Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies

4.70 from 10 votes
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Hermit cookies are a wonderfully old fashioned cookie and this easy homemade Hermit Cookie Recipe is spiced just right and packed with dried fruit and nuts. Truly the best ever.
old fashioned hermit cookies in a pile with a few crumbs

What Are Hermit Cookies Made of?

Hermit cookies are a soft, spiced cookie filled with raisins, currents or dates, and nuts.

Their subtle cinnamon and nutmeg flavors and chewy textures will have you reaching for a third, then maybe a fourth.

There is some diversity in recipes with which dried fruits are included.

Many have just raisins and nuts. Others I’ve seen have currants.

In my grandma’s kitchen, hermit cookies included raisins, dates and walnuts.

I love including dates, which have a deep, butterscotch flavour and add moisture to the cookie.

Are Hermit Cookies Healthy? 

Hermit cookies are in fact on the healthy side. With half the quantity of butter in a typical cookie recipe, they are lighter than most.

Plus, they’re jam packed with raisins, dates and walnuts, which are all good for you. 

As a dietitian, I would definitely put them on par with a granola bar in terms of healthiness as a snack option.

Creamed ingredients for hermit cookie dough.

Why Are They Called Hermit Cookies?

The speculation surrounding the name “Hermit Cookies” is that you can tuck them away and they last a really long time.

Perhaps this is why they gained popularity, because they kept well on long trips.

Adding raisins to cookie dough.

What do Hermit Cookies Taste Like?

Hermit cookies are warmly spiced, soft, filled with chewy textures and are utterly delicious.

But just because they are spiced, don’t compare them to a true spice cookie (which have heavier flavours of molasses, cloves and ginger).

The flavours here are subtle.

Hermits are sweetened with only brown sugar, which imparts an irresistible caramel taste.

Nuts and Dried Fruit being added to hermit cookie dough.

What is the History of Hermit Cookies?

Hermit cookies are a very old New England classic recipe, that travelled up the coast to become a beloved recipe on Canada’s East coast as well.

My classic hermit cookie recipe is inspired by my grandmother’s old cookbook from the early 1900s but the recipe itself surely predates that.

Hermit cookie dough in stand mixer.

How to Store Hermits

Keep Hermit Cookies in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Because they are made with brown sugar, they actually attract moisture for a couple of days after baking.

Keep them stored separately from any cookies that are meant to be crisp, as this tender cookie will soften other cookies around them.

Can you Freeze Hermit Cookies?

Hermit cookies freeze beautifully. You can freeze baked cookies flat on a baking sheet first (to prevent the moist cookies sticking together) then transfer to freezer bags to store up to 3 months.

Thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

You can alternatively freeze the unbaked dough.

This is the pro way I like to scoop and chill or freeze my cookie dough.

Here’s What You Need

Whipping up a batch of Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies is simple with the right ingredients, a few variations, and basic kitchen tools.

Hermit Cookie Ingredients

Every ingredient plays a key role:

  • Butter: Adds richness and helps in creating a tender texture.
  • Brown Sugar: Gives the cookies a deep, caramel-like sweetness. Choose dark brown sugar for the deepest, rich color.
  • Eggs: Bind the ingredients together and add moisture.
  • Vanilla Extract: Enhances the flavor profile of the cookies.
  • All-Purpose Flour: The base of the cookie dough, providing structure.
  • Baking Soda: Helps the cookies rise and become fluffy.
  • Salt: Balances the sweetness and enhances overall flavor.
  • Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg: These spices add warmth and depth.
  • Raisins: Introduce a chewy texture and natural sweetness.
  • Chopped Dates: Add a unique, fruity sweetness.
  • Coarsely Chopped Walnuts or Pecans: Provide a crunchy contrast to the chewy cookies.
Creaming butter and sugar.

Grab these Tools

A few basic tools will make the process easier:

  • Standing Mixer: Ideal for creaming butter and sugar and mixing the dough.
  • Baking Sheets: At least one cookie sheet is needed for baking the cookies. Be sure to let it cool between batches.
  • Parchment Paper: Prevents sticking and makes cleanup easier.
  • Wooden Spoon: Useful for mixing in the nuts and dried fruits.
  • Wire Racks: For cooling the cookies after baking.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: To measure ingredients accurately.

Now you’re all set to bake a batch of delicious Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies.

Variations and Substitutions

Customize your cookies:

  • Different Nuts: Try almonds or hazelnuts instead of walnuts or pecans.
  • Swap the Dried Fruit: Use dried cranberries or apricots instead of raisins or dates.
  • Spice it Up: Experiment with ginger or clove for a different spice profile.
Mixing dry ingredients for hermit cookies.

How to Make Hermit Cookies: An Easy Guide

These Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies bring a delightful mix of spices, fruits, and nuts in a wonderfully chewy package, making them perfect for any cookie lover.

Starting with the Basics

  • Preheat and Prep: Begin by heating your oven to 350 F and getting your baking sheets ready, lined with parchment for non-stick baking.
  • Creaming the Base: In your standing mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. This step is crucial for texture.

Incorporating the Flavors

  • Adding Wet Ingredients: Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla. This mixture should look pale and thick.
  • Dry Ingredients: Turn the mixer down and carefully mix in your flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. You want the flour mixture evenly combined.

Mixing in the Goodies

  • Fruits and Nuts: Gently stir in your raisins, dates, and chopped nuts, evenly distributing them through the dough.

Baking to Perfection

  • Shaping the Cookies: Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto your baking sheets, leaving space between each.
  • Bake: Let them bake for 10-12 minutes. The edges should be set but the centers still soft.

Finishing Touches

  • Cooling: Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack.
  • Serve and Enjoy: Once completely cool, these cookies are ready to be enjoyed!

Follow these steps, and you’ll have a batch of delicious, spice-infused Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies that are sure to be a hit with friends and family. Enjoy the baking and the eating!

Creaming butter and sugar for hermit cookies.

5 Most Common Mistakes When Making Hermit Cookies

Here are the most frequent mix-ups to avoid when making Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies:

  1. Overmixing the Dough: Mixing the dough too much can lead to tough cookies. Mix just until the ingredients are combined.
  2. Not Creaming Butter and Sugar Properly: This step is crucial for light and fluffy cookies. Make sure the mixture is pale and creamy.
  3. Overcrowding the Baking Sheet: Placing the cookies too close together can cause them to bake into each other. Leave enough space between each.
  4. Incorrect Oven Temperature: Baking at the wrong temperature can result in undercooked or burnt cookies. Always preheat your oven.
  5. Skipping the Cooling Process: Letting the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes helps them set properly. Don’t rush this step.


Just skimming through? Here are some quick answers to the commonly-asked questions about Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies:

Can I make these cookies without a standing mixer?
Yes, you can make these cookies with a hand mixer or by hand, though it might require a bit more effort to cream the butter and sugar.

Are these cookies supposed to be chewy or crunchy?
Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies are meant to be chewy, thanks to the brown sugar and the moist ingredients like eggs and butter.

Can I use different dried fruits instead of raisins and dates?
Absolutely, you can use dried cranberries, cherries, or apricots as a substitute for raisins and dates in these cookies.

What if I don’t have all the spices listed in the recipe?
While the combination of cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg is ideal, you can still make delicious cookies with just one or two of these spices.

How long will these cookies stay fresh?
Stored in an airtight container, cookie jar or tins, these Hermit Cookies can stay fresh for up to 10 days at room temperature.

Is it necessary to toast the nuts before adding them to the dough?
Toasting the nuts is optional, but it enhances their flavor and adds an extra layer of crunch to the cookies.

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4.70 from 10 votes

Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies

Truly the best and most soft Hermit cookies recipe. These were Grandma's most favourite cookies – a New England classic with warm spices, nuts and dried fruit. A true old fashioned classic.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes
Servings: 48


  • ½ cup butter room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • tsp allspice
  • tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
Save this recipe!
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  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a standing mixer on medium speed, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and beat until mixture is pale and thick – about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Incorporate raisins, dates and nuts (depending on your mixer, you may have to do this part by hand with a wooden spoon).
  • Drop cookies by tablespoonfuls onto a well-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart (you will have to do batches). Bake 10-12 minutes, until edges are set but centres still appear moist. Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.



PREP THE PANS: Because they haven’t got a lot of butter, it’s really important to prep your baking sheets or they will stick – parchment paper is ideal: easiest removal, practically no cleanup, no need for extra fat. Otherwise, just grease ’em well
HOW TO STORE: Keep Hermit Cookies in an airtight container (up to 10 days) or freeze on a flat surface then transfer to freezer bags to store up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
PRO TIP: Toast the nuts for a bit in the preheating oven for even more amazing flavour.


Calories: 87kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 68mg | Potassium: 66mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 71IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Terry Lovelace says:

    Can a plant based margarine be substituted for the butter. I am dairy protein allergic.

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Hi Terry, yes as long as it’s like a Becel or a vegan butter (some olive oil-based soft margarines or lower fat ones are not intended for baking).

  2. Marianne says:

    5 stars
    My brother used to make hermit cookies that were soooo good but 30ish yrs later he can’t find the recipe when i asked him for it. Found this one so thought I’d give it a shot. Omg sooo good. I don’t remember what his tasted like only that i loved them so have no comparison. Though I doubled the spices and added 1/4tsp of cloves (not sure if that little added anything to the cookies though) and instead of 1c raisins i did 1.5c dried cherries (what my brother used to use). Thank you so much for this recipe. My man and I can’t stop eating them!!

  3. Bruce crouser says:

    5 stars
    These kcookies are identical to my moms recipe, there are great tasting cookies,getting ready to make more o f them

    1. ANDREA PATERSON says:

      5 stars
      my Mom made these (her mother did as well). I grew up in the early 1940’s. One of my favorite things about Christmas. This recipe Mom used was the same as my grandmother did in the 1930;s or earlier. YUmmy

  4. Donna Thachuk says:

    Hi Jennifer. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! Hermits were my Mom’s favourite cookie and I found your recipe about a year ago and started making them for her. She said they were so good that I could sell them for $2.50 a piece 🙂 My Mom died earlier this year from covid and I am making these cookies for the celebration of life event we are having in honour of her. Thanks for playing a part in my memories of my Mom. x

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Donna, your message goes straight to my heart. Thanks so much for sharing with me. I’m sorry for the loss of your mom. Sending love.

  5. Cathie says:

    4 stars
    These are truly a very tasty cookie but I only got 30 cookies instead of 4 dozen. Guess I was over generous in the tbsp. size. I would also like to have
    the nutritional value included. Will definitely make again.

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Thank you Cathy! Google “recipe nutrition analysis” – there are free websites that analyze recipes that you simply copy/paste ingredients lists and number of servings. 🙂

  6. Flo says:

    5 stars
    Since I discovered this recipe a year ago, I’ve made these cookies every month or so. They are perfect as is, I just make sure that I use the brown eggs, and organic dark brown sugar. I’ve tried it with normal brown sugar and white eggs and they just don’t taste as good.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Thank you, Flo, it brings me so much joy that my grandma’s recipe is being enjoyed!

    2. Ornella Romano says:

      You do realize that there is absolutely no difference between white eggs and brown eggs. Brown come from brown chickens, white from white chickens. Once you crack them open they are identical in every way. Much like people

  7. Barbara Barr says:

    I baked mine for 11 minutes in my perfectly calibrated oven. They turned out quite pale. Not like your pic. I didn’t have the allspice. Any idea?

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Hi Barbara, I have two ovens and in my smaller one, things brown more because of the closer direct heat source as well as heat bouncing off of the closer oven walls. I also find less browning in gas vs. electric ovens. That quantity of allspice wouldn’t make much of a difference in the colour.

    2. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Hi Barbara, it was probably light brown sugar vs. dark brown sugar! Try dark brown sugar next time.

  8. Noel says:

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness, where has this cookie been all of my life?! Delicious. Don’t change a thing, perfect subtle flavor that embraces and compliments the dates, walnuts and raisins. Thank you so much….can’t promise these will make it to the Christmas cookie plates. Yum!

  9. Jill says:

    Changed nothing. They were perfect!

  10. john says:

    Added 1/4 cup flour,1/4 cup molasses, 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots, doubled cinnamin,added1/4 teaspoon ground cloves,added 2 tablespoons cider vinager…delicious cookie

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Great, John! Sounds delicious.

    2. Lesli Dodge says:

      4 stars
      Yes! These were too cake like and far too sweet. I like your molasses idea, and I’ll use 1/2 the sugar. Spices are nice though. I will do this again, just a little adapted. Isn’t that what baking is all about?

      1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

        They are meant to be quite cakey, more like a soft muffin top than a chocolate chip cookie. Cutting back the sugar also makes them cakier (as the sugar increases spread). Maybe cut down on the dried fruit in them to make them less sweet.

    3. Dinorah Bommarito Pantano says:

      John, Can you explain the cider vinegar addition to the cookie? How does it change the flavor or chemistry of the bake? Thanks!