Make Your Own Girl Scout Cookies
Whether you want to avoid some of the highly-processed ingredients (like trans fats and palm oil) or you just can’t wait for the annual cookie sale, we’ve got some simple ways to make healthier versions of these classic treats.
Though Girl Scout cookies boxes say "trans-fat free," the term is officially defined by the FDA as a food that contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, meaning some varieties -- including uber-popular Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs -- still contain trace amounts of the fat. The giveaway: Look for “partially-hydrogenated” on the ingredient list. That ingredient list also contains palm oil and preservatives -- your homemade ones will just taste better.
Many of the favorite Girl Scout cookies begin with the same base: The classic shortbread cookie. We focused on getting the key flavors of each classic versus creating an exact replica of each kind. All these cookies freeze well -- just bake and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months for an on-demand sweet treat.
Start with any basic shortbread cookie recipe – like this one from Claire Robinson. Once baked and cooled, you’ve got the base for 4 different Girl Scout cookies. For the ones with toppings, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and transfer to the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes to set before serving.
Trefoils: Leave plain for the most classic of Girl Scout munchies. A 2.5-inch round cookie has about 45 calories.
Samoas: For the caramel-coconut topping: melt down chewy caramel candies in a microwave safe bowl sprayed with nonstick spray. Microwave in 15-second increments (stir every 15 seconds) until completely melted. Mix in shredded coconut and spread over shortbread cookies, then drizzle with melted semisweet chocolate chips.
Tagalongs: Top with a 1/2 teaspoon of each creamy peanut butter, followed by melted semisweet chocolate.
Do-Si-Dos: Top with a teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter for 35 calories of healthy fat. Instead of the typical sandwich cookie, leave it open-faced to save some calories.
Arguably the most popular flavor, homemade Thin Mints are as easy as a base recipe for thin and crunchy chocolate wafers. If you make the cookies approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick, they have less than 35 calories each, leaving room for the mint-infused chocolate coating.
Melt 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 30-second increments, stirring well. When completely melted, stir in 1/8 teaspoon of peppermint extract (a little goes a long way) -- you can always add more, but do it carefully. Dip cooled chocolate wafer cookies in chocolate, transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the fridge to set. To save a few chocolate-y calories, simply spread chocolate over the top of cookies instead of completely coating them.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »