Brined roasted almonds delightfully salt up oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Gourmandistan has enjoyed many recipes from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables, but none more than the amazingly simple “Brined and Roasted Almonds.” McFadden says he learned the technique in Rome at the American Academy. We say that wherever the idea comes from, it’s worth its weight in salt—and that salty goodness made a recent batch of oatmeal cookies really special.

A jar of these crunchy, rich and satisfyingly salty almonds now has a permanent spot on our kitchen island (often alongside Jeeves, our kitchen-residing cat). We usually nosh on them while cooking or as a quick pick-me-up on the way to the laundry room. During one such stop, it dawned on Steve that they might work as a replacement for peanuts in the Martha Stewart recipe we worked up several years ago. Turning the cookie-making duties over to the vastly more experienced Michelle, Steve chopped the almonds and sat down to wait for the results. He was not disappointed.

We substituted almond butter for peanut butter, and added a bit more whole wheat flour since we were short of oats. The cookies still turned out crispy, chocolatey and excellently salty, with a very nice almond flavor. We’re still big fans of the peanut version, but this almond take definitely matches it.


  • Servings: 1-1/2 cups
  • Print

(adapted, only slightly, from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables)

  • 1 c. water
  • 1/4 c. kosher salt (we use Morton brand)
  • 1-1/2 c. (8 oz.) raw skin-on almonds

Add water to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt and stir until it dissolves. Add almonds, remove from heat and let soak for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Drain almonds in a sieve. Let almonds dry out just a bit (about 5 minutes), then spread them evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Roast for about 12 minutes, until lightly toasted.

Store in an airtight container. They won’t last long.


  • Servings: about 6 dozen cookies
  • Print

(adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

  • 2-1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) soft unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. almond butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 c. brined, roasted almonds (recipe above), chopped
  • 2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

Stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat sugars, butter and almond butter in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment at medium speed until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Mix in eggs and vanilla. Add oat mixture and mix at low speed until just combined. Then mix in almonds and chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough on cookie sheets, about 9 per sheet. Flatten the dough a bit with a spoon or your fingers.

Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until browned and just set, about 13 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet(s) for a minute or so to set, then remove cookies with a thin spatula and place on a rack to cool completely.

This dough keeps well, covered, in the refrigerator. Just let it warm up for a few minutes before spooning out dough and baking.



  1. Salty almonds? Count me in. I love almonds and I’m a real salt fiend. And I’m really intrigued by the McFadden cookbook. Will have to check it out. Curious to know how he got six seasons out of a year!

    • I know, right? Salt!! McFadden divides summer into early/middle/late, which does make a great deal of sense for those of us who live in a, ahem, four-season climate. I always figure if a cookbook provides me two keeper recipes it was worth it. And this one passes the test. There have been a few clunkers, but the salty almonds and a wonderful sausage/broccoli/pasta dish definitely made it worth the price.

    • The almonds are quite yummy. No kidding, Steve has made a batch several times a week for going on a year now! We’ve found the technique also works well with hazelnuts. Not so much with pecans or walnuts. And the cookies? Well, I do wish I had one right now. 🙂

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