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Poor Man's Cookies Recipe

Poor Man's Cookies Recipe

In the 1930s, producers of a popular radio program called Jake and Lena invited listeners to write in for this recipe. My mother changed the name from Jake and Lena Cookies to Poor Man's Cookies because they contained no eggs, milk or nuts. Despite the name, the cookies are rich in taste!
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Bake: 10 min./batch YIELD:36 servings


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats


  • 1. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in water and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in oats.
  • 2. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to stand 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 3 dozen.

Nutritional Facts

1 cookie: 112 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 54mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate (9g sugars, 1g fiber), 1g protein.

Reviews for Poor Man's Cookies

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sstetzel User ID: 158954 224535
Reviewed Apr. 9, 2015

"Either method will produce a great cookie. The change in the recipe was made by our Test Kitchen after several flat cookie complaints. They retested and produced a nice cookie with the recipe as written above. Use whichever one works best for you.

Sue Stetzel
Field Editor Manager
Taste of Home Magazine"

Quiltpiecer User ID: 2646458 224434
Reviewed Apr. 8, 2015

"I have the original Reminisce magazine recipe from 1992. It appears that STollefson is correct in that there is an error on the webpage. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup shortening - NOT 1 cup, which would make the cookies spread to much and be thin. It also calls for 1/4 cup HOT water. I have not made these cookies yet, but will follow the magazine version when I do."

MaField User ID: 7316134 40086
Reviewed Jun. 26, 2013

"I also found this recipe previously and It calls for 1/2 cup MELTED shortening. Also the baking soda is dissolved in 1/4 hot water. Other than that it is basically the same. I rate that one 5 stars. I make it all the time. the trick is to NOT overbake. I like a soft, chewy cookie and this one is great for that. Be sure the let them cool on the cookie sheet a while before removing them from the pan."

STollefson User ID: 3333254 11884
Reviewed Feb. 11, 2013

"Same photo as in the TasteofHome's Low-fat Country Cooking book...but shortening amount is different! Original recipe has 1/2 the calls for 1/2 cup of BUTTER, melted & cooled. Everything else is identical. I'd give that original recipe 5 stars...everyone always loves those cookies & asks for the recipe (plus they'd be 1/2 the fat!!!)

Perhaps an error was made on this website, or perhaps it was "lightened up" for the low-fat cookbook? The extra shortening may be the reason one of the bakers was having issues with the cookies spreading too much."

annsway1 User ID: 1667005 37604
Reviewed Oct. 12, 2011

"To Princess 1982; you are suppose to use 'rolled oats' as stated. That may be your problem. I had no trouble with them and the taste was excellent."

CookingHubby User ID: 3580305 40083
Reviewed Dec. 8, 2010

"Taste good and easy to make with simple food staples!"

princess1982 User ID: 3446566 70708
Reviewed May. 7, 2009

"I've made these cookies three times, and while I love the taste, they do not look at all like the picture! Mine flatten out & are thin as paper! What am I doing wrong? I've bought new baking soda, mixed them with a spoon instead of beaters, & tried not spraying the pans. Any help would be appreciated. I love the taste, but the appearance is also important to me. Thanks"

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