This may be the recipe I’m most proud of developing. Because oatmeal cream pies are such a part of many of our childhoods, it was important to get it right. To make a real copycat Little Debbie, and not just a tasty oatmeal sandwich cookie.
Soft, bendable, and gently spiced oatmeal cookies just like the originals, with the perfect creme filling. And no artificial ingredients.
You might also like another childhood favorite with a grown-up twist, these pumpkin whoopie pies with dulce de leche filling.
And for ease of browsing, you can find all my cookie and bar recipes in one place. Enjoy!
Watch my oatmeal creme pie recipe web story here.
Little Debbies Changed Over the Years
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 beloved cookies that have stood the test of time, even if they have changed just a bit over the years.
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.
Testing to Get Them Just Right
And so, my quest to create the best homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies recipe began. I tested this recipe several times, second only to my Crunchy Butterfinger Candy Bars post which I tested a whopping 9 times. Because when you try to recreate a classic, you want to get it just right.
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, corn syrup, 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
- actual sugar
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.
Research, Research, Research
When I shared on Facebook that I was attempting to make the best Oatmeal Creme Pies in all the land, my friend Anna told me that Stella from Brave Tart (and now at SeriousEats) had posted an oatmeal creme 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. Turns out, our recipes for the cookie part are pretty similar. But our creme filling 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.
UPDATE: Stella’s recipe is now in her BraveTart Iconic American Desserts cookbook which you should absolutely own.
Other research included standard Googling of other “Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie Copycat Recipes” and “Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie Copycat Recipes.”
Most of these types of recipes 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.
Generally speaking, 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 but I really wish it tasted like a Little Debbie.”
Equipment You Will Need
Before we get on with the recipe, let’s make sure you have all the major equipment you need to make them–or really anything you want to make.
A medium-sized food processor will make short work of the oatmeal in this recipe as well as being perfect for making dips and dressings.
Having a Silpat or two will ensure that nothing sticks–I don’t always use Silpat because I like that parchment paper sheets can absorb a bit of oil, but for these cookies, Silpat works perfectly.
Last, but not least, I implore you to buy a kitchen scale. My Escali Primo has never let me down in the 15 years I’ve owned it.
As Close As You Can Get to the Boxed Kind, With No Artificial Ingredients
It takes a lot of ingredients to make this copycat Little Debbie recipe. But if you’re an aficionado of the Oatmeal Creme Pie and you especially love the filling, 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.
My oatmeal creme pies make cookies 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.
Whether you call them oatmeal cream pies or oatmeal creme pies, you’re going to want to make these Little Debbie copycats!
What You’ll Need
Here are the ingredients for making the oatmeal cookie part of this recipe.
As you’ll see, there are a lot of ingredients. That’s what happens when you’re trying to nail a flavor profile.
- all-purpose flour: provides bulk and contributes gluten so the cookies hold together
- rolled oats: provides bulk without contributing gluten so the cookies stay softer
- raisins: provides moisture, a little sweetness, improves shelf-life, adds some flavor
- apple chips: adds flavor and a little extra sweetness
- baking soda: leavener. balances out the acid in the brown sugar and molasses
- baking powder: leavener
- salt: brings all the flavors into focus
- cinnamon: provides just a hint of cinnamon flavor. Even with only 1/4 teaspoon, some people decided they’d rather leave it out according to their taste, so it’s entirely up to you
- malted milk powder: adds some protein and flavor
- cocoa powder: provides color and to a much lesser extent, a deeper flavor
- dark brown sugar: provides sweetness, moisture, a little flavor, and allows the cookies to brown in the oven
- butter: the main fat component. Carries all the other flavors and allows for browning
- vegetable oil: additional liquid fat just for texture
- molasses: brings sweetness, moisture, dark color, and flavor
- dark corn syrup: same as the molasses. If you are not a fan of molasses, you can use all dark corn syrup. Conversely, if you don’t like dark corn syrup, you can use all molasses, but the flavor will definitely be more molasses-forward if you do
- egg yolks: adds richness and emulsifiers, helps to keep the cookies soft
- whole milk: allows the cookies to spread and still remain a bit on the cakey side. Leave out the milk to have a more chewy cookie
Creme Filling Ingredients
This list is much more straightforward.
Note that the original filling does not contain butter, so if you really want to nail the filling flavor, you should substitute shortening or use a combination of butter and shortening.
This filling is basically a Swiss meringue buttercream. I subbed powdered sugar for granulated as well as add a bit extra powdered sugar at the end of mixing to more closely approximate the texture of the original filling
Also note there is no vanilla in the filling because there is no vanilla in the ingredient list for the boxed oatmeal creme pies.
A teaspoon or so of vanilla would be a nice addition, but then it wouldn’t be a true Little Debbie copycat.
- egg whites: whips up into meringue
- powdered sugar: powdered sugar is for divided use. Use twice the weight of the egg whites in powdered sugar to make the meringue and then add an additional amount of powdered sugar after you incorporate the butter
- butter: should be at cool room temperature. This is is what turns your meringue into buttercream
- salt: brings the butter flavor into focus and tempers the sweetness a bit
Should I Store These Cookies in the Refrigerator?
A reader recently asked this question in the comments, so I thought I’d address it here since it’s a good question.
I stored mine in the fridge.
I honestly think because of the amount of sugar that the filling would be fine at room temp for 2-3 days, but erring on the side of caution is always a good thing.
Just bring them up to room temp again before serving.
Alternatively, you can also cook the whites to a higher temperature–say 165F rather than 150F. In effect, that will Pasteurize the eggs and the filling will then be that much safer if you do decide to leave them at room temperature.
If you have questions about this post or recipe, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you within about 24 hours.
If your question is more urgent, please shoot me an email, and I will respond within 4 hours, unless I’m asleep.
Other Nostalgic Recipes
Since it’s my blog and I share what I like to make (and also take requests), I have made quite a few recipes that remind me or readers of childhood. Here are a few you might enjoy.
- Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Fudge Recipe (recreated from a reader recipe)
- Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake (this version has rocky road frosting, too)
- Butterscotch Pudding which is one of the most comforting pudding flavors in all the land.
- Bread, Butter, & Sugar Sandwich (do you remember those?!)
And now, without further ado, I give you my five-times-tested Oatmeal Creme Pies. Amen.
And if you’d like a good copycat recipe without a super long ingredient list, you may want to give my homemade pecan sandies recipe a go.
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
If you make this recipe and/or have enjoyed or learned from reading this post, I’d appreciate it if you could share this!
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For the Cookies
- 5 oz all purpose flour
- 4 oz rolled oats, (the regular kind, not quick cooking)
- 16 g (roughly 1/2 ounce) raisins
- 8 g (roughly 1/3 oz) dried apple chips (I used the crunchy kind. I'm sure the chewy ones will work fine as well)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 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)
For the Creme Filling (Read Instructions for more information on the weights and amounts)
- 2 egg whites, (weigh them into the bowl)
- 4 oz sifted powdered sugar**, , twice as much by weight as the egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 6 oz unsalted butter**, , softened (add the weights of the whites and sugar together to get this measurement)
- 6 oz sifted powdered sugar**, (the same weight as the butter)
For the Cookies
- 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 1 1/2 level Tablespoons (4 1/2 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 1 1/2 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 1-1 1/2 Tablespoons of frosting (recipe below)
For the Creme Filling
- 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.
Depending on the size you make your cookies, you'll get anywhere from 12-18 or so sandwich cookies. Use about a tablespoon of filling per 2" cookie and 1 1/2 Tablespoons per 3" cookie. In other words. Use as much filling as you used to make the cookies. That way, your ratio will be a perfect 2:1 cookie to filling.
NOTE: baking time may vary depending upon your oven. Use my baking time only as a guide. Just keep an eye on them to make sure they stay soft. If they do end up getting crisp, all is not lost.
Once you fill them, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them overnight. The cookies will absorb some liquid from the filling and will soften up.
**Amounts of frosting recipe added for nutrition calculation. Your measurements will be based on how much your egg whites weigh, so may differ slightly from the amounts in the recipe.
Nutrition information calculated on the smaller sized cookies.
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Nutrition InformationYield 18
Amount Per Serving Calories 300Saturated Fat 10gCholesterol 52mgSodium 100mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 1gSugar 26gProtein 2g
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I’ll be seeing you!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read. I know that if you’re a die hard Little Debbie fan, you’ll love these! Enjoy.
Have a lovely day.