The surprising true origin of ANZAC biscuits

While the popularity of the Anzac biscuit has endured for nearly a century, the history of the biscuit is shrouded in myth.

Legend has it the biscuits were originally developed from a Scottish recipe using rolled oats, and chosen for the long shelf-life of the ingredients after baking.

This was considered important because of the length of time it took to transport goods by ship to the front in the war years.

The Australian War Memorial supports this theory.

"They don't have the shelf-life of hardtack biscuits but they do last a reasonable amount of time, so it is possible that they became known as a suitable inclusion in parcels of small luxuries and comforts that families and charitable organisations used to send overseas to soldiers," the AWM says on its website.

The Australian War Memorial points out that the biscuit is often confused with the staple of soldiers' and sailors' rations for centuries, the hardtack biscuit.

Hardtack biscuits were a nutritional substitute for bread, but unlike bread they did not go mouldy, and became an important part of the soldiers' rations on Gallipoli.

So closely have the hardtack biscuits been identified with the whole Gallipoli experience that they are sometimes known as Anzac tiles or Anzac wafer biscuits, but the hardtack was a very different product compared to the popular sweet Anzac biscuit of today.

Although the legend of the biscuit is associated with the Gallipoli landing, the first published record of the recipe as an Anzac Biscuit was in the St Andrew's Cookery Book published in New Zealand around 1922.


Despite the legend of these biscuits being sent to the front, some researchers have found it was more common that they were sold at galas and fetes to raise money for the war effort.

It has been reported that golden syrup was used to bind the mixture instead of eggs because of a shortage of eggs during the war.

Legendary chef Margaret Fulton shared her Anzac Biscuit recipe with 702 ABC Sydney.


125g butter

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 tablespoons boiling water

1.5 teaspoon bicarb of soda

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup plain flour

1 cup white sugar


Set oven to 150 degrees Celsius

Melt butter and golden syrup over a gentle heat

Add boiling water mixed with bicarb of soda

Pour the liquid into the mixed dry ingredients and blend well

Drop teaspoons of mixture onto greased trays, flatten with a fork, and bake for 20 minutes

Cool on trays for a few minutes

Makes 48 biscuits.