The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe By Tessa Arias
  |  
July 22nd, 2013

Have you ever wondered why chocolate chip cookies can be chewy, crisp, soft, flat, thick, cakey, greasy, bland, flavorful, moist, or crumbly? The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies is here to show you WHY! (Originally published in 2013). Download my FREE COOKIE CUSTOMIZATION GUIDE HERE.

Figure out how to make your cookies chewy, soft, cakey, or crispy!! Make the cookie of your dreams :) :)

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandletheHeat.com
In this post I’m going to share with you how various ingredients and techniques can affect the taste, texture, and appearance of your chocolate chip cookies. This will hopefully help you understand how chocolate chip cookie recipes work so you can make the PERFECT batch every time, whatever you consider to be perfect. This information will allow you to alter or create your own chocolate chip recipe that produces cookies just the way YOU like them. You’ll be an expert on the anatomy of the chocolate chip cookie.

I used the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as my control and made little changes and variations in techniques and ingredients to show you how they affect the cookie.

I halved and adapted the original Tollhouse recipe. I kept everything the same through each recipe test, changing one key thing to see its effect and photographing the results for you. Be sure to check out my free Cookie Customization Guide to truly perfect your cookies!

Cookie Tools and Ingredients Used:

OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop
Chicago Metallic sheet pans
Silpat baking mats or unbleached parchment paper
KitchenAid 5-quart Stand Mixer
Oven thermometer
-King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
-Fine sea salt
-Light brown sugar (except the granulated sugar recipe test)
-Large eggs
-Unsalted butter that was at a cool room temperature (except the melted butter recipe test)

Control Recipe

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandletheHeat.com

Ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces or 142 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces or 114 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, beating well to combine. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon-sized balls and place onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Here is the control, an adapted version of the Nestle Tollhouse recipe. The full recipe I used to base all of the tweaks on is at the bottom of this post.

Baking Powder:

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandletheHeat.com
Removed baking soda from recipe and used 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. This produced results that were more cakey and puffed while baking.

Baking Powder AND Baking Soda:

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandletheHeat.com
Used 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. This produced results that were crisp at the edges, soft in the middle, with a good amount of spread. The combination of the two leaveners produced the best results in my opinion.

MORE Flour:

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandletheHeat.com
Increased the flour to 2 cups (250 grams) which created a more crumbly dough and very little spread. The cookies were small yet thick and relatively undercooked (ooey and gooey) in the middle.

MELTED Butter:

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandletheHeat.com
I replaced the room temperature butter with melted and cooled butter. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, I simply stirred the butter and sugars together then let sit for 5 minutes, until the sugar was better absorbed by the butter. This produced flatter cookies that had a shiny, crackled top reminiscent of brownies. They were also more crisp at the edges.

All Granulated Sugar:

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandletheHeat.com
I used 3/4 cup granulated sugar in this recipe which produced flat, white, chewy, and slightly crunchy cookies but with little flavor. Since baking soda (called for in the control recipe) requires an acid (such as brown sugar) to react, these cookies fell very flat as you can see by the way the chocolate chips protrude.

All Brown Sugar:

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandletheHeat.com
I used 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar in this recipe which produced thick, brown, and soft cookies with an intense butterscotch flavor. The original control recipe uses an even ratio of granulated and brown sugars. If you prefer your cookies to be flatter, chewier, or crisper, use more granulated sugar. If you prefer your cookies to be softer and thicker and have a pronounced butterscotch flavor, use more brown sugar.

24 hour CHILLED Dough:

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandletheHeat.com
I used the control recipe but chilled it in the fridge for about 24 hours before shaping and baking. This produced cookies that were slightly thicker, chewier, darker, and with a better depth of butterscotch flavor. If you have time, try chilling your next cookie dough for at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours.

Final Comparison:

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies from HandletheHeat.com

Click here for Part 2!
Part 2 tests out shortening, corn starch, cake flour, and more!

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

Leave a Comment & Rating

Add a Review or Question

*Please select a rating to complete your comment.

  1. #
    Teri Watkins — October 18, 2021 at 11:34 am

    Hi Tessa. I’ve been following you a long time and have been trying to download/print you cookie customization guide because it answers all the questions I’ve had when baking cookies that turn out ‘off’. I’d love to have a copy but the link won’t work and I tried my Print Friendly app and it only shows the very top of your article. I appreciate all you do and your scientific approach to baking (I’m the person who asks the ‘why’ and ‘how’, etc.). I’ve also tried a lot of your recipes with wonderful results. Could you please send me a working link for the guide? Much appreciated, and as always, looking forward to your posts! Thanks!

    • #
      Emily — October 18, 2021 at 3:17 pm

      Hi Teri! Can you please email me at support@handletheheat.com? I’d be happy to send you a link for the guide. It appears that you’ve requested the guide in the past, and it can only be sent once to the same email address. Thanks!

  2. #
    Nouf — September 14, 2021 at 6:12 am

    I made a big batch chocolate chip cookies (150) cookies I doubled my recipe *5 each recipe call for 2 large egg so I add 10 eggs is that correct.

    • #
      Emily — September 14, 2021 at 10:36 am

      Hi Nouf! To be sure I understood you correctly, you multiplied the recipe you use by 5? And the original recipe called for 2 eggs? If so, that would be correct. I’m assuming you have a professional stand mixer, but if not, you’ll definitely want to separate making your cookies into smaller batches! How did your cookies turn out?

  3. #
    Dee — April 22, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    I usually scoop my cookie dough onto my baking pans, cover then refrigerate for 48 hours. Do you think scooping them first vs., chilling in a bowl then scooping makes a difference?

  4. #
    Leilani Prendergast — March 22, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    what are the guidelines to chocolate chip cookies

  5. #
    Arabella — February 6, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    Hi Tessa, I want to try your recipe tonight but the amount of sugar seems so little compared to the usual ccc recipes.
    I want to make sure it’s only 1/4 cup +2 tbsp for each kind of sugar? Thanks for your help!

  6. #
    Ildiko — January 30, 2021 at 5:19 am

    Hi Tessa,

    You are the first person to give an explanation for different ingredients in cookie making.
    I presented, and thank you very much!!!!

  7. #
    Ellen — December 23, 2020 at 8:18 am

    Will doubling this recipe work? I have a BIG family.

    • #
      Tessa — December 23, 2020 at 9:19 am

      Yes, that should work!

  8. #
    Susan — December 1, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    Love the recipe for the perfect cookie. Your baking tests made a lot of sense. Certainly I will now use your recipe as well as chilling the dough for 24 hours. I have two questions for you. Would I get the same results if I substituted Caramel baking chips? Your cookies appeared to be uniform in size. Did you use a cookie scoop then roll them in your hands? Thanks so much for the baking information. Fantastic
    Susan

    • #
      Tessa — December 2, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      Hi Susan! Caramel baking chips instead of chocolate chips should work fine! And yes, I love using a cookie scoop. You can check out my post for How to Bake Picture Perfect Cookies for tips for getting perfectly uniform cookies. Hope that helps!

  9. #
    Alex — November 19, 2020 at 5:06 am

    Hi. How you think can the Chocolate Chip cookies be baked on a silicone mat?

  10. #
    Cookies Las Vegas — November 14, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    Great article, Tessa! Using baking powder and baking soda is definitely the best route to go for the best looking chocolate chip cookie. Crisp edges and a soft/chewy center is amazing!

    • #
      Tessa — November 16, 2020 at 1:23 pm

      Thank you & so glad you agree!

  11. #
    Chris Roller — October 13, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    Read through the whole thing, what an amazing application of the scientific method!

    You only missed one variable. Convection or regular oven.

  12. #
    Jessica — September 14, 2020 at 11:24 am

    I’ve read your scientic posts and tips but I’ve always wondered, in the main picture on the top, what method did you use?

  13. #
    Nana — August 7, 2020 at 1:14 am

    Hi
    Regarding oven 180 degrees from down only , and I should use middle

  14. #
    Gianna — August 1, 2020 at 6:41 am

    If you want to add a dry ingredient to the batter like malt powder or milk powder for additional flavoring, how would you adjust the dry or wet ingredients in order to keep it’s texture?

  15. #
    Nancy Fenstermaker — July 29, 2020 at 11:39 am

    I’ve been trying to perfect a chocolate chip cookie recipe to where the resulting cookie is not ‘hard’ crispy, but crisp/firm to the bite, smooth texture, and does not turn soft after sitting / storing. I had a cookie I found at a small mom/pop convenience store in Arizona. I wish I could remember the name on the label on the cellophane wrap. When I bit into the cookies (one peanut butter and one chocolate chip) they were not soft, but not hard either. I don’t know how to describe them other than to say they were more on the crispy side, but not hard. They were a bit like butter cookies in texture, but not quite melt in your mouth. Am I making any sense? I want to make cookies like those I found in Arizona. Any suggestions and/or guidance will be greatly appreciated.

  16. #
    Aditi — June 26, 2020 at 10:54 am

    i like your comment very much, keep share us like this. you are such a nice person thanks for givings us knowladgable things.

  17. #
    Ritika Sawhney — May 26, 2020 at 1:57 am

    Hi I tried making the cookies by replacing the butter with coconut oil and added flaxegg instead of the egg to make it Vegan. I used a parchment paper and measured the temperature of the oven using a oven thermometer. But my cookies din’t seem to spread at all. This not only happened once but many times when i tried using the same recipe (by making it vegan-only replacing egg and butter for Flaxegg and coconut oil respectively) for different types of cookies (eg: Red velvet, matcha). Could you please help as to why the cookies are not spreading at all?

    5 star rating

    • #
      Bug out Bag — June 11, 2020 at 11:26 am

      This could be the answer Ritika:

      Coconut oil has a melting point of 76°F.

      Unlike other oils, coconut oil can be liquid or solid — it all depends on the temperature where it’s stored. When stored below 76°F, it will firm up and solidify; at a higher temperature, it will melt into a liquid.

  18. #
    Jerrod — April 26, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Great review of different ways to prepare.
    I ended up combining baking soda and powder and the melted butter – seemed pretty perfect!

  19. #
    Ingredients Recipe — April 15, 2020 at 11:55 pm

    Healthy and hygenic Chocolate Chip Cookies. I really like the recipe to bake it. Thanks.

  20. #
    Mahnoor — April 3, 2020 at 6:09 am

    I tried making the cookies but the doughh was super rummy tried addi flour to it placed it in the refrigerator but nothing seems to work

  21. #
    carol — February 1, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    I want my cookies crunchy not chewy

  22. #
    Pat — December 21, 2019 at 10:44 am

    What happened to “The full recipe I used to base all of the tweaks on is at the bottom of this post.”? It’s not there. Or do I have to “subscribe”? Which I’m not real keen on doing.

  23. #
    Gail — December 8, 2019 at 8:50 am

    Thank you

  24. #
    Julia — October 29, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    Love this guide! Can’t wait to try and compare the different recipes!

    • #
      Checks Unlimited — March 15, 2020 at 10:18 am

      I agree Julia. Going to try it out today!

  25. #
    John R — July 26, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    I started using the Nestle recipe but despite putting the amount of flour it requiers my dough still comes out wet and sticky. Am I not putting the correct amount or does the recipe expect me to add more flour?

  26. #
    Phillis — July 26, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    I asked this three days ago, but haven’t heard anything.
    I have cookies the bake crisp, but are hollow inside.

  27. #
    Jennie — July 17, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    I’m so happy that I FINALLY have a guide to make chocolate cookies the way people like them!!! Thank you very much!!!!!

  28. #
    Andrew Faber — June 17, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    Has anyone tested the effect of adding some out flour for some of the AP flour?

    • #
      OMAR SARA — June 22, 2019 at 8:41 am

      Look delicious !!. Thanks for sharing

  29. #
    Debbie — June 3, 2019 at 5:48 am

    Since I moved to the south I’ve had trouble with my bread not wanting to rise and my chocolate chip cookies look and taste more like cake, I have no clue what I’m doing different.. please help ..

  30. #
    Susan Lewellyn — May 18, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    I used this recipe, with the 1/2 teaspoon of baking POWDER, and I also used the Rob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 cup flour, and they came out just as I wanted them to! (i even added a 1/4 cup of Rob’s Red Mill Whey Protein Powder for an extra umph)

  31. #
    Janet — April 23, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Hi
    When I swap the 1/4 cup brown sugar for 3/4, do I still need the granulated sugar?

  32. #
    Pete — March 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    THANK YOU! Thanks for sharing (in clarity and with detail) this information. SO useful in getting to the heart of the specific and obscure problem with my mealy / cake-y / corn-y chocolate chip cookies (so different from my grandmother’s gold-standard). Much appreciated, P

  33. #
    Elena — March 3, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Tessa, Your website is excellent! I have been trying for years to bake thin, moist, chewy Toll House cookies and have tried so many ingredient variations, I’ve lost count. My cookies puff up, are hard, and are unappealing. I appreciate your recipe alterations to indicate what modifications bring about certain cookie textures. Other than ingredient variations, I’m curious, do you feel that the OVEN itself (gas or electric) has a bearing on the cookies? We have a typical ELECTRIC oven and my neighbor bakes exactly the Toll House cookies I’m hoping for (flat and chewy) with a GAS oven. Are gas stoves providing more “moist” heat that also helps cookies spread? If so, could I ever replicate this perhaps with a pan of steaming water on the bottom shelf of the oven?
    Also, nowadays, “convection” ovens are very popular. I’m so determined to get the cookies my family loves that I’m wondering if I should replace our semi-old stove! Thank you for any thoughts you can offer on ovens…I’m going to keep trying.

  34. #
    Andrea — February 17, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    I tried the 1/2 baking soda 1/2 baking powder recipe but my cookies look like the “more flour” example. Does anyone have thoughts on what I might’ve done one with wrong? 🙁

  35. #
    Julia — February 14, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    This is by far the most comprehensive post like this that I’ve ever seen and as a cookie lover, I just had to bookmark this! Thank you! 🙂

    Julia

  36. #
    Troy — January 26, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    This is a great study!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!! One important thing – the tollhouse recipe bakes at 375°. If you bake them at 350° the sugar will never caramelize, so the cookies will be very different. (However, baking them at a lower temperature probably made some of the differences between the batches more pronounced.)

  37. #
    Easter — January 25, 2019 at 2:45 am

    I enjoyed your break down so much. Now I know why my cookies always came out all fluffy.lol.now time to get in the kitchen and try something new.. thank you.

  38. #
    Brittany O. — January 15, 2019 at 12:44 am

    Your Blog is very informative. Straight to the point(about a number of things).
    One of the best I’ve seen.
    So very well scientifically researched & tested (no guessing-real results).
    Keep Up the good work .
    Look forward to trying other recepies.
    “The cookies are just one of my favorites”.

    Thanks for the research & your thought experience about the whole thing,..you make it a whole lot easier to enjoy baking cookies for people & the ones you love.

  39. #
    Marcy Donaldson — January 4, 2019 at 9:37 am

    I live in Denver…baking in high altitude is always a challenge. I try every recipe ingredient/heat adjustment I find but cookies still rise and collapse into thin cookies. Suggestions?

  40. #
    LaTrease McClary — December 25, 2018 at 8:44 am

    I remembered this guide when I found your snowflake sugar cookies last year .(my favorite cookie recipe by the way) but was going for simple this year so made till house and snickerdoodles both were a disaster. Got hard as rock chunks. I am a true believer that baking is a science and cooking is an art. In both recipes I wanted thin crispy edges somewhat chewy middles with a good spread. Do you think both baking powder and soda in both recipes would achieve that?

  41. #
    Jennifer Diggs — December 22, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    I enjoyed your break down so much. Now I know why my cookies always came out all fluffy.lol.now time to get in the kitchen and try something new.. thank you.

  42. #
    Brooke Witham — December 3, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Hi
    Love the guide,
    How many dozen cookies did the control recipe make?
    Thanks
    Brooke

  43. #
    Tim S. — November 22, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Great site and great experiments with these cookies! I’ll try some variations.

    My mother made toll house cookies using the basic recipe, and we all loved them. Because she used an ungreased baking sheet as called for in the earliest recipes, the cookies would change shape a bit when she slid them off of the hot baking sheet; they took on a more oval shape–which we came to accept as part of the cookie. I still like them this way so I don’t let them “rest” but slide them off the sheet right away.

  44. #
    Crystal Krzepina — November 20, 2018 at 5:21 am

    I’ve always made pretty top notch cookies! Everyone seems to love them. Even the teachers at my boys school!
    But I have to say this is Amazing! I am going to try out the all brown sugar today and see how the teachers and the husband like them! Thank you for this post!! I am super excited!!

  45. #
    Gail — November 12, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    I followed the Toll House recipe on the pkg. explicitly and they spread and ran together when I baked them. Can you help me figure out why? Thank you in advance

  46. #
    Miguel — November 7, 2018 at 11:35 am

    So hey Where do you want to met and what time babygirl Tessa,I can’t wait for you to cook those delicious cookies

  47. #
    Ev — October 31, 2018 at 12:31 am

    What recipe or recommendation if I want a cookie like Tate’s ?

  48. #
    Cooking recipes — October 3, 2018 at 6:09 am
  49. #
    Sheila — September 27, 2018 at 2:03 am

    Tessa-you’re a saint for listening to us!
    Absolutely LOVE what you said about everything!
    Thank you! 🙂

  50. #
    Sheila — September 27, 2018 at 1:44 am

    We use both the brown & white sugar, & cookies are soo good!

  51. #
    Sheila — September 27, 2018 at 1:42 am

    I bake a lot, and have spoken to people who own bakeries that go by old family recipes, and using butter over shortening or margarine is ALWAYS going to help, and butter softened is ALWAYS better than melted because the melted butter makes like a fried flat cookie! Although refrigerating cookie dough or almost any cookie doughs make a better cookie, I’ve always heard at least 2-4 hours, it’s almost like pastry dough you work with chilled dough, so it must work!

  52. #
    Taylor — June 16, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    What is the yield of the base recipe?

  53. #
    instagram takipçi hilesi — April 10, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    you should try adding 1 tsp corn starch to a batch. Helps them to be thicker and stay soft.
    Smiles

  54. #
    Robin — March 14, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Love this post! So helpful and now I feel I can be more successful and consistent with my cookie making!!

  55. #
    Tem — March 7, 2018 at 8:00 am

    My cookies never spread I usually have to fork them down when I take them out. The 24 hour option, do you have to remix the dough or anything when you take it out?

1 5 6 7

Join the Handle the Heat Community

Cookie Customization Chart
Do you want a more delicious life?
Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!
As Seen On....
NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed