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Grandma’s Bowl Cookies

Have you ever remembered a favorite food your grandmother made when you were young and wished you had the recipe for it?

I can’t count the number of times I have gone through Mom’s recipe box trying to find the recipe for Grandma’s Bowl Cookies.  I knew that Grandma didn’t write down recipes; at least I had never seen any but, I was hoping that Mom did write down this one.  No such luck.

Grandma - very young!

Then out of the blue, not too long ago, arrived a newsy letter from my wonderful Aunt Phyllis ~ Uncle Jake’s wife.  I opened up the letter and I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT!!!  Out fell a newspaper clipping with Grandma’s recipe for her bowl cookies!  Oh my gosh!  I was shocked and thrilled at the same time!

Aunt Phyl told me that a friend of hers was looking through one of her friends’ cookbooks and came across the newspaper clipping with Grandma’s name at the bottom of the recipe so she gave it to Aunt Phyl.  The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) had a weekly column in which readers shared their favorite recipes ~ it may still have it for all I know ~ and Grandma mailed them her recipe for bowl cookies many years ago.
Aunt Phyl & Unc Jake

We always called them “bowl cookies” and I have no idea how Grandma came up with that name. The cookies are not rolled out, no cookie cutters were used; maybe Grandma used a small bowl to judge the size (?).   They are a sugar cookie that Grandma made with lard.  I’m sure it’s the lard that gave her cookies the unique taste and I doubt if they would be good using butter or margarine as they would be too bland and spread too much on the cookie sheet when baking.  Bowl cookies are large soft cookies, almost cake-like; baked until they are very lightly golden around the edges, requiring no frosting or decorations. 

My guess is that this would have been a Depression era cookie recipe since the cookies were made with just a few ingredients that were most always available and the price was right.   It seemed like she made these weekly when I was young and also another great cookie with walnuts; another recipe I don’t have!

I’m just sooooo happy to have this recipe and I’m sure Bill is also because he won’t have to listen to me whining anymore about how I wish I had this recipe! 

Sadly though, I must confess ~ when I made them,  they just didn’t taste the same as back then and I know exactly why:  because my dear Grandma didn’t make this batch and because she is no longer here to enjoy them with a cup of coffee and me...

Here’s Grandma’s recipe in her exact words:

Maude’s Bowl Cookies


1 cup lard
2 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup (8-ounces) sour cream
3½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda


Cream lard, sugar, salt and vanilla.
Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
Beat in sour cream and flour with baking soda and baking powder mixed in it.
(The secret of having these cookies stay soft is that the dough is not stiff enough to roll with rolling pin.)
Spoon out a “glob” of dough on a floured board.
Dash a little flour on top so your hand won’t stick, and pat to about 1/8-inch thickness, cut and put on baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

NOTE:   These will stay soft if kept in a covered container.

Pam’s notes:

I used an electric hand mixer to cream the lard and sugar for 2-3 minutes.  Then I blended in the sour cream and flour by hand.

For the “glob” of dough, I used a flatware tablespoon, heaping, and just swiped it through the dough.

I did not dash flour on top of the cookie before patting it down.  Instead, I ran my fingers through the flour on the board and then pat down the cookies to about ¼-inch thickness.  This worked much better as the dough is very soft and sticky.   Use a thin spatula to move the cookies to the baking sheet. 

I baked them at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, a light golden brown color around the edge.

Here’s to you Grandma and…

Thanks for the recipe, Aunt Phyl!

Visit my friend Linda’s blog @My Kind of Cooking for great tips, recipes and cookbook giveaway! 


  1. I love recipes like this, and these look delicious.
    My most prized possession is a recipe box that includes family recipes from both sides.

  2. You are so lucky to have this very special recipe from your grandma. Mine never wrote recipes down either and now most of her recipes are gone. She made the best chocolate chip cookies ever. But maybe that's what we thought just because she made them.

  3. I remember a similar cookie. I am trying so hard not to bake these days because I am the one who eats the cookies! I will do more this summer when my boys and grandkids are around.


  4. I am excited that you were sent this recipe. It really was a special day!!!

  5. Oh what a treasure to have the recipe for your favorite childhood treat that your grandmother would make for you! I think it is the love that our mom's and grandmother's put in the recipes that makes them taste so good.

  6. I know what you mean, I have a hard time replicating old recipes from my family because the sentiment is just missing. It's especially hard with the more savory recipes because my grandmother made them so frequently that she didn't measure, it was more by feel and by taste. It's interesting because her cooking style and mine couldn't be more different. She had a narrow repetoire of things that were made so frequently that recipes became irrelvant where as I rarely make the same thing twice. I love the freedom in my approach, but it makes me sad to not have a signature dish that I can make so automatically.

  7. That is so great that you now have the recipe! Even if they didn't turn out exactly the same, you have those great memories!! Same thing happened to me with my grandma's mac and cheese recipe... none of us (my cousins and my aunts) can get it to taste like hers!!

  8. I know that feeling! Somehow those family recipes just don't taste the same as when they are made for you and shared with the old family.


  9. These cookies look absolutely delicious Pam, look like a great recipe of your GrandMa, xx gloria

  10. Lovely and interesting recipe.

  11. How wonderful that you were able to retrieve your Grandma's recipe for these delicious looking cookies. I have some awards for you on my last post!

  12. robin, that is great with the recipe box! Lucky you!

    Cathy, yes, there are so many of my grandmother's recipes I'd love to have. Wish I would've thought to ask way back then!

    Carol, I know what you mean! I would love to bake more but the result would be the same as yours with the eating.

    bellini, yes, I was shocked!

    Linda, you are right! It's all about the love that makes them so good.

    Kelly, it's great that you cook a wide variety of dishes; meals are definitely not boring that way and it expands your range. I too make a variety but do enjoy cooking favorite family dishes; ones that are requested now and then and particularly at holiday time by relatives. Maybe you have a favorite that you could repeat to become a signature dish!

  13. Jenn, it's kind of funny; guess that has happened to a lot of us. Nothing ever tastes as good as the way it did when grandma made it!

    Bonnie, you've got it! There was many a good meal and good times back then with past members of the family.

    Gloria, thanks! They were a great treat that grandma made!

    Jennifurla, thanks and have a good day!

    Marguerite, thank you! I'm glad you stopped by and thanks so much for the awards. That's great and very sweet of you!

  14. Unas galletas deliciosas se ven.


  15. Pam, this sounds so much like my MIL's Sour Cream Cookies. I will need to check. By the way, your blog is working again with no problems. I think you solved it. Susan

  16. What a wonderful story, Pam! These cookies look marvelous and sound so wonderful. I'm going to save these and make them!

    Hugs & Happy Blessings,

  17. I love cookies and they are always better when made by grandma...

  18. what a gorgeous story, food memories are so special

  19. Smile. I'm sure your grandmother was with you in spirit. These cookies look great, but the memories are even more precious. I'm sorry I have been so absent these past few weeks. It has been so good to return to you and your lovely blog! Thank you for sharing with me tonight. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  20. jose garcia, gracias! Tienes un gran dia.

    Susan, thanks again so much for informing me. I'm glad it was resolved easily! Have a great day!

    Tammy, thank you and thanks for stopping by!

    muppy, you are right on!

    Monet, thank you; I hope she was! I hope things are going much better your way. Take care

  21. Hey you know how to cook, lard is our friend!!! Pie crusts and anything you use lard in comes out far better than with crisco, of course Butter is better, I would say Lard and Butter are BEST!!

  22. How wonderful that you now have this cherished recipe! :)

  23. What a beautiful post Pam! I never knew my grandparents; by the time I arrived in this world they had passed away. My mom didn't cook that much because she ws sick. With my 4 boys I tried to give them memories from my kitchen and I think it worked.

  24. I love that you use Lard. So many people are afraid of it. Sounds great. Makes me miss my grandma :)

  25. Grandma's recipe is precious, these are my favorite as you well know will try this one for sure thanks for sharing with us~

  26. I'm glad you have finally found her recipes. I supposed that was a pretty big surprise indeed. I'm so happy for you. Thanks for sharing it as well, Pam. Really appreciate it.
    have a great day.
    Blessings, Kristy

  27. Such a sweet story! I've never been able to duplicate anything my grandma made when we were little. She still does all her baking with real lard and swears that's what makes the difference. I think grandma's love has a flavor and it's in there!

  28. What an awesome surprise! Isn't it funny how you can remember something in one way and years later when you taste it, it's just not the same. Sometimes it's the memories that make them so delicious, I suppose. They look great :D

  29. Mitchell, very funny! Yes, lard is really better for pie crust, etc. Grandma always used lard and there was nothing like her fried potatoes! My mom quit using butter when margarine became available and I stick with butter. Here's to the lard and butter combo! Sounds good to me!

    Judy, thanks! It made me very happy.

    Rita, so sorry you didn't know your grandparents. My dad's parents passed away when he was young and I always was curious about them so know how you feel. That's wonderful that you're making kitchen memories for your boys. They will appreciate it more and more as they age.

    Ellie, yes, lard is a hard sell these days. But, from what I've read, it's not as bad health wise as people believe and is more of a "good" fat. Glad this brought back memories of your grandma.

    Claudia, yes I know these family recipes are your kind of food also. They are precious for sure!

    Kristy, it was a huge surprise! I'm so glad Aunt Phyl sent it to me! Blessings to you.

    Michelle, thanks and good for your grandma! I think she's right. And yes with the duplication, it must be about the memories.

    girlchef, thank you! Yes, it's amazing how they don't taste the same later. It needs that loving touch I guess.

  30. Pam, your Aunt Phyl is an angel, to have sent you the newspaper cutting! Now that is indeed a treasure!
    And I could not help noticing how much you look like your grandma! :)
    Have a lovely day, Pam!

  31. this is so great. i love recipes that bring back memories and remind us of loved ones. the cookies look wonderful!

  32. kitchen flavours, Aunt Phyl is an angel! You could be right, maybe I do look at little like Grandma. Have a good rest of the week and thanks for stopping by!

    teresa, thanks so much! I definitely have a lot of memories and I'm guessing you do also!

  33. Pam I have seveal cookies that my grandma made that I loved as a kid. She used to make these wonderful molasses cookies with pink frosting just for me, and that made me feel so special. My grandfather used to help her bake... his special cookies were lacy oatmeal cookies that you had to time it just right to get it off the cookie sheet w/o it squishing all up. I have asked my mom last time I was up in Michigan for these recipes. My mom has her old recipe box. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  34. These fluff up so nice! Thanks for sharing the recipe with us

  35. Lyndsey, your grandma's molasses cookies sound great and what a treat for you and since both grandparent's baked, there must have been goodies all the time. Great for you with her recipe box! Have a good day!

    RSA, thanks!

  36. I just loved your story and I am so glad you found your recipe! My father made fudge every year for Christmas and I wish we could find that recipe. I guess it is a lesson to all of us to write down our families favourite recipes!


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