Scottish oatcakes

Scottish oakcakes and butter. Image: Su Leslie 2021

There are as many recipes for oatcakes as there are bakers it seems. The type and proportions of oats varies between them. Some specify wheat flour as well as oats. Some include a raising agent; others not. Some contain sugar (ugh). The proportions of dry and wet ingredients varies; as does the ratios of different kinds of oats. Most include butter or lard.

I’ve experimented with a variety of these recipes, and this is what works best for me.


100g rolled oats / quick oats (see here for quick guide to different ways of processing oats)

100g pinhead (or steel cut) oats

25g plain flour

40g butter

5g salt

Just boiled water – around 4-8 tablespoons, as needed


Preheat oven to 160°C

Mix oats, flour and salt in a large bowl. Add melted butter and stir to combine. Slowly add water, a tablespoonful at a time, until the mixture holds together but isn’t too sticky.

Turn the mixture onto a floured board or baking parchment and knead briefly to bring it all together. Roll out (use another sheet of baking paper on top) to a thickness of about 5mm.

Cut to preferred shape and size and place on parchment on a baking tray. Cook in the middle of the oven for around 20 minutes, or until crisp.  Turn half way to ensure even baking.


It would seem that oat processing produces a variety of slightly different products with different names depending on where you are. The products you use, and their relative composition, will affect the texture of the dough and that is why you need to add water gradually, in small quantities. The aim is a firm but not to too sticky dough that will hold together while being rolled, cut and placed on the baking tray.

Traditional oatcake recipes I’ve found do not contain wheat flour. I’ve found that adding this small amount helps the dough to hold together better. This is likely due to the kind of oats I’ve used. I suspect that “quick” oats in place of wholegrain rolled oats would remove/diminish the need for flour.

I have made flour-less cakes, and they tasted just as good. The dough was a bit crumblier and the taste a little grittier, but they were still enjoyable. I also cut them slightly thicker (6-7mm) because of the crumbly texture.

My recipe uses slightly more butter than others I’ve found, but as with the flour, I find that this quantity of butter gives a nicer texture and a bit more crunch.

I use a 7mm diameter cookie cutter, and that produces about 12 oatcakes from the quantities above. It has occurred to me that instead of cutting rounds then having to rework the scraps, I could cut the whole, rolled piece of dough into “squares” and ease each piece apart a little. I’ll let you know how that works.

Obviously, cooking time will depend on the thickness (and moisture content) of the dough. I aim for “low and slow” to give a crisper result, but you may find that trial and error (especially as our ovens will undoubtedly be different) is the only way to get them right.

36 thoughts on “Scottish oatcakes

  1. This is helpful. You’re right, there are so many recipes out there, and not all of them are good. But I’ve got the feeling you are a more than trustworthy source, as your baking always looks so appetising!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Changing Seasons, February 2021 | Zimmerbitch

  3. Ooh! Thanks so much for the recipe, Su!! I’ll definitely going to try this, oat lover that I am. 😉 Interesting about the different kinds of processed oats and their names. When I was in England I noticed whole shelves with different kinds and brands and whatnot. Here you can only choose between 2 options, and just as many brands. 😂 Which is weird given our role as a nation of muesli eaters. 😁


  4. This was a recipe that worked. I struggled to decide how much water to use(just boiled was good) as oatmeal will absorb unlimited quantities of water, and deciding on the right amount was a challenge. Tidying up after I’d popped them in the oven, I discovered I’d … left out the flour. It didn’t seem to matter. We were quite happy with the result, but next time I’ll compare and see what adding flour might have done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for this Margaret. I really appreciate feedback, and I’m glad to know the recipe worked.

      I know what you mean about the water — I add it tablespoonful by tablespoonful and mix by hand so that I can feel when it seems bound together, but not too wet.

      I think the flour is only useful if the oats are quite large. If you use the smaller flakes (quick oats???), then they seem to have enough surface area to absorb the water and hold together — if that makes any sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, my flakes weren’t the jumbo style. But this is a recipe everyone will have to tweak for themselves. All oatflakes are not the same! But this recipe’s a keeper. Thanks.


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