Chocolate chip cookies are a national favorite (more like a world favorite, perhaps), and many aspiring bakers try their hand at making them. Fortunately, these scrumptious cookies are easy to make. Unfortunately, even simple cookies can seem complex to someone who doesn’t have the hang of baking yet.
For this reason, we’ve assembled a list of our best tips for making chocolate chip cookies from scratch. Let’s hop into the ins and outs of making perfect chocolate chip cookies.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips #1: Don’t Forget to Cream the Butter and Sugar
I remember the first time I baked a chocolate cake all by myself. I threw everything in the electric mixer and then switched it on. While that cake wasn’t an utter disaster, it surely wasn’t the homemade delight I know and love.
Later on, I learned that the key (one of them) to a soft, moist cake batter is to cream the butter and sugar together before adding the other ingredients. It turns out the same thing is true for chocolate chip cookies!
Why does such a small step make such a huge difference? Two reasons:
- Creaming these two ingredients together ensures that the butter and sugar are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
- The creaming process aerates the batter’s base, ensuring that you get the soft, creamy biscuits you know and love.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips #2: Chill Before You Bake
This list of chocolate cookie tips is going to be full of minor-seeming things that make a huge difference! One of those is to chill your batter before you start baking cookies.
After you’ve mixed all your ingredients thoroughly, and turned them into a cohesive batter, wrap them in cling wrap or place them in an airtight container. It’s important that your batter doesn’t get exposed to the air because that will cause it to dry out.
Then place them in the fridge (not the freezer) for at least 12 hours. Some professional bakers mix all their choc chip cookie dough days before they need it.
Why the additional chilling step, though? Well, what happens when you make cookie batter and then immediately bake cookies? You mix a bunch of separate ingredients together and then try to make something wonderful. However, you give the ingredients no time to become a cohesive whole.
By chilling the batter, you allow all the flavors and ingredients to permeate every part of the batter - enhancing the flavors tenfold. An additional benefit is that chilled dough is easier to shape into those perfect choc chip cookie scoops.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips #3: Don’t Use Pre-cut Chocolate Chips
This has to be one of my favorite tips for chocolate chip cookies. Most beginner bakers go out and buy a bag of pre-cut chocolate chips already shaped into perfect little discs.
Want to know a secret? Uniformity is not your friend when it comes to choc chips! By hand-cutting chocolate blocks into chips, you get a greater array of shapes and sizes. This allows better distribution throughout the batter since you’ll have smaller pieces where big ones couldn’t reach, and vice versa.
Another thrilling advantage of this technique is that you aren’t limited to any particular type of chocolate. You can use expensive dark chocolate imported from the Andes, Swedish milk chocolate, or your favorite nut-infused chocolate bars. You can even go entirely wild and use three or four different types of chocolate!
Not only do hand-cut chips offer more diversity and permeate the batter better, but they also improve the texture of the biscuits.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips #4: Experiment With Different Optional Add-ins
When it comes to tips for chocolate chip cookies, there’s only one rule that you must remember at all costs: the cookies must contain chocolate chips.
After that, all bets are off! For some people, the perfect chocolate chip cookie must contain nuts, while for others, nuts are a no-go. I’d encourage you to experiment with different additives and find the ones that work best for you! Some great options to try out include:
- Candy like M&Ms
- Candied nuts
- Nut sprinkles
- Rainbow sprinkles
- Raisins and fruit pieces
- Cinnamon and other spices
- Lemon zest
In the end, the only limit is your imagination, likes, and dislikes. Don’t be afraid of experimentation!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips #5: Salt Matters Too!
One of the biggest tips for chocolate chip cookies that I can give you is, don’t forget the salt. Most beginner bakers (including myself at one point) think that the key to a good choc chip cookie is to add enough sugar. While sugar is essential, it turns out that salt is equally important in baking.
Sugar, without some salt to offset it, often doesn’t taste as sweet as one would like. I’d suggest playing around with different types of salt and finding the ones that work for you.
Naturally, you need to add the salt the recipe requires (don’t forget!), but you can also change the texture and taste of the cookie by sprinkling salt on top. Grinds and pre-ground salt will have different effects. Different types of salt make a difference too. I’d suggest trying options like:
- Freshly-ground sea salt
- Pre-ground table salt
- Himalayan crystal salt
Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips #6: Choose a High-Quality Butter
As with many of my other tips for chocolate chip cookies, this is a small tip that makes a huge difference. Choc chip cookies, and many other types of cookies, rely on butter to form a substantial part of the recipe’s base. If you use the wrong type of butter, it will undoubtedly affect the cookies.
I’d recommend trying different types of butter and seeing what kind of effect they have on your cookie batches. You can try salted butter vs. unsalted butter, for example. Another example would be hand-churned vs. machine churned.
Once you find a type and brand of butter that works for you, you’ll find that all your future choc chip cookie batches taste so much better.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips #7: The Type and Freshness of Your Flour Makes a Huge Difference
As with butter, the type of flour you use will affect your cookies’ structure and texture. While most novice bakers don’t realize it, flour is a diverse tool. You get different types of flour made with different kinds of (or parts of) wheat, and they get ground in different sizes too!
Again, I’d recommend experimenting till you find types of flour that work well for you. You may also find that certain brands of flour are generally fresher than others.
Be mindful that recipes often reflect the preferences of their authors. Your preferences may not be the same. For example, you may prefer wholewheat flour to the general cake flour listed in the recipe, or you may find that a hint of rye flour adds a delightfully nutty flavor to your choc chip cookies.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips #8: Adjust Cookie Height by Adjusting the Sugar Type
Did you know that different types of sugar have different amounts of rise ability? This is one of my little-known tips for chocolate chip cookies.
If you prefer flatter chop chip cookies, you can easily accomplish that by changing the type of sugar that you use. White sugar has a much lower rising ability than its darker counterpart. Brown sugar will give you a much thicker, puffier cookie.
Do you want the ultimate rise from your choc chip cookies? Then consider using truly dark brown sugar. Treacle sugar is one example, and muscovado is another.
If you want a medium-low-rise cookie, you can use mainly white sugar with a portion of normal brown sugar. If you want really flat cookies, stick to white sugar.
For the ultimate high-rise cookie, use treacle sugar with a good self-raising flour or a healthy portion of baking soda or baking powder. If you’re using baking soda or powder, stick to the recipe carefully! These substances can easily overwhelm your cookies’ flavor.
I accidentally used self-raising flour and baking soda in some gingerbread once. It certainly rose well, but it also tasted risible.
The Last Crumb
Baking is as much an art as it is a science. I’ve given you my best beginner chocolate chip cookie tips to help you along.
But what it comes down to is this:
- Make the cookies you want to eat. Experiment and incorporate the flavors and textures that you enjoy.
- There’s no such thing as “just flour” or “just sugar.” Almost every possible ingredient comes in different forms, and each reacts differently to the baking process. Try different options till you find the one that works for you.
- Fresh ingredients are always better than old, stale ingredients.
- Cream the butter and sugar first!
- Always chill your choc chip cookie dough before you form the cookies and bake them.
In the end, the only person who knows what you like is you. So, be bold, be adventurous, and bake those cookies! You’ll soon learn what works and what doesn’t.