Just because you're cutting back on refined sugars and processed carbs doesn't mean you can't indulge in the sweetest treat of all (we're referring to cookies, of course). And you don't have to break a balanced diet and lifestyle routine either.
To help you narrow down the research so you can head straight to the kitchen, we rounded up our 15 favorite healthy cookie recipes to try. There's something for everyone, whether you want to make cookies that are filling enough to eat for breakfast (look for a combo of whole grains, protein, and fiber), as an energizing snack, or if you're just looking for a few options that call for alternatives to butter, white all-purpose flour, and other common baking ingredients.
Read on for classic favorites to seasonally appropriate healthy cookie recipes to enjoy with friends and family. We promise that even the pickiest eaters (kids included) will come back for seconds.
No-Bake Salted Peanut Butter Cookies
To make these protein-rich peanut butter cookies from Hummingbird High, skip the oven in favor of shaping and patting dough with your hands. Just combine peanut butter, almonds, dates, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and sprinkle with sea salt.
Pro Tip: You will need a food processor to pulse the ingredients. It's also important to use raw almonds instead of blanched almonds. "Blanched almonds won’t have as much moisture as raw ones, and that moisture is essential for holding the cookies together," explains Hummingbird High.
Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
Although these cookies are sweetened with maple syrup, Love & Lemons's breakfast cookie recipe includes fiber-rich oats and protein-rich almond butter, which makes for a quick and filling morning meal. This recipe is also vegan and gluten-free.
Pro Tip: Mix things up on the spices front—"Cardamom and nutmeg are delicious in addition to the cinnamon," suggests Love & Lemons.
Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies
Kristine's Kitchen's got a breakfast cookie recipe that's "thick, soft, and full of fresh carrot and apple." And if not for breakfast, they'd make a great snack, she writes. To make, you'll need oats, flour, flaxseed, applesauce, grated carrot and apple, and spices.
Pro Tip: "Use your fingers to gently shape the cookies and flatten slightly, as they won't flatten on their own during baking," Kristine's Kitchen advises.
One-Bowl Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies
This easy breakfast cookie recipe from Real Food Whole Life requires ingredients you likely have in your pantry, especially if you're a regular baker: Rolled oats, banana, chocolate chips, vanilla extract and almond butter. You'll also need oat flour, ground flax seed, and maple syrup or honey.
Pro Tip: Replace coconut oil for almond butter to go nut-free, and use dried fruit in place of chocolate chips to eliminate refined, added sugar.
Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies
There's a lot going on here in Foodie Crush's cookie recipe, but that's a good thing. Cranberries add tang, white chocolate chips offer sweetness, creamy macadamia nuts add crunch, and oats keep it all together.
Pro Tip: Bake till edges are golden brown, and let cool completely.
Mint Chocolate Cookies
You'd probably never guess that these mint chocolate cookies from Food Faith Fitness don't contain butter, though it's true, thanks to creamy avocado. While they're gluten- and flour-free, they do call for plenty of sugar. The dark chocolate truffle center makes these cookies a sweet snack or dessert.
Pro Tip: "The dough is sticky, but try to roll them into balls as much as possible. I find it helps to wash your hands off every few cookies, or keep your hands damp while rolling," recommends Food Faith Fitness.
White and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bonbons
These white and dark chocolate peanut butter cookie dough bites from The First Mess don't require any baking at all. Smothered in a decadent raw cacao sauce and sprinkled with chopped peanuts for a contrasting crunch, these protein-packed treats are a serious game-changer.
Pro Tip: To put it in The First Messes words, garnish with chopped peanuts or crushed pretzels to "take them into the effin stratosphere."
Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Seasonally appropriate and full of comfort, these vegan pumpkin spice sugar cookies from Minimalist Baker are the ideal dessert to nom on during fall or when you crave something warm and comforting. They're fluffy with a light crisp around the edges.
Pro Tip: The recipe also provides directions for a few healthier ingredients swaps, like whole wheat flour and pumpkin butter instead of puree, which allow you to ditch some extra added sugar.
Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
These photogenic, melt-in-your-mouth matcha cookies from Salt & Wind can be as decadent or healthy as you want them to be. You could use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose white flour, and opt for coconut oil instead of butter. Either way, you'll get the signature matcha flavor.
Pro Tip: "When you're scoring the dough, do not cut all the way through," recommends Salt & Wind.
This Paleo gingersnap cookie recipe from Food Faith Fitness will satisfy your cravings and your dietary needs. The batter is made with almond flour, coconut oil, dried apples, egg whites, and just a touch of ground ginger, cinnamon, and molasses.
Pro Tip: For a less sugary treat, skip the caramel drizzled on top.
This flavorful cookie recipe from The First Mess is both gluten-free and vegan-friendly. With a batter that calls for flax seeds, oats, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries, and dark chocolate chips, it's sort of what we'd expect if our gourmet trail mix got a serious makeover.
Pro Tip: "Whatever GF flour blend you use, make sure it has potato or some other type of starch in it to hold things together," writes The First Mess.
Pumpkin Protein Balls
Full of energizing ingredients like protein, fiber, and vitamin A, these no-bake, pumpkin pie–inspired bites from Root + Revel are a satiating way to start your day. They're made of raw pecans, almond butter, flaxseed, oats, and Medjool dates, maple syrup, and canned pumpkin for sweetness.
Pro Tip: Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Spicy Molasses Crinkle Cookies
These cookies by Hola Jalapeño are as chewy as they are sweet and spicy. With a kick of ground arbol chili powder, these gingersnap cookies offer a surprising flavor profile.
Pro Tip: As an option, sprinkle with vanilla salt.
Granola Clusters Cookies
Quinoa, coconut, and almonds serve as a base for Brown Sugar & Vanilla's granola clusters cookies; while aquafaba (water from a can of legumes, like garbanzo beans) provides the starch to keep the ingredients together.
Pro Tip: "If using homemade granola without nuts, follow the recipe as is. If using homemade granola with nuts, eliminate the almonds and add an extra cup of granola," recommends Brown Sugar & Vanilla.
Spiced Brandy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
A half-cup of brandy or rum adds another layer of flavor to The Chunky Chef's oatmeal raisin cookies. To make them, make sure you also have all purpose flour, brown sugar, butter, shortening, vanilla extract, and warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg on hand; as well as raisins and nuts.
Pro Tip: "For best results," writes The Chunky Chef, "Chill the dough as indicated in the recipe."