Lunchbox Cashew Cookies

In first grade, Fuzz bought lunch almost every single day. I’d offered many times to pack it, but she liked the ritual of going through the line, seeing the lunch ladies, paying for her meal and carrying her tray of food to the table. Some days, she’d even eat it! I know this because I would pop in on occasion. Her pattern was to spend most of her time on the green beans (?), pick at the protein and drink half the milk. No wonder she was always so hungry after school.

This year, Fuzz asked me to pack her lunch, and of course I was very happy about that. I want to keep her interested enough not to want to buy, so instead of being hyper vigilant about nutrition, I’m throwing more treats into the box – and I mean better treats than sugar free pudding, which is the kind of thing I’d give her Kindergarten year and probably part of the reason she wanted to buy. This year, I’ve chosen to be more laid back about lunches and am including a cookie or two here and there.

This recipe was sent to me by Stephanie and it’s going to be the first surprise cookie in Fuzz’s lunchbox. What’s great about it is yes, it is a cookie, but it’s also got some nutrition from the cashews, which are plentiful.

The original recipe, which Stephanie found in a church cookbook, came with a browned butter frosting. I made a small batch of frosting and discovered I didn’t care for it much because the cookies seemed to rich to need frosting. I did want a little sweetness to go with the salt, so I threw in some butterscotch chips and loved the results. Below is how I made the cookies with and without frosting. If you do choose to frost, the frosting sets, so you can still pack it in a zipper bag and send it along.

Cashew Cookie

Lunchbox Cashew Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (114 grams – 4 oz)
1 cup light brown sugar (180 grams)
1 large egg
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup sour cream (80 grams)
2 cups flour (255 grams)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 to 2 cups lightly salted cashew halves & pieces
2/3 cup butterscotch chips (use only if not frosting)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer; beat in egg and vanilla. Fold in the sour cream, keeping the batter light. Thoroughly mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until almost mixed. Add cashews and butterscotch chips and stir until fully mixed. Drop dough by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are brown. Cool and frost with brown butter frosting if desired.

Makes about 36 cookies

Brown Butter Frosting
4 oz unsalted butter (114 grams)
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
3 T. cream (I used milk)
1/4 tsp. vanilla

To make frosting; lightly brown butter a saucepan. Remove from heat and add sifted powdered sugar, cream and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Let it cool a bit, then spoon it into a zipper bag. Snip a tiny piece off the end and pipe the frosting onto the cookies.

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  1. says

    School lunches never appealed to me that much. I would beg my mom to pack mine. These cookies sound so delicious! I love cashews-they are so sweet and go perfect with butterscotch.

  2. says

    Those look really good. I love cashews and my son, who says he hates nuts, does like the “soft nuts”, which I’m not sure why he calls them that, but whenever I ask and show him a cashew, he says that’s the ones he likes. Being as he is the world’s pickiest eater right now, these sound great as a way to sneak a little protein in him.

  3. Heather D says

    These sound great. And I love brown butter frosting (reminds me of Grandma) I’m excited about this as my husband gets a large tin of cashews every year from one of his vendors & I never know what to do with so many.

  4. Debbi says

    Today is the first day of school for my kids and I am again packing lunches for my oh-so-picky eaters. I like to send along a nice protein packed cookie with one of my sons sometimes because he NEVER eats protein otherwise. This is a nice option, thanks! He loves butterscotch and cashews. (who doesn’t!)

  5. says

    I always brought lunch from home – my mom packed the best lunches and “Have a nice day” notes in my lunch bag 🙂

    Good luck to Fuzz in school – today was MY first day back!!

  6. Sue says

    Fuzz is fortunate to have you to pack tasty lunches for her. You’re fortunate to have a kid who will eat nuts! Mine wouldn’t touch them, even in a cookie!

    On a different note. I made the small batch cupcakes that you posted about a few years ago. They were perfect for the occasion and the recipients said they were very tasty. I substituted milk mixed with lemon juice for the buttermilk. My cupcakes didn’t rise a lot, but appeared to have a very nice texture. Do you remember if yours rose much? Usually soured milk is an acceptable substitute for buttermilk, but maybe not this time?

  7. HeartofGlass says

    Cashews! Ooh, this recipe is like a gift–they are my absolute favorite! I am a cashew butter a-holic, too!

    I admit that my favorite days in elementary school were the pizza, McDonald’s, and hot dog days, followed by ice cream sandwiches. My mother’s specialty was still-frozen tuna or pb and jelly on seeded rye bread and an apple, which got promptly thrown out. Your daughter is so lucky to have a great cook making her meals, and she sounds like a very healthy eater!

    RE: Sue (Anna will answer this) but I always thought vinegar rather than lemon juice in milk was a substitute for buttermilk (I never have, I just usually buy the buttermilk though).

  8. says

    There’s something special about packed lunches! It’s like having a picnic everyday! I would have loved to find those cookies in my basket (no bags here, we had basquets)! I love cashwes!

  9. says

    Joanna, I had to beg my mom to pack lunch too. Every once in a while she’d do it, but usually I bought lunch. My favorite lunch was pizza, and on a REALLY great day, it would be served with a popsicle.

    Katrina, it sounds like maybe your kids are really sensitive to textures. Maybe a lot of the foods they don’t like are just textures they can’t deal with. I’m glad they ;like cashews, though!

    Debbi, somewhere on this blog I have a protein packed peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. I’ll have to hunt it down for you.

    Veggiegirl, you are lucky to have such a great relationship with your parents. They seem so sweet in the pictures you’ve posted.

    Sue, I’d have to go back and make them again to be sure. But sour milk is usually a good substitute for buttermilk in terms of adding an acid. You probably did everything right.

    Heart of Glass, I can’t wait to hear your review. Also, see above. Pizza was my favorite school lunch day too. I hated hot dogs, though.

    Rita, really? You took your lunch to school in baskets? I guess they looked like picnik baskets, right?

  10. Sue says

    No worries Anna! They were given great reviews, and I would definitely make them again, just the same way because of the feedback I got. I just wondered if there was much if any difference between mine with the sour milk and yours with the buttermilk.

  11. ling says

    Hi Anna,
    I love cashews, so these cookies are calling out to me. Just wondering… are these cakey at all (from the sour cream)?

    Hope Fuzz enjoyed her packed lunch : )

  12. says

    Hi Ling,

    That’s a good question because you’d think with the sour cream and baking powder, the cookies would be cakey. Luckily, they weren’t. They were definitely tender, but they were really dense as opposed to light and soft. The ones I took straight from the oven had crispy brown edges and they were excellent that way! I let the rest cool and put them in a zipper bag. After a few hours closed up in the bag, those cookies did get softer, *but* they were still really good. The cashews (and I used a lot of them!) were a good contrast to the tender cookie.

    So in short, I wouldn’t say they were cakey.

  13. says

    I have a baking basics cook book that was probably my first cook book as a teenager, but it lists a bunch of things you can substitute things for in a pinch and it says you can use either 1 T. lemon juice OR 1 T. vinegar with 1 cup milk to sour it for buttermilk replacement. I’ve used both many times over the years and think they both work great.

  14. Haley says

    She will be so surprised when she opens her lunchbox and finds these delicious cookies! What a treat!

    We’d like to invite you to participate in our September apple and peach recipe contest (the recipe can be sweet or savory). All competitors will be eligible to win one of three prizes :)! Please email me, [email protected], if you’re interested. Feel free to check out our blog for more details:

    Thanks :),
    KI Blogger

  15. Karen says

    Anna I need your help again. You were so gracious to help me with my son’s cookie cake for his birthday(which got rave reviews. I would like your advice on your favorite fat chocolate chip cookie that is not cakey, a little chewy in the middle. I like the Leavlin copy cat but not sure if it is the best version or if you have a “better” suggestion for what I am looking for.

  16. says

    Hi Karen,

    This recipe, adapted from, is pretty reliable when it comes to fat cookies. Make sure you chill the dough — the longer the better. Also, I have found that bleached flour makes fatter cookies.

    Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1 egg
    1 egg yolk
    2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
    Beat the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill dough for at least 3 hours (longer the better) Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. .

    Bake for 15 to 17 minutes

  17. ling says

    Thanks Anna! I’m not a fan of cakey… so I’m glad to hear that these aren’t. Yay! Going to make them this week!

  18. lynn says

    Anna, I am loving your website/blog. Cashews and butterscotch, oh yummers! I don’t have any kidlets to pack lunches for, but I do send my cookie “experiments” to work with my husband. They are truckers and absolute “cookie hounds”. His buddies have jokingly threatened to stuff him in his locker if he stops the cookies. Please keep the terrific recipes coming! 🙂

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