How can I Make Healthy Cookies?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Exactly what are healthy cookies? Just how healthy a cookie is depends on your definition of "healthy." You may be looking for cookies that are lower in sugar, low fat, low cholesterol, or have healthy ingredients. You may not be able to satisfy all these requirements in one cookie, and still maintain the taste you want.

Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.
Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.

There are a few substitutions you can make to create cookies that are at least healthier , if not healthy, cookies. You’ll want to avoid processed white sugar, white flour, and saturated fats, which will generally change texture of cookies. If you use honey instead sugar for example, you may not get low calorie cookies, but on the other hand, truly healthy cookies may not represent empty calories.

An oatmeal raisin cookie.
An oatmeal raisin cookie.

It’s recommended that you use recipes designed for super healthy cookies instead of trying substitutes for regular recipes. A few substitutions you’ll typically find are things like monounsaturated oil for fats like butter or margarine, honey, maple sugar, pureed fruit, raw sugar or fruit sugar for granulated white sugar, and wheat or whole grain flours for white wheat flour. Other substitutions include pureed fruit like applesauce for eggs or fats, and eggs whites for whole eggs.

A healthy cookie.
A healthy cookie.

There are a few healthy cookies like brownies that adapt well to changes. For instance applesauce can substitute for butter or margarine in things like brownies. Since it provides some sweetness, it also reduces the amount of sugar in recipes. You can also find whole-wheat brownies or those made with things like oat flour to reduce overall gluten and starch.

Honey is commonly used in cookies as a healthier alternative to refined sugar.
Honey is commonly used in cookies as a healthier alternative to refined sugar.

Other recipes combine ingredients like spelt, fruit, eggs, oil and nuts to create soft, almost muffin-like cookies. You’ll find a variety of recipes online that can help you stretch your imagination when it comes to making healthy cookies. When you do use oil, cookies tend to turn out softer and less crispy.

Oat flour, which can be used to make healthy cookies.
Oat flour, which can be used to make healthy cookies.

Another recommendation to make healthier cookies is to substitute part wheat flour for white flour and to reduce sugar in standard recipes. You can certainly do this with chocolate chip cookies, where you can add half wheat and half white flour instead of all white flour. Your cookies will still be delicious if you cut the sugar by about 25-50%. There are also some recipes for oatmeal cookies that are made with very little white flour, a small amount of shortening and whole rolled oats. With oats as a primary ingredient, these cookies are going to be healthier.

Applesauce is often used as a substitute for fat in some cookie recipes.
Applesauce is often used as a substitute for fat in some cookie recipes.

How you define health will help you decide how to define healthy cookies. With a variety of substitutes available for standard cookie ingredients, you should be able to lower calories, lower fat, reduce cholesterol or cut down on processed flours. It’s usually true that most cookies you can make at home are likely to be healthier than those purchased at the store.

Vegan sugar cookies don't contain any animal products.
Vegan sugar cookies don't contain any animal products.
Monounsaturated fats like those found in olive oil can be substituted for margarine or butter in cookie batter.
Monounsaturated fats like those found in olive oil can be substituted for margarine or butter in cookie batter.
Flour made with wheat may be used to make healthy cookies.
Flour made with wheat may be used to make healthy cookies.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

afterall

@stolaf23, I also like flax seed and oatmeal in cookie recipes. They can make almost any variety into easy, healthy cookies. Anything that adds fiber also makes the cookies that much more filling, helping to make them a more legitimate snack.

stolaf23

When I try to make healthier cookies, I substitute about half the flour with oatmeal, using 1 cup of oatmeal for every 1/2 cup of flour. I also add about 1/4 of a cup of ground flax seed, which does add some calories, but also adds omega-3s, fiber, and other nutrients. I call this recipe my "healthy oatmeal cookies".

bookworm

I agree, by substituting fruit puree for butter for example will yield a moist, flavorful and healthier cookie.

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