Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies

For the past 16 years Family Circle has challenged prospective first ladies to a cookie bake-off, and up until this year, every winning cookie has been indicative of who would be the first lady. This being an historic election, it is notable that the winning Family Circle cookie can no longer be considered a prognosticator toward the outcome of the election. These Butterscotch Oatmeal cookies are excellent and must transcend politics because they won the 2008 cookie election with over 4,000 votes.

Cindy McCain Cookies

The cookies are similar to Nestle’s Oatmeal Scotchies, but fatter, crumblier and not quite as sweet. In my opinion, they’re more attractive than Scotchies, which I love, but which usually turn out thin and chewy.   The original recipe is attributed to Hershey’s Test Kitchen and calls for their butterscotch chips.


UPDATE:  New link! If this doesn’t take you to Family Circle’s list, let me know.

Presidential Cookies on Family Circle

Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Oatmeal cookies with butterscotch chips
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus an extra pinch
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 2/3 cups butterscotch chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Have ready two ungreased baking sheets.
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating well.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir by hand until blended. Stir in oats and butterscotch chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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  1. Barbara Hahn says

    Even though McCain lost, this cookie is a winner. Either Cindy McCain or some staffer knows how to pick good cookies.
    It is hard to believe that Cindy McCain ever baked cookies but you never know what personal experiences people enjoy in life.

  2. Sue says

    I think it’s interesting that none of the cookies have a chocolate cookie base. Some of them sound wonderful, including the ones you made.

  3. says

    Greetings from NYC! Sigh–we’re tired! Made it to Levains, JT’s and Bouchon today. Yummy cookies! It really is too hard to pick a favorite, but I think I now do like Levains better than JT’s, simply because I’ve decided I like plain old semi-sweet chocolate (In Levains) better than bittersweet chocolate (JT’s). And I’m loving this big, fat, gooey, doughy cookie!
    Heading to City Bakery and Chelsea tomorrow!

    Thanks for all the links to these presidential cookies. I have already printed the McCain one.

    Have fun in SD, Anna!

  4. Leigh Ann says

    FYI the pecan rolls link takes you to one of the Barbara Bush cookies… just wanted to let you know 🙂
    And these butterscotch cookies look fantastic!

  5. says

    these sound really good. i love me some butterscotch. and that is sad about this poor cookie!!! i have some recipes that i wouldn’t even be able to guess where they came from. it’s perfectly understandable to say she got it from a good friend, which she most likely did.

  6. Leslie says

    I finally made these over the weekend and they are fantastic! Really easy to throw together in minimal time with stuff I had on hand (I only had to buy the rolled oats, which is something I should have in my kitchen anyway). My husband isn’t a chocolate fan, so I’m always looking for non-chocolate cookies. This recipe will be in regular rotation at our house.

  7. Tiamat says

    I really love the Laura Bush cookies from 2000 … They’re always a GIANT hit when I make them …

    Heck, they even entice my NON-baker male friend to take up baking … Now, he’s the belle of the cookie ball … LOL

    I want to try the 2004 edition of Laura’s cookies … but I don’t know “where” to find dried sour cherries …

    Cookiegate started in 2004 with Teresa Heinz Kerry … saying the cookie submitted in her name was NOT her recipe … some staffer did it … and the “cookies taste like crap” … LOL

  8. says

    Joanna, my thoughts exactly!

    Leslie, I am glad you found another non-chocolate recipe for your collection.

    T, thanks for the recommendation. I’m going to try the Cowboy cookies next.

    As for dried sour cherries, if you can’t find them at your local Whole Foods or nearest specialty store, just use cherry flavored dried cranberries. They’re cheaper and will do in a pinch. If you want the real thing, order some on-line. Oh Nuts! Sells them for $9.99 a pound.


  9. Kourtney says

    I made these for my office yesterday — they were a huge hit! I loved how quick and simple they were to make, and a crowd-pleaser to boot! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Mela says

    Hi Anna, I baked this today and my husband already declared it as one of his favorite cookies. It made a lot, I ended up with 46 cookies. So easy to make. It’s a keeper! Thank you.

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