Flying Saucers Oatmeal Cookies

Can you imagine your child, 30 or 40 years from now, writing in somewhere and requesting a recipe from their old school’s cafeteria? I can’t, so when I stumble across these types of requests I am always amused at how a certain food could leave a taste memory for life. I have a few and some happen to be from elementary school; but looking over Fuzz’s school lunch menu, I can’t find anything I suspect will make an impression. She did mention liking a meat mixture with yellow stuff around it which I identified as tamales, and one time she tried to describe what turned out to be ravioli, but unlike my old school, they don’t serve homemade coffee cakes, cakes or cookies. That’s probably a good thing because kids barely have time to eat the nourishing things on their tray, but I do like that schools used to have things like homemade cookies and that you can find a lot of the recipes on-line.

This one is said to be from the LA school district. They’re Ranger Cookies, but the schools called them Flying Saucers and the recipe was printed in the LA Times. They were really good! I make Ranger type cookies all the time, but don’t have a go-to recipe. This might be it. These are crunchy on the outside and kind of chewy on the inside. They’re pretty sweet, but not overly so. Fuzz and her friend loved them.

flying saucers

Flying Saucers Oatmeal Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
1952 City School Ranger Cookies (Flying Saucers)
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 22
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (8 oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature**
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups cornflakes
  • 1/2 cup coconut (toasted)
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (original recipe used only 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (use more nuts for a less sweet cookie)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine pre-sifted flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a mixing bowl; set aside.
  3. Cream butter and both sugars with an electric mixer; Add eggs and vanilla and beat until mixed.
  4. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture, then stir in oats, cornflakes, coconut, chocolate chips and nuts.
  5. Scoop up big tablespoons of dough and shape into balls. Place on parchment lined cookies sheets, spacing 3 inches apart, and flatten lightly with palm of hand so they’ll cook evenly.
  6. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes or until edges are browned and centers appear set.
**If using salted butter, decrease salt to 1/2 teaspoon


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  1. Dana says

    I remember something like these! My favorite was Cowboy Bread–a very sweet snack-cake like thing with some sort of streusel on top. I’ll have to look for a recipe! Thanks for the flashback!

  2. says

    Yum! Love the corn flake crunch.

    Louise, it may just be because it reminds me of my grandma, but she always made pb/honey sandwiches with butter on them. Loved it! Loved everything she made. My dad still makes his pb/honey with the extra butter. Mmmm. (I don’t because of the added fat factor.)

  3. Kelli says

    These look delish. My favorite school food was something called a cheese zombie. It was basically a big ball of warm bread with melted cheese in the middle. I still crave them!

  4. says

    Dana, I’ve never heard of that. We had cinnamnon swirl bread with icing poured over it, but never anything with streusel.

    Kathy, you might want to look around for different Ranger Cookies. I think most Ranger cookies have these proportions. One thing you could do is to increase the nuts. The unsweetened nuts offset the sugar. Anyway, I said these were sweet but they aren’t cloying are “bad” sweet. Oh, and using unsweetened coconut might help too. I used sweetened.

    Louise, that is crazy! I’ve seen old recipes with butter on them and just figured the butter was to protect the bread from meat/vegetable moisture seeing through. But I’ve never heard of butter mixed with peanut butter. Maybe it was to cut the sweetness?
    Katrina just mentioned the pb sandwiches with honey. Butter does go well with honey so that makes more sense.

    Kelli, where did you go to school? That sounds about as wild as the peanut butter sandwich with butter. I think I’d quite like the zombie.

  5. says

    My gram would butter one slice of bread with pb and one slice with butter, then put the honey on, I think it WAS to help the honey not soak into the bread and become that crunchy stuff. It’s good though, try it sometime.

  6. Louise says

    I think the “food triangle” was different when I was a kid and they wanted to make sure you got a certain amount of whatever in the school lunch. We were encouraged to get our parents to build home bomb shelters too. 🙂

  7. says

    I hated grilled cheese sandwiches as a child and you know why? Because my mom put Miracle Whip on them. I thought all grilled cheese sandwiches were made with Miracle Whip and never bothered to try one anywhere else. Then one summer I went to camp and was so hungry I had to eat a grilled cheese sandwich. It had no Miracle Whip and was delicious!

    I liked Miracle Whip on regular cheese sandwiches, though.

  8. says

    Those sound awesome – my school cafeteria used to have amazing cookies… until they decided to go healthy and cut them out. But I’m definitely going to try this recipe out – and I added to my favorite recipes springpad… you should check it out – it’s a great place to store all of your favorite recipes and everything else – I really think you’d like it!

  9. Shelley says

    Our school in California in the 60’s made little peanut butter balls, which were sweet, probably had powdered sugar in them, and were uncooked. They were so great and I have never seen a recipe for them.

  10. Veronica says

    These sound like wonderful cookies! I can’t believe your school cafeteria had homemade baked goods…the only treat we had were called “Grandma’s Cookies” they were hard chocolate chip cookies three to a pack and they were definitely not homemade!

  11. says

    I remember a giant shortbread type cookie with chocolate frosting on it from school. They were great to me then, but I’ll bet they would taste too sweet now. My grandmother used to butter everything when making sandwiches, and she buttered peanut butter and honey sandwiches too. I remember wondering why the butter was there.

  12. Barbara says

    Haha, the mystery of school lunch… The first thing I thought of that was meaty and yellow was the school burrito that they served elementary through high school in my area, here is a pic: it doesn’t show the inside, but it was some poor excuse for meat and beans.

    They actually sold cookies in the cafeteria at my school, they were the Otis Spunkmeyer brand. Sometimes they were good, other times, not so much.

  13. CindyD says

    Interesting. Is it the butter and cornflakes that make it different from the recipe of mine you made, or do the smaller amounts of baking powder and baking soda matter? You should try these with Spectrum.

  14. says

    yea i’m one of those…i was so addicted to the curly fries in middle school, but now i can’t find them anywhere! maybe i should write in and ask for the recipe..

  15. C L says

    My favorite school lunch treat was the peanut butter bar…it was like a peanut butter brownie/blondie (no chocolate) and it had a powdered sugar glaze. I have never found a recipe for it. 🙁 These Flying Saucers sound absolutely yummy, and I am going to make these to take to work next week. Will let you know how they like them. 🙂

  16. says

    I’m pretty sure I won’t ever be requesting recipes from my elementary school, but if I had had Ranger Cookies that looked like these, well, that would’ve been a different story. These look delicious and excellent–and I’m quite jealous of the kids who got to eat these with their lunches!

  17. Alexandra says

    Oh man, these look way, way too good. I’ve never had ranger cookies before, or made them, but I’m very much tempted to.

  18. Louise says

    Anna, Miracle Whip or mayonnaise is the only food I absolutely hate. Otherwise I’m known to eat anything that doesn’t eat me first. (I’ll eat mayo in tuna salad or potato salad.) Your Mom’s grilled cheese sounds awful. But, several years ago I learned to spread a little mayo on the outside of the bread before grilling the sandwich. It adds a nice crunch and taste. I think it’s the egg and oil chemistry of the mayo. 😉

  19. says

    When I first joined Chowhound, I started a topic requesting a peanut butter cake w/ pb frosting that I had in middle school. I still remember it today. I also remember them serving salad dressing in clean dishwashing liquid containers. That always freaked me out, but the cake was yummy.

  20. says

    two things I remember from my school days are snicker-doodles and lemon bars. I need to look for a good recipe for both.

  21. Louise says

    Katrina, those pb brownies with pb fudge frosting from Southern Plate look absolutely incredible. I’m always in for chocolate, but I gotta say those brownies look like a real winner. Looks like they were topped with more peanuts which aren’t listed in the ingredients. 🙂

  22. TJ says


  23. Molly says

    Funny, I just made Buffalo Chip Cookies this morning with almost the same ingredients as the Flying Saucers/Ranger Cookies except I used Rice Krispies and pecans. I only put coconut in 1/3 of the dough as some people don’t like coconut. 1/3 had M&M’s and 1/3 had no coconut at all. Lots of raves. My favorite lunch in high school was a tuna sandwich that had butter on each slice of bread. Yum!

  24. brenbren says

    peanut butter bar recipe schools use are at USDA recipe site. They almost taste like reeces cup if you put chocolate frosting on them. Oh by the way I manage a school cafeteria.
    Have fun! I went to a school that served us tv dinners! ugh

  25. says

    Brenbren, thanks for the tip! I didn’t think to look at the USDA site, but I’m going to check it out. You job sounds fun, btw.

  26. aprilrose45 says

    Back in the 60’s my mother-in-law managed an elementary school cafeteria in Compton, California and made dozens of the Flying Saucer cookies for our family get togethers. we all loved them and the kids loved helping her make them. I was awed to discover this site. thanks. cant wait to try the recipe and i’m sure to use less sugar.

  27. Jackie says

    I just happened to pull out this receipe and googled it. I got it from a guy I used to work with about 25yrs ago,we were talking about school lunches and he had it. I made them a few times and they tasted just like they did in school except my recipe does not call for nuts and there weren’t any in the ones at school. My youngest son wanted the recipe after talking about them at Thanksgiving, so I had to fish it out. My favorite menu at elementary school was the mashed potatoes and gravy and the green beans – go figure. Now I just have to find the pastries they served at LA High – those were to die for.

  28. namora says

    I remember the flying saucer cookies when I was in high school. Back then, a cookie was 5 cents. I would buy 2, one for me and the other I would take home to my mother. That was in 1963. I had 25 cents a day for lunch, and with that, I could buy a sandwich ( whole), drink, and have change left over for my cookie.

  29. says

    Recently at my 50th high school reunion, we were served Flying Saucer Cookies. However, each one was individually wrapped, so they didn’t taste like in the old days. I’m going to make them and not wrap them, so maybe they will taste like the Flying Saucers of my memory. Or…..maybe my memory is going south on me and the old Flying Saucer days don’t exist.

  30. CookieLover says

    April Rose –
    I taught in the LASD in the early 60’s and loved your Flying Saucer Cookies. I am thrilled that you found the recipe. Thank you!
    Our cook was a Norwegian lady who also made us very flavorful and juicy stuffed cabbage and what she called Norwegian custard which, if made properly, is a cooked egg custard poured into a pyrex dish that has already been prepared with a burnt sugar lining. When baked, the blended sweetness and spices were wonderful!

  31. says

    I went to East Bakersfield High School in Bakersfield, CA from 1954 to 1958. The Flying Saucer cookies there didn’t have corn flakes, coconut or choc. chips. I loved them, so I’m going to try this recipe but leaving out those items & adding raisins. The school also made the best Peanut Butter cookies I’ve ever had, have not been able to find a comparable recipe though have tried many. I hope the Oatmeal cookies work out. Thanks

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