Crunchies — Traditional South African Oatmeal Cookie Bars

This is my most searched recipe and most requested by friends and family. There’s nothing better than a Crunchie and a cup of tea in the morning! 

Crunchies - Traditional South African Oatmeal Cookie Bars.

 Kids of all ages will love to help you make them! (Note: mini rolling pin and blankie)

Aja helping make Crunchies

And they will love to find one in their lunchbox!

Fill an Oxo Cookie Jar with fresh Crunchies for a hostess gift.

Crunchies in Cookie Jar

South Africa…

Crunchies were my favorite “biscuit”—the South African term for cookies. They are to South Africa what Chocolate Chip Cookies are to America. Imagine: Mini-homemade-granola-bar meets chewy-oatmeal-raisin-cookie… but better! There is something so satisfying about biting into these sweet, crunchy, toasted-oat-and-coconut squares of goodness!

My older sister, Sharon, often made them when I was growing up in Johannesburg. The first time I attempted to make her recipe for Sam—my boyfriend at the time—they came out like flat, pieces of hardwood! This was one of the first things I ever baked for him, and I could see he was concerned.


Later that year we visited Sam’s hometown of Calgary, Canada. We took a trip to the South African store, SA Meat Shops, and to my delight they had delicious Crunchies for sale. When back home in Los Angeles, I called the store for the recipe, and Inna was kind enough to read it to me from her “Kook en Geniet” recipe book. (“Cook and Enjoy It”—in Afrikaans, an official language of South Africa, which developed from Dutch.)

A chance to recover from the disastrous cardboard bars!

Sam’s family now fight over who is going to take home the leftovers—if there are any! They are the perfect breakfast/morning treat with a cup of tea or coffee.

Though finicky, they are quite easy to make. The recipe below is the result of experimenting with different temperatures, times and ingredients.I hope you find the details helpful.

Enjoy! And please let me know how you do…

Tips for Success

Weighing ingredients is far easier and less cleanup!

Just stick your bowl on the scale, set it to zero and pour in each ingredient—resetting the scale before adding a new one.

I couldn’t live without my Salter Kitchen Scale.

You can find Lyle’s Golden Syrup at most supermarkets these days, or at British Specialty Stores, but if it isn’t available honey is a great substitute.

Lyle's Golden Syrup

I prefer using butter—for health and taste—but you can use margarine. (Inna in Canada uses margarine & honey.)

Scoop out the syrup with a mini spatula for an accurate measurement.

Scooping out Syrup

Microwave just until melted; then cool for 5 minutes.

Microwave butter and syrup

Distribute evenly.

Distribute evenly with the back of a spoon

Flatten a little with the back of a wooden spoon.

Flatten with the back of a spoon

Use the rolling pin to compact and even out.

Flatten with Rolling Pin

Cover loosely with foil if browning too much.

Cover loosely with foil

The longer you bake them the more “crunchy” they will get. If you prefer them more “chewy” just bake them for less time. (23 – 25 minutes)

Set on a wire rack to cool for 10 – 12 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack

Cut into 1 1/2 – 2 inch squares.

This recipe makes 54 x 1 1/2 inch squares. (9 x 6)

Cutting the crunchies 

 Cool Tools

Try Orna’s Oaty Chews—Plain or Chocolate (updated Crunchies with Coach’s Oats) >>


Chocolate and plain Crunchies


Crunchies - Traditional South African Oatmeal Cookie Bars
Yields 54
Sweet, crunchy, toasted-oat-and-coconut squares of goodness. This recipe makes 54 x 1 1/2 inch squares (9 x 6). 4 Weight Watchers PointsPlus for one Crunchie.
Write a review
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
145 calories
17 g
9 g
8 g
3 g
5 g
32 g
72 g
7 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 145
Calories from Fat 67
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 5g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 9mg
Sodium 72mg
Total Carbohydrates 17g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 7g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 4 cups (11 ½ oz) regular oats (not quick cooking)
  2. 3 cups (9 oz) unsweetened shredded coconut
  3. 1 cup (4 ½ oz) all-purpose flour
  4. 1 ½ cups (10 ½ oz) granulated sugar
  5. ½ teaspoon table salt
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  7. 1 cup butter (salted) or stick margarine (I use butter)
  8. 3 tablespoons (2 3/8 oz) golden syrup or honey
  9. ¼ cup low fat milk
  10. 2 teaspoons baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  11. vegetable or canola oil spray
  1. Set the oven rack in the middle, and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. (160 C)
  2. Spray 10 x 15” jelly roll pan with canola oil spray.
  3. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients (except for baking soda) very well.
  4. Melt butter (or margarine) and syrup (or honey) in a small bowl in the microwave – about 1 minute. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir baking soda into just under ¼ cup milk, making sure it dissolves completely.
  6. Add the cooled butter mixture and the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix very well with a spoon—or even better, just get in there with your hands! Make sure to incorporate dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Distribute evenly on prepared baking sheet. Press down very well with the back of a flat spoon, or roll with a rolling pin. (I distribute and flatten a bit with the spoon and then use the rolling pin to compact and even out.) Push down any edges that come up with your fingers or the spoon.
  8. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes until golden brown. Rotate pan after 16 - 18 minutes. Keep an eye on them; if browning too quickly cover loosely with foil. And/or turn the oven down to 300 degrees F for the last five to ten minutes of baking. I usually cover them with foil after 16 - 18 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and set on wire cooling rack for 10 - 12 minutes. Cut while still warm into 1 1/2 inch squares, with a sharp, serrated knife—preferably with a round tip.
  10. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. You might have to carefully run the knife through the cuts again before removing them.
  1. The longer you bake them the more "crunchy" they will get. If you prefer them more "chewy" just bake them for less time. (25 minutes.)
  2. Cut your foil to fit the pan before you put them in the oven so you're prepared! Remove them from the oven to rotate and cover, keeping the oven door closed, so the temperature of the oven doesn't go down.
  3. If necessary, put them on top of another baking sheet to stop the bottom from browning too quickly.
  1. Quaker regular oats, not quick cooking.
  2. Bob's Red Mill Unsweetened Shredded Coconut.
  3. Lyle's Golden Syrup.
  4. I prefer low fat over whole milk, or they can get too greasy.
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
  6. Freeze in a Gallon Ziplock Freezer Bag; suck out the air with a straw.
Adapted from "Kook en Geniet" by S.J.A. de Villiers
Adapted from "Kook en Geniet" by S.J.A. de Villiers

Author: Orna

Orna Purkin is the creator of OrnaBakes—where healthy meets yummy. As a former Weight Watchers Leader and Ambassador, her passion is to inspire others with her healthy recipes, favorite food finds, and weight-loss tips — with the odd confession here and there!

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  1. Dear Orna
    I live in Israel and sometimes yearning for home tastes, I am always experimenting with how to make the perfect melktert, rusks, boolkes and crunchies. Sometimes my crunchies come out too dry and sometimes too hard. If I don’t have golden syrup, I use Silan, which is a date honey, and is the perfect substitute. I have found that adding 1 egg helps to make them not too hard and fragile. Thank you so much for your site and recipes.
    thanks for your site,

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Isme,
      Thank you so much for your feedback. I’d love to try your crunchies version with the egg – please email it to me. And the next South African recipe on my list was melktert – my absolute fav! Would love to see your recipe!
      Where about in Israel are you? I have a lot of family there.
      Please stay in touch.
      All the best,

      Post a Reply
    • I make my own golden syrup to bake crunchies. I am in Eilat en ek is Afrikaans

      Post a Reply
      • I’m sure it’s delicious with homemade syrup! I love Eilat – haven’t been in many many years.

        Post a Reply
        • So you should come and see Eilat, developed and expanded much. I wll try your recipe on Friday. I have one without the milk and it is great too, but yours sounds like the one my mom used to bake for me to bring back to Israel every visit down South, :-)

          Post a Reply
  2. These “crunchies” are deserving of another name. Something like “THE best cookie/bar/biscuit EVER that complements a cup of coffee like no other treat in the world!”

    I love them because they are unique – yet vaguely familiar (hints of an oatmeal cookie but sooo much better). I CRAVE them. They are incredibly tasty and super satisfying. I wish I had one right now! Everyone should try this recipe at least once. My guess is that most people will LOVE it. If you don’t . . . just forward them to me. I will eat them and maybe share with the rest of the crowds that are always trying to steal my crunchies!!!!!

    YAY ORNA for bringing this awesome South African Recipe to my world!

    Post a Reply
    • OK – I’ll make you some! How could I not, with that kind of a review?!

      Post a Reply
  3. Orna,
    These are delicious! My family loved them.
    Thanks so much!

    Post a Reply
    • You are most welcome! So glad you liked them.

      Post a Reply
  4. Hi Orna , after trying many oatmeal cookies and energy bars recipes I tried your crunchies recipe and it is absolutely perfect!! I was making them for my mother and sister and as there were no boys at home I made a quarter of the amount in the recipe , thinking it would be too much. They were so good I ended up making them twice only for the three of us and by the evening it was all gone. Thank you so much for this great recipe!!

    Post a Reply
    • Thank YOU so much Maya for your lovely comments. I hope to hear more from you in the near future!
      xo Orna

      Post a Reply
  5. Orna, you are terrific. I had a cup of flour and lots of oats to use up before Passover. So I just made these crunchies. They are so fabulous – they even passed the test of sharing them with a South African neighbour who is a wonderful baker. I made them with buckwheat honey because that’s what I had. Worked out the calories, too. Recipe made 60 small ones, 90 calories each. Yummy. Thanks for your terrific blog.

    Post a Reply
    • Orna, I hit thumbs down when I totally meant thumbs up:-) – everyone loves them !

      Post a Reply
  6. It is pouring with rain here in Sydney, and the weather is starting to turn chilly with Winter on its way. What can possibly be a better activity than baking! I am just about to put my batch in the oven and the family of teenaged boys cannot wait to taste them! A real call from the home country. Thank you!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Romny, I loved reading your message – I hope that you and your boys enjoyed eating the Crunchies!

      Post a Reply
  7. Hi Orna
    Thanks for the great recipe. I have just made a batch but I didn’t have any butter in the house and I don’t use margarine so I substituted oil instead – I used 180ml sunflower oil instead of the cup of butter (I googled the conversion.) I was a bit worried but they turned out just fine. The kids have already eaten half the pan and say they are delicious (they don’t know I changed the recipe…) Thanks again from a cloudy and cool Somerset West, SA!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Lisa, Great to know about the sunflower oil – thanks for letting me know. So glad your kids enjoyed them!

      Post a Reply
  8. Hi Orna! I want to try these! How many weight watch points plus are these, please? Thanks!!! : )

    Post a Reply
  9. As a mom, I am always running around, driving and in need of quick, healthy (or healthy-ish) snacks. Thank you for this list! I have never tried one item here but I already can’t wait to go buy some of these! I’m excited to try something new.

    Post a Reply
    • I can’t believe you’ve never tried any of these Jen! Looking forward to hearing what you think!

      Post a Reply
  10. It’s a freezing cold day in Hobart, snow on the mountain and I am missing my Mom and Dad terribly, think I might just give this recipe a go – hopefully it will not only warm up the kitchen, but take me a little closer to them back in Cape Town. Will let you know how it goes. :)

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Heather, I really hope you made the Crunchies and they gave you that warm taste of home! We are going to Cape Town in November – SO excited, I haven’t been back home in over TEN years! Please let me know how you liked them! :) Orna

      Post a Reply
  11. I am so glad I found your recipe! It’s almost exactly how my mom made them (and she can’t remember the recipe). I’m telling you, Lyles Golden Syrup is THE secret ingredient. Doesn’t taste the same without. I didn’t have any I hand so made some with honey as want some crunchies NOW but am saving recipe for later and will try a few more of yours.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Shayne, I agree that Lyle’s Golden Syrup give them that special taste that we know and love! Let me know how the next batch turn out! Where are you located? Best, Orna

      Post a Reply
      • This first batch came out delicious. Going to buy the “proper” syrup tomorrow though 😉 I’m in Port Elizabeth (SA)

        Post a Reply
  12. Just made a batch of crunchies , they look and taste amazing, I even added sesame seeds for some omega 3, but they are too chewy :( . I did turn down the temp but was worried the bottom was burning so took them out at 36mins. How do I sort it out ? We like crispy in this house.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Dina, I’m not sure if the sesame seeds added to the chewiness, so maybe next time try one batch with and one batch without. I would put them on another baking sheet and bake a little longer, covered with foil after 15 min. BTW – do you have an oven thermometer? It helps to know if your oven is accurate. Mine are sometimes a little chewier in the middle (which I like), but I’m going to increase the bake time on the recipe to 25 – 35 minutes for those of you who like their crunch! Thank you for your input. Please let me know how the next batch turns out!

      Post a Reply
    • Dina, if you want them crispy then make them a bit thinner. Make sure you keep a close eye though :)

      Post a Reply
  13. Hi, just wondering what the oz. measurements mean, ie “4 Cups (11 1/2 oz), 3 Cups (9 oz), etc.

    It would be helpful to know how to adjust the sugar amount if we use sweetened coconut flakes.

    Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    Post a Reply
    • The oz (ounces) measurements are for those who like to bake by weight – which is the most accurate method. But if you don’t have a scale, the recipe works perfectly if you just use a dry cup measure for the dry ingredients. I’ve never used sweetened coconut flakes, but you could try cutting the sugar in half and see how they turn out! Let me know…

      Post a Reply
  14. what tempareture is required for crunchy oats.

    Post a Reply
  15. Thanks Orna.
    Great recipe!
    Was a little home sick for Africa today. My little 2 yr old girl loves oatmeal and cinnamon so here’s hoping she likes these too. Just waiting for them to cool a little :-)

    Post a Reply
    • I hope they gave you a taste of home and that your little one loved them! Soon she’ll be able to help you make them. :)

      Post a Reply
  16. Yum! My South African cousins shared a pic of these the other day on Facebook and I immediately wanted to try them. They lived up to their delicious look by being totally scrumptious. All the family loved them and they worked well with gluten free flour so my wheat intolerant child could join in with the treat.

    One tip is to do step 4 before step 3 so the cooling can happen automatically instead of having to wait a while…

    Now I’m off to see what other tasty recipes you have here…

    Post a Reply
    • Helen, I’m so happy you and the family liked them! And good to know about the gluten free flour. Please do let me know what else you make!

      Post a Reply
  17. I made these on the spur of the moment (couldn’t wait for my mom to text me her recipe so Googled ‘crunchies’ and found your page) – I didn’t have any shredded coconut in the house; left it out and the crunchies still taste really, really good. Thank you for posting the recipe.

    Post a Reply
    • My pleasure Natalie, and good to know they’re still tasty without the coconut. Thanks for sharing.

      Post a Reply
  18. How many oz is the margarine in stead of a cup than you

    Post a Reply
  19. I have been searching for a good crunchy recipe since I had samples at a little cafe at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, where I live. When I found your recipe I was really excited and tried it out this passed weekend. I added cashew nuts since its just something I always imagined to be in crunchies for some reason. The result was fabulous! Better than at the cafe I went to and I was seriously considering buying a batch from them! Now I can make my own and its great. The flavour is perfect and is wonderful to enjoy with a cup of coffee.

    Post a Reply
    • Ooh Yumnaah – I LOVE cashews – how could that be bad?! I’ll have to try that next time – thanks for sharing!

      Post a Reply
  20. Yum, yum, yum!
    Takes me back to my childhood.

    Post a Reply
    • It’s amazing Claire how little squares can transport you back in time! :)

      Post a Reply
  21. I was about 10 when I moved to the states and could never get over the stuff I grew up on in South Africa. I just found your blog and cant wait to try some of ur stuff. Hopefully it will satisfy my South African cravings.

    Post a Reply
    • I’m happy you found me Michele! Let me know what you try. (I recommend crunchies and bulkas!)

      Post a Reply
    • Thank you for sharing my recipe Tammy – much appreciated!

      Post a Reply
  22. I’m a South African living in Germany and I remember eating crunchies as a child.I baked these today and they tasted just like the ones I remember eating back in SA.Thx for sharing your recipe.

    Post a Reply
    • My pleasure Sumaya – glad they gave you a taste of SA.

      Post a Reply
  23. So good! I grew up in South Africa and haven’t been back for 10 years. This took me straight back home!
    I couldn’t find unsweetened coconut in the stores here in suburban Chicago, so I used sweetened coconut and cut the sugar added in half. It’s so perfect! The Lyle’s syrup makes it, I almost cried when I saw it in the International Aisle at the grocery store.
    Listen, I’m not a cook at all. But I work in a laboratory and I can follow a scientific protocol. You wrote that recipe so detailed, just like a lab procedure. I actually made something good for once, it looks just like your photos and I went into the kitchen to find my husband scarfing down crunchies before they were even cooled. And he doesn’t even like coconut!
    Thank you! You’re awesome!

    Post a Reply
    • Bethany your review made me smile from ear to ear. Thank you

      Post a Reply
  24. Hi Orna

    I have hardly ever baked in my life but have recently found out that I am Gluten intolerant and ,remembering crunchies from my South African childhood thought that I might try (in order to replace the tons of bought biscuits I was prone to consume before the Gluten intolerance).

    My question to you Orna(or any reader here)is can I substitute maize flour (called Maizena here in S.Africa) for the conventional wheat flour and would I use the same quantity if this was possible ???

    Any help welcome

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Dave, I’m afraid I don’t have any experience with gluten free baking, so I can’t give you an informed answer. My first instinct would be to say no. Let me know if you try it, or find a better answer. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. :(

      Post a Reply
    • Happy to hear it Hazel! (One of my favorite words from the old days in SA

      Post a Reply
  25. Hi Orna,
    Just wanted to say dankie skattie, your crunchie recipe is a winner! I made a big batch over the weekend for a braai and it was a hit with Saffas and non-Saffas alike. The minute I bit into the warm goodness fresh from the oven I was transported back to childhood. :) They were exactly as I remembered! Thank you for the photos of the process as well, its always nice to know what you’re in for when you start a recipe, though this one is pretty simple, which I love.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Serena,

      Loved your comment and I hope you don’t mind I posted it on my OrnaBakes Facebook page! And then I looked up your name to see if I could tag you – are you friendly with Aubrey Loots? He used to be my hairdresser! Let me know if that’s you! Nice website BTW 😉 Thanks for taking the time to write in… Best, Orna

      Post a Reply
      • Well that certainly is flattering! You are more than welcome to post my comment on Facebook, the world needs to hear about these transcendent Crunchies, haha! I will definitely do my bit :) Please do tag me, it would tickle me pink if you could mention Gourmonde as well, its my passion project, featuring modern design from fellow South Africans.

        It IS a small world indeed, I can’t believe you know Aubrey! Yes that’s me, my aunt and uncle met Aubs in South Africa just before they left for the US, he was 20 at the time I think. When he moved they all became good friends, I see him often! And of course I go to his Hair Art and Science Academy for my locks too. We are all so proud of how well he is doing, how did you meet him?

        Post a Reply
  26. Hi, I just wanted to add my bit. I was fortunate enough to grow up with these delicacies. I have just tried this recipe with Lyles Butterscotch syrup. It’s just as nice and slightly different.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for sharing Brendan! I’ve never even seen Lyle’s Butterscotch syrup – but how could that be bad?!

      Post a Reply
  27. Hi Orna

    As an expat living in Canada, ” ‘n boer ma’am ‘n plan!” I use maple syrup instead of Lyle’s or Golden syrup even though I can get those here. I also reduce the sugar to .75 cup and I add 1tsp ground ginger. Makes a delicious crunchy. I’ve also made your version without changes (others Han reducing the sugar to 1c) and it’s just a no fail recipe! Thanks.


    Post a Reply
    • Hi Sharon, your Canadian maple-ginger versions sound delish! I’ll have to try them sometime. Thanks for writing in.

      Post a Reply
  28. Hey there!! Thank you so much for the recipe! I am watching my weight these days and really love krunchies. I was wondering if you know the number of calories in one 100g krunchie? bar

    Post a Reply
  29. Comment I just love the simplicity of your recipes.. The Crunchies were so easy to make…

    Post a Reply
  30. Thanx for receipe.How would I adjust a receipe if I want to use the crumbs (I have a LOT:20 cups) in a muesli rusk receipe and your receipe-adjusting the sugar etc?

    Post a Reply
  31. I had to substitute the coconut for shredded almonds but it was soooo good. I even broke some of them up and mixed with nuts and raisins to make my own muesli! All in all the most basic yet delicious recipe I have ever used! Thank you so much!

    Post a Reply
    • You’re most welcome, Liam! That muesli sounds yummy – might have to try it! :)

      Post a Reply
  32. Thanks, I leant my Kook en Geniet to a friend now I need this specific recipe

    Post a Reply


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