We won’t go so far as to claim that chocolate chip cookies are divisive… but people definitely tend to have strong opinions about them. Some swear by a chewy cookie with crispy edges, others will only eat them cakey and puffy, while some people like them crispy all the way through. And you know what? That’s okay. When it comes to chocolate chip cookies, there’s room for everyone’s opinion.
And luckily it’s pretty easy to get the results you want. When it comes to baking cookies, switching up an ingredient or two can give you entirely different results, but we’re here to take the guesswork out of all those potential swaps. That way – whether it’s chewy, crunchy, or cakey – you know just how to go about getting the cookie of your dreams. Consider it a guide to getting your own personal perfect chocolate chip cookie.
We’ve started with the classic Nestlé Toll House recipe as our control (because it’s the classic for good reason), and tested five different variations to see just how a simple ingredient swap changes a cookie. In each test, we changed just one ingredient: the amount of sugar, the fat, or the type of flour. And then we got to sample A LOT of cookies.
Do you know which is which? Read on to see how it went!
If you’re anything like us, you’ve made this recipe a time or two, but we’ll tell you about them anyway. With this recipe – which uses softened butter, baking soda, and both brown and white sugar – the cookies come out moist and chewy on the center with a crisp bite around the edges. Many people love that chewy, crispy combo and the butter provides a whole lot of flavor. It’s an excellent cookie, full of flavor and texture.
In case you don’t have that ubiquitous yellow bag of morsels in your pantry, here is the control recipe:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups (1 12 oz package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets (we lined ours with parchment paper) and bake until golden brown, about 9-11 minutes. Cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Next: Does all that brown sugar really make a difference?
2. ALL WHITE SUGAR
Instead of a combination of white and brown sugar, we used all white sugar in this recipe (1 ½ cups). This created a very flat cookie that is crispy around the edges. They’re really too flat to be described as chewy, but they’re pretty soft through the center. We found they come out looking a little bit anemic. Losing the brown sugar means you’re losing quite a bit of flavor as well.
Next: Alright we ditched the brown sugar, but what about the white sugar?
3. ALL BROWN SUGAR
In this test, we used all brown sugar (so 1 ½ cups). And if you can believe it, the cookies tasted like… brown sugar! They’re very caramelly and softer and thicker than the white sugar test. We found the brown sugar flavor to be a little overpowering, but some of our testers loved this flavor the most. It’s definitely worth playing with the ratio of sugars to get your dream cookie! Use more brown sugar for more caramel flavor and a softer consistency, white sugar for a flatter cookie with a crispier bite.
4. BREAD FLOUR
If you like a chewier cookie, this is a swap you might want to try! Bread flour creates more gluten, which results in a chewier cookie. It also is able to absorb more liquid and keep more moisture in the cookie… so, chewier, cakier cookie! The edges still have a little bit of crispness, and the flavor is almost identical to the control. (If you want a really chewy cookie, try a combination of melted butter and bread flour.)
We swapped shortening in for butter in this test, which some people swear by, but this was our least favorite version. The cookies LOOK beautiful, but they were kind of bland. They’re much crumblier than the other variations and while the center was soft, it was more cakey than chewy. We really missed the butter flavor in these cookies but these are a good ‘milk-dipping’ cookie.
6. MELTED BUTTER
Our final test was using melted butter, and this is something we’ll definitely be coming back to. We used the same amount of butter that the original recipe calls for (1 cup) but melted it and then stirred the sugars in and left it to sit and cool a bit before mixing in all the other ingredients. The cookies don’t seem to spread as much in the oven, and the result is a puffier cookie than the control, but still with crisp edges. All of the butter flavor is still there. It’s an excellent cookie!
Were you able to figure it out? Here’s the final, side-by-side spread:
Looking for another great chocolate chip cookie recipe? We’ve got you covered: