How Many Calories In A Fortune Cookie?

If you have ever had a Chinese takeaway you know that it is complementary to receive a fortune cookie at the end of the meal. A small cookie that has a paper fortune inside.

How Many Calories In A Fortune Cookie?

For many they are more of a ritual than an actual food item, and people often open them without eating the cookie. But, you may be wondering if you did eat them how many calories they may add up to. 

If you have been counting calories to accommodate the Chinese meal itself, you may be wondering if eating the fortune cookie might take you over your quota for the day, or whatever reason you may be counting calories.

In this article we will discuss the fortune cookie, what it is, and how many calories they may actually be. Find this out and more below.

What Is A Fortune Cookie?

It is estimated that 3 billion fortune cookies are made each year globally, with the majority of them being consumed within the US. They are incredibly cheap to make and serve a purpose that goes beyond the food item itself.

A classic fortune cookie is a thin, crisp wafer made from flour, sugar, vanilla, and sometimes sesame seed oil.

Rather than being famed as a food item, the main reason people enjoy fortune cookies is for their fortune inside.

Encased inside the cookie, sometimes folded in, or actually contained within the cookie, is a paper slip that contains a generic fortune.

Each fortune contains an ‘aphorism’ or vague prophecy such as ‘The road to knowledge begins with a single step.’ or something like that.

It may surprise some to learn that the fortune cookie likely originated in Japan, rather than China, although its definite origin is not particularly clear.

It seems that the Japanese style was popular before the second world war in the 1900s when the cookie originally became popular along with this period of Orientalism in the 1900s.

Post-WWII it seems that Chinese manufacturer’s took over due to Japanese internment in the period.

As the fortune cookie is generally mass produced by various different companies, to find the calorie of a fortune cookie we have to be somewhat general and compare the various companies.

How Many Calories Does A Fortune Cookie Contain?

The small size of the fortune cookie generally means they have very little nutritional value. As we mentioned, they aren’t really famed as being a food item, albeit edible, and people generally want the randomness of the fortune inside, instead.

Many choose not to eat the cookie and instead just read the fortune, but in many ways, if you are counting calories, a fortune cookie could actually be a light and sweet way to end your meal.

A fortune cookie is commonly made from flour, sugar, vanilla, and some fat like sesame seed oil or even sometimes eggs. In their small size they are generally nutritionally negligible, but there are some numbers we can provide.

Of course the item is not standardized so it may help to look at different brands of fortune cookies.

Panda Express is a Chinese fast food joint that does give out fortune cookies.

On their website, where the FDA emplores them to provide accurately tested nutritional information, Panda Express suggests their 0.18oz fortune cookie has 20 calories, 5g carbohydrates, and 2g sugars.

So, yeah, it’s pretty negligible, but arguably could knock you over a quota should you already be calorie counting.

Another source such as Wonton Foods, one of the biggest manufacturers of fortune cookies that are likely eaten in the US, suggest that their fortune cookies are around 32 calories per serving, so it does look like the calorie content per brand can differ greatly due to different recipes.

In general, we can say that your generic fortune cookie probably has around 20 – 40 calories which can differ per restaurant, brand, and recipe in general.

Making Fortune Cookies At Home

Making Fortune Cookies At Home

Fortune cookies are really easy to make at home, and with a home cooked recipe you can have more control over what you think is right for the calorific content.

This recipe we have linked to suggest their fortune cookies have 27 calories, which fits our estimation.

The recipe is easy to make and only requires an egg white, vanilla extract, AP flour, sugar, and salt, many things you probably have in your pantry already.

Probably the hardest thing about making fortune cookies is shaping them and making them look perfectly circular for aesthetic purposes, although as the recipe suggests you can probably use a cookie cutter for success.

Perhaps the best thing about making your own fortune cookies is that you get to make your own fortunes.

You can actually buy fortunes that are already written, but it can be fun to make your own or even write silly party games and stuff on the fortunes instead, resting it like a christmas cracker. 

It can be really fun to make these easy fortune cookies into something that is your own, making your own games and fortunes, as well as being sure of what is in them and particularly their calorie count.

Final Thoughts

As you can see it can be hard to give an accurate answer that can include every fortune cookie out there. They are not a standardized item so different fortune cookies made by different people can provide different calorie counts. 

We can generally say that most fortune cookies will have between 20 and 30 calories, depending on the brand.

You could make them at home and get a more accurate result you can control, but making fortune cookies at home is also a really easy and fun activity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Did Fortune Cookies Come From?

It’s hard to say, many believe they are Chinese in origin, but there is no clear answer on where they came from.

They were originally related to Japanese people, pre-WW2, but due to the Japanese internment after WW2, they became more related to Chinese people as a result. 

Wonton Foods who are headquartered in New York tried to push their way into the Chinese food market, as recently as 1989, but the fortune cookie itself was deemed ‘too American’ showing that their origin is still debated.

Jenna Priestly

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