Recipe Review

I (Finally) Tried the Pan-Banging Cookies That Are All Over the Internet

updated Feb 13, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

If you’ve logged onto social media in the past year, chances are you’ve come across Sarah Kieffer’s pan-banging chocolate chip cookies. Thanks to a somewhat unusual technique, these cookies have picture-perfect ridges that make for a seriously striking photo.

The trick that gives them their unique texture? Banging the cookie sheet tray against the counter every few minutes as the cookies bake — so that the cookies deflate and give way to a distinctive crinkled texture. At first glance, the process seemed a bit tedious to me, but I wanted to see if the effort it took to make them was worth it — and if they tasted as good as they looked. With a warning to my neighbors and roommates about the noise, I tested out the viral (and loud!) technique to see if I could recreate the social media favorite.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

How Do You Make Pan-Banging Cookies?

Kieffer’s recipe starts out in a straightforward way: You’ll cream butter and white sugar together with a small amount (1/4 cup) of brown sugar (far less compared to standard chocolate chip cookie recipes). To that, Kieffer adds eggs, vanilla, and water, followed by flour, baking soda, and salt. She folds in chopped bittersweet chocolate and portions the dough into giant 1/3-cup-sized balls — pretty much the size of large golf balls.

Kieffer freezes the dough balls for 15 minutes and pops them into a 350°F oven for 10 minutes until they begin to puff up. Then the pan-banging begins!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Kieffer instructs you to take the sheet pan, bang it against the counter to deflate the cookies, put it back into oven for two more minutes, then repeat. This technique gives the cookies their signature crinkled texture and helps them spread evenly. It also causes the air to escape, preventing them from becoming cakey. You’ll pop them back into the oven and repeat the process several times until they’re golden and perfectly wavy.

My first reaction, before I even tasted anything? This may be the most entertaining and stress-reducing recipe ever.

My Honest Review of Pan-Banging Cookies

Looks-wise, I thought these cookies were stunning. The wavy texture was beautiful. (And yes, I joined the masses and Instagrammed them immediately.) The process of banging the sheet pans was fun and a technique that I had never seen outside of brownie baking. The dough came together quickly and didn’t require overnight chilling, so I appreciated how simple it was to make.

The flavor of the cookies was very pleasant. Because it’s made with such a low amount of brown sugar, the cookies don’t have a strong caramel or molasses flavor — and that allows the chocolate to shine. The generous amount of salt was a nice touch that helped balance the sweetness of the cookies, although I wished it had some sprinkled on top, too.

Going back to the texture, though — while it looked beautiful, the taste wasn’t quite there for me. I prefer a chewier chocolate chip cookie, and these were crispy. But if your ideal cookie is thin and crispy, you’ll probably love these. The texture is similar to a Tate’s Bakeshop cookie, only a tad bit softer in the center. While their flavor was delicious, as someone who isn’t a fan of crispy chocolate chip cookies, I couldn’t get past the texture.

Credit: Charli Nowak

If You’re Making Pan-Banging Cookies, a Few Tips …

1. Make sure you line your sheet trays with aluminum foil: Kieffer recommends lining your sheet trays with aluminum foil, with the dull side facing up. This prevents the cookies from sticking and helps them spread easier, resulting in more crinkles. I made my first batch on parchment paper, and a second on foil. The ones on foil seemed to spread much better.

2. Don’t skip the freezing step: This is what prevents the cookies from spreading too much, so make sure to freeze the dough balls for a full 15 minutes.

3. Don’t be afraid to make the cookies rather large: Kieffer’s recipe instructs you to portion the dough into 1/3-cup balls. While this may seem like a ton of dough for just one cookie, the large size helps to create the wavy texture.

4. Be aggressive with your pan-banging: Banging the pans is meant to deflate the cookies, so you need to hit them rather hard against your counter. Just go for it and bang away!

5. Keep a close eye on the cookies as they bake: Because these cookies are so thin, they overcook very quickly. As soon as they develop a nice golden color, check them. You want the center to remain slightly chewy to contrast the crispy edges, so don’t over-bake them.

Have you ever made Sarah Kieffer’s pan-banging cookies? Tell us what you thought! 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn