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Crunchies — Traditional South African Oatmeal Cookie Bars

The Recipe that Orna made Famous!

3/26/20 Brand NEW  How To Make Crunchies video on YouTube >>

PLUS my updated recipe below with easy steps and healthy options.

This is my most searched and requested recipe. It’s been pinned and shared over 70,000 times!

Crunchies - Traditional South African Oatmeal Cookie Bars. samp26.sg-host.com

Crunchies were my favorite “biscuit”—the South African term for cookies. They are to South Africa what Chocolate Chip Cookies are to America. Think chewy oatmeal cookie meets crunchy granola bar and they fall in love.

These toasted-oat-and-coconut squares of goodness are so easy and fun to make (see vid above!) and perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. Pop in your kid’s lunch box or grab for breakfast on the go.

They’re very similar to Anzac cookies but baked as a bar. Try them for Anzac Day!

You might recall (hopefully without any animosity) that I was advised to take my recipe down a few years ago because I was looking into manufacturing them. I’m truly sorry if it inconvenienced any of you. (I hope this makes it up to you ?)

The traditional way of making them is with Lyle’s Golden Syrup—or they’re also delish with honey. The new and improved plastic bottle—which I find wayyyy more convenient is available on Amazon >>

Try my amazing Gingersnaps or “Ginger Biscuits”  as we used to call them in SA with the leftover golden syrup >>

plastic bottle and tin lyle's golden syrup

I like using Bob’s Red Mill unsweetened shredded coconut (aka desiccated coconut) which is also available on Amazon >>

Shredded desiccated coconut

I hope you like my video. Please share it with all your friends and family!!! And tag me if you make them!

And pretty please give me credit and link back to my site if you share my recipe on your blog or website.

Stay tuned for a fun promo/Crunchies giveaway. Make sure to sign up for my newsletters and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube so you don’t miss anything.

xoxo

Crunchies – Traditional South African Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Orna
Crunchy, chewy, toasted-oat-and-coconut squares of goodness
Makes about 48 2-inch bars or 56 smaller bars
4.67 from 3 votes
Servings 56 bars

Equipment

  • Two half sheet pans (16.5 x 11 inches) (one for cookies, one to protect the bottoms)
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling Pin (optional)
  • Serrated knife (recommended Victorinox Steak Knife
  • Food Grade Gloves
  • Flexible spatula
  • Digital Kitchen Scale

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter or margarine or coconut oil (I use Kerrygold butter for the superior grass-fed flavor)
  • 3 tablespoons (60g) Lyle’s Golden Syrup or honey https://amzn.to/2QBgsrN
  • 4 cups (326g) regular oats (not quick cooking)
  • 3 cups (256g) unsweetened shredded coconut (dessicated coconut)  (recommended Bob’s Red Mill:  https://amzn.to/2UbE2NS) Reduce coconut to 2 ½ cups if using lots of mix-ins.
  • 1 ¼ cups (150g) all-purpose flour (bleached) or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 ¼ cups (242g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (aka bicarbonate of soda)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup (61g) milk or almond milk or oat milk
  • ¾ cup (75g) sunflower seeds, raw or toasted (optional) see additional mix-ins below

Instructions
 

  • Set the oven rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (160 C) convection (preferably) or standard.
  • Spray one half sheet pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper with a one-inch overhang all around.
  • Place butter and syrup or honey in a small, microwave safe bowl and microwave about one minute until just melted. Set aside to cool for five minutes.
  • Mix all dry ingredients (except for seeds and other mix-ins) in a large bowl until very well combined. (I used food grade gloves and get in there with my hands!)
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk and cooled butter mixture and mix very well.
  • Mix in sunflower seeds or other optional mix-ins. Make sure to incorporate all the dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl.
  • Spread out on the prepared baking sheet. Even out and flatten slightly by hand and then flatten/compact well with a rolling pin or flexible spatula so the cookies won’t flake/break apart. Push down any edges that come up with your fingers or the spatula.
  • Place in preheated oven and set a timer for 30 minutes and a second timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes carefully rotate the pan and set it on a second baking sheet; cover loosely with foil.
  • When the first timer goes off (after 25 - 30 minutes) turn the oven down to 300 degrees F and bake an additional 5 - 10 minutes depending on how chewy or crunchy you like them. If they already look golden brown keep the foil on; if they need to brown a bit more remove the foil, but watch very carefully so the tops don’t get overdone.
  • NOTE: They will bake more quickly on convection bake setting so they might be done after 25 - 30 minutes total. They will harden as they cool.
  • Remove from the oven and set on a wire cooling rack for 30 – 40 minutes. (I used to cut them after 10 – 15 minutes but I find it easier to cut them when cool.) Cut into 2-inch squares (you will have 6 x 8 rows with one skinny row of tasters) with a sharp, serrated knife–preferably with a round tip. If they’re difficult to cut, pop them in the freezer for 10 - 20 minutes.
  • If the middle bars are too chewy, put them back on the baking sheet and return to the warm, turned off oven for about twenty minutes.
  • Cool completely and store in an airtight container for one week. Or freeze for three months.

Notes

 
Dairy Free Version:
Substitute coconut oil or margarine (if you must) for the butter and use almond milk or oat milk.
 
Optional additional healthy superfood mix-ins (reduce coconut to 2 ½ cups if using lots of mix-ins):
1 – 2 tablespoons white chia seeds
1 – 2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 – 2 tablespoons white quinoa seeds
1 – 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
½ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
½ cup cashew pieces or slivered almonds
 
 
Deliciously Decadent Version:
Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with milk chocolate chips or white chocolate chips and spread evenly with an off-set spatula. Allow to cool and refrigerate until set before cutting into smaller bars.
 
Adapted from “Kook en Geniet” by S.J.A. de Villiers

Fill an Oxo Cookie Jar with fresh Crunchies for a hostess gift.

Crunchies in Cookie Jar 

If you like this recipe you might also like these!

140 Responses

  1. Dear Orna
    I live in Israel and sometimes yearning for home tastes, I am always experimenting with how to make the perfect melktert, rusks, boolkes and crunchies. Sometimes my crunchies come out too dry and sometimes too hard. If I don’t have golden syrup, I use Silan, which is a date honey, and is the perfect substitute. I have found that adding 1 egg helps to make them not too hard and fragile. Thank you so much for your site and recipes.
    thanks for your site,
    Isme

    1. Hi Isme,
      Thank you so much for your feedback. I’d love to try your crunchies version with the egg – please email it to me. And the next South African recipe on my list was melktert – my absolute fav! Would love to see your recipe!
      Where about in Israel are you? I have a lot of family there.
      Please stay in touch.
      All the best,
      Orna

      1. Dear Orna, will you please mail me your Original Chrunchy Recipy to arinagrobler@gmail.com. It is not available on your site and I have been looking for a good recipy for ages. Will realy appreciate it!

        1. Hi Arina,
          I’m sorry you’re having trouble finding a good Crunchie recipe. I’m afraid I am not able to give out my recipe at this time but I’m planning on releasing it in a few months so stay tuned. Warm regards, Orna

        1. So you should come and see Eilat, developed and expanded much. I wll try your recipe on Friday. I have one without the milk and it is great too, but yours sounds like the one my mom used to bake for me to bring back to Israel every visit down South, 🙂

      1. Please send me your Golden syrup recipe. Ek is nou in Knoville TN maar het in SA grootgeword. Was laasjaar in Israel. Baie life vir Jerusalem.

  2. These “crunchies” are deserving of another name. Something like “THE best cookie/bar/biscuit EVER that complements a cup of coffee like no other treat in the world!”

    I love them because they are unique – yet vaguely familiar (hints of an oatmeal cookie but sooo much better). I CRAVE them. They are incredibly tasty and super satisfying. I wish I had one right now! Everyone should try this recipe at least once. My guess is that most people will LOVE it. If you don’t . . . just forward them to me. I will eat them and maybe share with the rest of the crowds that are always trying to steal my crunchies!!!!!

    YAY ORNA for bringing this awesome South African Recipe to my world!

  3. Hi Orna , after trying many oatmeal cookies and energy bars recipes I tried your crunchies recipe and it is absolutely perfect!! I was making them for my mother and sister and as there were no boys at home I made a quarter of the amount in the recipe , thinking it would be too much. They were so good I ended up making them twice only for the three of us and by the evening it was all gone. Thank you so much for this great recipe!!

  4. Orna, you are terrific. I had a cup of flour and lots of oats to use up before Passover. So I just made these crunchies. They are so fabulous – they even passed the test of sharing them with a South African neighbour who is a wonderful baker. I made them with buckwheat honey because that’s what I had. Worked out the calories, too. Recipe made 60 small ones, 90 calories each. Yummy. Thanks for your terrific blog.

  5. It is pouring with rain here in Sydney, and the weather is starting to turn chilly with Winter on its way. What can possibly be a better activity than baking! I am just about to put my batch in the oven and the family of teenaged boys cannot wait to taste them! A real call from the home country. Thank you!

  6. Hi Orna
    Thanks for the great recipe. I have just made a batch but I didn’t have any butter in the house and I don’t use margarine so I substituted oil instead – I used 180ml sunflower oil instead of the cup of butter (I googled the conversion.) I was a bit worried but they turned out just fine. The kids have already eaten half the pan and say they are delicious (they don’t know I changed the recipe…) Thanks again from a cloudy and cool Somerset West, SA!

  7. Hi Orna! I want to try these! How many weight watch points plus are these, please? Thanks!!! : )

  8. As a mom, I am always running around, driving and in need of quick, healthy (or healthy-ish) snacks. Thank you for this list! I have never tried one item here but I already can’t wait to go buy some of these! I’m excited to try something new.

  9. It’s a freezing cold day in Hobart, snow on the mountain and I am missing my Mom and Dad terribly, think I might just give this recipe a go – hopefully it will not only warm up the kitchen, but take me a little closer to them back in Cape Town. Will let you know how it goes. 🙂

    1. Hi Heather, I really hope you made the Crunchies and they gave you that warm taste of home! We are going to Cape Town in November – SO excited, I haven’t been back home in over TEN years! Please let me know how you liked them! 🙂 Orna

  10. I am so glad I found your recipe! It’s almost exactly how my mom made them (and she can’t remember the recipe). I’m telling you, Lyles Golden Syrup is THE secret ingredient. Doesn’t taste the same without. I didn’t have any I hand so made some with honey as want some crunchies NOW but am saving recipe for later and will try a few more of yours.

    1. Hi Shayne, I agree that Lyle’s Golden Syrup give them that special taste that we know and love! Let me know how the next batch turn out! Where are you located? Best, Orna

      1. This first batch came out delicious. Going to buy the “proper” syrup tomorrow though 😉 I’m in Port Elizabeth (SA)

  11. Just made a batch of crunchies , they look and taste amazing, I even added sesame seeds for some omega 3, but they are too chewy 🙁 . I did turn down the temp but was worried the bottom was burning so took them out at 36mins. How do I sort it out ? We like crispy in this house.

    1. Hi Dina, I’m not sure if the sesame seeds added to the chewiness, so maybe next time try one batch with and one batch without. I would put them on another baking sheet and bake a little longer, covered with foil after 15 min. BTW – do you have an oven thermometer? It helps to know if your oven is accurate. Mine are sometimes a little chewier in the middle (which I like), but I’m going to increase the bake time on the recipe to 25 – 35 minutes for those of you who like their crunch! Thank you for your input. Please let me know how the next batch turns out!

  12. Hi, just wondering what the oz. measurements mean, ie “4 Cups (11 1/2 oz), 3 Cups (9 oz), etc.

    It would be helpful to know how to adjust the sugar amount if we use sweetened coconut flakes.

    Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    1. The oz (ounces) measurements are for those who like to bake by weight – which is the most accurate method. But if you don’t have a scale, the recipe works perfectly if you just use a dry cup measure for the dry ingredients. I’ve never used sweetened coconut flakes, but you could try cutting the sugar in half and see how they turn out! Let me know…

  13. Thanks Orna.
    Great recipe!
    Was a little home sick for Africa today. My little 2 yr old girl loves oatmeal and cinnamon so here’s hoping she likes these too. Just waiting for them to cool a little 🙂

    1. I hope they gave you a taste of home and that your little one loved them! Soon she’ll be able to help you make them. 🙂

  14. Yum! My South African cousins shared a pic of these the other day on Facebook and I immediately wanted to try them. They lived up to their delicious look by being totally scrumptious. All the family loved them and they worked well with gluten free flour so my wheat intolerant child could join in with the treat.

    One tip is to do step 4 before step 3 so the cooling can happen automatically instead of having to wait a while…

    Now I’m off to see what other tasty recipes you have here…

    1. Helen, I’m so happy you and the family liked them! And good to know about the gluten free flour. Please do let me know what else you make!

  15. I made these on the spur of the moment (couldn’t wait for my mom to text me her recipe so Googled ‘crunchies’ and found your page) – I didn’t have any shredded coconut in the house; left it out and the crunchies still taste really, really good. Thank you for posting the recipe.

  16. I have been searching for a good crunchy recipe since I had samples at a little cafe at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, where I live. When I found your recipe I was really excited and tried it out this passed weekend. I added cashew nuts since its just something I always imagined to be in crunchies for some reason. The result was fabulous! Better than at the cafe I went to and I was seriously considering buying a batch from them! Now I can make my own and its great. The flavour is perfect and is wonderful to enjoy with a cup of coffee.

  17. I was about 10 when I moved to the states and could never get over the stuff I grew up on in South Africa. I just found your blog and cant wait to try some of ur stuff. Hopefully it will satisfy my South African cravings.

  18. I’m a South African living in Germany and I remember eating crunchies as a child.I baked these today and they tasted just like the ones I remember eating back in SA.Thx for sharing your recipe.

  19. So good! I grew up in South Africa and haven’t been back for 10 years. This took me straight back home!
    I couldn’t find unsweetened coconut in the stores here in suburban Chicago, so I used sweetened coconut and cut the sugar added in half. It’s so perfect! The Lyle’s syrup makes it, I almost cried when I saw it in the International Aisle at the grocery store.
    Listen, I’m not a cook at all. But I work in a laboratory and I can follow a scientific protocol. You wrote that recipe so detailed, just like a lab procedure. I actually made something good for once, it looks just like your photos and I went into the kitchen to find my husband scarfing down crunchies before they were even cooled. And he doesn’t even like coconut!
    Thank you! You’re awesome!

  20. Hi Orna

    I have hardly ever baked in my life but have recently found out that I am Gluten intolerant and ,remembering crunchies from my South African childhood thought that I might try (in order to replace the tons of bought biscuits I was prone to consume before the Gluten intolerance).

    My question to you Orna(or any reader here)is can I substitute maize flour (called Maizena here in S.Africa) for the conventional wheat flour and would I use the same quantity if this was possible ???

    Any help welcome
    Dave

    1. Hi Dave, I’m afraid I don’t have any experience with gluten free baking, so I can’t give you an informed answer. My first instinct would be to say no. Let me know if you try it, or find a better answer. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. 🙁

  21. Hi Orna,
    Just wanted to say dankie skattie, your crunchie recipe is a winner! I made a big batch over the weekend for a braai and it was a hit with Saffas and non-Saffas alike. The minute I bit into the warm goodness fresh from the oven I was transported back to childhood. 🙂 They were exactly as I remembered! Thank you for the photos of the process as well, its always nice to know what you’re in for when you start a recipe, though this one is pretty simple, which I love.

    1. Hi Serena,

      Loved your comment and I hope you don’t mind I posted it on my OrnaBakes Facebook page! And then I looked up your name to see if I could tag you – are you friendly with Aubrey Loots? He used to be my hairdresser! Let me know if that’s you! Nice website BTW 😉 Thanks for taking the time to write in… Best, Orna

      1. Well that certainly is flattering! You are more than welcome to post my comment on Facebook, the world needs to hear about these transcendent Crunchies, haha! I will definitely do my bit 🙂 Please do tag me, it would tickle me pink if you could mention Gourmonde as well, its my passion project, featuring modern design from fellow South Africans.

        It IS a small world indeed, I can’t believe you know Aubrey! Yes that’s me, my aunt and uncle met Aubs in South Africa just before they left for the US, he was 20 at the time I think. When he moved they all became good friends, I see him often! And of course I go to his Hair Art and Science Academy for my locks too. We are all so proud of how well he is doing, how did you meet him?

  22. Hi, I just wanted to add my bit. I was fortunate enough to grow up with these delicacies. I have just tried this recipe with Lyles Butterscotch syrup. It’s just as nice and slightly different.

  23. Hi Orna

    As an expat living in Canada, ” ‘n boer ma’am ‘n plan!” I use maple syrup instead of Lyle’s or Golden syrup even though I can get those here. I also reduce the sugar to .75 cup and I add 1tsp ground ginger. Makes a delicious crunchy. I’ve also made your version without changes (others Han reducing the sugar to 1c) and it’s just a no fail recipe! Thanks.

    Sharon

  24. Hey there!! Thank you so much for the recipe! I am watching my weight these days and really love krunchies. I was wondering if you know the number of calories in one 100g krunchie? bar

  25. Thanx for receipe.How would I adjust a receipe if I want to use the crumbs (I have a LOT:20 cups) in a muesli rusk receipe and your receipe-adjusting the sugar etc?

  26. I had to substitute the coconut for shredded almonds but it was soooo good. I even broke some of them up and mixed with nuts and raisins to make my own muesli! All in all the most basic yet delicious recipe I have ever used! Thank you so much!

  27. Dear Orna,
    As a frequent SA visitor and cookie lover 😉 I’d love to make your crunchies. Could you please translate this recipe to European weighing standards? Like in grams? I’m struggeling to get the right balance in my ingredients. But we don’t work with cups and ounces in Holland. I hope you could help me out!
    Thanks in advance!
    Anouk

  28. Hi Orna

    I made thes yesterday and they were great, however very crumbling. I did use quick cooking oats (that was all that I had in my pantry) – is that why it was so crumbly?

    1. Hi Ukesha, you should use regular oats – the quick cooking ones don’t hold up as well – plus they don’t have the same nutritious value 😉 Let me know how they turn out next time.

  29. I’m so disappointed!!! This was my favorite crunchie recipe and now it’s gone. My family and colleagues are equally upset!

  30. Please repost the old recipe for crunchies, its most frustrating for those of us who have memory problems!!

  31. I cant find the actual recipe. South African living in the States just found some south African syrup. Help? Where do I see the recipe?

  32. Hi Orna,
    Oh yes Crunchies are my favorite. South African staying in Harare. Please hurry with the Recipe , I’m all for the sweet but Healthy!

  33. Hi Orna, I visit your site from Pinterest. Glad you are working on a healthier version of the crunchies, but can you still keep the other recipe up? I use Pinterest as my recipe book. My four children love your prior crunchies recipe and so do I. I’m sure the new one will be just as good. I can buy Lyles golden syrup here in Dallas at our local Krogers and in Florida at Publix. It’s pretty common in the States now in the Int’l sections. I just want to make crunchies, please put the recipe up for our use, thank you. ~ Ros.

  34. So I looked and cannot find the recipe. I hate this, being forced to jump through your hoops of advertising. Forget it. I don’t want the recipe that badly. This feels like a really cheesey thing to do. More and more the advertising on the net is ruining what used to be fun.

    1. Hi Cam, I’m sorry you feel that advertising on blogs is cheesy. I’m afraid it’s the only way to make back some of the $$ we spend when giving out tons of information for free. And also, in regards to my Crunchies recipe. I have a possible opportunity to manufacture them, so it doesn’t make sense for me to leave the recipe out there anymore. Thanks so much for understanding and happy holidays to you. Warmest regards, Orna

  35. Hi Orna

    I am so glad I am came across your website when I was looking for a good old South Africa version of crunchies

    I made it plent of times and my hubby simply loved it so did many others. However I was using the old version you had on this website and I don’t see it anymore would you be so kind to email it to me if possible because I bookmarked your website on my phone and I would refer to the recipe on the your website to make the crunchies I did not learn if of by heart. please if possible could you email it to me to shanza123@gmail.com

    Hope to hear from you soon

    Thanks

    Xxxx

    Shanza

    1. Hi Shanza,

      Thank you for you sweet and kind way of asking for the recipe. Unfortunately I am not able to give it out at this time because I may have an opportunity to manufacture them. But I know there are other versions out there that I’m sure are quite delicious. My very best to you. – Orna

  36. More Orna

    Dankie vir die resep ek is nie n bakster nie, maar probeer gereeld nuwe resepte, maar ek kan nie die crunchies se metode vind nie.

  37. Hello Orna, are you still working on the new recipe?
    I had checked a while ago and was expecting to see the new recipe up by now? Just checking tho. Please let me know. Thank you .

  38. Good morning. I love cooking and baking and it is a wonderful stress reliever when I’m busy in the kitchen. I would love to have your oatmeal crunchie recipe.
    Love and light

  39. Recipe instructions for your Traditional South African Oatmeal Cookie Bars.
    I have the ingredients, but need instructions on adding ingredients and baking degrees and
    Baking time.
    Thanks
    Jen
    P.s. they sound delicious! I am baking them for a Women’s Club program about South Africa.

  40. These are delicious! I used the sweet, shredded coconut available here in the US and added a dash of vanilla. Next time, I’ll reduce the brown sugar and butter by 25%. The flavor is to die for, seriously. Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Just a little too buttery and moist. I’m sure that’s due to the added sugar and moisture in my coconut. Very forgiving. I took it out after 25 minutes and it was very wet inside. I moved it to a 9×13 inch pan, spread it out to fill and back in oven for 10 minutes. Then cooled on a sheet pan. They are irresistibly good. Even after all that! Thank you for sharing!

    1. 1 cup (227g) of unsalted butter – if you look at the recipe at the bottom of the post it lists all ingredients and amounts. But yes – I forgot to mention the amount in the YouTube video (oops). Hope that helps!

  41. Thank you for sharing your recipe! I haven’t had Crunchies in years!! Unfortunately they didn’t turn out crunchy at all, except for the edges. More like a chewy texture. Can I rescue these by putting them back in the oven like rusks? Any advice would be very welcome. Thank you!

    1. Yes! You can definitely rescue them! You can cut them up and then put back in a low oven for 10 – 20 minutes – just try one to test if it’s ready! Did you use the right baking pan – if they were thicker that’s why they might be more chewy so it just needs to bake longer. Let me know how they turn out.

  42. 4 stars
    I really liked your video – haven’t tried the recipe yet, because I have gone through a plethora of those ….. and have tweaked my crunchies to where I want them. 🙂

    Some critique: I noticed you used a glove when mixing – before the mixture went into a hot oven….however, you then used bare hands to touch the cooked crunchies before serving later….?

    Anyhow, I thought you did a nice job with your presentation. 🙂

    1. Hi Anne, sorry I must have missed this comment. Thank you for the compliment. I use the glove when mixing the ingredients because it’s easier for me than getting all that goop off my hands. Don’t worry – my hands are always washed before touching ingredients or plating and serving anything. 😊

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