Old Schoolhouse Ranger Cookies


Raise your hand if you grew up in the L.A.U.S.D. school system! If you are a baby boomer like myself, I can almost predict that, while in elementary school, you bought hot lunch and this cookie was part of that meal.

There was truly nothing better than pushing that segmented plastic plate/tray down the lunch line as the little ladies, with hair nets on their heads and smiles on their faces, loaded you up with real, homemade, hot food. A far cry from what my kids were served at their elementary school.

My favorite meal or the meal that I remember most vividly was the spaghetti. But it wasn’t ordinary spaghetti. It was a noodle very similar to that of the noodle that one finds in the Kraft Mac N Cheese boxes (same shape), in some type of red sauce with a very large piece of French bread on the side, a pad of real butter, fruit that I probably didn’t eat and a very large oatmeal type cookie. I would slather butter on that warm piece of bread and pile the noodles on top and eat it like an openfaced sandwich. It was heaven. But it was the cookie that I savored for the end. I have dreamt about those cookies…

Then one day, back in the 80’s when I actually read the newspaper (The Calendar and Food section only), I saw the S.O.S. section with the recipe for this very cookie. I made them and they were exactly as I remembered them. Then I filed my typed recipe card away in it’s Lucite box and forgot about it. Until two years ago when I stumbled upon it. At that time I was developing not only the marketing and branding strategy for a local restaurant, but I was also conceptualizing their dessert menu. I made these cookies a few different ways and they became their best sellers.

Please, Please, Please comment if you share this same memory. And if you do, what was your favorite hot lunch growing up? I love hearing your stories.


Old Schoolhouse Ranger Cookies


228 grams | 8 oz. | 1 cup unsalted, grassfed butter, room temp.
2 large, whole eggs
200 grams | 7 oz. | 1 cup brown sugar
200 grams | 7 oz. | 1 cup granulated sugar
280 grams | 10 oz. | 2 cups unbleached, AP flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups corn flake cereal
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cups chopped walnuts, toasted



• preheat the oven to 350°F.
• line 2 baking rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. set aside.
• in the workbowl of your mixer, cream sugars and butter (using paddle attachment) until light and fluffy. about 5 minutes.
• add eggs, one at a time.
• add vanilla.
• sift flour, kosher salt, baking powder and baking soda over work bowl and batter. mix just to combine. don’t over mix. 
• add rolled oats, cereal, coconut, nuts and mix to incorporate.
• using a 1/4 ice cream scoop, drop batter onto prepared parchment lined sheets.
• bake 12 -17 minutes or until the tops and edges are light brown.
• let cool on baking sheets before transfering to a wire rack.

*I have swapped out the nuts and coconut for all kinds of stuff; chocolate chips, m&m’s, kit kats, pretzels, etc. Get creative and have fun!

Showing 4 comments
  • Leslie

    Yes I remember these cookies. Not only that but my mother was a substitute lunch lady and she made the at home over the years. In the original giant batch recipe. There were always plenty to share & everyone loved them. My personal favorite version omits the coconut and nuts ( due to an allergy) and included raisins. Sometimes we made them with Raisin Bran cereal instead of corn flakes, however I liked the crunch of the flakes better.
    Thank you for sharing this. It brings back happy memories & reminded me it’s time to make a batch

    • Susan

      Hi Leslie – I love stuff from our past!! I would have loved to have been a lunch lady!! What fun for both her and you! Raisins would be divine!! Happy Holidays!! xx

  • Deborah Hibbs

    I began school in 1960 and was given a quarter once a week buy a school lunch Our school was new and didn’t have a cafeteria so lunch was wheeled to each classroom. Food was fresh and good, made at the other elementary school a mile away.
    We didn’t have Ranger cookies but the peanut butter cookies were wonderful as were the sugar cookies. The cherry crumble and the bran muffins were a favorite too. Later as an adult I happened to see the Lunch Lady downtown and got the recipe.
    My friends and I when talking about Vista Grande and all our mischievous classroom misbehavior , often mention the school lunches …… Hamburger crumble , turkey in the straw , and spaghetti ( with long noodles!) but especially those cookies! All delivered by kind and patient lunch ladies.

    • Susan

      Hi Deborah! I so love this story and all of your details. My elementary school did have a cafeteria and I can still see myself in the lunch line, pushing my tray down the aisle. My favorite was the spaghetti. It wasn’t spaghetti like you and I know it, it was actually the same noodle that one might find in a “Kraft” box of Mac n cheese with a red sauce. It was so distinct and so good and it came with a slice of white sourdough bread with a pat of soft butter. I would slather the butter on the bread and then pile the noodles on top and eat it like a sandwich. OMG – I can still taste it. It was my favorite day of the week aside from the taco day. Another flavor and taste I can still recall on my tastebuds!! Thank you, thank you for sharing your story. It took me back to a time when things were simpler and kinder!! ~S

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