ANZAC Biscuits with Dried Cranberry


Have you ever heard of ANZAC biscuits? Many of you might be put off by the above unequally shaped, unattractive cookies, but in reality these are one of the most delicious and addictive sweet snacks I know. Until now I have been preparing only their standard version and I wish I had thought of cranberries earlier because I liked them this way even more.

ANZAC stands for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”, created during the World War I and these biscuits were created at the same time by women desperate to send nutritious home-made food to their husbands, sons and boyfriends. According to this website, faced with at least two months’ transportation time, a group of women worked out a recipe based on rather healthy Scottish rolled oats biscuits and added only those ingredients which ensured long preservation. There are several theories on why eggs are not used, but their absence certainly makes biscuits last longer.

The first time I baked these biscuits (see the recipe here), I was inspired and encouraged by Mr. Three-Cookies, the cookie and biscuit specialist from Three-Cookies blog, where I found the recipe (actually at Easily Good Eats by the same author). Before tasting ANZAC biscuits for the first time I expected ordinary, but good crunchy biscuits, with a healthy twist, i.e. oats. What I obtained was well beyond my hopes: slightly crunchy, slightly chewy, addictive sweet snacks with a very pleasant  buttery taste, enhanced by baked nutty oats. In short, the mixture of such simple ingredients has created a complex, surprising result I am still fond of, after dozens of batches.

ANZAC biscuits have always been so satisfactory, I haven’t even bothered to modify the basic recipe. However, a couple of days ago, the beautiful Cranberry Coconut Quinoa Loaves posted by Kelly (from Inspired Edibles) convinced me that dried cranberries are a perfect pairing for coconut and this is how I had the idea to tweak my usual recipe. The experiment was a big success, at least for a big fan of chewy cookies like me (the cranberries’ presence has at least tripled the chewiness!). The flat rounded, more or less equal shape was more difficult to obtain with dried fruit inside, but then I’m not a very meticulous cook… Thank you so much, Kelly for such a wonderful inspiration; cranberries and coconut are an excellent pairing, definitely worth further explorations. Thank you again, Mr. Three-Cookies, for making me discover the world of ANZAC biscuits.

If you don’t like or have cranberries, I strongly advise testing the classic recipe first (or simply follow the below recipe eliminating cranberries):


If you are fond of coconut sweets, you might like these too:


Easiest Chewy Coconut Cookies (aka Macaroons)


Coconut, Chocolate and Rum Truffles


Moist Chocolate and Coconut Cake


or the above Moist Coconut Cake but without chocolate


Coffee and Coconut Cream with Agar


Light Chocolate and Coconut Cream (also with agar)


or Matcha and Coconut Cream with Agar

If you want to play with the basic ANZAC recipe, Mr. Three-Cookies has frequently (and successfully) experimented with these amazing biscuits, so check his Three Cookies blog for inspiration.

TIPS: Unless you have a health problem, do not use margarine or any other vegetable shortening. The butter taste and  aroma is so strong, you will lose a big part of the pleasure.

As I have mentioned above, they keep fresh in a tightly closed container for several days (and maybe even more, but I wasn’t able to test more than five days). The biscuits stay crunchy and slightly chewy.

Do not expect vivid red spots on your biscuits: the cranberries will darken during the baking process (the ones you see above are just meant to add a touch of colour to the dark biscuits.)

WARNING: do not taste the raw dough! You will end up eating it straight from the pan while you wait for your previous batch to bake.

Preparation: 1 hour (or 30 minutes if you manage to bake everything in one batch)

Ingredients (I have obtained about 35 biscuits, you will obtain a bit less if you skip cranberries):

70 grams/1 cup rolled oats

90 grams/1 cup desiccated coconut

120 g/1 cup flour

125 g/about 4,5 oz butter

160 g/3/4 cup brown cane sugar

1 tablespoon dark syrup (I used 2 tablespoons molasses)

1 teaspoon baking soda (bi-carbonate of soda, in countries where it is not widely available, for example in France, it can be easily bought in pharmacies)

2 tablespoons boiling water

pinch of salt

6 heaped tablespoons dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Melt the butter and syrup or molasses in a big pan.

Combine the flour, the oats, the coconut, the cranberries, the salt and the sugar. Add slowly to the melted butter.

At the end combine the boiling water and soda. Pour the mixture into the dough and stir well with a spoon.

Roll small balls (I usually make walnut-sized balls, but this time I wanted smaller biscuits, so I made the balls 1/3 smaller) and put them on a baking sheet (leaving at least 3 cm spaces between each ball since they will spread).

Flatten them slightly (they will flatten even more during the baking process) and bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Don’t worry if the dough seems crumbly. It is normal. Just squeeze well the dough when forming balls in your hands and don’t flatten them too much.

Keep them in a tightly closed container. Apparently they keep for ages. All I know is they keep for at least five days, well closed.

41 Replies to “ANZAC Biscuits with Dried Cranberry”

  1. This is really one of my favourite cookies; my dear Mom saw it on a Martha Stewart show about 15 years ago and I’ve been baking them ever since as part of my Christmas repertoire. I really love the addition of the dried cranberries, it certainly makes them look a lot more festive; I’ll have to remember to do that for 2013’s Christmas baking. I was wondering why your cookies are so dark, and it’s because of the dark sugar and syrup you’ve used; Martha’s recipe calls for white sugar and Lyle’s Golden Syrup which is an Australian ingredient (a much thicker version of corn syrup or something similar). It is definitely not a dietetic cookie, but they are indeed very tasty. I store my baked cookies in the freezer — they take no time to defrost and they are as fresh as the day they were baked.

    1. Thanks a lot, Eva. I don’t think the molasses I have used change the coour (it’s only one tablespoon). It’s definitely due to the dark cane sugar. I have already prepared these biscuits with white sugar when I only had this one, but the dark sugar version tastes much better. I have noticed that in general desserts with oats, different grains, wholemeal flour, etc. taste better with dark cane sugar (although I have no idea how the original recipe was made at the time). Unfortunately, I still haven’t discovered a “diet” cookie… These are at least full of iron, fiber and some other miraculous components rolled oats seem to contain.

  2. Oh yes, I love ANZAC biscuits. I totally know what you mean when you say you were surprised by just *how* good they were. They’re incredibly moreish aren’t they?! I love this new take with cranberries – I find cranberries bake very well because they don’t burn as easily as raisins (at least in my experience and they make for a very delicious, fruity addition!

    My Australian colleague brought in a feast a couple of years ago when it was “Australia day”. ANZAC biscuits, Lamingtons, and of course the inevitable (and delicious!) Vegemite sandwiches! I hope you will try the other two one day Sissi, now that you’ve had ANZAC biscuits :).

    1. Thanks a lot, Charles. ANZAC biscuits are terrific. I find it so difficult to stop myself from snacking on them all the time… (I still have some in the kitchen). When someone tells you they are composed of coconut, oats and butter, you think: another type of “rustic”, heavy “healthy” biscuits, but they are so much more! I think that the mixture of oats and butter does the trick.
      Cranberry was an excellent idea, but they darkened (the ones you see on top were just to put some colour to the dark, messy biscuits). I wish they were more acid though. I am furious that all the shops I know sell only sweetened cranberry. There is also some oil! Why can they sell raisins or prunes as they are but not cranberries? I would love to taste dried, super acid cranberries one day… I think I have to dry them on my own. On the other hand, even with sugar, they were not half as sweet as raisins which I rarely like in sweets because they are… too sweet. I must try ANZAC next time with prunes.
      I have never had Vegemite, but I like Marmite a lot, so I think I might like it too. I remember having read somewhere about Lamingtons.

  3. Sissi dearHeart – I may not have been born an Australian but I am one! I may not be in the habit of baking ‘cookies’ but I love the Anzacs! Well, I am a purist and cranberries may not be the first thing i think of adding, but with our ANZAC Day looming, thank you SO much for bringing this to the fore! I remember living in Queensland awhile back and being asked to be the volunteer Chefess at the Estonian Uni Summer seminar [again!] Well, we had a lot of overseas attendees that year and I decided on an Australian menu original/modern. Came down the 800 kms by bus with two huge suitcases of prebaked ANZACs packed in.! One hundred people, five minutes – they were gone!! ‘Oh, Eha, from where DID you get these?’ Yes, they ARE moreish 🙂 !

    1. Hi, Eha. I’m glad you are also an ANZAC fan and of course as an Australian, you must have much more occasions to eat or bake these wonderful biscuits. Until now every single person who tasted them, loved them, so I am not surprised Estonians liked them too.
      It was the first time I changed the basic recipe, but I will do it much more often. Cranberries were just perfect.

  4. Sissi, to tell you the truth… I would never have considered these cookies before. But now that I find a raisin exciting, haha, I am rethinking my stance. The nutrition part sold me even it is a little fatter than I can permit myself at the moment, but your original anzac cookie is going into my to do file and I am looking forward to the day I can try the recipe.

    1. Zsuzsa, why wouldn’t you consider baking these cookies? They are soooo good! Unfortunately, as all the cookies, they are far from being “diet”… I hope you will like them, but beware, they are highly addictive!

      1. Sissi I like my cookies crispy and buttery, but to tell you the truth I am not much of a cookie eater. I make cookies for my family. My perceptions are changing however and things I formerly passed over I now find attractive.

        1. I don’t eat many cookies either. These are exceptional (and I also love the French buttery and sweet and salty “palets bretons”, it was I think one of my oldest posts).

  5. Very interesting Sissi! I had never heard of Anzac or Ansac cookies before. What a great story and thing to know. Thanks! Two things you do not need to worry about with me – I love cranberries and margarine is a dirty word in this house so butter it is. 🙂 However, the one thing I would have to worry about with these cookies is eating the dough. When a recipe says it makes 2 dozen, I usually only get 1 dozen of “cooked” cookies. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this recipe and writing such a great post as always!

    1. Thanks a lot, MJ. I think you would love these biscuits. If you like all the ingredients, expect much more than just a result of their mixture. It’s one of the rare moments when one is happy that rolled oats exist… Among all the batches I have made there was one when I didn’t have enough oats and just have put more flour. They ended up almost like ordinary, crunchy cookies. Here I’m sure you will be tempted to eat the dough (there is no raw egg, so the taste is undisturbed).

  6. Sissi, I could totally see why these yummy Anzac biscuits would be so addictive…even raw! The oats, the brown sugar, coconut, and cranberries; those alone speak for themselves as great ‘munchies’…roll them together and bake them as big fat comfy cookies, well, I can see the result: just can’t eat one! Great recipe, thanks for sharing, and also with all your other amazing dessert creations.

    I just came back home finally, after staying an entire week at my daughter’s who lives nearby. My son-in-law came back home now from Italy, and I kept my daughter and grandchildren company.
    (not much time for computer during that week)
    Have a wonderful week:)

    1. Thank you very much, Elisabeth. “Big fat comfy cookies” is a great explanation. These were difficult to form and to make flat because of cranberries (I haven’t chopped them), so they looked more messy and amateurish than the classic ANZAC biscuits.
      I hope you have had wonderful time with your family. You are lucky to have them living so close!

  7. Hi Sissi, I think I may have missed the original ANZAC recipe on your blog so I’m happy to learn about the classic version as well as this lovely cranberry variation 😉 (thanks for the mention and glad you enjoyed!). I used to make a very similar cookie recipe only without the desiccated coconut – I bet the coconut adds a nice texture. Do you find the flavor of the coconut comes through? I love the origin of these cookies… a little piece of nostalgia that warms the heart. I also think your picture is perfectly appetizing! (did you add some fresh cranberry on top?) – fun! Your list of desserts has me salivating Sissi – I’m sitting on the sidelines of the soccer field wishing I could sink my hands into the computer and pull one out! ;-).

    1. Hi, Kelly. Thank you so much. I’m glad you don’t find the picture awful (I have put some unbaked dried cranberries because I thought no one would believe me they are inside… they all went brown). I hope I will find unsweetened dried cranberries one day (and without oil!). Here even organic shops don’t sell them “nature” and I’m sure I would love the tanginess of cranberries alone.
      Thank you so much again for the idea to combine cranberry and coconut. I am planning to test it on some other sweets (I have quite a collection of coconut desserts 😉 ). Raisins would be too sweet here, but cranberries (even though sweetened) were just perfect and not lost with the powerful coconut taste.

  8. I’ve never had ANZAC biscuits. I usually have mine in office and we stick chocolate chip and biscotti. Also, it just dawned to me, I haven’t baked cookies in years (don’t know how it was possible). Love the cranberries in here!

    1. Thanks, Gourmantine. If you like chewy biscuits, you would love these (with or without cranberries).

  9. ANZAC biscuits – haven’t heard of them but they sound lovely – healthy, filling, and I really like the back story about the wives and mothers that must have made and sent them with love and concern…
    They sound really delicious too.

    1. Thank you so much, Joyti. They are sticky and buttery and even all those who say they hate oats, love them.

  10. I love ANZAC cookies (especially Eva’s) but I never would have thought to add cranberries. They look really delicious Sissi. ANZAC cookies are addictive, aren’t they?

    Sissi my company’s office is moving to the suburbs (which is why I’ve been super busy lately) and now I won’t be able to walk to the market that I love at lunch. I decided to go and stock up on my unique ingredients that are hard to find. You have inspired me to give agar agar a try. I asked if they had it — and they did…so I bought a package to try out. Stay tuned!

    1. Thank you very much, Barb. They are addictive indeed… I’m glad you too have embarked on the agar adventure. I hope you will enjoy it. Feel free to ask me questions if you need help. Good luck!

  11. I’ve never heard of ANZAC biscuits until your post. What a great history and story behind these biscuits. I love cranberries so I’ll definitely try the one with cranberries in them. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks a lot, Amy. Cranberries make these even chewier and stickier and if you like coconut too, you might become addicted to these biscuits.

  12. I’ve lived in Australia for over 6 years and I’ve never tried making Anzac biscuits myself. I always buy them from a store. (Feeling guilty a bit) 🙂 I’m very impressed with your description of Anzac biscuits – the flavour and the texture. It’s very accurate! I don’t think I can describe it as well as you did!

    1. Thank you so much, Sue. I’m not sure if my home-made ANZAC biscuits are better than the bought ones, but they are very easy to bake and prepare and keep for ages. The more one is impressed with a dish, the more difficult it is to describe the feeling, so I had lots of problems with the description. English is not even my second language, so I am very flattered by your comment. Thank you!

    1. Thanks a lot, Karen. I thought they looked quite rustic and clumsy, so I’m glad you find them appetising. As a fan of oat biscuits, you would love these too.

  13. I heard of ANZAC cookies but never had a chance to try one out…yours look good and from the ingredients is must taste great as well.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe and hope you are having a nice week Sissi 🙂

  14. I haven’t got the chance to try such cookies before but I am sure I will love them since they have ingredients that I love. Cranberries are favorites of mine so I would definitely include them myself!

    1. Thank you very much, Katerina. If you like chewy biscuits and cranberries, then you should try these one day. Thanks to oats they are healthier than flour-only biscuits.

  15. I love cranberries in baked goods. It brings slight sweetness and I love the texture too. I’ve never had ANZAC biscuits before but learned it from many food blogs, and I need to give it a try one day. SO many things to bake…. especially I’m YEARS behind in baking. Haha =P

    1. Nami, ANZAC biscuits are marvellous. They are sticky, chewy, buttery, nutty… and keep for ages. If you like cranberries, you would love this version.

  16. Thanks for the mention:) Glad it turned out well. How come you put cranberries on top of one cookie only??? I can imagine cranberries going well with the cookies. I’ve bought cranberries couple of times, but the sweetened version. Would love to try the unsweetened version someday, just out of curiosity. I wonder if soaking will remove the added sugar?

    Three Cookies
    The cookie and biscuit specialist:)

    1. Mr. Three-Cookies, I will always be grateful to you for this amazing discovery. ANZAC biscuits will stay with me forever. I remember all those crazy ANZAC biscuit versions you have posted and now that I have dared touching the original, basic one, I must check for more inspiration on your blog.
      I also only see sweetened version of cranberries here (there is oil there too! have you checked yours?), but one day I’ll dry them on my own to see if they taste better. I suppose that soaking in hot water would remove at least a part of sugar.

      1. I think one of the packs I bought did not contain oil. In any case the amount of oil is quite small – less than 1%.
        Most of the raisins don’t contain oil but I once bought a brand that had oil

  17. Nie mialam pojecia, skad pochodzi ich nazwa! Dodatek suszonej zurawiny bardzo mi sie tu podoba 🙂

    Pozdrawiam serdecznie i milego weekendu zycze!

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