My Man Cookies – Just in Time for Valentine’s Day!

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For all you feminists reading this post – let me say right up front – I did not make the name of this cookie up myself.  Not surprisingly, the recipe dates back to the 50’s – the era of cake mixes, TV dinners, canned peas, McDonald’s, condensed soups and the lonely housewife filling up her days with cookie-making and other exciting tasks while she waited for her man to come home.

My Man Cookies

Oh just writing that makes me cringe. @DormantChef and I hardly have a My Man, My Woman kind of relationship. And it might be true that I have been heard saying “I am not your maid” to members of my household on more than one occasion. My mother was not the happiest of people in the ‘50s and ‘60s and I suspect I wouldn’t have been either.

My Man CookiesI happened upon this cookie recipe while working on a freelance article about a cookbook called “Compromise Cake: Lessons Learned from my Mother’s Recipe Box” by Nancy Spiller (Counterpoint Press, 2013). The recipe caught my eye for its unexpected moniker and the ingredients. Filled with oats, coconut, and nuts, I was hoping these might fill the bill for @Dormant Chef’s request that I make oatmeal raisin cookies (though none in the original recipe). And my son adores coconut in any form. So I decided this would be the recipe for my article.

Motivated by her mom’s abandoned recipe box circa the 1950s, Nancy Spiller’s book is mostly memoir, part cookbook . She uses the recipes as a springboard to share the tales of her 4th generation California family as well as the often rocky relationship with her troubled mom that was somehow always grounded when they were in the kitchen.

Neither Nancy’s write-up or my research could uncover exactly how these cookies ended up with this antiquated, pre-feminist name, but Nancy does imagine they were the perfect cookie to hand “your man” after a hard day’s work.

Nancy’s description of the cookies lured me in even further: “Like too many marriages from that era, the cookies sounded dull…” She goes on to say: “Coming out of the oven they looked as boring as I feared they would…Then I bit into one.” She describes them as rough on the outside, tender on the inside and proceeds to relate that description to some of her cranky relatives. Delightful.

These cookies are a simple combination of white and brown sugar, an egg, shortening (replaced by coconut oil at the suggestion of the author), flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, finished off with chopped nuts, coconut, and quick-cooking oats.

My Man CookiesMy Man CookiesNancy discusses at length her desire to find a suitable substitute for shortening. First she tried lard and ended up with cookie dough that smelled like bacon but baked up beautifully. Not enjoying the idea of pigs dying so she can make cookies, she moved on to coconut oil and felt that really hit the spot. I had some in my pantry waiting to be used and so I tried the same.

The recipe in the book is the original from her mother’s box and lacks some details that I usually include in my recipe instructions. I’m guessing that was not unusual in those days. But for any novice baker, the instructions could be a little brief. I have adapted the recipe with modified instructions below.

My Man Cookies

I also baked the cookies longer than suggested – I would leave this up to you. They were probably fine at the 13-15 minute mark but I wanted that little bit of extra color and crunch.

My Man CookiesMy Man CookiesThe first batch I rolled into balls but ended up flattening with a spatula at the end of the cooking time as they didn’t flatten out on their own. Second tray went in flattened.

I’m not sure that these crunchy, coconut-enhanced oatmeal nut cookies will be exactly what “my man” was envisioning when he asked for oatmeal raisin cookies. But they are a lovely simple treat to enjoy with your afternoon tea or coffee or to round out your kids’ lunch box goodies.

Give them a try despite their name and dish them up to your family because sometimes we all need to be served.

My Man Cookies

My Man Cookies
4.5 from 2 votes

My Man Cookies

These simple "working man's" cookie with oatmeal, nuts, and coconut will delight men, women, and children alike with tea, coffee, or as the perfect lunchbox treat. This yields about 25 cookies and could easily be doubled to serve a crowd.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 400 kcal
Author Beth Lee


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening or coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats no quick cook in the house? just grind up some regular oats in the food processor
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts I used pecans and toasted them first


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and soda.
  3. In a medium size mixing bowl, cream the sugars and shortening or coconut oil together by hand or in a stand mixer with a flat paddle. Beat in the egg and vanilla just until combined. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Then add the oats, coconut, and nuts. This will be a fairly sturdy cookie dough. I used my hands to get it all combined after adding the oats, coconut, and nuts.
  4. I made walnut sized balls for the first pan of cookies but they didn't really flatten on their own so for the second batch, I formed them as flat discs for baking.
  5. The suggested time is 15 minutes at 350 degrees. I actually left them in about 2 minutes longer but I think 13 - 15 minutes is right on the mark for a crunchy exterior with a soft interior.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Nancy Spiller's Compromise Cake Cookbook


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19 Responses to My Man Cookies – Just in Time for Valentine’s Day!

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you Edie for this story and Beth for passing it along. I had been thinking of these cookies lately, maybe because of all the beautiful and tempting holiday treats, and thinking how irresistible they are despite their plain looks. A perfect New Year cookie, possibly, as regardless of looks, they’ve got the goods to get the job done!

    • Beth Lee January 2, 2019 at 2:27 pm #

      Nancy – so good to hear from you. I just love how people can connect about these great food stories because of the Internet. You should check out a site called The Heritage Cookbook Project. Leigh Olson who is the mastermind behind it would love your book and stories!

  2. Edie December 31, 2018 at 8:50 am #

    I stumbled across this looking to solidify the story I was told by my grandmother about “My Man” cookies! This recipe is a family favorite and we were told as children that they were named as such because they were made by the men in England during WW2. Yes they look “boring” but they are the best!

    • Beth Lee December 31, 2018 at 9:20 am #

      What a great story – I will pass this on to the author of the book and the editor of Edible Ojai for whom I wrote the article about these cookies. Thanks for leaving a comment – it always makes my moment when I hear from readers! Happy New Year!

    • Beth Lee January 2, 2019 at 2:29 pm #

      Edie – the author of the book the recipe is in added a comment below – just wanted to be sure you saw it!

  3. Jenne February 18, 2014 at 1:12 am #

    These are more me cookies! My man is a chocolate nut and I am the opposite.

  4. Shelby February 17, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    lol, kind of funny how people interpret things? My mom, was stay at home and seemed to love and enjoy her life as mom and wife. I also was a stay at home mom and because I watched my mother nurture, it was just second nature for me to do so also. Now I’m on hubby number 2 (and the last one ever) and I do take care of him, probably because it was just something I always saw and always did. However, I do say sometimes that it is my turn to be taken care of. I really cant complain. 😉

  5. Betsy @ Desserts Required February 14, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    I LOVE the post and find great humor in the name. It was a different era but ‘my man’ will surely love these cookies and get a kick out of the name, too!

    • Beth Lee February 17, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      Yes, times have changed but a good cookie is a good cookie! Thanks for stopping by Betsy!

  6. Karen @ Baking In A Tornado February 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    Fortunately it’s not the name that counts but the taste. Can’t wait to try these. Tweeting!

    • Beth Lee February 17, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      Thanks for sharing and stopping by!

  7. Deb February 13, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    Such a great story! My husband would love both the cookie and the name! LOL What perfect antidote of the cusp of Valentine’s day!

    • Beth Lee February 17, 2014 at 10:32 am #

      Hope you had a sweet Valentine’s day Deb!

  8. Gregory Lee February 12, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    4 stars
    I wonder how they would be with raisins or currants. I agree that despite their great taste, they are very boring looking – perhaps dusting with shaved coconut or finely chopped toasted nuts would help?

    • Beth Lee February 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

      I like the idea of toasted coconut or finely chopped nuts. Great suggestions.

  9. sandy corman February 12, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Look good and sound tasty. Did you bake some extra for ‘My Man”.

    • Beth Lee February 12, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

      There are a few left but I sent some back with My young man the other day. I think I am going to try some raisins with the coconut next time — dad will like that don’t you think?

  10. Carol Sacks February 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    My word:) Fun post and the cookie intrigues. Happy early Valentine’s Day to you!

    • Beth Lee February 12, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

      To you and yours as well. And I have a sweet 16 coming up tomorrow as well!

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