Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies

Hermit cookies are a wonderfully old fashioned cookie and this easy 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 is a Hermit Cookie?

Hermit cookies. They were my Grandma’s most favourite cookies – a New England classic that travelled up the the coast to infiltrate its Canadian neighbours.

The speculation surrounding the name “Hermit Cookies” is that you can tuck them away and they last a really long time. They also freeze beautifully, as uncooked dough balls that you can bake from frozen, or already baked.

While the Canadian version features dates, its American counterpart is just raisins and nuts.

Add the dates, Americans! They’re so luscious and chewy and sticky-sweet; a perfect addition to these lightly spiced gems.

The cookies are sweetened with just brown sugar – imparting an irresistible caramel-ly flavour and chewy texture that will have you reaching for a third, then maybe a fourth… which is not as terrible as you might think, because they’re actually lighter than most cookies.

“Lighter” with air bunnies around it, that is – they’re still cookies, they won’t do sit-ups for you – but they do have 1/2 the amount of butter that many other types do…

They’re jam packed with raisins, dates and walnuts, and scented with warm spices – but these are no spice cookie; the flavours are subtle.

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. If you like to bake, I really recommend you keep parchment paper on hand. Otherwise, just grease ’em well!

The recipe is adapted from my grandma’s Purity cookbook – it’s a treasure, filled with old fashioned Canadian classics.

Easy Old Fashioned Hermit Cookies

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

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 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. 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.
  • Store 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.

Notes

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

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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
11 months 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
5 months 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
11 months 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
11 months 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
5 months 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
3 months 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 3 months ago by Bruce crouser
ANDREA PATERSON
ANDREA PATERSON
2 months 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
1 month 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!!

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