One chocolate chip cookie recipe to rule them all
How many times have you read a recipe that started with "The BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe ever!"? I know I have too many times. Unfortunately, one person's idea of the BEST might not be mine, or yours! The best chocolate chip cookie recipe is the one you like the best. Whether it's thick and chewy, thin and crispy or light and cakey. Use this ONE chocolate chip cookie recipe to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
So let's dive into what makes a chocolate chip cookie chewy, cakey or crispy and what you can add or subtract from a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe to make your cookies exactly the way you want them to be.
Before I wrote this blog post I did a TON of testing. A ton. I baked so many cookies I think I couldn't see straight. I almost overdosed on brown sugar and butter. But it was all worth it. I haven't even listed all the tests here on this blog post because I don't want to bore you but I included the most interesting results.
I started my testing with a standard chocolate chip recipe from the back of my favorite Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips bag. This is listed as the "control" recipe to which all my tweaks were made from.
How to make perfect standard chocolate chip cookies
This might come as a shock to you but I am not really that good at making cookies. I have more problems with cookies than any other type of recipe. Maybe it's because I didn't grow up baking so I never learned those cookie making fundamentals.
So if you're like me and you're new to cookie making, let's go over a few basics to making the perfect chocolate chip cookies.
Read the recipe - Read through the recipe once to make sure you have all the ingredients and tools you need to understand the basic flow of the recipe. Reading ahead will ensure you leave yourself enough time to get everything done.
Gather your ingredients - Get all your ingredients out so if you find that you're missing something, you have time to get it before you start mixing.
Room temperature ingredients are important - One of my tests included using a cold egg and a room temperature egg to see if that made a difference in the cookie. The cookie made with a cold egg was very flat/thin. The cookie made with a room temperature egg was much thicker and cohesive looking. So all our future tests used room temperature eggs. We warm our eggs by placing them in a bowl of very warm water for 5 minutes. Soften cold butter carefully in the microwave (do not melt) or cut into chunks and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Measuring - If at all possible, measure your ingredients by weight for the best results but if your recipe is in cups, make sure you measure correctly. To measure cups of flour, spoon the flour into the cup until it's full and then level it off with a knife.
Need to convert to cups? Download my FREE conversion chart! This will work for all my recipes.
Don't substitute - When you first try out a recipe, resist the urge to make any substitutions where possible. Make the recipe as it reads and then once you know how it turns out, you can make adjustments based on your preferences.
Follow the directions - This goes back to reading the recipe. Make sure you follow the directions (also referred to as the method) You can't just dump all the ingredients into the bowl and have them turn out. Save yourself from wasting time and ingredients and follow the instructions.
Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (control)
So now that we got all that out of the way, let's start baking cookies. I'm using the recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate chip bag as the control. I followed the recipe on the back but with a few notes for specifics below since one person's idea of creaming could be very different than another person's idea.
This recipe is also listed below in the recipe card with notes for making the cookies crispy, chewy or cakey based on these experiments.
- Creamed softened but not melted unsalted butter and sugar with paddle attachments for 2 minutes on medium speed.
- Eggs room temperature and added one at a time while mixing on medium speed.
- Used a #20 medium cookie scoop on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- The cookie dough was not chilled.
- Baked the cookies at 375ºF 10 minutes
Result: Fair amount of spread, nice golden edge, chewy, soft on the inside. little more doughy when warm, gets chewier as it cools.
Rating - Crispy: 2 Chewy: 2 Cakey: 0
Chocolate chip cookie ingredients: What do they do?
So if we wanted to make adjustments to this control recipe, what do you do? Well, first of all, we need to understand what the role of each ingredient is so we can tweak this chocolate chip cookie recipe successfully.
Flour - Makes cookies thicker and cakier but also drier. Less flour makes them thinner and crispier.
Brown Sugar - Makes cookies chewier but too much makes them crispy and dark
Eggs - Adds moisture and structure to the cookies but also makes them spread. Room temperature eggs made a better cookie with less spread.
Baking powder - Makes cookies fluffier and lighter in color.
Baking soda - Gives cookies flavor, color and lift.
Butter - When creamed with the sugar makes cookies fluffy and chewy when melted makes them thinner and crispier.
Scoop size - For every test, I scooped with a #20 cookie scoop and also did a double scoop to see if they baked up differently. Across the board, the larger scoops resulted in thicker cookies with less spread.
Chilling - I didn't notice much of a difference with chilling cookies. I know some people SWEAR by chilling. They may have been ever so slightly thicker but not a huge difference.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Tests
Hard, dry, crispy or doughy? I tried to recreate some problems that someone might have with their cookies to see what would happen. These are my results! I know this is a TON of information so feel free to scroll past if you're not into geeky experiments about cookie ingredients like I am.
As I said earlier, I used the Ghiradelli chocolate chip cookie recipe and semi-sweet chocolate chips. I have rated my tests as far as crispy, chewy and cakey goes on a scale of 1-3. Each test starts with the standard control recipe from Test 1 and then I change one thing to see what happens.
Test 1: Too much flour This was my first test and it really was an accident. I meant to make a half batch of the cookie recipe and forgot to half the flour. Result? Hockey pucks. Oops.
- Used double the amount of flour
Result: Didn't spread at all, very dry. Crispy:0 Chewy: 0 Cakey: 3
Test 2: Dough chilled for 24 hours. I wanted to see if chilling really was necessary for the cookies to turn out since so many recipes say that chilling is absolutely necessary.
- Regular Ghirardelli recipe
- Creamed butter with paddle attachments
- Softened butter
- Scooped and Chilled (fridge) 24 hours. Don't wait for them to room temp.
- Baked 350 12 mins (needed extra time because of the cold dough)
Result: Call me crazy but I couldn't see any difference in taste or texture between the chilled or unchilled dough. Crispy: 2 Chewy: 2 Cakey: 0
Test 3: Melted butter. Some recipes I come across say that melting the butter makes a chewier cookie so I decided to try it out for myself. I melted the butter, let it cool so it wasn't hot and then mixed it with the sugar. The mixture wouldn't cream so I just mixed it until combined, then I added in my eggs and dry ingredients. The dough was very soft and easy to scoop.
Result: These cookies spread a lot more than the cookies that used softened butter and seemed a little oily and doughy in the center. These cookies got a lot crunchier as they cooled. Crispy: 3 Chewy: 3 Cakey: 0
Test 4 - All brown sugar. Brown sugar is what gives cookies their chew so I thought if I used all brown sugar, the cookies would be really chewy.
Result: These cookies did not spread as much and where thicker. They were chewy in the center but crispy around the edges. Crispy: 3 Chewy: 2 Cakey 1
Test 5 - baking powder instead of baking soda. I wondered what would happen if I used baking powder instead of soda, did it really matter?
Result: Didn't spread as much, lighter in color, puffed up more and took one extra minute to bake. The taste was very mild. Crispy: 1 Chewy: 2 Cakey 2
Test 6 - More flour (1 extra ounce). This time I only added one extra ounce of flour to see if it would stop my cookies from spreading as much.
Result: Thicker cookie, doughier, softer, not as much spread. Got chewier as it cooled.
Test 7 - Extra egg yolk. I read that extra eggs can make your cookies moister and cakier so I gave it a try.
Result: Moister cookie, chewier and more flavor.
Crispy: 1 Chewy: 2 Cakey 2
Test 8 - Double scoop. I wanted to see what would happen if I made my cookies twice as big, what would happen.
Result: These cookies were very thick and reminded me of the cookies you get in a bakery! I loved them! Same taste and texture as the classic cookie. Note: These took two extra minutes to bake.
Rating - Crispy: 2 Chewy: 2 Cakey: 0
So what have we learned?
I narrowed these tests down to three results for successfully tweaking a chocolate chip cookie recipe to your liking.
The MOST important thing I have learned is that a room temperature egg makes all the difference and that you don't need to chill your cookie dough which is a relief for impatient people like me.
For chewy chocolate chip cookies add 2 extra ounces (¼ cup) of flour, 2 extra egg yolks, and replace all the white sugar with brown sugar.
For cakey chocolate chip cookies, add 2 extra ounces (¼ cup) of flour and replace the baking soda with an equal amount of baking powder.
For crispy chocolate chip cookies, use melted butter, increase the white sugar by 4 ounces (½ cup) and decrease the brown sugar by 4 ounces (½ cup).
What was my favorite test? I prefer the thicker, cakier cookie with more flour (test 6). Perfect for dunking in milk. My husband's favorite cookie was the thinner, crispier cookie (test 3) although he happily ate all the leftover cookies throughout the week. Avalon's favorite cookie was the small chewy cookie.
Whichever you prefer, I hope this guide has helped you make the perfect chocolate chip cookie that's perfect for you!
Master Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened but not melted
- ¾ cup light brown sugar packed
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour spooned into the cup then leveled
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups chocolate chopped or chocolate chips
- Preheat your oven to 375ºF and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper (not wax paper)
- Add softened butter to the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and cream until smooth
- Add in your brown sugar and white sugar and whisk on low until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes)
- Add in your eggs one at a time, letting each mix in fully before adding the next
- Add in your vanilla, salt, and baking soda
- Add in your flour and chocolate chips and mix until just combined
- Scoop onto your cookie sheet using a #20 cookie scoop or about two Tablespoons of dough per cookie.
- Bake for 6 minutes, rotate the pan then bake for another 5-6 minutes or until the center is no longer shiny. Do not over-bake.
- Cookies will be soft at first but will harden as they cool.
- Use room temperature eggs for less spreading
- No need to chill your dough
- For chewy chocolate chip cookies add 2 extra ounces (¼ cup) of flour, 2 extra egg yolks, and replace all the white sugar with brown sugar.
- For cakey chocolate chip cookies, add 2 extra ounces (¼ cup) of flour and replace the baking soda with an equal amount of baking powder.
- For crispy chocolate chip cookies, use melted butter, increase the white sugar by 4 ounces (½ cup) and decrease the brown sugar by 4 oz (½ cup).