Cornmeal Cookies

Cornmeal is simply not used enough in sweets.

There, I said it: eat more cornmeal.


I like soft polenta (mush) and hard polenta (either – like oatmeal – taste sooo much better when made with milk instead of water). I like cheesy grits and creamy polenta. I like it with bits of smoky bacon and fried fresh sage leaves too. I like upside-down cranberry cornmeal cake and cornmeal cranberry loaf – actually anything with cornmeal & cranberries. As in those cookies.


I wanted to bake some cookies for a fundraiser lunch at the Washington Volunteer Fire & Rescue. Chewy Chocolate chip cookies always go, coconut bars don’t last either (so I make them) but I also wanted something appealing yet a little different, something that would get your attention.

I often turn to Martha Stewart when I need sweet baking ideas. No fail that time again, the “Cornmeal Thyme Cookies” caught my attention. I thought I would add more of a Northeast seasonal twist by replacing the raisins by dried cranberries. I would also introduce a lemon teaser, both by choosing lemon thyme and adding a little lemon oil to the dough.

Note on butter: if you use melted butter, the cookies will spread more as they bake. Give them room to spread on your baking sheet! If you are using soft butter, the cookies will be thicker and have a smaller foot-print. Either are good, it’s just a different look.

Note on cornmeal: remember that the coarser the grind, the more “grainy” the batter will be. I have made some cookies using both Bob’s Red Mill Polenta and a much finer (almost local) corn meal. Polenta meal yields a more rustic cookie; the finer corn meal a smoother one. Again, both are good, just a different texture.

Note on how they tasted: they all disappear at the bake sale (while we had extra brownies and chocolate chip cookies left). I had to make another batch for the following day! (of course, somebody called them “froufrou cookies”… ssshh…)

Cornmeal Cranberry Lemon Thyme Cookies


Yield: 3 to 4 dozens cookies

  • 1 3/4 cup (230 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (125g) stone-ground yellow cornmeal (choose your grind; see note above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks/230 g) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 1/4 cup (290 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh lemon thyme


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cornmeal, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter & sugar together using a hand held mixer (or a wire whisk and wrist power) on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add lemon oil and mix in eggs, 1 at a time. Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until just combined. Mix in cranberries and thyme with a wooden spoon (the dough will be thick & heavy).
  4. Drop balls of batter onto the lined sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart (the bigger the balls, the more space you should leave). Bake, rotating and switching positions of sheets midway through, until pale golden, 10 to 14 minutes. Let cool for just a few minute on the baking sheet until hard enough to handle without breaking. Using a spatula, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Locavore log: eggs from our chicken, thyme from the garden, butter from our cow share, corn meal from Pennsylvania.

6 thoughts on “Cornmeal Cookies”

  • Now that sounds like a good cookie. I showed your recipe to my wife last night and she is excited to try them. I love that you are using cornmeal in them, we certainly have plenty of that. I can’t wait to try them, thanks for the great recipe.

  • Ok, so my wife made a batch of these today and I now have a favorite cookie…so delicious. The only thing we did differently was to use some of our frozen cranberries rather than dried. Thank you.:)

    The cranberries came from a bog we found many years ago while foraging, eggs from our chickens, thyme and corn from our garden. Now if we just had our own butter…

  • whoa, Mike – you guys act fast!
    Actually it’s a very versatile cookie, you can vary the fruit & the flavoring at will (raisin, blueberries, chopped dry peaches, candied ginger etc). I like what you did using frozen cranberries.
    I am envious that you were able to use corn that you grew. I am planning to grow a lot more corn next year. We’ll probably need a way to grind it! I am also toying with the idea of planting a few cranberries shrubs. Virginia may not be thought as cranberry country, but it’s worth trying.

    Thanks for the report, and I am glad you two enjoyed them.

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