Lactation Cookies

The year of 2014 is destined to be the year of baby BOOM, at least at the Land. Non, pas moi, non plus, but eight, count eight family and friends expecting babies this year. All before June. So, what to give these eight new/second-time moms? Lactation cookies, of course!

Lactation cookies may sound like some forbidden, magical goodies for those who wish to have dripping mammary glands, perhaps in the same category with pot-laced brownies, magic mushrooms omelette and such. But lactation cookies are none other than your favorite cookies infused with galactagogue ingredients such as oats, fenugreek, flax seed, and brewer's yeast (yes, it is not a myth that women who just given birth are encouraged to drink Guinness, it's the yeast, baby!). It makes a great gift for new moms: it's tasty, it is one-handed food (for those who are breastfeeding/have breastfed their babies, you know what I mean) and of course, it is also good for the dads and the big brothers/sisters.

A little word about fenugreek: its fragrant seeds are utterly useful not only as galactagogue but also to ward off cold. I'd often infuse a teaspoonful of fenugreek seeds in boiling water for 5-10 minutes and the resulting elixir is good for thinning out that pesky productive cough. Fenugreek seed itself taste quite bitter, and in the same manner of anise seeds, it is an acquired taste. Too much fenugreek can cause upset tummy, both for mama and baby, so use caution. The recipe below yield very little amount of fenugreek per cookies, with the assumption that mama does not consume the whole batch in one sitting.

Chewy Lactation Cookies

(adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda

2-4 Tbs brewer's yeast (Not baker's yeast. Usually available in the bulk food section of health food store, or in a big jar in cooking/canning supply aisle. Many lactation cookie recipes mentioned not to substitute brewer's yeast for anything else and I found this to be true, especially if you are not using fenugreek below.)
1 Tbs fenugreek seeds (or less, to taste)
2 Tbs flax seed, milled into flax flour (You can find flax meal in grocery store, in the refrigerator section, but they are expensive. Flax seeds are easier to find and cheaper, I just use clean coffee grinder to grind it into coarse meal.)

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup semisweet chocolate chip
1 cup oats (quick cooking or rolled, don't use steel cut)
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecan, etc.)

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling the cookies (I use Maldon; readily available and doesn't cost a fortune).

  • Preheat oven 375 F. Place racks in the middle 2 of the oven. Prepare two cookie sheets each with parchment/silpat.
  • Sift the first 3 ingredients, set aside. Mix the galactagogues (brewer's yeast, fenugreek seeds and flax meal) in a small bowl.
  • Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract at least 3 minutes with electric mixer, or until pale in color. Add egg one by one, mixing well with each addition (at least a minute or two). Pour in the galactagogue ingredients, mix well into the creamed butter/egg mixture.
  • Add the sifted dry ingredients in batches, mixing each time until just thoroughly incorporated. Finally, add chocolate chip, oats and nuts, mix just a bit more (don't overmix or otherwise cookie can turn tough).
  • Place a rounded tablespoonful of batter onto cookie sheets, about 1-2 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes, rotating half-way and switching position (top-bottom rack), or until cookies are just brown on the edges and somewhat golden in the middle. Transfer to rack to cool.

Of course, if you are not lactating at the first place, this cookie won't make you lactate instantly. You can just omit the galactagogues and this recipe will still make very tasty cookies. Some other combo that I've tried in the past (in lieu of chocolate and nuts) are: cranberry + oat, coconut + marshmallow + oat, dried apricots + oat + bittersweet chocolate chip, pistachio + cranberry + oat, etc. etc. There are so many permutations, you get the idea.


  1. I nursed both my children and really struggled working/pumping, etc especially for my first. One treat was that Guiness. Not sure anything I ate/drank did anything for producing more milk, but that Guiness sure was relaxing and delicious.

    Funny story from NYC. Several years ago, there was a mysterious "maple syrup smell" that would waft through Manhattan and would throw people into a frenzy. Terrorist attack by maple syrup? Weird chemical agents designed to pervade the streets and cloaked in the smell of yummy syrup? It turned out to be processing plant that processed fenugreek. Fenugreek is one ingredient that gives fake maple syrup the maple syrup taste.

    Damn it. Now I want pancakes.

    1. No, Guinness is real, the yeast or the booze in it, who cares :-) My friend who was also struggling w/ supply finally caved in and drank some Guinness and I think maybe it was the relaxing effect but since it was sailing smooth for her and her baby.
      Man, pumping/working is TOUGH!! I don't know how full-time working moms do it, really -- this was partly why I decided to work part-time, it was just a LOT of work day in/out. Kudos to you for even trying of doing it, twice! Putting babe on boobs is a lot easier fo' sure.

    2. Babe on boob is the best. Junky magazine, a nice refreshing drink. Add baby, all set. With the second one, she nurse exclusively on boob/pump for 13 months. Would never tolerate even a drop of formula (and I tried!). D:

      Now I need pancakes and Guiness.

    3. Kudos 2x!! We tried formula once on the Baby, when he was v. young, dude, the stink of formula poop!! Goodness.. Here's some virtual Guinness + pancakes for us..

  2. These look the perfect balance of chewy and biscuittiness!

    This reminds me -- when I was a teenager there was a rumour going around that fenugreek would help boobs grow. So a few equally flat-chested girlfriends and I would dose ourselves with the stuff in industrial quantities -- supplements, tea, sprouts.... I can't take the taste even today! D: I wonder if the original source of that myth lies in its galactagogic qualities.

    1. This recipe is the chewy kind, esp if you put the batter in the fridge a bit before baking/up the oatmeal in the batter.

      I do wonder about boob + fenugreek connection, too. My friend who is of South Asian descend (i.e. from India) said that she was fed fenugreek-laced dishes when she was a teen.. I think fenugreek is traditionally used in Indian cuisine, but still..