Scottish Oat Cookies with Dark Chocolate

Scottish oat cookies are thin and just a little sweet. They make a perfect afternoon cookie with coffee or tea and have become one of my favorites.

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A hand lifting a cookie from a plate with a cup of coffee in the background.

Where this Recipe Came From

Each December, if I’m lucky, I get to enjoy cookies made by my sister-in-law. Of all the cookies she makes, my favorite is her Scottish oat cookies. They are thin, round cookies with a gentle crunch and a delicately sweet flavor. She makes them around the holidays using a recipe passed down to her from the generations of family cookie bakers that came before her – a simple recipe scratched onto a piece of paper that she has taped into a book of recipe gems (see below). 

An old handwritten recipe on a piece of paper.

I asked her if I could play with that recipe this year and come up with my own version of her excellent cookie and she eagerly obliged. Because I can’t help myself, I added flecks of dark chocolate to the cookies and I’m really pleased with how they turned out. In fact, I wish I had one right now, but alas… I’ve eaten them all!

Looking down on bowls of ingredients on a wooden table - chocolate chps, butter, sugar, oats, flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk - with a wooden spoon and kitchen towel.

What is a Scottish Oat Cookie?

If you google “Scottish Oat Cookie”, you’ll see many references to Scottish oatcakes, which is considered the national bread of Scotland. These Scottish oat cookies are not oatcakes, although they do bear some resemblance to the traditional oatcake. Oatcakes are a flat biscuit-like bread, made mostly of oats and eaten as a replacement for toast at breakfast or with some cheese at lunch or as a snack. These Scottish oat cookies are also flat and have a crisp texture, but instead of being a savory snack, they are sweetened with sugar (and in this version, chocolate) and definitely eaten as a sweet treat, alone or dunked in a cup of coffee. 

Looking down into a bowl of dry ingredients and butter with a bowl o chocolate chips and a measuring glass of buttermilk next to it.

Simple Ingredients

The nice thing about these Scottish oat cookies is that you can probably make them with what you have in your kitchen right now. All you need is sugar, oats, flour, butter, baking soda, salt, dark chocolate and a little buttermilk. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you could substitute yogurt or whole milk with a little lemon juice added.

Hands holding up a mixture of dry ingredients and flour, showing the consistency.

Cutting in the Butter

There’s not much to mixing these ingredients together and you could do it very quickly in a food processor, but I prefer to make these by hand. If you make them by hand, you’ll be hard pressed to over-mix the dough. Pinch the butter cubes into the dry ingredients until you get a mixture that looks like coarse crumbs or little pebbles. 

Looking down on Scottish oat cookie dough with a flour want and a rolling pin near by.

Don’t Over-think

Then, moisten with the buttermilk and add the chopped chocolate. Squeeze the ingredients together with your hands until it sticks together and forms a dough. It’s not hard or complicated. If you need to add a little more buttermilk to get the dough together, go for it. If it feels a little wet, add a few more oats or a little more flour. Don’t over-think it.

Scottish Oat Cookie dough rolled out thin on a silicone liner.

Roll out the Dough

Use a flour duster to gently flour your surface area and roll the dough out until it is ¼-inch thick. You don’t want to add an excess of flour, so the flour duster makes it easy to add just enough flour to prevent sticking. Your only goal here is to try to roll the dough out evenly.

Looking down on a table with a tray of unbaked cookies and scraps of dough where more cookies are being cut out.

Cut the Cookies

You can use a straight edge or fluted edge cookie cutter to cut these cookies into 3-inch rounds. Then, transfer them to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and pop them into the freezer for 15 minutes or so. Ensuring the cookies are cold as they go into the oven helps to keep them crispy and stops them from spreading. 

A baking tray lined with parchment and 15 cookies baked on it.

How Long to Bake

These Scottish oat cookies are very thin and bake at a relatively high temperature for cookies (400˚F), so the timing matters and a minute does make a difference. I like to bake them for 10 minutes, straight from the freezer. After they cool, they have a gentle crunch to them. If you prefer your cookies more crisp, give them another 2 minutes (no more). At 12 minutes, they start to brown more and have a very crisp texture when cool. I wouldn’t turn either version down!

A plate of Scottish oat cookies on a wooden table with a cup of coffee in the background.

How to Store

You won’t have to worry about this for long, but store the cookies in an airtight container on your countertop. Enjoy them after a meal or as an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee.  They are perfect dunking cookies. One more thing… don’t only make these in December, unless you limit your cookie intake to one month a year. They are an all-year favorite.

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

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How To Measure Ingredients Properly

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Scottish Dark Chocolate Oat Cookies

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 10 m
  • Total Time: 30 m
  • Servings:


  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter (1 cup)
  • cup Dark chocolate chips or chunks finely chopped
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons buttermilk


  1. Combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

  2. Cut the butter into small pieces and pinch it into the bowl of dry ingredients. You can use your fingers or pastry cutters to mix it into the ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add the chopped chocolate into the mix and stir to combine.

  3. Drizzle the buttermilk into the bowl and gather the mixture together with your hands until it forms a dough.

  4. Turn the dough out onto the countertop and flatten it into a disk. Lightly dust the counter with flour and roll the dough out until it is ¼-inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out the cookies. Transfer the cut out cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet. Gather up the dough scraps, re-roll it and cut out more cookies until all the dough has been used up.

  5. Place the cut out cookies into the freezer while you pre-heat the oven to 400˚F.

  6. Bake the cookies at 400˚F for 10 minutes. You can go a minute or two longer if you like the cookies very crispy, but keep your eyes on them.

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Comments (13)Post a Reply

  1. I don’t have a comment but I do have a question. I would really like to make these but my freezer isn’t large enough to hold a tray of cookies. Is there another option?

    1. Hi Michelle. If you can’t fit them in your freezer, chill them in the fridge for 30 minutes and then bake. Keep the second batch in the fridge while the first batch is baking.

  2. 5 stars
    I knew the minute I saw this recipe I wanted to try it and it did not disappoint! Incredible and highly addictive! Crisp and not too sweet just as described. A new fav that we will be making again! Thank you Meredith for all the wonderful recipes you share!

  3. 5 stars
    These cookies are wonderful — in fact, I have made them twice in the past month. As another person commented, these cookies are addictive (you have been forewarned!). I can imagine they would also be yummy without the chocolate, but the addition of little chocolatey bits in each bite makes them special without being overly sweet.

  4. Is there any possible sugar substitute I could use instead for my diabetic husband?
    Btw – I have purchased your pot/pan set and LOVE them!

    1. Hi Ginger. I’m not an expert with sugar substitutes and I’m afraid I don’t have the proper knowledge to advise you with regards to what is good for diabetics. You might do some research and look into stevia, monkfruit and date sugar as a start. So glad you’re happy with the cookware. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    I plan to make these soon, they look delicious! I’m wondering if the dough could be rolled, log style, refrigerated and then just cut? So much less working the dough and less time consuming in my opinion!

    1. Yes. It absolutely could be, but it can be a challenge to slice them thin enough that way. Sometimes the chilled oats and a small chocolate chunk can cause the slices to break as you slice them. You could give it a try and go back to the recipe technique if it doesn’t work for you.

    1. Rolled oat are oats that have been husked and rolled into flakes. Instant or quick oats are just rolled oats that have been cut into smaller pieces, so they cook faster. You could use instant oats, but it will change the texture of the cookies and they will be less chewy. It is recommended to use rolled oats for this recipe.

  6. Hi Meredith!
    Two questions please: 1) would thick-cut rolled oats affect the formula (and how would I adjust?) and, 2) once I cut the dough into 3” rounds ready for the oven, can the pre-oven rounds be frozen for later use rather than be immediately baked? I’d like to have “cookies on demand” but I’ve never frozen oats before like “normal” chocolate chip cookies. Thanks!

    1. Hi Adam. 1) the only thing that would change if you used thick-cut rolled oats is that it might be a little more challenging to cut the cookies into rounds. One way around that would be to buzz the thick cut oats in the food processor briefly before using them. For that matter, you could make the dough entirely in the food processor, buzzing the dry ingredients and then pulsing in the butter cubes until you have coarse crumbs and then pulsing in the buttermilk before rolling out. 2) Yes, you can freeze the rounds for baking later so you have your cookies on demand. Enjoy!

  7. Is there a substitute I could use instead of buttermilk. I have heavy whipping cream. But id rather not buy buttermilk becuz no one will drink the rest of it. And I will be left with nasty a** buttermilk leftover to waste.

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