Recipe Review

I Tried Joanna Gaines’ Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (& Here’s What I Thought)

updated May 5, 2021
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(Image credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: Kitchn; Headshot:NBC/Getty Images)

Although she rose to stardom remodeling homes with her husband, Chip, on TLC’s Fixer Upper, Joanna Gaines is now just as famous for her Waco, Texas, restaurant and her family-friendly recipes. One of the first recipes we shared from her was her Magnolia Table chocolate chip cookies, and we certainly weren’t the only ones intrigued by this recipe. A quick Google search reveals that these cookies have been shared by countless websites and bloggers, many of whom have applauded her for her surprising technique: cutting the amount of butter in half to make taller, chunkier cookies. I wanted to see if Joanna’s advice really made for better, tastier cookies.

(Image credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: Kitchn; Headshot:NBC/Getty Images)

How to Make Joanna Gaines’ Chocolate Chip Cookies

Joanna’s cookies take inspiration from the recipe on the bag of Nestlé Toll House chocolate chips. She says that after years of experimenting, she tweaked the recipe to yield chunky, beautiful, delicious cookies. The biggest change she made was reducing the butter by half, but she also eliminated the white sugar altogether and more than doubled the amount of brown sugar.

Her method for making the cookies remains the same: You’ll whisk together the dry ingredients, cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer, then add the eggs followed by the vanilla. You’ll then add the dry ingredients, followed by the chocolate chips. The dough then gets dropped by spoonfuls onto baking sheets, and baked until lightly browned on top.

What I Thought of Joanna Gaines’ Chocolate Chip Cookies

Although I was super excited to try Joanna’s take on a chocolate chip cookie, I was less than impressed with the results. Reducing the butter yielded cakier cookies that lacked tenderness, and because they barely spread in the oven, there were no crispy edges in sight. As someone who likes contrast in my cookies — crispy edges, soft and doughy centers — plus lots of pockets of chocolate, this recipe was not for me.

It turns out I’m not alone in my disappointment with this cookie. A lot of you commented on her recipe saying it wasn’t your favorite, either. Thankfully, you also provided some great suggestions on how to make it better. More on that below.

(Image credit: Grace Elkus)

If You Make Joanna Gaines’ Chocolate Chip Cookies …

  1. Increase butter and decrease sugar: To improve the texture and combat sweetness, one Kitchn reader suggests upping the butter to 1 1/2 sticks and decreasing the sugar to 1 1/4 cups.
  2. Use bittersweet chocolate, and add more of it. Here’s the thing about Joanna’s cookies: The two cups of brown sugar make them super-sweet, but they’re still lacking chocolate (some bites didn’t have any chips at all). If I were to make these again, I would add more chocolate but use bittersweet chopped chocolate instead of semi-sweet chips, which would allow for a more even distribution and keep them from being too sweet.
  3. To get a golden-brown finish, bake them 2 extra minutes. Joanna’s signature cookies have a very specific look to them — small and domed, with golden-brown tops. I found that I had to leave my cookies in the oven a few more minutes than her recipe calls for to get that nice color.

Overall Rating: 4/10
Although they look cute and they’re easy to make, I don’t see any reason I’d bake them again in the future.

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