Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies

Last Updated on October 24, 2022 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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

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.

adding dates and raisins to the 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.

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.

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.

mixing butter and brown sugar

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.

Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Servings 48
Dessert
American

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

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.

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hermit cookies stacked up
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john
john
2 years ago

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

Lesli Dodge
Lesli Dodge
1 year ago
Reply to  john

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?

Dinorah Bommarito Pantano
Dinorah Bommarito Pantano
1 year ago
Reply to  john

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

Jill
Jill
1 year ago

Changed nothing. They were perfect!

Noel
Noel
1 year ago

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!

Barbara Barr
Barbara Barr
1 year ago

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?

Flo
Flo
1 year ago

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!

Cathie
Cathie
1 year ago

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.

Donna Thachuk
Donna Thachuk
1 year ago

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

Bruce crouser
Bruce crouser
1 year ago

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

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruce crouser
ANDREA PATERSON
ANDREA PATERSON
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce crouser

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

Marianne
Marianne
11 months ago

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!!

Terry Lovelace
Terry Lovelace
10 months ago

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

Stephen
Stephen
10 months ago

4 stars
Thanks Jennifer, I tried the recipe and thought it was a great base recipe! My Mom was an excellent baker who baked for several stores. Not because she needed to but because she was good at it and loved it. Everything she baked was sold out the day she brought them and on back order! Sadly all her recipes were lost when she passed.
Many years later I still miss her recipes. Your recipe reminded me of her.. After sample testing yours I added oats for chewiness, more walnuts and doubled the spices. I think it enhanced an already good recipe? Next time I will add molasses and my guess is that we’ll be heading into cookie nirvana?

Carole MacIntyre
Carole MacIntyre
1 month ago

Hi Jennifer, I am 82 and I remember baking these when I was about 8 years old! I loved baking and my Mom let me bake whatever I wanted. I made Hermit Cookies and I put in hazel nuts ( maybe those were the only nuts we had at the time?). Being so young I mixed the nuts in with the dough and broke the Mix Master beaters! I felt so bad but Mom never said a word except she reminded me to mix in nuts in at the last by hand. I loved those cookies! My Granddaughter is coming for a visit tomorrow and I am going to make them. She too loves to bake!

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