How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies from Scratch (Even Better Than the Recipe on the Bag)
The average human eats a staggering 35,000 chocolate chip cookies in their lifetime. No wonder: Classic chocolate chip cookies are soft, chewy, and beautifully balanced with the rich flavors of butter, bittersweet chocolate, and the almost caramelly brown sugar notes in the mix. We’re guessing that the majority of those tens of thousands of cookies are from a bakery or store-bought, but it’s totally doable to master making homemade chocolate chip cookies right in your own kitchen. Ahead, our Test Kitchen’s tips, tricks, variations, and more so you can learn how to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever.
How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies from Scratch
Our classic chocolate chip cookie recipe holds its shape and has a slight chewiness from the combo of butter (for flavor) and shortening (to keep the cookies from spreading too much while baking).
Gather the Ingredients to Make Chocolate Chips Cookies
As we mentioned, these cookies score the perfect balance of flavor and texture through two of the key ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies: equal parts butter and margarine.
We call for a two-to-one ratio of brown sugar to white sugar. Since brown sugar is slightly acidic, it reacts with the leavening agent which yields a cakier cookie. White sugar ensures the consistency of the cookie is still, well, cookie-like—and not too puffy or gritty. (By the way, here’s how to substitute brown sugar for white sugar, because we all run out sometimes!) Brown sugar is available in both light and dark varieties. Either works fine here.
- Light brown sugar is more subtle because it has less molasses.
- Dark brown sugar has a slightly more pronounced and complex flavor, similar to caramel or toffee.
As you continue getting ready to master how to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch, you need just a few more items:
- Baking soda, the leavening agent
- Eggs, which act as a binder and offer moisture
- Vanilla extract, to complement the chocolate pieces
- All-purpose flour, which can be swapped with an equal amount of almond flour or a gluten-free flour mix ($9, Target) to make Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.
- Semisweet chocolate chips, the most essential ingredient to make chocolate chip cookies, of course (although you could trade in chopped chunks from a dark chocolate bar in a pinch)
You’ll also need these baking tools as you follow along with how to make chocolate chip cookies:
Make the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
For the best results, start with softened butter. It’s easy to achieve this if you plan ahead a bit; simply leave the butter on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes. To speed up the process, microwave on 50% power for 15-second intervals until you can press into it easily. Whatever you do, don't melt the butter. It won't behave the same in the batter and your homemade chocolate chip cookies will likely spread too much unless you chill the cookie dough before baking.
In that large mixing bowl, use the hand mixer to combine the softened butter and shortening. Then add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt. Creaming the butter and sugar together traps tiny air bubbles, which helps leaven the cookies along with the baking soda. A “creamed” mixture should look light in color and resemble whipped butter.
Once the initial ingredients are creamed, it’s time to crack in the eggs and pour in a splash of vanilla. Mix until blended, then use the hand mixer to incorporate as much flour as possible. Use the spatula to finish the task, and lastly, fold in the chocolate chips.
Scoop and Bake Cookies
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Scoop portions about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet, then bake 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are just light brown. Chocolate chip cookies are done when they have a firm golden edge or bottom and appear slightly set on top. If the edges become dark brown, they are overbaked. If the edges aren’t quite golden and the tops are soft and shiny, bake the cookies a little longer.
After you pull the pans from the oven, allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to wire racks and let cool fully.
Once the cookies are cool, transfer them to an airtight storage container with a lid ($12, Walmart). Layer them between sheets of waxed paper and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, if they last that long.
How to Make Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies Your Way
Now that you’ve aced how to make the best chocolate chip cookies our Test Kitchen’s way, feel free to mix things up. Consider adding:
- 2 cups chopped peanut butter cups
- 1½ cups chopped toasted nuts
- 1 cup snipped dried fruit
Or replace ½ cup of the chocolate chips with ½ cup:
- Candy-coated chocolate pieces
- Candy-coated peanut butter pieces
- Peanut butter chips
- Butterscotch chips
- White chocolate chips
- Chopped chocolate-mint candies
How to Make Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you prefer your cookies on the chewier side, try these modifications for how to make thick chocolate chip cookies that are chewy and decadent just like a bakery:
- Cook at 350°F instead of 375°F
- Use all butter instead of half-and-half shortening and butter
- Use ½ cup less flour
- Try 2 cups of chopped bittersweet chocolate instead of the chips
- Scoop ¼-cup portions 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet
- Bake 7 minutes, remove the cookie sheet from the oven and gently tap it three times on the counter to flatten the cookies to give them extra-crispy wrinkles yet soft, gooey, and chewy insides
How to Make Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
If thinner and crunchier cookies are what you’re after, we’ve got you covered with this Thin-and-Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. The major differences from our basic best chocolate chip cookie:
- Use all butter instead of half-and-half shortening and butter
- Opt for a one-to-one ratio of white sugar and brown sugar
- Use ¾ cup less flour
- Bake 9 minutes
Now that you’re a pro at how to make homemade chocolate chip cookies all the ways, you’ll never be more than 35 minutes away from a fresh batch. Keep them all to yourself to snack on as-is, dunk in a cool glass of milk, stuff two with a scoop of vanilla for a top-notch ice cream sandwich, or use as part of a sundae. You can also freeze your cookies to enjoy later or, if you’re feeling generous, discover how to mail cookies to loved ones to share your better-than-bakery creations.