Recipe Review

I Baked the Internet’s 6 Most Popular Chocolate Chip Cookies and Found the Best I’ve Ever Had

published Sep 26, 2023
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Overhead view of 6 chocolate chip cookies on a white stone surface.
Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

A good chocolate chip cookie (warm, if you’re lucky enough to catch it at the right moment) is one of the most comforting foods ever — soothing breakups, celebrating milestones, lifting spirits, and showing love.

At its core, a chocolate chip cookie typically consists of butter, brown and granulated sugar, egg, vanilla, flour and leavening, and of course chocolate chips (or chunks). But the way you treat those ingredients, the ratios you choose to use, and the little additions you include can take these cookies in all different directions, from chunky and dense to thin and crisp and everything in between. 

With that in mind, I scoured the internet for popular takes on the classic cookie, choosing different contenders from the ones we included in our earlier showdown. (Side note: When I told my family what assignment I would be working on, there were shouts of joy. There might have been some leaping, too.) I found so many great options that we expanded this showdown from the usual four recipes to six. (Again, much joy.) 

Every recipe was good, yielding its own specific take on chocolate chip cookies. And so, even though the results of any recipe comparison lies in the mouth of the beholder, this one felt even more subjective than usual. My ratings are based on what I want from a chocolate chip cookie, which will inevitably differ from what others might want. With that in mind, I made sure to frame each review in terms of which people that cookie might delight most. For me, two cookies rose above the rest and almost tied for first place, but a simple ingredient pushed one recipe to the top.

Quick Overview

So, What’s the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe?

Christina Tosi’s chocolate chip cookie is the very best recipe we tested. The cookies have crispy edges and chewy centers and are incredibly easy to make. Plus, adding milk powder to the dough adds extra richness.

Unlike our previous chocolate chip cookie showdown, which stuck close to the most classic iteration of the cookie and offered little variation in ingredients, this time we’ve decided to open the gates a little wider. The cookie recipes here mostly use all-purpose flour only, but one incorporates some cake flour. Some of the recipes add walnuts to the cookies; others don’t. The majority of the recipes use semisweet chocolate chips, but one includes milk chocolate and another uses semisweet chocolate chunks. Only one recipe requires you to chill the dough; the others bake the cookies straightaway. Each inflection point makes the recipe unique and sets it apart from the rest.

  • DoubleTree: Yes, this is the reason you book a room at that hotel chain: the warm oatmeal- and walnut-enriched chocolate chip cookie that greets you upon arrival. Can the version you make at home from their recipe live up to the one you get at the check-in desk?
  • Ambitious Kitchen: We knew we wanted to include one brown butter option, and this was the first result on Google. Plus it had tons of rave reviews. It begins with browned butter, uses semisweet and milk chocolate chips, and finishes with some flaky salt. Because the butter is melted (aka warm), the dough chills for a couple of hours before baking.
  • Modern Honey: This recipe offers you a copycat version of Levain Bakery’s famous cookies — thick, full of nuts and chocolate, and absolutely honking enormous.
  • Christina Tosi: True to the nature of many treats from chef Tosi’s Milk Bar empire, these cookies stick close to your childhood favorite — with one interesting ingredient/flavor twist.
  • Joy Food Sunshine: Promising to deliver gooey results, this recipe is all about the bake time. It’s also the only recipe to call for salted butter for more of a flavor boost. 
  • Ina Garten: Overall, the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe is straightforward and classic, but it includes more chocolate — and chocolate chunks at that — than any other.
  • I baked all six recipes on the same day. (It could only be described as my dream day.) I took my time, making sure to completely cool my sheet pans between batches. 
  • I used the same equipment. I used the same two sheet pans with each batch of cookies, and I baked them all in the same oven (equipped with an oven thermometer to verify the temp). Whether the recipes called for it or not, I lined my pans with parchment paper. 
  • I used the same brand of common ingredients. Most significantly, I used Nestle Toll House chocolate chips and chunks, as it was the only brand I found that covered all types of chocolate the recipes called for — semisweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, and semisweet chocolate chunks.
  • I tasted each cookie (at least) twice. First in its warm state, then once when it was completely cooled. 

Why You Should Trust Me as a Tester

In my 25 years in food media (20 as a magazine editor, five as a freelance recipe developer and food writer), I have baked, tested, and evaluated hundreds of batches of cookies — gauging for taste, texture, clearness of process, and success rate of the recipe. 

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

1. For the Over-the-Top Maximalist: Modern Honey’s Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Crush Cookies 

Let me make one thing clear: Even though this recipe garnered my lowest rating, it’s still a pretty high one, as this is a damn good cookie. It starts, interestingly, by creaming together cold — not softened — butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. I used my stand mixer, and the mixture came together just the way the recipe said it would. The recipe uses a mixture of cake flour and all-purpose, includes a teaspoon of cornstarch, and calls for two cups each of chocolate chips and walnuts. 

The dough is divided into just eight portions, each weighing just shy of seven ounces. These are ginormous cookies, and they bake for just 9 to 12 minutes at a high temperature (the recipe calls for 410°F, but my oven doesn’t go to that temp so I used 400°F). I was surprised that the cookies were done at that point, but they were — crisp on the outside, golden-brown on top, and wonderfully gooey within. 

The baked cookies were hefty, of course, as they’re designed to be, and dense with chocolate and nuts. My husband hilariously referred to them as “chocolate chip roasts.” The reason I didn’t rate them higher is that they don’t feel like a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. They’re more for a special occasion, or to make a statement. It would be hard to eat a whole cookie in one sitting; it actually took me two days, returning to it again and again, to eat one! If you like to be extra, these are for you.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

This is a pretty classic chocolate chip cookie recipe — one that uses equal amounts of white and brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda, and a bag of chocolate chips (the recipe didn’t specify what kind so I used semisweet). It does use salted butter, a difference from the rest of the recipes, as well as a teaspoon of sea salt. No, the finished cookies do not taste too salty. They taste well-balanced — not too sweet but plenty chocolaty. 

The recipe cautions repeatedly against overbaking the cookies, saying the key to gooeyness is to not overbake them (they cook for 8 to 10 minutes, just until they barely start to brown). They end up very soft and pale, which many people like (evidenced by the 5-star average rating by 8700+ votes), but that is not my preference. I like the flavor that develops when cookies brown a little — that bit of toastiness that enhances the caramel-like qualities of butter and brown sugar. But if gooey, soft, cookie dough-like texture is your thing, these cookies will be right up your alley.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

3. For Those Who Prefer Crunchy Cookies: DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies

That’s right — these are the DoubleTree by Hilton treats that you get upon check-in. The hotel chain famously shared their recipe a few years ago, and I was more than happy to test it. It starts off classic enough, with butter creamed with brown and white sugars, vanilla, eggs, flour, and leavening. There are plenty of chocolate chips and loads of walnuts as well. 

Where the recipe differs from all the others in this showdown is its inclusion of oats and cinnamon. It’s a tiny amount of the spice — just a pinch — yet the flavor somehow comes through in the finished cookies. It’s a subtle back-note, but it’s there. These cookies taste less sweet than the others, and with the oats and all the nuts, the texture is hearty and substantial, like the type of cookies you want to take on a long hike — almost like a granola bar, but definitely more dessert-y. If you like your cookies less sweet and want a bit of whole-grain heft, you’ll love these cookies.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

4. For Salted Caramel and Toffee Lovers: Ambitious Kitchen’s The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies You’ll Ever Eat

The first step in this recipe is to brown two sticks of butter until amber colored with a nutty aroma — heavenly! After cooling the browned butter slightly, you mix it with mostly dark brown sugar and a wee bit of granulated sugar, then mix in egg, vanilla, a bit of Greek yogurt, and the dry ingredients. A combo of semisweet and milk chocolate chips then goes into the dough, and you chill it for a minimum of two hours before baking. At the end, the cookies get a sprinkle of flaky salt. 

These cookies have a fantastically strong toffee-like flavor from the browned butter and dark brown sugar. They are very sweet — in spots a bit granular, even. They definitely need the salt finish to balance the sweetness. The cookies don’t spread or flatten much (because the dough is cold), and they retain a nice chunky shape. They do seem a bit dense, probably because you’re not creaming softened butter with the sugars to aerate the dough. The flavor here is amazing, but I wanted the texture to be less dense. For those who like a chunky cookie with salted caramel notes, this is the perfect recipe.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

5. For Chocolate-Lovers: Ina Garten’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This recipe felt more traditional than most of the others. The dough is straightforward, made with softened butter creamed with brown and white sugar. Garten adds a good bit of vanilla and uses a couple of extra-large eggs, then adds all-purpose flour, baking soda, and kosher salt. A cup-and-a-half of walnuts and a whopping one-and-a-quarter pounds of chocolate chunks then go into the dough. The recipe instructs you to bake for “exactly 15 minutes” and cautions that the cookies will look underbaked. For me, though (and I have an oven thermometer to verify my oven temperature), they were nicely browned — which I loved. 

The cookies had a wonderful toasty flavor, with crunchy edges and a chewy center. They also had the highest chocolate ratio of all the cookies. These cookies taste buttery and rich, and the crunchy-chewy texture is dreamy. They received a near-perfect score and were only barely edged out by the winning cookies that brought a little more oomph to the dough.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

6. For Folks Who Love Tradition with a Twist: Christina Tosi’s Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is almost a standard take on the classic cookie. It uses softened butter, brown sugar, white sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, salt, baking powder, and a bag of chocolate chips. Nothing surprising there, except perhaps for the fact that you’re instructed to mix the dough by hand. The cookies flatten a little as they bake, so they’re thin, with crispy edges but chewy-gooey centers. For me, this is iconic, classic, ideal. 

The surprise in this recipe comes with the addition of nonfat milk powder to the dough. What that does is create more complexity in the flavor, a malty-creamy-buttery-vanilla richness in the cookie part, so that any bites that don’t contain chocolate chips taste just as delicious as those that do. Every single bit of these cookies, every last crumb, is sublime. Even though I made all six cookie recipes on the same day (meaning we had loads of cookies on hand), these were sought out and completely gobbled up within 24 hours. Now, if that’s not a vote of confidence, I don’t know what is.