How to make the perfect flapjacks and the common mistakes to avoid

Oaty, buttery and delicious. Flapjacks take thirty minutes to make and bake and are an ideal lunchbox filler
How to make the perfect flapjacks and the common mistakes to avoid

Flapjacks are quick, easy and delicious.

Ye old bake

Flapjacks date back to the 16th century. Then as now, they were considered a sturdy handheld treat, ideal for eating on the go. They are an ideal lunchbox treat, once made with ingredients that are appropriate for your school's allergy guidelines. 

Use big oats

Flapjacks need sturdy oats to cling to. You want bog standard porridge oats and nothing else for this job.

Real butter is essential

Salty, delicious Irish butter is essential in flapjacks. You are not making granola bars, you are making buttery, delicious flapjacks. Do not be tempted to substitute margarine. 

Do you want crunchy or chewy flapjacks?

This is entirely up to you. Golden syrup is the chewiness activator in a flapjack recipe, so if you want extremely chewy results, add an extra half a tablespoon to this recipe, with 5g less caster sugar. 

Remove from the oven before they look done

When the flapjacks are pale golden and still very soft to the touch, remove them from the oven. If you allow them to colour to a dark golden, they will be extremely difficult to eat, and break into hard shards of biscuit. If this happens, use the crumbled flapjacks as porridge topping. 

Cut when warm

Using a bread knife, cut your flapjacks when warm to ensure even, easy slices. Allow to cool completely once cut and store in a biscuit tin to keep them as fresh as possible. 

Avoid a crumbly mess

If your flapjacks appear to be extremely crumbly when cutting, score the top of the bake immediately and put them in the fridge or freezer for a short period to firm up. When you are pressing the mixture into the tin before baking, it's important to pack the mixture in tightly. A handy tip is to place a sheet of greaseproof paper over the top the mixture and press a potato masher on top of the sheet to compact the mix.

Experiment with flavours

Try drizzling with dark chocolate when cool or substituting 50g of desiccated coconut for 50g of porridge oats in the recipe below. Add 50g of chopped nuts instead of 50g of porridge oats or a tablespoon of nut butter or marmalade to the butter and golden syrup. Grate an orange into the melted butter for a citrus hit.

Flapjacks keep well stored in a biscuit tin.
Flapjacks keep well stored in a biscuit tin.

Darina Allen's Perfect Flapjacks

Makes about 24


  • 350g  butter 
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup 
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 225g caster sugar 
  • 450g porridge oats


  • Swiss roll tin 25 x 38cm (10 x 15in) 


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Melt the butter, add the golden syrup and vanilla extract, stir in the sugar and oatmeal and mix well. Spread evenly into the Swiss roll tin.

Bake until golden and slightly caramelised, about 30 minutes. Cut into squares while still warm – they will crisp up as they cool.

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