My chocolate chip cookie making obsession started not only because who doesn’t like a good chocolate chip cookie, but because I got fed up with how every time I made cookies at home they all turned out the same no matter what the recipe: hard, a little dry, and they never spread. Was it me or was it the recipe? In almost 2 years now of trying all kinds of cc cookie recipes, some multiple times to make recipe tweaks and adjust my technique, I found out the problem was both. There are some not so great recipes out there and some incredible + foolproof ones, and I was making some technical mistakes that were sabotaging my cookies. Through this exploration, I learned what my favorite cc cookie recipes are and what to do to make sure I get the best results every time. This post is finally here to share all of that with you.
Let’s first cover some basic tips to help you get the best results with your cookies:
1 | Read through the instructions a few times first and pre-measure whatever ingredients you can (mise en place). This sounds like common sense but at first I didn’t do this. I assumed these recipes are simple enough and I can read and do everything as I go, but you’re much less likely to make a mistake or get surprised by a step if you can prepare as much as you can ahead of time.
2 | Weigh your flour. This alone solved my previous lifelong issue of every cookie recipe I ever made turning into hard muffin tops. The proper way to measure your flour with measuring cups is to scoop it into your measuring cup so that it’s lightly packed, then level it off. Not ever knowing this, I’d pack the flour in densely into each cup and thus was always using much more flour than I was supposed to for every recipe. Using a kitchen scale completely eliminates this issue. Your bag of flour should give you a conversion on the nutrition label for the weight of a serving size if the recipe itself doesn’t provide weights (my bag of flour says 30g = 1/4 cup).
We use this kitchen scale and it’s one of the most frequently used gadgets in our kitchen.
3 | Use high quality butter and chocolate. Like anything with food, quality ingredients will yield better results. With cookies, this is most evident with the chocolate you use, followed by butter. Lower quality butters have higher water content, which can affect the fat ratio and texture of the cookie. I’ve also found that if your dough doesn’t turn out great, the chocolate can save it if it’s good chocolate. Good chocolate makes it GOOD.
4 | Use a scooper. This ensures each cookie is the same uniform size and bakes the same as opposed to using a spoon and your hands which more likely results in lumpy and unevenly baked cookies. The latter still works, but I’d recommend using a scale to roughly check that each ball of dough is the same size.
I most often use this #20 scoop but if the recipe calls for smaller balls of dough I use the #40 scoop.
5 | Take the cookies out of the oven right before they look like they’re done. If it looks like they could use another minute in the oven, then they’re done. Judge this by the bottom edges of the cookie when they start to turn golden brown. The center should never be hard!
6 | The more pans and cookies you put in the oven, the longer the cook time and the more unevenly they bake. I used to always jam all the cookies in the oven so they bake all at once and thus I’d be done sooner. To keep baking time and results more consistent, stick to baking one pan at a time. I like to put no more than six cookies on a pan. Ideally you want two half sheets that you rotate out back and forth, 6 cookies at a time on each.
I find that these half sheet aluminum pans work great and give cookies the right amount of spread. I have a dark pan that I’ve noticed makes cookies spread more and bake faster, so I’ve stopped using that one.
7 | Over-mixing is your enemy. Unless a recipe instructs you to mix for a defined period of time, err on the side of mixing until just combined especially when adding the dry ingredients to the wet. The one exception here is if the recipe calls for creaming the butter and sugar. I love when a recipe will define how many minutes certain mixing steps should take, but a lot of recipes don’t and you just need to get familiar with what properly creamed sugar and butter looks like. It should look like the butter has turned fluffy and pale yellow, usually takes about 1-2 minutes with a medium speed mixer. Still here though, you don’t want to over-mix.
And now, the recipes I think every cc cookie lover should try in no particular order, one of which I crowned my favorite of all but each are special in their own way and it simply comes down to what characteristics you want most out of your cookie. All images are mine, recipes are linked to the original source.
1 | BA’s Brown Butter and Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
I tried this recipe 4 times (this photo is from the second time and honestly isn’t the best representation of what the cookies should look like but it’s the only photo I took), and it took me until the 3rd time to get the browned butter right. I had never browned butter before and didn’t know what it was supposed to look like, but once I got it right I tasted how rich the flavor is. The butter should turn darker like caramel and have dark brown curds at the bottom! It gives these cookies a deep, nutty flavor, and the toffee bits are a bright contrast in taste and texture. The chocolate disks are also nice for creating pools of chocolate throughout the cookie that stay soft. The 4th time I made them for Oleg to take to a bbq with his guy friends. He said the cookies were gone almost immediately. Each guy ate 2-4 each and asked him to remove the cookies so they could stop. I’d say that’s a success!
2| Sarah Kieffer’s Pan-Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies
One of the most popular cc cookie recipes ever. Many know it as the NY Times cookies since they helped popularize it by posting the recipe. These cookies blew up all over the internet because Sarah invented the pan-banging method that creates those irresistibly beautiful ripples. You bang the pan in regular intervals while the cookies are baking and it deflates the cookies each time, making concentric ripples that move towards the center of the cookie. It results in a larger, flatter cookie that’s crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle. They’re also really fun to make.
3 | Milk Bar’s Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
My favorite and frequent go-to. Simple ingredients, simple tools (a wood spoon and a bowl), quick, freeze especially nice, and turns out awesome every time. The milk powder is the special ingredient here. It’s that extra something in the dough you can’t put your finger on for why it tastes so good. It’s the milk powder. Chewy in the middle, crisp around the edges soon after they come out of the oven.
4 | Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies
Most wouldn’t consider shortbread as something they want out of a chocolate chip cookie. This recipe changed my mind. I was stunned by how good these were. The sugary edges make these extra addicting. The recipe calls for demerara sugar but I used turbinado sugar instead, and I chilled the slices in the freezer for 15 min. right before baking so that they’d keep their shape and not spread. This is the one I’d pick to make if I wanted to impress because of how pretty and unique they are.
5 | Levain Copycat Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
I tried this recipe before ever trying a Levain cookie in NYC. I would’ve thought these cookies were still amazing if I never ended up tasting an original Levain cookie, but once I did, I could say this recipe came pretty close! Of course nothing beats the real thing, but if you’re craving them and want to make them fresh at home, this recipe is great. They’re enormous and gooey, very indulgent, and definitely turn out fine without the walnuts, although will look flatter.
6 | Thalia Ho’s Spelt Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Two special things about this one. One, the spelt flour gives these cookies a nice texture and chew. I’d say this cookie has my favorite texture of all. Two, the chocolate ratio on this one is high and meant to promote pools of chocolate that spill out of these cookies. These are dreamy.
7 | Alton Brown’s “The Thin”
I still need to try the rest of his cookie recipes, but I’m sure they’re all amazing because Alton is the man that has the perfect recipe for everything. I came across this recipe in search of a thin and crispier cookie, something like Tate’s although the recipe from the Tate’s cookbook wasn’t crispy or like their cookies at all. That disappointment sent me on a long hunt for a thin crispy cookie recipe and this one is it. Though these aren’t entirely crisp, they’re thin and buttery with caramelized edges. These are my close second favorite. I think!
8 | Pinch of Yum’s The Best Soft Chocolate Cookies
Easy, simple ingredients, quick with no wait time, perfectly soft and pillowy cookies. I didn’t need to look for and try other recipes like it because this one is perfect and just too easy. Zero crisp on this one, just look at that cloud like form.
9 | BA’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
These are similar to the brown butter cookies (first on this list) because of the use of brown butter. The main difference, other than there being no toffee chunks in this one, is that this is a chewier cookie thanks to the extra yolks, making this more of a dough-centric experience vs a chocolate and toffee stuffed one. This has more of a caramel-y molasses flavor I love so much that I’d even recommend using a little less chocolate than the recipe calls for to highlight the dough more. Don’t forget to sprinkle salt on these like I didn’t do in the photo!
10 | Tara O’Brady’s Basic Great Chocolate Chip Cookies
The name sums it up. This is a great, solid recipe with no weird ingredients, doesn’t need pre-planning for room temp butter, only requires hand whisking, and creates cookies with a chewy but firm texture. The crackled top indicates that despite these having a chewy texture, the exterior is crisp.
FAVORITE COOKIE BAKING GEAR