How to make the best Anzac biscuits ever

As the trumpet sounds in the cold grey of an Anzac Day dawn, it's hard to imagine how so many young men leapt forward into battle to lose their lives at Gallipoli.

Even if you don't get up before light for the Dawn Service on April 25, you can still make a mark for the day by baking Anzac biscuits.  With each bite of a biscuit, you share a little of the Anzac story to those who can hardly understand the concept and brutality of war.

My grandmothers, Olive and Ruby, both lost brothers in the war - one on a hospital ship on the eastern coastline and the other shot down while flying.  Although I never knew Roy and Sid, the grief of their loss is a part of my family's history and I feel it still. Grandma Ollie used to make excellent Anzac biscuits.

Anzac was the name given to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey early on the morning of April 24, 1915, during the First World War (1914-1918).

The biscuits were developed to send to soldiers stationed overseas to vary their diet and share a bit of home love.  These were the days when everything travelled by ship so they had to last in an edible condition for some time.These biscuits were made as a substitute for bread and were designed to be very hard.  Sometimes they were ground up and made into a porridge.

This sweet biscuit is made using rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda and boiling water. Although the basic ingredients are very similar, there are little twists and tweaks in each which combine to create distinct differences to the connoisseur.

So whether you like them simple and plain or tricked-up and fancy, here are 11 recipes for Anzac biscuits that have been tried and tested and just plain gobbled up.

Top tips

  • These biscuits are very easy to make but don't relax too much. 
  • You need to make sure the mixture is quite firm but not dry, to achieve nicely rounded biscuits. Too wet and they will be very flat, too dry and they will be crumbly.
  • Add a little more flour, coconut or oats if the mixture is sloppy, add a little melted butter if it is too dry.
  • Remember to deduct 20 degrees if you are using a fan-forced oven.

Adding rosemary to the mix is a real flavour twist. Rosemary also signifies remembrance so that's an excellent fit too.

It's still the sweet, crunchy traditional biscuit loved across our sweeping plains, but this delightful variation on the Anzac biscuit tradition incorporates vanilla extract, rosewater and slivered almonds, and is garnished with a dust of icing sugar.

Same, but with a ginger twist.

These eight recipes come from the enthusiastic members of the Queensland Country Women's Association Border Division (QCWA). They baked Anzac biscuits, just like their sisters did during the First World War, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the 1915 March of Dungarees from Warwick to Brisbane.  The march travelled via Toowoomba, Laidley and Ipswich collecting 125 brave recruits along the way.  The eight recipes have all been handed down through generations, and all family favourites.