Cooks Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

January 28, 2013

Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? Myself, I must have tried about a dozen different chocolate chip cookie recipes. So you should just prepare yourselves now to be bombarded with them over time. I can’t help it. I am a chocolate chip cookie recipe addict.

Now! THESE chocolate chip cookies. They belong to Cooks Illustrated, so you know they have no other option but to be amazing. And they are. But with that it also means that they must contain a number of extra steps to complicate what should be a basic recipe. This one isn’t tooooo excessive though. One of their less excessive recipes if you will…

cooks illustrated chocolate chip cookies

What makes these so special and so different than the one that I shared with you previously? Well, the last chocolate chip cookie I shared was simply fun, in that it used vanilla pudding to increase the moisture and fantastic texture. This recipe uses brown butter….

Brown Butter. I LOVE brown butter. I love plain butter too, but when you brown it, something happens… it becomes nutty and caramelly. It reaches these amazing levels of deliciousness. Ugh. SO good.

Cooks Illustrated takes a portion of the butter in this recipe and browns it to enhance the depth of flavor in their cookie. It works. Fantastic. They also amp up the flavor by using dark brown sugar. They throw an extra egg yolk in there for good measure too.

I will say this about the recipe though- my cookie dough was verrrry wet. I imagine it was because my butter was too hot, so it looked like slop. I salvaged it though! I put it in the fridge then used a cookie scoop to drop the batter. I even froze some leftover cookie dough balls and baked them straight from the oven with no problem. So if your cookie dough is very loose, don’t worry! Just refrigerate it. I always do that with my cookies anyways for good measure so they don’t flatten too much in the oven.

cooks illustrated chocolate chip cookies

4.3 from 6 reviews
Cooks Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1¾ cups (8¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (5¼ ounces) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
  3. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whish for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
  4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use a #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.
  5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Michal January 28, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Yummy! that looks gooooood!


boggy January 31, 2013 at 10:29 am

i just tried making these… i didn’t bother refrigerating as i was really craving cookies and wanted to eat them already so as you warned, they came out much flatter than yours on your pics. but they were super chewy and you’re right they had a nice caramelly taste… quite yummy 🙂


Jess February 9, 2013 at 11:20 pm

These are seriously the best cookies ever. I put the second batch in the fridge first and I agree that makes a big difference. This is my new go-to recipe for cookies.


Michelle April 24, 2013 at 8:41 pm

MMM-MMMM-MMMM! The best chocolate chip cookie I have ever made.
Browning the butter seems to have made all the difference in the world – I didn’t refrigerate them and they still fluffed up nicely. Will take a LOT for me to ever give any other recipe a try 🙂


zahra July 20, 2013 at 6:16 am

I want to try these out. Can I use regular all purpose flour instead of unbleached?


lmachell July 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Yes, of course! They are perfectly inter-changeable.


imilda December 19, 2013 at 11:11 am

I just made this, reduced the brown sugar to 1/2 cup but still too sweet for me.
The cookies have crunchy edges but soft in the middle… perfect…
Next time I will half the sugar.. hopefully won’t change the texture…


Lisa March 16, 2014 at 7:43 pm

These were delicious! My husband has deemed them as our new go-to cookie recipe. For his birthday, we requested milk chocolate chips rather than semi-sweet and he loved them. I especially loved the batter (been eating batters all my life and I’m not dead yet!) due to the brown butter. Had never made anything before with brown butter and my husband originally didn’t like the smell (I might have cooked it a few seconds too long) but after tasting, he was was a believer! They only lasted a couple days in my house since they only made 16 and we gave a few away to the bus driver! Will make these again!


santiago April 5, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Shame on you all! I have made these cookies often. 1) If you follow the Cook’s Illustrated recipe exactly you will have perfect chocolate chip cookies every time. But you have to follow their recipe. 2) This is not the exactly the Cook’s Illustrated recipe. Go to their website and watch the video before you make these cookies. A subtle change such as not using Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips but using another chip or chucks can significantly alter taste and texture. They discuss this in the video. If you want to make twice as much, don’t double the recipe just make two batches. There are reasons they are so explicit in what they do as they explain in the video. So any problem with this “close enough” recipe is because it is just close enough. BTW I am not trying to sell a brand of chocolate, just passing along my experience.


Canucklehead November 30, 2014 at 3:38 am

Wow, judge much?
First, the recipe provided is exactly as posted on the CI site; second, don’t be such a snob. Not everybody can afford or has access to Ghirardelli products, further, while CI ‘highly recommends’ Ghirardelli they also indicate a preference for good old Hershey’s.
None of these reviewers indicated the recipe sucked, in fact they all gave it five stars even after modifying it to their liking, and if they had made changes and were critical of the recipe then maybe you’d have a kitchen stool to stand on. Your one star isn’t actually a review of the recipe, it’s of your fellow bakers, so shame on you.

Note to Imilda: yes, if you play with the sugar content too much it will affect the texture, but by all means give it a try! You may still find it’s a great cookie!


MaryAnn May 20, 2015 at 5:35 am

I consider myself somewhat of a cookie queen, always perfecting the cc cookie. These were amazing! Perfect results using the given method. My only change? I think the recipe needs more chocolate. Don’t judge. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, my new go to recipe.


Yes's Mom June 29, 2015 at 4:06 pm

I first tried this great recipe a year ago when I was on the Cook’s Illustrated email list. And yeah, they blew my mind. Also, no mixer involved!! One less thing to clean, but you’d never know after tasting the cookie! I will admit that the last few times I made them, they spread a little – think I have to let the butter cool a bit more and I will take your advice and refrigerate the dough. But a very tasty recipe!!! 10 stars!


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