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Kalyn's Kitchen

Whole Grain Low-Sugar (or sugar-free) Chocolate Cookies with Pecans

Whole Grain Low-Sugar (or sugar-free) Chocolate Cookies with Pecans are delicious for a healthier chocolate cookie for the holidays!

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Whole Grain Low-Sugar or sugar-free Chocolate Cookies with Pecans

When Suzanne Lenzer wrote about One Smart Cookie for Mark Bittman’s column in the New York Times, I was intrigued with her idea of trying to make a chocolate cookie using whole wheat flour and oatmeal. I saved the recipe to my “recipes to try” folder back in April, so you can tell there isn’t a lot of cookie-baking going on around here for most of the year.

But during the holidays I do like to add a few cookies to my collection of Carb-Conscious Christmas recipes, so I’ve made these Whole Grain Low-Sugar (or sugar-free) Chocolate Cookies with Pecans a few times to come up with a version that’s diet-friendly and still delicious.

This may be my favorite chocolate cookie recipe ever! I did make quite a few changes to Suzanne’s recipe, substituting Stevia-in-the-Raw Granulated Sweetener for most of the sugar (or you could use Splenda), switching pecans for the chocolate chips, and using ground “oatmeal crumbs” and doubling the oatmeal for an even more whole-grain cookie.

I didn’t try making a gluten-free version of this recipe with almond flour, but I’m betting it would work. If anyone tries other experiments, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Combine whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients.

In a smaller bowl mix the softened or melted butter, Stevia-in-the-Raw Granulated Sweetener or Splenda, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Stir the butter mixture into the dry ingredients (and try to resist the temptation to just start eating the dough immediately!)

Mix the oatmeal or “oatmeal crumbs” into the dough, which will be stiff. (I think this photo is from my first version with whole oatmeal, and you can use that if you don’t want to bother grinding up the oatmeal to make “oatmeal crumbs” but I preferred the cookies with coarsely ground oatmeal.)

Then mix the finely chopped pecans into the dough mixture.

I used parchment paper to bake these, but I don’t know if it’s essential. I used a heaping tablespoon of dough, and then rolled it into a small ball.

Then use a flat spoon or turner to smash down the cookies slightly. They don’t spread out too much, so you can put them pretty close together.

Bake cookies about 15-16 minutes at 350F/175C.

These cookies were slightly crumbly when they’re hot, so let them cool a while before you eat them.

Whole Grain Low-Sugar (or sugar-free) Chocolate Cookies with Pecans
(Makes about 20 medium-sized cookies, recipe adapted from One Smart Cookie created by Suzanne Lenzer for the New York Times.)

2/3 cup whole wheat flour (you could use white whole wheat, but I just used regular whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup + 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine (softened at room temperature or melted on lowest setting in microwave)
6 T Stevia-in-the-Raw Granulated Sweetener or granular Splenda (or use sugar, if you don’t care about having a low-sugar cookie)
3 T brown sugar (or use 3 T more Stevia or Splenda if you want sugar-free cookies)
1 T vanilla

1/2 cup “oatmeal crumbs” or rolled oats (To make “oatmeal crumbs” buzz the rolled oats in the food processor or blender until they are coarsely ground, then measure the amount you need. I use these in lots of baking, and they’re also good as a binder in meatballs or meatloaf.)

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (measure 1/4 cup pecans, then chop with chef’s knife)


Preheat oven to 350F/175C. In a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, combine the whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a smaller bowl, stir together the melted or softened butter, Stevia or Splenda, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients. (I used a rubber scraper to scraper out every bit!) Stir the “oatmeal crumbs” into this mixture, then fold in the finely chopped pecans.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper, or if you don’t have any parchment paper, I’d use non-stick spray. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into a ball, then arrange on parchment, leaving about two inches between cookies because you’re going to smash them down. Use a flat turner or the bottom of a glass to smash down the cookies so they’re about 1/4 inch thick.

Bake cookies 15-16 minutes, until they are fairly firm to the touch. Remove and let cool on cooling rack for 20 minutes or longer before eating. These will keep several days in a plastic container with a lid if you can manage to keep them around that long!

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South Beach Diet Suggestions:

If you want to make these cookies as South Beach Diet friendly as possible, make them with all Stevia or Splenda and using margarine, but honestly I wouldn’t worry about a little butter in cookies during the holidays. (Be sure to choose a margarine that doesn’t have water listed as the first ingredient if you choose that option.) They would still be limited to phase 2 or 3 because of the whole wheat flour.

Find More Recipes Like This One:

Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan.

Nutritional Information?

I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn’t have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Ideas for Low-Sugar Cookies:
15 Delicious Low-Sugar or Sugar-Free Cookies to Bake for the Holidays from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Whole Grain Low-Sugar (or sugar-free) Chocolate Cookies with Pecans [found on KalynsKitchen.com]
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    22 Comments on “Whole Grain Low-Sugar (or sugar-free) Chocolate Cookies with Pecans”

  1. Suzanne Lenzer's Whole Grain Low Sugar (or sugar-free) Chocolate Cookie with Pecans were quite good!! They turned out exactly as I thought they would. They seem to be a true recipe. I used all Splenda, no brown sugar. I was searching for a whole grain no sugar chocolate cookie, and I found it!! Thank You Suzanne!!

  2. Hello Kalyn. This is my first time posting a comment to your blog. I just wanted to let you know that this cookie recipe is easily one of the best I have ever made. Not only do I love thesse cookies, but my family and even sugar-loving husband loves them. I have been asked to make these cookies multiple times and I think they genuinely make my family happy when they see a new batch made! Your blog is user-friendly, pleasing to the eye and overall a great resource for people that love to cook and eat yummy food. Thank you! =)

  3. The cookies are just kind of crumbly when they're hot.

  4. Can't wait to try…they are in the oven now. Curious, why do they need to cool for 20 minutes or longer?

  5. I don't really know, but I'm guessing they won't be that good without the cocoa. I'd probably look for another whole wheat cookie recipe. There are a couple of them in the recipe archives (on the left) under low-sugar desserts.

  6. Hi – I just found this recipe and want to mail them as a care package to my husband, who's on the road. He's trying to limit white flour & sugar…but he is NOT a big chocolate fan. Does anyone have an opinion on how they would be if I left out to cocoa?

  7. Oldwaystable, thanks!

    Julia, I measured the oatmeal after it was ground, will edit that in the recipe (thanks!)

  8. Do you measure the oatmeal before or after it's ground? Looks delish! thank you

  9. Love all of your whole grain recipes!

  10. Joanne, the cookies are more like a flour/butter based cookie than an oatmeal cookie, especially if you grind the oatmeal. Very tasty though!

    Lea Ann, I guess it's a personal preference, but actually when I'm adapting a recipe from sugar to Splenda, I use Splenda+brown sugar in the same amounts as the sugar in the original recipe. I don't find Splenda to be that much sweeter than sugar, but I do like it in recipes much more when the Splenda is combined with a small amount of brown sugar.

  11. I'm glad to see this recipe. I like Splenda and have not taken the time to learn how to cook with it. All I know is that you don
    t need as much of it as sugar. This will be a good starter recipe for me. Thanks for the recipe. These look delicious.

  12. Wow those look so thick and delicious! I've actually never seen a chocolate oatmeal cookie before – but why not?

  13. Glad people are liking these, because I can assure everyone that even with whole wheat flour, these cookies are completely delicious! I tried them out on my sister Pam and she gave them thumbs up!

  14. I can't get enough of your cookies:)

  15. These are right up my alley…I love oatmeal in chocolate chip cookies!
    They look great Kalyn- looking forward to making them soon!

  16. Looks like a great way to celebrate the season. I love the combination of oats and chocolate – yum!

  17. Another great option for those watching their sugar, but still craving holiday treats. I really like the idea of the oatmeal crumbs and would like to try that in some of my cookie and muffin recipes.

  18. boy, this one is tough to even read…

    i will love your next recipe, but whole wheat cookies sound … well, they sound like an attempt that will never measure up

  19. Mmmm, oatmeal. Thank god they recent started manufacturing gluten free oats in special mills! Now I can eat them like everyone else.

  20. Oatmeal and chocolate sound like a killer combo to me. And what cookie recipe doesn't benefit from chocolate chips and brown sugar? These look so tasty.