⅔ C. (128 grams) brown sugar
½ C. (96 grams) granulated sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ C. (125 grams) sourdough discard
1 t. Vanilla extract
1 C. (142 grams) All-purpose flour
1 t. (3 grams) baking soda
1 t. (6 grams) Kosher salt
1 t. (8 grams) ground cinnamon
1 C. (120 grams) unsweetened flaked coconut*
1 C. (112 grams) rough chopped pecans
4 C. (320 grams) old-fashioned oats

*If you can only get sweetened coconut, reduce the amount of brown sugar from ⅔ C. to ½ C. and increase the ground cinnamon to 1 ½ teaspoons.

Mixing Your Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies

Start with the wet ingredients. Mix softened butter and vegetable shortening in 4-cup bowl until smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar and granulated sugar until well blended. 

Allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes, then whisk for one minute. You want to allow time for the sugar granules to dissolve completely before combining with everything else. Doing this allows you to use less sugar. Repeat this step for a total of four times.

In a small bowl, slightly beat two eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in the sourdough discard until thoroughly combines. Mix into the sugar mixture.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Fold in the wet mixture. Mix until mostly combined. Stir in the coconut and pecans. Finally, add the oats one cup at a time until combined. Don’t overmix the dough, as you don’t want to activate the glutens in the flour.

Roll the dough into a log that is about 1 ½-inch to 2-inch in diameter. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill the dough in the refrigerator for 45 minutes before baking.

Baking Your Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat your oven to 325℉. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and slice into ¼-inch to ½-inch thick slices. Place the slices 1-inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. These cookies will spread as they bake, but spread less the longer you mix the dough.

Bake for 11–15 minutes, until they are lightly golden brown around the edges and the centers are soft. Slide the parchment paper from the cookie sheet onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before putting into a container for storage. They will be lightly browned with a soft center and crunchy coating.

In my non-sourdough recipe, there is no need to refrigerate before baking. I scoop 1-inch balls of dough from the bowl and place them 2-inches apart onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. As they bake, they spread out and get crispy. The whole surface turns golden brown and crispy.

Storing Your Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies

Cookies made using the non-sourdough recipe can be stored in an airtight container for at least a week. They rarely last that long, however. Sometimes I make a double batch and freeze half for later.

Cookies made using sourdough turn out softer and puffier than the non-sourdough version. We found that they were best if eaten within 3–4 days of making them. They freeze beautifully, though, and you can take them straight from the freezer and eat them without thawing. We prefer doing this.

They remained fresh in the freezer for the several weeks that they lasted.

Delightful Variations

You can add your favorite fillings. If you like raisins, add a cup when you add the coconut and nuts. I sometimes add a cup of mini-chocolate chips or white chocolate morsels. My family’s favorite addition is a cup of butterscotch morsels. Try adding chopped macadamia nuts or walnuts instead of pecan’s.

For Halloween, add a cup of candy corn to the mix. For Thanksgiving, add dried cranberries or diced apples. At Christmas, add a cup of mint chips or ½ cup of crushed candy canes. In the spring, add a cup of fresh or dried blueberries. In the summer, add a tablespoon of orange zest.

They will become a favorite

These are the only type of oatmeal cookies I will eat. Once you try them, the store-bought ones will never again measure up. Even if you don’t like coconut in other dishes (that would be me) you will enjoy the toastiness of it in these cookies. It adds texture and crunch without too much sweet.

Bon Appetit!

Print the original and sourdough version of this recipe for your file.

Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft.

Read more of Pat’s posts here.