Crunchies like mama makes them

Crunchies – A South African Favourite

When I orginally started my blog it was for the sole purpose of keeping a record of all my recipes for my children who live around the world.  My mother’s recipes have always remained very close to my heart, as I lost her in my teenage years. Although there are only a few, I feel they are a way of keeping her memory alive.  

As my blog progressed and  I kept trying out new recipes and developing them, I forgot the reason for starting out in the first place.  I am planning on making as many of these old recipes as possible for posterity’s sake, even though I am shocked at the amount of sugar and butter in some of them. Many of our family dinners that I thought my children would remember from their childhood  have turned into an absolute “NO NO” . The food revolution has created such awareness in the way we cook and the ingredients we use, but I think there is still a little space for nostalgia and loads of comfort in South Africa’s favourite oat and coconut crunchie.

Biscuits Crunchies

I know every South African has grown up on crunchies, whether made by their mothers or grandmothers. For those of you who are not familiar with crunchies, they are similar to the Australian Anzac Biscuit, and are crisp and “crunchy”.   I have found most American cookies are soft, and Americans find crispy sweet cookies unusual as it is normally just the savoury crackers that are crisp.  If you  have not tasted a South African crunchie please try this recipe and see what you think.  Let me know if you like them.  For my South African friends, leave a message and share your “crunchie memories”.

Crunchies a South African recipe

How to make Crunchies :  These are quick to mix up and are easy enough for the children to help.  Mix together the flour, oats,  ground coconut, sugar and salt.  Melt the butter and syrup in a pot and when it starts to bubble add the bicarbonate of soda.  Once it foams up pour the buttery mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir together and press into a well greased baking tray by using the back of a metal spoon.  The mixture need to be compacted well. Use a baking tray to suit how thick you want the crunchies to be.  Sometimes I only use half the tray if I want them slightly thicker. They are not going to rise much so you will know what thickness they will be once pressed into the tray.

Remember to cut the crunchies whilst still warm, but allow them to cool in the tray.  If you wait until they have dried out they will be too crisp to cut.

Crunchie biscuits

Try my Cinnamon Cookies here ,  Traditional Scottish Shortbread here , Biscotti here or Lemon Drop Cookies here

4.84 from 6 votes
Crunchies a South African recipe
Crunchies like Mama makes them
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
Traditional South African recipe
Course: cookies
Servings: 16
Author: Shades of Cinnamon
  • 175 g butter
  • 1 Tablespoon syrup
  • 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup dessicated ground coconut
  • 1 cup flour sieved
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  1. Melt butter, syrup together and when bubbling addthe bicarb.
  2. Add this to the oats, coconut , flour, sugar, and salt and crumb.
  3. Butter a baking tray 9x13in or 8x8in depending on how thick you want them. They will not rise much.
  4. Pack the mixture tightly into the buttered tray by pushing down hard with the back of a metal spoon.
  5. Bake at 350ºF/180ºC for 15minutes then turn down to 320ºF/160ºC for a further 10 mins.
  6. Cut when hot but only remove from the tin when cold
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  • Reply Eric July 6, 2016 at 5:17 PM

    Great with Afternoon Tea or Coffee

  • Reply Jennifer Eales July 6, 2016 at 8:17 PM

    Dear Ev, I so love your blog and look forward to getting your latest recipes. I remember you being the most amazing cook and you have taken it to the next level with superb recipes and absolutely stunning styling and photos.

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon July 10, 2016 at 8:09 AM

      Ah Jen, those were the days !!!! I don’t remember much about the food back then but do remember all the good times and laughs. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  • Reply ratna July 6, 2016 at 8:39 PM

    I love crunchies, I mean anything that is crisp and has a crunch. Indian snacks and desserts are full of such recipes. I would like to give your recipe a try soon.
    My reason for starting a blog is same as yours Ev.
    Revisiting your mum’s recipes is such a wonderful way to remember her….

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon July 6, 2016 at 11:13 PM

      Yes its been great going through her recipes again. Makes me very nostalgic

  • Reply Elizabeth July 9, 2016 at 7:33 PM

    An evocative and memorable post, Ev! Keep doing what you’re doing. Over time, I have no doubt that your children (and grandchildren) will reproduce your recipes, as you are keeping alive the ones your mother did for you. Gorg work. Have a great weekend! Hugs.

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon July 10, 2016 at 7:49 AM

      Thanks so much Elizabeth. I am really enjoying revisiting these old recipes. Luv xxx

  • Reply Anje March 16, 2017 at 11:33 AM

    I just made these, but had to adjust as I didn’t have some of the ingredients- had no coconut so used toasted seaseme seeds instead and replaced some of the butter and sugar with smashed banana and a pinch of cinnamon!! Sooo tasty! Thank you for the recipe ?

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon March 16, 2017 at 2:05 PM

      Anje that sounds like a fabulous recipe. If you would like to email me the recipe I can put it up on the blog with you as the author. It sounds much healthier than the original. Thank you for commenting I love to get feedback. Have a great week.

      • Reply Anje March 16, 2017 at 2:35 PM

        I would be more than happy to mail you! Where do I find your email?

  • Reply arlyn crouch June 27, 2017 at 8:37 PM

    What is the ‘syrup’ in this recipe, please?

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon June 28, 2017 at 2:18 PM

      Hi , I use Golden Syrup – but corn, or maple syrup would be fine.

  • Reply Beverley DelGreco December 27, 2019 at 2:39 AM

    Thanks for the great recipe. I made these and they were absolutely delicious and my American family loved them. Could you perhaps suggest an adjustment so they are a little less dry? While we got some nice biscuits, it was a little dry and crumbly. We used the crumbs for breakfast cereal.

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon December 27, 2019 at 1:27 PM

      Hi Beverley , I’m so glad you like these. You would have to add a bit more syrup to bind them if you feel they are a bit dry. Remember however that these are meant to be hard and crispy, and not a soft biscuit.

  • Reply Pritima June 13, 2020 at 4:14 PM

    Thank you so much for your recipes which are bringing back great memories. I do have to halve some if them for my use though. Thanks again.

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon June 14, 2020 at 1:08 PM

      Pritima I am so happy that you have enjoyed the recipes. There is nothing quite like a bit of nostalgia, especially with food. Keep well and stay safe.

  • Reply Yvonne July 3, 2020 at 2:58 PM

    My baking soda did not foam in buyter/syrup mix @ all.does it matter?B soda was new fresh pkt.

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon July 6, 2020 at 9:51 AM

      Hi Natalie, no that’s fine, just when the syrup mixture is bubbling you add the baking soda.

  • Reply Vilma October 2, 2020 at 9:41 PM

    I made those last night and They are amazing

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon October 15, 2020 at 3:29 PM

      I am so glad you enjoyed them. They are a real South African favourite. Take care

  • Reply Mira January 10, 2021 at 5:06 AM

    Thank you looking forward to making.
    I lost my mom young too and cooking is a great memory of her i have her recipes (hand written ) and love making them.
    Albeit a little less butter and sugar these days to then.

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon January 11, 2021 at 12:57 PM

      Cooking is definitely a way to keep those beautiful memories alive. Yes they really did love sugar in those days, and I’ve kept to the original recipes, which can obviously be modified to our own personal tastes.
      I hope you enjoy them. Stay safe.

  • Reply Portia March 25, 2021 at 2:49 AM

    Hello! I had a look at your recipe with the sesame seeds instead of coconut and then it lead me here. Both of them sound delicious! But my poor boring body is severely allergic to coconut, will the crunchies still turn out okay if I don’t include it? ( without the sesame seeds either, just wanted a traditional crunchie)

    Thank you!

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon March 25, 2021 at 10:05 AM

      Hi Portia, I will be honest I have never made them without coconut, but I think if you added extra oats to replace the coconut it would probably be fine. You just don’t want the mixture to be too soft. Perhaps if you mix the original recipe, without coconut, and then add extra oats in small quantities to get the right consistency, which should be firm, but wet enough to press down into a pan without it flaking. I will be interested to see how it turns out. Stay safe and take care

  • Reply Sarah Dawood May 17, 2021 at 7:21 PM

    Hey, I want to make this but I accidentally bought salted butter, will that make a difference?

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon June 17, 2021 at 2:00 PM

      No Sarah, I use salted butter for most things. If a recipe needs salt added to it, then you can leave the salt out if your butter is salted. I hope this helps

  • Reply Bron July 14, 2021 at 2:03 PM

    These look yummy! I haven’t had them since my mom used to make them…around 15 years ago. Quick question: can I use rice flour or gluten free flour (from Aldi) instead?

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon August 2, 2021 at 10:05 AM

      Hi Bron, As there is no baking powder in this recipe I think you could use either flour. I must be honest I haven’t made them with rice or gluten free flour, but I think the amount of syrup will be sufficient to bind the flour. Let me know how it works out.Take Care

  • Reply Cheryl December 20, 2021 at 2:00 AM

    Amazingly easy to make … and yummy. Transplant to Texas but born in South Africa. These crunchies bring back memories of road trips with my family … camping and this was a must every morning early before breakfast on the skoltle was made, a crunchie or two with a cup of coffee. Passing on this tradition to my US born daughters now 22 and almost 24

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