I went through a big cranberry phase in high school. Most mornings, I poured myself a bowl of granola — a blend of bran flakes, oat clusters, and cranberries from Trader Joe’s — before rushing off to campus for my 7 am class on weekdays or fishing the sports section out of our local newspaper on weekends to catch up on the latest baseball news.
After dropping my backpack next to the kitchen table in the afternoons, I often reached for a carton of refreshingly cold cranberry juice in our fridge or dug through the pantry for a handful of dried cranberries. Some evenings, we sprinkled those same cranberries on top of spinach salads as a quick and easy dinner side.
One particular weekend during the holidays, I even ordered a slice of cranberry crumb coffee cake from one of my family’s favorite restaurants. The entire table fell silent as our waiter walked away.
Five pairs of eyes stared at me. I squirmed a little in my seat and looked down at the napkin in my lap. In that moment, I thought they might threaten to make me walk home… Or at least kick me out of our booth. I forgot it was an unwritten rule — if not complete taboo! — to order anything besides the classic blueberry crumb coffee cake…
But with its irresistible flavors, my slice with its bright red berries was worth every bite!
So my high school self would’ve loved these healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies! They’re a fun break from the traditional raisin variety, and they’re especially satisfying during the holidays and cranberry season.
But in all honesty… I’d happily eat them any time of year!
QUICK OVERVIEW – HEALTHY CRANBERRY OATMEAL COOKIES
Difficulty: Fairly easy, including for many beginner bakers.
Taste: Bright tangy berries shine against a backdrop of warm spices, cozy oats, and sweet cookie dough.
Texture: Very chewy and moist, with plenty of soft oats in every bite.
KEY INGREDIENTS TO MAKE HEALTHY CRANBERRY OATMEAL COOKIES
Let’s talk about the ingredients you’ll need to make these healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies! I’m hoping that you already have pantry staples like baking powder, vanilla extract, and salt… So we’ll focus on the more interesting and important things.
Oats. A key ingredient in oatmeal cookies — as I’m sure you’ve already guessed! To make these cookies, you’ll need instant oats. They’re also called “quick cooking” and “one minute” oats, and they’re not the ones that come in individual packets with flavors like maple brown sugar and apple cinnamon.
Just like old-fashioned rolled oats, instant oats only contain one ingredient (oats!), but they differ in one key way… They’re noticeably smaller and thinner. That size difference means instant oats soften faster, and that gives your healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies the best chewy texture imaginable!
Hint: You can usually find instant oats right next to the old-fashioned rolled oats at the grocery store!
Tip: If you’d like to make your healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies gluten-free, then substitute certified gluten-free instant oats. They work perfectly!
Flour. To make these oatmeal cookies healthier, I opted for whole wheat flour. It adds extra fiber and micronutrients, and because the cozy spices (more on those momentarily!) mask any “wheat-like” flavor, these wholesome cookies taste just as delicious as traditional ones!
Tip: If you’d like to make these healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies gluten-free, then see the Notes section of the recipe. I’ve shared my top recommendations there!
Spices. Yup, plural! Many traditional cranberry oatmeal cookie recipes solely call for cinnamon, but I found that adding a touch of nutmeg gave these a beautifully rich, comforting, and irresistible flavor. In a side-by-side taste test, the plain cinnamon version tasted more flat and one-dimensional, while the batch with a hint of nutmeg basically felt like an IMAX movie in 3D, where the flavors danced around and almost jumped right off the screen (or your tongue, in this particular case!).
I know… It may seem a little strange to insist on adding extra spices to cranberry treats, when they’re known more for their classic fruity orange pairing, but I promise that pinch of nutmeg is worth it!
Tip: Before letting the nutmeg hog the entire spice spotlight… If you can find Saigon cinnamon, I highly recommend it! It has a slightly stronger, richer, and sweetener flavor. I’m obsessed, and it’s practically the only kind I now use in my baking! Many stores have started stocking it, but I often buy mine online here. (It’s really affordable!)
Butter. Just a small amount! Whereas many traditional recipes call for a full stick or two (aka between ½ to 1 full cup!), you only need 2 tablespoons to make these. That helps keep your healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies low calorie and low fat!
Tip: To make these cranberry oatmeal cookies dairy-free, substitute coconut oil or stick-style vegan butter. (I love this one and this one.) These all work beautifully and produce the same soft and chewy texture!
Egg. It binds together the cookie dough, and it also adds to the soft and chewy texture. Just make sure your egg is at room temperature before you begin! (Hang tight… We’ll cover why this is important soon!)
Sweetener. Instead of refined sugar, you’ll sweeten these healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies with pure maple syrup. It’s the kind that comes directly from maple trees and only contains one ingredient: maple syrup! It’s often sold in thin glass bottles or squat plastic jugs (like this).
I don’t recommend substituting pancake syrup or sugar-free maple syrup. These contain other ingredients, so they often behave differently in baking recipes. This is especially true for sugar-free maple syrup! It’s generally water-based, and that makes your cookies turn out drier and bready.
Cranberries. Another very important ingredient! I love baking with fresh ones, so that’s what I used to make these healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies. Their iconic bright, tart flavor shines beautifully against the backdrop of cozy spices and sweet dough!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CRANBERRY OATMEAL COOKIES
Now that you’ve assembled your ingredients, let’s go over how to make the best healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies! This recipe is simple and straightforward to whip up, but I still have some tips and tricks for you.
Measure correctly. Yup… I say this with just about every recipe that I share — but that’s because it’s incredibly important! So although I’m going to risk sounding like a broken record (yet again!)…
Please — pretty, pretty please — take the time to properly measure your ingredients. Especially the flour and oats! Use this method (and my special fork trick!) or a kitchen scale. (← That’s the one I own!) Too much of either one will dry out the dough and make your cookies cakey, bready, or crumbly. This is particularly true of the oats; they act like little sponges and soak up lots of moisture from the dough.
Tip: Use liquid or regular measuring cups for liquid ingredients, like the maple syrup! Kitchen scales measure weights, not volumes. Many liquid ingredients have different densities, which means they weigh different amounts, so unless you’re prepared to do the math to determine each one’s individual weight per volume… Measuring cups are easier and more accurate!
Melt the butter. I’ve found that melted butter yields a better chewy texture than softened butter — and I nearly danced around my entire kitchen in excitement as a result! I rarely remember to set out butter far enough in advance for it to soften naturally… But I don’t have that problem with melted butter!
This is also why it’s important to use a room temperature egg. A cold egg taken straight from the fridge will immediately resolidify your freshly melted butter. The mixture will almost look curdled (even though it’s not!) because the butter forms tiny solid spheres.
Tip: In case you forget to set out the egg, I have a trick for you! Microwave 1 cup of water for 30 seconds. Gently place your egg into that warm water, and let it sit while you measure and mix together the dry ingredients. If it’s in that little “hot tub” for at least 10 minutes, the egg should warm up to room temperature by the time you’re ready to add it to your mixing bowl.
Chill the dough. This cookie dough is pretty wet when you first mix it together — and that’s intentional! It yields a really moist and chewy texture in your cranberry oatmeal cookies. Chilling helps stiffen the cookie dough and makes it easier to work with. A brief 30 minutes in the fridge is all it needs!
Scoop + shape. After chilling, the dough will still be somewhat sticky, so do not try to use your hands. Instead, I use a spoon and this mini spatula (← isn’t it cute??) to drop the cookie dough onto the baking sheet.
These oatmeal cookies don’t spread very much, so you’ll also flatten it prior to baking. I use the same mini spatula to do this, as well as to smooth out the edges.
And because someone always asks… No, I don’t use a cookie scoop or any special tools to make my cookies look so round. Just these mini spatulas — and some patience too!
Do not overbake. This is one of my favorite tricks for perfectly soft and chewy oatmeal cookies! Pull them from the oven when their centers still feel a little moist and underdone. The residual heat from the warm baking sheet will continue to cook those centers all the way through while you let the cookies rest before transferring them to a wire rack.
If you waited until the centers felt firm, that residual heat would end up overbaking your cookies… And they’d turn out more cakey, bready, or dry. It might feel weird to remove your cookies from the oven a tad bit early, but it helps keep them soft and chewy for days — if not close to an entire week!
Reshape. This is entirely optional — but it’s another one of my tricks for perfectly round cookies! The moment you remove the pan from the oven, use a butter knife to gently smooth out any lopsided edges and make those cookies perfectly round again. The cookies set rather quickly, so you need to move fast before the sides become too firm to reshape. Yet if you’re speedy, this little trick works like a charm!
Tip: You can see how I do this in the video located directly above my maple pecan oatmeal cookies recipe!
FAQS ABOUT HEALTHY CRANBERRY OATMEAL COOKIES
Are these healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies gluten-free, dairy-free, clean eating, low calorie, or low fat?
Yes — to all of the above! These cranberry oatmeal cookies are naturally clean eating, low fat, and low calorie (compared to more traditional recipes!). I also included modifications to make them gluten-free and dairy-free in the Notes section of the recipe.
Can I use old-fashioned rolled oats?
Kind of! Measure out the same amount of old-fashioned rolled oats, but pulse them in a blender or food processor until they’re ⅛ to ¼ of their original size. This makes them closer in size to instant oats, so your cookies should have about the same soft and chewy texture.
What about a different flour?
You sure can! White whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and all-purpose flour all work really well. You can also substitute oat flour (gluten-free, if necessary!), but be really careful when measuring it because it tends to be more absorbent than wheat-based flours.
What about sugar-free syrup?
I don’t recommend it. Sugar-free syrups tend to be water-based, and that changes the texture of your cookies. (See the “Sweetener” header in the “Key Ingredients to Make Healthy Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies” section above for more information!)
Can I use dried cranberries?
Yup! I know cranberry season is short, so it’s not always possible to find fresh ones at the grocery store. However, before you use those dried ones, I have another trick for you…
Hydrate them! Add your dried cranberries to a microwave-safe bowl, cover them with water, and place a lid or plastic wrap on top. Microwave them on HIGH for 1 minute, and then let them sit while you measure and mix together the other ingredients (or for at least 10 minutes!). Thoroughly drain any leftover liquid before folding them in. This makes them really soft and juicy! (It’s the same trick I use whenever I’m baking with raisins too!)
My cookies turned out cakey, bready, or dry. Why’s that?
There are a few possible culprits! First, make sure you’re measuring the ingredients correctly, especially the oats, flour, and pure maple syrup. (See the “Measure correctly” header in the “How to Make the Best Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies” section above for more information!)
Second, do not substitute sugar-free syrup! It changes the cookies’ texture… And not in a good way. (See the “Sweetener” header in the “Key Ingredients to Make Healthy Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies” section above for more information.)
Third, don’t overbake your cookies! They’re ready to come out of the oven when the centers still look and feel slightly underdone. (See the “Do not overbake” header in the “How to Make the Best Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies” section above for more information!)
How should I store these healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies? And how long do they last?
Store your cookies in an airtight container. If left at room temperature, they should keep for a couple of days (if not longer!). If refrigerated, they should keep for closer to a week or more. These oatmeal cookies also freeze really well!
My high school self decided I should make up for lost time… I baked four batches of these in a single week! 😉
And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies!
Healthy Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
- 1 cup (100g) instant oats (gluten-free if necessary and measured like this)
- ¾ cup (90g) whole wheat flour or gluten free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup (120mL) pure maple syrup (room temperature)
- ½ cup (50g) whole fresh cranberries, diced
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter or coconut oil, egg, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Stir in the maple syrup. Add in the oat mixture, and stir until just incorporated. Fold in the cranberries. Chill the cookie dough for 30 minutes.
- Using a spoon and spatula, drop the cookie dough into 15 rounded scoops onto the prepared sheet. Flatten to ⅜”-thick using a spatula. Bake at 325°F for 9-12 minutes. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies
♡ Healthy Cranberry Banana Oatmeal Cookies
♡ Healthy Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies
♡ Healthy Copycat Cranberry Bliss Bars
♡ Healthy Cranberry Apple Crisp
♡ Healthy Cranberry Crumb Cake
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy cranberry-flavored recipes and healthy oatmeal cookie recipes!