If you know how to make flapjacks, you can enjoy this lovely treat at any time. Here is our pick of different easy, healthy and more complicated recipes to have fun with.
Flapjacks have stood the test of time. They might not have the cachet of millionaire’s shortbread or a delicately flavoured and Instagram-worthy macaron, but there is always a time and a place for a flapjack. Over the years, flapjacks have remained true to their ingredients, a mixture of rolled oats, sugar, butter and golden syrup cooked in an oven tin and cut into squares or rectangles.
The Oxford English Dictionary records the word flapjack as first being used in the 16th century, although it was probably more like a flat tart in those days. The flapjack got its name as it was tossed with a sharp movement.
It wasn’t until 1935 that we see the word described as food made of oats, and yes, the rest is history, segueing from the flapjack with humble origins to the Northern American granola bar, a popular snack at coffee shops (Starbucks being a particular favourite of ours) and then the seemingly more healthy, muesli bar.
The internet is awash with recipes on how to make flapjacks, but which ones are the best and will work time and time again? We’ve done the groundwork for you and found nine delicious recipes, ranging from healthy and energy-boosting to purely indulgent.
Rules of the ultimate flapjack recipes
How do you make the perfect flapjack? It’s a tricky question to answer, but as with all recipes, the end result is largely down to the ingredients you use.
Tate & Lyle have long been masters of the best flapjack recipes; after all, your first foray into making flapjacks is likely to include several large spoons of Lyle's Golden Syrup. Our pick of recipes show that you can substitute syrup for brown sugar; the darker, the better, honey or maple syrup, with the latter, you’ll get a different, less sweet, result.
We prefer rolled jumbo oats, as opposed to chopped, but this can result in a very crumbly flapjack. Work on your cooking times and temperature to see if you can overcome the crumbliness, but if this is your first time making flapjacks, use a mixture of the two, chopped and rolled, which will ensure a stable bake with a bit of bite and texture.
There is also a school of thought that you should press the mixture firmly into the tin, getting rid of air holes, which will give an even bake. And resist cutting them until they’re cool.
We always turn to Guardian columnist Felicity Cloake when we’re looking for the best ever recipe for something. Her granola recipe is legendary, one of those recipes where you’ll never go back to buying it in a supermarket.
Felicity does the research and cooks many a recipe before distilling all the information and expertise she has gained during the process into the one and only recipe you’ll ever need. What makes her edits so good are the addendums, the ingredients to add or swap out to ring the changes.
For instance, you could replace 100g of oats with corn, bran, spelt, buckwheat or Cornflakes as per Tom Norrington-Davies' recipe, in homage to his grandmother. Felicity also recommends dairy-free alternatives, using coconut oil or olive oil. This is where you need to play around with proportions and cooking times. She also likes swapping half the fat for crunchy peanut butter. Click here to get the recipe.
Golden syrup flapjacks with jumbo porridge oats
We've chosen this recipe as it uses jumbo porridge oats, our favourite. It can be prepared and cooked in a short space of time (fifteen minutes) too and requires minimal ingredients, aforementioned jumbo oats, butter, light brown sugar and golden syrup. We recommend Tate & Lyle’s syrup.
This recipe, devised by a member of BBC Good Food, calls for blitzing the ingredients in a mixer, but we suggest you leave the oats as they are. It’s all too easy to over-process ingredients in a food mixer, and the resultant texture can become stodgy.
Nicola recommends adding chocolate chips, desiccated coconut or sultanas for added chewiness to ring the changes. Click here to get the recipe.
Easy flapjack recipe with cinnamon
Who better to turn to for a flapjack recipe than a seasoned granny and a Scottish one at that. Enough said about the goodness of starting the day with a wholesome bowl of porridge, but when it comes to tea time, it’s flapjacks all the way. Baking with Granny opts for the chewy variety where the addition of golden syrup is non-negotiable.
The addition of cinnamon adds extra depth and, above all, gives your kitchen that delicious homely aroma as they bake away. These two lovely grannies say the secret to the perfect flapjack lies within the baking, and this recipe is a constant winner.
For perfectly chewy flapjacks, you need to bake them for less time than you’d think. When you take the tin out of the oven, you might not think it’s ready, but it’s worth noting that it will continue to firm up as it cools, leaving a lovely chewy finish. Of course, if you prefer a crunchier flapjack, simply bake for a little bit longer. Click here to get the recipe.
Maple and Carrot Flapjacks
Melanie Johnson writes a weekly column for Country Life sharing easy-to-make seasonal recipes. She also runs a delightful Instagram feed,, which is as pretty as it is useful, with lots of great recipes and ideas.
It was a fortuitous moment that Melanie teamed up with Maple from Canada and devised the best ever recipe for flapjacks with maple syrup, carrots and a maple glaze. Oh yes, you read it correctly; this is so, so good, and the flapjacks improve a day or two after cooking as well. It’s all jumbo oats and lashings of maple syrup, so it gets The GWG thumbs up.
Mel recommends using amber syrup, and we agree with this wholeheartedly. The amber variety has a richer depth than bog-standard syrup, which combines so well with the cinnamon. We have tried our own dairy-free version using olive oil instead of butter, and this is good too, although we had to play around with the cooking time before we perfected it. Click here to get the recipe.
Chocolate and honeycomb flapjack
Flapjacks and Cadbury’s Crunchies sounds like another perfect combination, and Jane’s Patisserie has perfected this recipe. It has all the requisites for a perfect flapjack, crunchy, gooey, sweet, chocolatey and the sweetness of honey.
The recipe is easy to follow, and you can dress it up by adding some different ingredients, such as raisins, nuts, orange zest, chocolate, or come to think of it, any of your favourite bars.
Jane says, though, that this is her favourite recipe with a milk chocolate topping and crushed Crunchies. You can, of course, use dark or white chocolate as the topping. A useful recipe post-Easter when you’ve got some leftover chocolate eggs and don’t want them to go to waste. Click here to get the recipe.
Healthy halva flapjacks recipe
This is where flapjacks start to get interesting, and Dan Lepard’s recipe with halva is spot on. Dan is a master baker and Guardian columnist, one of the coolest baking dudes on the web.
Acclaimed as one of the finest bakers in the world, Dan has worked at some of London's best and his book The Handmade Loaf - the bread geeks’ bible - together with his online baking forum, have helped get good bread back on track for artisan bakers the world over and produced a whole new army of home bakers during the lockdown.
With this recipe, tahini is the magic ingredient, which gives a firm and fudgy finish to your flapjack and goes to show that you don't need a lot of butter to make a decent flapjack. For those who have cooked with tahini, they’ll know that when warmed, it turns to sugar and syrup into a fudge-like consistency. This means that you can reduce the amount of butter in your recipe, and you’ll still get the desired results. It’s a win-win. Click here to get the recipe.
Apple and cinnamon flapjacks recipe
Perfect for autumn and windfalls of apples, this recipe from Good To Know is packed full of flavour. Apple and cinnamon were made for each other, and by including them in this flapjack recipe, you get the most moreish of tea-time treats.
The recipe uses traditional ingredients of golden syrup, demerara sugar, butter, rolled oats, and cinnamon adds a comforting warmth. The recipe recommends using dessert apples such as Granny Smiths, Braeburn, Gala, Pink Lady and Golden Delicious. We would opt for quite a tart apple to offset the sweetness of the syrup. Click here to get the recipe.
No cook flapjacks
Liz Earle is the powerhouse known for her passion for beauty, natural health and wellbeing. The author of thirty-five books, a TV presenter and entrepreneur, she is the face behind Liz Earle Wellbeing, the high-quality quarterly magazine focused on food and living well, of which she is editor-in-chief. Liz can also be found hosting Instagram and Facebook ‘lives’, which are definitely worth tuning in to.
There are no surprises to find a healthy flapjack recipe on her useful website, and even better, it doesn’t require any baking. Liz makes use of plenty of fruits and nuts, each bringing a number of helpful wellbeing benefits.
Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and antioxidants and offer uniquely high levels of zinc to strengthen immune systems and help balance blood sugar levels, making them the perfect power snack.
Dried cherries make another tasty addition to this teatime treat, chock full of vitamin C, helping to support your immune system. With this easy flapjack recipe, you blitz the nuts, seeds, dried fruits and oats until they make a fine powder.
Add the wet ingredients and mix with your hands before pouring them into a tin and letting it cool in the fridge for at least an hour. You can roll into little balls instead for bite-sized snacks. We say this is great to make with children once you’ve blitzed the dry ingredients. Click here to get the recipe.
Taken from river Cottage Fruit Every Day!, this unbaked dairy-free recipe is from the hand of Alice Meller, wife of Gill, previous head chef at River Cottage. It’s incredibly easy to make, very fruity and full of goodness.
You can substitute different dried fruits and seeds. This recipe recommends a mix of hemp, linseed, sesame, sunflower but take the time and try some different seeds. Dates, prunes, bananas, honey and coconut oil are the ingredients that bind the oats, dried fruit and seeds together. It takes two to three hours to cool, and then these healthy flapjacks are ready to be turned out and sliced into bars. They should be kept in a fridge and eaten within a week. Click here to get the recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a flapjack?
Flapjacks are one of the first things kids learn to cook as they’re super easy and failsafe. Made from just four ingredients, the standard flapjack recipe allows for many a variation on a theme. You can introduce dried fruits, seeds, nuts or use different fats (coconut, olive oil) or sweeteners (honey, maple syrup). As our selection of recipes show, flapjacks are a launchpad for a highly nutritious snack with slow-release energy, perfect when you’re hiking.
When should I cut my flapjack? Hot or cold?
Hard to resist, we know, but it’s best to let the flapjacks cool down before cutting them into squares or rectangles. Once you’ve cut them, leave them to cool completely in the tin as they will harden. If you can’t wait, they’re likely to crumble and make what looks like an unappetising mess. Of course, they’ll still be delicious but be warned, hot sugar and butter can burn.
Crunchy or chewy, which is best to make flapjacks?
Whether you’re after crunchy or chewy flapjacks largely depends on your oven tin (shallower baking tray makes for crunchier flapjacks) and the temperature you cook your recipe. The hotter the oven, the crunchier, but be warned, you don’t want to make your flapjacks so crunchy that they’re really hard to bite into.
Your choice of oats also plays into the crunchy or chewy arena, so be sure to include some jumbo oats for added texture. And if you’ve got a load of crumbs leftover, once you’re cut them up, put this in a jar and add to Greek yoghurt or ice cream.
By Arabella Dymoke
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