Skillet Cookies


Once a month we’re featuring a new family-friendly dish from the Hatfields for our Kids Can Cook section. The dairy-free teen cooking star is Katherine and this week she and her “mama”, Sarah, are making Skillet Cookies.

Skillet Cookies Recipe with Dates, Pecans and Coconut (Dairy-free, Gluten-free)

When I was growing up, our two closest neighbors were Italian widows. I always liked visiting their houses, but I especially enjoyed being in their kitchens at Christmastime. It was so much fun to see (and eat!) all the holiday treats they were making.

I found the squid cooked in its own ink to be so exotic. I loved the fried smelts, the calamari, the pots of sauce bubbling on the stove. And of course I couldn’t wait until we received trays of Christmas cookies from them. I loved them all, especially the pizzelles and these little date-coconut-rice cereal cookies that I now know are called “Skillet Cookies.”

I haven’t gotten up the nerve to buy a pizzelle iron and make my own pizzelles yet, but Katherine and I decided this was the year to learn how to make Skillet Cookies. They’re very simple and fun for the kids to help with. An adult or teen should probably be in charge of stirring the hot date and sugar mixture, but once the cookie dough is cool enough to handle, everyone can help shape and roll the cookies. We rolled them into small logs because that is what I remember from my childhood, but they can also easily be shaped into balls.

These cookies can easily be made gluten free with gluten-free rice cereal, and they are an easy, yet different, addition to a Christmas cookie tray.

Skillet Cookies Recipe with Dates, Pecans and Coconut (Dairy-free, Gluten-free)

Special Diet Notes: Skillet Cookies

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, optionally gluten-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, and vegetarian. We haven’t yet tested this recipe without eggs. If you need egg-free or vegan, my best suggestion would be to try aquafaba (bean liquid), since it does provide some structure.

For nut-free skillet cookies, you can swap in more rice cereal or broken pretzel pieces.

Skillet Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: approximately 3 dozen skillet cookies
  • 8 ounces pitted dates, finely chopped*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dairy-free buttery spread (such as Earth Balance)
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cup crispy rice cereal (gluten-free, if needed)
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  1. Mix the chopped dates, sugar, buttery spread, egg, and salt in a heavy-bottomed skillet.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Boil for two minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from the heat.
  5. Stir in the vanilla, followed by the rice cereal and pecans, until fully combined.
  6. When cool enough to handle, shape into small logs (or balls), using about one tablespoon per cookie.**
  7. Roll each cookie in the coconut, gently pressing the coconut into the cookie so it adheres.
  8. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.
*Do not use pre-chopped dates. They aren't moist enough, and the cookies won't stick together as well if you use them. I chopped the dates by quickly running them through my food processor.
**Roll the cookies when the mixture is warm enough to handle, but not fully cooled. Otherwise, it will stick in the pan and be hard to shape. Ask me how I know. You can shape the cookies into balls, but we like the log shape.
Skillet Cookies Recipe with Dates, Pecans and Coconut (Dairy-free, Gluten-free)

About Author

Sarah is the Associate Editor for Go Dairy Free. Her previous experience includes work as a copy editor at Thoroughbred Times magazine, a content writer at, and an intern at Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Sarah was a 'mom blogger' for many years but now mostly hangs out on Go Dairy Free and Instagram.


  1. I grew up eating these. It isn’t Christmas without them. We rolled them into balls and they will always be called Snowballs for us.

  2. Pingback: Casserole Cookies (Dairy-free, Gluten-free & Healthier!)

  3. I love dates and coconut so I’m all over these cookies! I was going to make date bars this year but with the food processor recalls I decided not to but I might have to attempt these with my mini food processor.

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