While I often bemoaned the fact we weren’t allowed sugared cereals or the yearned after PopTarts, I could console myself with Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. I suppose my mother reasoned that since they were made of oatmeal, they were healthy. When I was a kid, they tasted different than they do now. The cookies were a bit firmer, the creme a bit grainier, and I loved them. My young self absolutely noticed when the texture changed, although I probably wasn’t as concerned with the actual flavor back then. They’re still fantastic cookies that have stood the test of time, even if they have changed just a bit over the years.
Pin this. These are really that good–I promise.
Sadly the changes most likely were to add new food dyes, stabilizers, emulsifiers and cheaper sugars to their recipe. But I remember them before they got their makeover, and I wanted to bring back that particular glory. And so, my quest to create the best homemade Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies copycat recipe began. First up: research. To that end, I purchased a “Big Pack” of Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. I tasted them whole. I dissected them to taste just the cookie by itself and then just the creme. I looked over the impressive ingredient list (and by impressive, I mean disturbingly long) and wrote down all the ingredients I could pronounce, translating industrial food names–dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, emulsifiers–into ingredients that I kept in my kitchen: sugar, eggs. I left out ingredients there was no way I could find and ended up with a list 27 ingredients long. Too long.
I got rid of some of the extraneous starches: corn starch, rice flour and concentrated on the ingredients that appeared before the list stated “Less than 2% of the following…” That left me with, in this order, corn syrup, enriched bleached flour, partially hydrogenated oils, sugar (dextrose), whole grain oats, water, actual sugar, molasses and raisins. To that I added some of the other singular ingredients contained in Little Debbies one doesn’t normally expect to find in an oatmeal cookie recipe and started testing.
When I shared on facebook that I was attempting to make the best Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies copycat recipe ever, my friend Anna told me that Stella from Brave Tart had posted an oatmeal cream pie recipe a couple of years ago. Stella is one of my most trusted sources, so I immediately wandered over to her place to see what she had done. You’ll find that, while our proportions are different and there are a few differences in cookie ingredients, the recipes are similar. Our creme recipes are very different. Stella’s filling is a traditional marshmallow made with gelatin, and mine is based on a Swiss meringue made with egg whites.
Other research included standard Googling of other “Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie Copycat Recipes” and “Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie Copycat Recipes.” With one notable exception, most of these copycats really aren’t copycat recipes at all. They are all perfectly lovely oatmeal cookies sandwiched together with some perfectly lovely creamy filling, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Most of the time, making something perfectly lovely is more than enough for me, but in this case I really wanted to capture the particular essence of the Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie–the flavor and the texture, the subtle notes that you might not even notice until you taste a “copycat” recipe and realize it somehow misses the mark. Like Stella, I want to make sure that when you taste these little guys, you will be transported to the best part of your childhood. I want you to say “These are the best Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies I have ever had,” not “Wow, this is delicious and is kind of like a Little Debbie.”
And now, without further ado, I give you my five-times-tested Best Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies Copycat Recipe. Amen.
Yes, you do have to use a scale to make these cookies. Most of the measurements are in ounces. Some of the smaller measurements are in grams. This is no problem with most scales since most will go back and forth between metric and standard weights with the press of a button. If your scale doesn't have that button, you'll need to do the conversions yourself. An ounce equals 28 grams.
You will need an instant read thermometer to make the creme filling.
- 5 oz all purpose flour
- 4 oz rolled oats (the regular kind, not quick cooking)
- 16g (roughly ½ ounce) raisins
- 8 g (roughly ⅓ oz) dried apple chips (I used the crunchy kind. I'm sure the chewy ones will work fine as well)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 8 grams (4 teaspoons) malted milk powder
- 4 grams (4 teaspoons) cocoa powder, sifted to remove lumps
- 3 oz unsalted butter, softened
- 4.5 oz dark brown sugar, sifted to remove lumps
- 2 oz neutral vegetable oil
- 2 oz dark corn syrup
- 1.2 oz molasses (not blackstrap. I used Grandma's brand)
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 oz whole milk (optional, leave out for a slightly chewier cookie)
- 2 egg whites (weigh them into the bowl)
- sifted powdered sugar, twice as much by weight as the egg whites
- pinch of salt
- unsalted butter, softened (add the weights of the whites and sugar together to get this measurement)
- sifted powdered sugar (the same weight as the butter)
- Place your oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Preheat oven to 350F.
- Line 2 cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment. Set aside.
- Combine flour, oats, raisins, apple chips, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, malted milk powder and cocoa powder in the bowl of your food processor or high-speed blender. Process/blend until you can't see bits of raisins, oats or apple. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and dark brown sugar together until smooth. Cream an additional minute on medium speed.
- Add the oil, corn syrup and molasses and cream another minute, scraping bowl as necessary.
- Add both yolks and mix until well combined. Scrape the bowl.
- Dump in all the dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium and mix for a minute more.
- Mix in the milk, if using. Whether or not you use the milk, the dough will be sticky.
- Portion out the dough in level tablespoons to end up with 2" cookies. Use 1½ level Tablespoons (4½ teaspoons) for 3" cookies.
- Leave a good 3" between cookies since they will spread. I was able to portion 8 smaller cookies or 6 larger ones on each sheet.
- For the Tablespoon-sized cookies, bake for 4 minutes. Rotate pans top to bottom and front to back. Bake for an additional 3 minutes. For 1½ Tablespoon-sized cookies, bake for 4 minutes, rotate the pans and bake for 4 more minutes.
- Remove pans and let cookies cool for 4 minutes before transferring them to racks to cool completely. Sandwich together with about 1-1½ Tablespoons of frosting (recipe below)
- As to the measurements, if your whites weigh 2 ounces, you'll need 4 ounces of powdered sugar. Then you'll need 6 ounces of butter and an additional 6 ounces of powdered sugar. If your whites weight 1.5 ounces, you'll need 3 ounces of powdered sugar, 4.5 ounces of butter and an additional 4.5 ounces of powdered sugar. Okay, here's what you do.
- Combine the whites, first amount of powdered sugar and a healthy pinch of salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Set this over a pan of water sized so that the bottom of the mixer bowl doesn't dip down into the water.
- Whisk constantly over medium heat (or high heat if you're feeling frisky), until water comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue whisking until the mixture is 150F--too hot to touch, hot enough to gelatinize the starch in the powdered sugar but not hot enough to cook the whites.
- Immediately put your bowl on your mixer fitted with the whip attachment and whip on medium-high speed until glossy, billowy and beautiful. Whip until the meringue reaches room temperature.
- Add in the butter, a bit at a time, until you have a gorgeous Swiss buttercream. Scrape bowl as necessary. You can use the buttercream as is, but to taste like real Little Debbie creme, you'll need to add more sugar.
- Beat in the second amount of powdered sugar, scraping bowl as necessary.
- You can add in a splash of vanilla, but I don't get that from the Little Debbie creme. Add it in if you want, because it will be delicious.
Sure, it’s a lot of ingredients. But if you’re a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie aficionado, you will go to the extra effort. I promise it will be worth your time. These cookies are every bit as soft and bendable as the originals. The flavor and texture are exactly right, unless you really love the chemical-ly aftertaste. Because these don’t have that. If you’re not a raisin fan, remember that if you’re a Little Debbie fan, you’re eating them anyway. So you may as well just go for it.
The guy on the bottom is an actual Little Debbie. I’m not sure if you can tell in the photo, but in person, I can almost see the food coloring used to make them the “right” color. My guys are the right color all on their own. And to smell them? The Little Debbie smells sweet and of nothing in particular. My copycats smell sweet and oatmeal-y and like real food.
My version is on the left. The boxed kind are on the right. If you try this best Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies copycat recipe, there will be no going back to boxed. Trust me.
Please please make these. Seriously. And then swing by the comments here or on the facebook page and tell me how much you enjoy them.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read. I know that true oatmeal creme pie lovers will adore these cookies. If you’re like me, they will taste like the best part of your childhood. Enjoy.
Have a lovely day.
PS I’m filing these under #tbtfood because even though I’m posting them on a Monday, they totally fit the category.