chocolate-chunk oatmeal cookies with dried cherries and pecans

Mise en place while baking is not my favorite. My favorite is to measure out the sugar while the butter is whipping, crack open the eggs while the sugar aerates the butter, mix the dry ingredients while the eggs are incorporated, cut open the bag of chips while pulsing the flour into the mixture. And then I eat a spoonful of dough. That’s my idea of a good time.

Chopping interrupts this perfect process. The cherries stick to the knife and the chocolate shatters onto the floor, and it certainly can’t be finished by the time the eggs are blended into the butter. But for some cookies, it’s worth it a few minutes of chopping before I get to the fun part of adding ingredients to the mixer.

For the first oatmeal cookies I ever loved, I can handle chopping a few ingredients. One thing that makes these more lovable than your average oatmeal cookie is chocolate (much like the second oatmeal cookies I ever loved). The other treat is tart dried cherries instead of boring raisins. The pecans add bitterness and the oats contribute to chewiness. It might take five more minutes than some desserts, but it makes for a much more interesting cookie.

Two years ago: Black Bean Squash Burritos
Three years ago: Scotch Eggs

Printer Friendly Recipe
Chocolate-Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries and Pecans (from Cooks Illustrated)

Makes sixteen 4-inch cookies

CI note: We like these cookies made with dried sour cherries, but dried cranberries can be substituted for the cherries. Quick oats used in place of the old-fashioned oats will yield a cookie with slightly less chewiness. If your baking sheets are smaller than the ones described in the recipe, bake the cookies in three batches instead of two. These cookies keep for 4 to 5 days stored in an airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag, but they will lose their crisp exterior and become uniformly chewy after a day or so.

1¼ cups (6¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
1¼ cups (6⅓ ounces) rolled oats, old-fashioned
1 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup dried tart cherries (5 ounces), chopped coarse
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks about size of chocolate chips (about ¾ cup)
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1½ cups (10½ ounces) packed brown sugar, preferably dark
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, stir together oats, pecans, cherries, and chocolate.

3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until no sugar lumps remain, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl; with mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture; mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running on low, gradually add oat/nut mixture; mix until just incorporated. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Divide dough evenly into 16 portions, each about ¼ cup, then roll between palms into balls about 2 inches in diameter; stagger 8 balls on each baking sheet, spacing them about 2½ inches apart. Using hands, gently press each dough ball to 1 inch thickness. Bake both baking sheets 12 minutes, rotate them front to back and top to bottom, then continue to bake until cookies are medium brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will seem underdone and will appear raw, wet, and shiny in cracks), 8 to 10 minutes longer. Do not overbake.

5. Cool cookies on baking sheets on wire rack 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.


  1. These look great! I just made some oatmeal cookies (in bar form, out of laziness) this weekend, and was underwhelmed. I just might try these next – I even have cherry flavored craisins to use, haha!

  2. Those look delicious – exactly like the oatmeal cookies I’ve been craving. Worth the little bit of mise en place, I’m sure (something I also try to avoid as much as possible). I recently made Ina Garten’s oatmeal cookies and they just didn’t do it for me. But I think I’ll need to try these next.

  3. I think you read my mind – that is *exactly* how I bake. J wonders how I can be baking 3 things at once, but it’s all about the multi-tasking! (However, I also think you read his mind – oatmeal cookies are his favorite!)

  4. Oh my completely delicious. Nice cookies.

  5. I love Cooks Illustrated! These are one of my family’s favourite cookies. Straight delicious.

  6. I’ve had this recipe saved from CI for like 4 years and still haven’t gotten around to making them. Hah. And I am the same way with prepping – both with baking and cooking. The cookies look great but considering I could eat a 1 lb. bag of dried cherries in a day, it’s hard for anything that has them as an ingredient not to look great.

  7. I just made these- they turned out wonderfully!

    I unfortunately had to omit the cherries, because we live in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t want to wait a week to try it out, but I will be making these again and again, so cherries are certainly going on the list! 🙂

  8. Tamson says:

    these are FANTASTIC! I freeze the cherries to make them WAY easier to chop, sweet are fine (tart better), chocolate chips work fine, we like them crispier. yum!!

  9. Aretha says:

    Are the pecans for snacking on?

  10. Aretha – Looks like they got left out of the directions. That’s fixed now. They’re added with the oats, cherries, and chocolate.

  11. Aretha says:

    Thank you! I am gonna make these tonight.

  12. Tamson says:

    These are SO delicious and a great favorite of my high school son. He goes to boarding school (Sniff. But a good fit for him.) and he loves getting them in a care package. I have to require him to share with friends! In a pinch, I use cranberries, but cherries are best. I freeze them for easier chopping.

  13. Tamson says:

    p.s. Oops – forgot I had commented before and included the tip about freezing the cherries. My bad!