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Anzac Biscuits: a wartime recipe

Traditional Anzac Day Biscuit Recipe

It’s almost ANZAC Day, a day to honour and fundraise for Australian and New Zealand veterans who served in the Armed Forces, and it seemed appropriate to lean into the tradition of baking these popular biscuits to commemorate the day!

ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day falls on April 25th each year. According to friends and family here, its the day to bake and eat these golden biscuits, and apparently “sacrilege” (their words, not mine) to buy them! At first sight, I’ll admit they looked a bit boring. Like cookies without chocolate chips (yawn), but now I’ve tasted them, ooooh the golden syrup and coconut flavour is actually really delicious, and the simplicity of the method and ingredients betrays just how yummy they are! If you want them crunchy you can bake them for a little longer, but I like mine with a slight “chew” so took mine out of the oven a tad early. A flexible bake indeed.

The origin story of these biscuits is somewhat ambiguous, with various suggestions that they date back to the first World War, adapted from an old Scottish recipe, and were either sent to the troops because they kept well and didn’t spoil (believable), and other accounts stating that they were baked in a fundraising effort. Regardless of the true history, in this part of the world they’re as synonymous to the day as The Poppy Appeal is back in the UK. The ANZACs have a Poppy Appeal and subsequent merchandise too, but also a baked good to raise funds (which the UK does not).

Autralian Ww1 Poster

As you know, wartime recipes and women’s social history during this time is a particular interest of mine, but all my “wartime” recipe books tend to focus on ration recipes from the UK, and not many mention this biscuit. Some have reference to them, but as they’re not usually on the radar of the Brits, I’m afraid they’re overlooked. Much like, I hate to admit, the troops from Australia and New Zealand who served during both world wars. History programs of both wars do to tend to focus on soldiers from the United Kingdom and America - I’m afraid distance (out of sight, out of mind) may be a reason here, and that’s sad.

Let us not forget that so many of these men who joined up, or were conscripted (in WWII only as conscription didn’t apply to AU/NZ during WWI), would have been first and second generation men from much of Europe too!

Australian Anzac Propaganda Poster

I asked my Australian friend Pippa if she could help supply an authentic recipe that was tried and tested, and she kindly shared her Grandma, Alvine Morton’s recipe!

Alvine Morton was born in 1919 in Stanthorpe, Queensland and worked on the family’s Apple and Peach Orchard. Here she met her husband Thomas, a “pom” (though not a criminal - the word pom is a nickname the Aussies call Brits), who was originally from Northumberland, England.

Anzac Biscuits Traditional RecipeThomas & Alvine Morton on their wedding day

They got married in 1939, went on to have four daughters, one of them being Pippa’s Mum, Gwyn, and later took over the running of the family farm. Thomas was trained in the Army as most men were in that time, but as farming was a reserved occupation, they were both needed on the land to help provide food for the nation.

Alvine, or “Lal” to those she loved, passed away at the age of 94 and the family have really fond memories of her baked goods. However her mashed potatoes were so awful, you had to cut them with a knife! This made me chuckle and feel most human, I’m not great at them either!

Anzac Biscuit RecipeAlvine with their daughters, Gwyn is the youngest

Pippa told me over a lovely “High Tea” when we met up last week, that her Grandparents were as poor as church mice, but she always loved that they fell in love in an apple grove. The wartime song, “Don’t sit under the Apple Tree” by The Andrews Sisters sprang to mind when she told me this, I wonder if they knew of, or were fond of the tune? Very apt for their love story.

These biscuits are a sign of Autumn to me now, the first frost in Canberra is typically around ANZAC day. Pippa

How To Make Anzac BiscuitsAlvine's handwritten recipe and legacy

How to make traditional ANZAC Biscuits

I have decided to write Alvine’s recipe exactly as it was supplied first. I followed it myself and the joy of those passed down the generations is that there is beauty in the simplicity of them, it felt wrong not to share it this way. The more “modern” step by step method follows.

So too is the expectation that you’re supposed to “know” what a slow oven is! I have given some pointers there, but otherwise it’s incredibly easy to follow. This recipe will make around 25-30 biscuits depending on size.

Ingredients for ANZAC Biscuits

  • 1 cup of Desiccated Coconut
  • 1 cup of Rolled Oats
  • 1 cup of Plain Flour
  • 1 cup of Sugar (I used Caster Sugar but Granulated will work too)
  • 4oz Butter
  • 1 tbsp Golden Syrup
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2 tbsp Hot Water

How to make ANZAC Biscuits

Place flour, coconut, rolled oats, and sugar in a bowl. Melt butter, syrup n’ soda & water until it foams. Mix through dry ingredients. Place teaspoon of mixture on tray. Slow oven until browned*.

How To Make Anzacs
*I asked Pippa what time she guesstimated this to be and the official answer was “when you can smell them”. This isn’t too bad of a guide, and quite right! My oven (which is a painfully slow one) took around 17 minutes, but do watch them! Yours may need less time.

  1. Preheat your oven to 150°C (around 300°F or Gas Mark 2) - this is what Pippa and I have deduced to be a “slow oven”. Use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper on your trays to prevent any “sticking”.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients (except for the Bicarbonate of Soda).
  3. In a saucepan over a low heat, melt the butter, golden syrup, and water, then once liquid, add the bicarbonate of soda. This will “foam” and almost triple in volume.Anzac Recipe Ingredients
  4. Pour the foam into the dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly. If the mixture seems dry, feel free to add another tablespoon of hot water or some melted butter if required. In Pippa’s words; “it’s a hard recipe to get wrong”.
  5. Use a teaspoon to form “golf ball” sized balls of biscuit mixture using your hands, and place on a baking sheet with plenty of room for them to spread.Australian Recipes
  6. Bake in the oven for roughly 10-15 minutes. When they have flattened and are golden brown, consider them done!
  7. Cool on the baking tray, they will firm up once cooled.

Traditional Anzac Biscuit Cookie Recipe

These biscuits are a wonderful “quick” treat to bake with ingredients that are mostly on hand in a well stocked pantry, and will probably make an appearance on more than one occasion on my tea table through the year. They’re really rather lovely. In lieu of buying or selling for fundraising purposes, donations made directly to charitable entities that directly support veterans is a nice way to keep things sweet all round.


I’d like to take a moment to not only thank, but remember, every veteran who served abroad or on home soil - and in many different ways fought for the freedom and liberty that we enjoy today.

So too, admiration and heartfelt thanks for those who might not serve in the army, but do work in the service of others and run towards danger to help and assist those in need, rather than away from it. In recent weeks, the bravery of Australians in particular has brought me to tears many times.

Lest we forget, and be ever thankful

Alena x

Give thanks and support to our Veterans

Donations to the ANZAC Poppy Appeal, The Royal British Legion, and the American Red Cross for Veteran families are welcomed all year round, not just on commemorative days. Thanks to all nations who continue to respond to the call to stand up for what is right.


All content and images in this article are copyright of The Darling Academy and are not to be shared or reproduced without our express permission. Propaganda images sourced from the ANZAC Museum Archives. Those of Alvine Morton kindly supplied by the family of my friend Pippa.

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