Chocolate Chip Cookie Guide

How do you make the perfect chocolate chip cookie? We tweaked the ingredients and baking methods of our classic recipe to see how we could achieve cookies with different textures and flavors.

The Ultimate Cookie Quest

What makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie? If you were to ask a group of people, you'd likely receive widely varying results spanning the chewy-crispy-crunchy spectrum. But more importantly, how do you achieve these cookie variants? We set out to demonstrate how, by tweaking one classic chocolate chip cookie recipe, the home baker can create chocolate chip cookies with different textures, flavors and appearances.

Mess with a Classic

We started out with this Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe, which yields crispy-on-the-outside, soft-in-the-inside cookies that easily rival some of those tried-and-true store-bought cookies you ate as a child.

Get the Recipe: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flour Power

The first change we made to the classic recipe was adding flour and subbing in cake flour for the usual all-purpose variety. Just adding flour made the cookies dense and dry, but the cake flour was a surprising hit. The resulting cookies were tender and super chewy with pleasantly caramelized edges.

The second experiment pertained to the chemical leaveners: We replaced the recipe's baking soda with baking powder. The cookies turned out lighter, crumbly and fragile, which wasn't a desired outcome, as voted by our tasting panel.

Fun with Fats and Sugar

Next, we adapted the ingredients that give cookies their sweetness and, as it turns out, greatly impact their texture. In lieu of standard room-temperature butter, we tried 3/4 cup of coconut oil and melted butter, respectively. The coconut oil yielded a lighter, less toffee-flavored cookie, which made the chocolate chips taste more pronounced and allowed the coconut flavor of the oil to emerge. Melting the butter produced a crackly topped, slightly chewy cookie.

It was the variation in sugars that resulted in the greatest surprise, though. We tried all brown sugar, all granulated sugar, and a combination of brown sugar and corn syrup (more on that last one later). The all dark brown sugar cookie was tender, cakey and notably darker in color.

The Big Chill

After modifying ingredients, we moved onto temperature-related experiments. Chilling cookie dough before baking it is a secret that in-the-know bakers employ to develop the flavors of their goods. This trick didn't disappoint: Our chocolate chip cookies were rich and deeply toffee-flavored, a decidedly very good thing.

The Heat Is On

The classic chocolate chip cookie is baked at 375 degrees F until golden and tender. But what would happen if we modified the baking temperature? Quite a lot, apparently: The cookies baked at 300 degrees F were flat, crunchy and possessed more distinct toffee flavor; the cookies baked at 425 degrees F were crunchy on the outside but quite cakey on the inside for marked contrast.

Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

After experimenting with all of these variables, our discerning cookie tasters crowned five chocolate chip cookies worthy of their own recipes.

The first, the Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies, resulted from our sugar experiment. They contain 1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar (in lieu of standard light brown sugar) and no granulated sugar. After baking for 12 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees F, the cookies are incredibly tender.

Get the Recipe: Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Crispy-Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

For those who prefer a combination of cakey and crunchy, try these Crispy-Cakey Chocolate Chip cookies –– we modified the classic recipe by baking it at 425 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. The golden, crunchy outside gives way to a tender center.

Get the Recipe: Crispy-Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

To get a nicely chewy cookie, you'll need to tweak the sugar components again. These Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies contain 1 cup of light brown sugar and 1/4 cup of corn syrup in lieu of the classic granulated sugar. That liquid sugar yields a cookie that's good and crunchy on the outside but quite chewy inside after it's been baked for 10 to 12 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Get the Recipe: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Super-Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

For some, slightly chewy is not enough. These Super-Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies were achieved when we subbed out all-purpose flour for cake flour, as described earlier. This panel favorite was tender and very chewy, but with nicely caramelized edges.

Get the Recipe: Super-Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Extra-Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Finally, the Extra-Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies resulted from baking the classic recipe at 300 degrees F for 24 to 28 minutes. The flat, crunchy cookie had the most pronounced toffee flavor of the lot.

Get the Recipe: Extra-Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies