South African crunchies are a delicious, easy, traybake filled with oats, coconut and flavoured with golden syrup. This recipe whips up in a few minutes. If you love Anzac biscuits you will love these.
There are two types of crunchies in South Africa. One is a baked oat and coconut bar flavoured with golden syrup. The other is a chocolate bar which consists of a honeycomb covered in milk chocolate. Both are deliciously delightful in their own way.
Crunchies (the baked biscuit bar that is) remind me of my childhood. They are a biscuit that was made in my family's kitchen, as well as my friend's and neighbours' family kitchens. These quick and easy biscuits were present at every bake sale. And very much like the Malva Pudding, every family has their own recipe.
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Crunchies vs Anzac Biscuits
In my mind – they are pretty much the same biscuit, just formed differently. I had my suspicions the first time I tasted an Anzac biscuit here in New Zealand, way back in 2019.
My hand-written crunchie recipe that I have been using for decades now was very similar to the many Anzac Biscuit recipes I had looked at.
For the purpose of Salty Ginger – I stepped away from my handwritten and well-loved recipe to have a look at my 1978 copy of Cook and Enjoy It. Why you may ask? Well, I wanted to see what this classic recipe book had to offer in terms of a traditional crunchie recipe.
My hand-written crunchie recipe and the multitude of Anzac biscuit recipes I looked at called for a 1 to 1 to 1 ratio of flour, oats and coconut, in cups that is. The Cook and Enjoy It recipe called for a 1 to 4 to 3 ratio of flour, oats and coconut. I played around with the ratios and came up with something in between this recipe and mine because at the end of the day I wanted a biscuit or cookie and not a straight-up granola bar.
What I ended up with were the best South African crunchies recipes I could muster! Not as sweet tasting as my Anzac/Original Crunchie recipe, but equally delicious.
What You Need for this Recipe
This recipe requires a few mixing bowls, a kitchen scale, and 9"x9" or 23x23cm cake or brownie tin, and some baking paper.
Rolled oats and desiccated coconut make the crunchie, giving the…you guessed it, the crunch.
Butter makes it better, but baking margarine will do fine.
The golden syrup adds a nice light syrup flavour but can be substituted with honey or maple syrup.
Milk or water to add a bit more liquid to the batter.
Baking soda can be replaced with an equal amount of baking powder.
White or brown sugar can be substituted for either in this recipe.
Note - crunchies are egg-free oat and coconut bars.
Substituting Plain/All-Purpose/Standard Grade Flour with Self-Raising/Self-Rising Flour: If a recipe calls for ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of baking powder per cup/150 grams of plain flour, simply use self-raising flour and leave out the baking powder. For recipes that need more than 1 teaspoon of baking powder per cup (150 grams) - simply add in the additional baking per cup (150 grams).
For this recipe, I would substitute the flour gram for gram and remove the additional baking soda.
Salt is a crucial ingredient in all baked goods. I use table salt in all my recipes. One teaspoon of table salt equals 1.5 teaspoons of Morton Kosher Salt equals 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal.
1 - Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan. Grease and line a baking sheet, slice tray or cake tin (about 23x23cm or 9"x9").
2 - Combine the flour, oats, coconut, sugars, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl.
3 - Melt the butter and golden syrup together either in the microwave or on the stovetop. Combine the baking soda and milk or water. Stir the baking soda mixture into the butter mixture.
4 - Pour the wet ingredient into the dry ingredients and stir well until combined. Press the biscuit mixture into the bottom of the prepared tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Rotate the tin halfway through the bake if needed.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing into 20 equal slices.
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Pro Tips for this Recipe
You may need to rotate your biscuits halfway through, especially if your oven runs hot in a particular corner.
Slice the crunchies while they are still warm!
Weighing & Measuring Ingredients
Weighing ingredients with a kitchen scale is more accurate than using measuring cups. All my recipes are developed and tested using grams only.
However, I have activated the metric-to-cup conversions. Simply click on "cups" or "metric" for your preferred measurements. For these conversions, cups are equal to 240 millilitres/8 fluid ounces, tablespoons are 15 milliliters and teaspoons are 5mL.
Ovens and Air-Fryers
The temperatures stated are for conventional ovens. For convection, fan-forced, fan-assisted, or air-fryers, the temperature must be reduced by 20°C/25°F.
For baking, make sure the oven is fully preheated, and that the rack is in the middle of the oven. Open the oven as little as possible. For best baking results use an oven thermometer.
Remember that all ovens work slightly differently and bake times may need to be adjusted for your specific oven.
Bakeware: Metal bakeware is superior when it comes to baking biscuits, cookies, brownies, muffins and quick bread, scones, cakes. These heat up and cool down faster than glassware. Glassware is heavier, heats up and cools down slower than metal and is more suited for bread puddings, pies, crisps, crumbles and cobblers.
All my recipes are currently tested at sea level.
Storage and Freezing
Crunchies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 weeks.
South African Crunchies FAQ
Yes! I have made crunchies using honey before and the result was a delightfully honey flavoured biscuit. For this recipe, in particular, substitute out the golden syrup with an equal amount of honey.
Yes - simply substitute the baking soda with baking powder for this recipe.
Golden syrup or light treacle is an inverted sugar syrup that is made by refining sugar through the addition of an acid. It has a similar consistency to honey.
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Crunchies (South African Oat and Coconut Bars)
- 9x9 Inch (23x23cm) Square Cake Pan
- 150 grams rolled oats
- 150 grams desiccated coconut
- 150 grams plain flour (all-purpose/standard grade)
- 100 grams white granulated sugar (caster/granulated)
- 55 grams light brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 125 grams butter (1 stick plus 1tbsp)
- 90 grams golden syrup (maple syrup/honey)
- 4 tablespoon milk or water
- ½ teaspoon baking soda (bicarb/bread soda)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/390F. Grease and line a baking sheet, slice tray or cake tin (about 23x23cm or 9"x9").
- Combine the flour, oats, coconut, sugars, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl.150 grams rolled oats, 150 grams desiccated coconut, 150 grams plain flour, 100 grams white granulated sugar, 55 grams light brown sugar, 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon table salt
- Melt the butter and golden syrup together either in the microwave or on the stovetop.125 grams butter, 90 grams golden syrup
- Combine the baking soda and milk or water. Stir the baking soda mixture into the butter mixture.4 tablespoon milk or water, ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Pour the wet ingredient into the dry ingredients and stir well until combined. Press the biscuit mixture into the bottom of the prepared tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Or until they have nice deep golden brown colour. Rotate the tin halfway through the bake needed.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing into 20 equal slices.
Nutrition information is an estimate. If scaling the recipe remember to scale your cook and bakeware accordingly. All temperatures stated are conventional, unless otherwise stated. Recipes tested in grams and at sea level.