Recipe Review

Are Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies (Still) the Best Ever?

updated Dec 11, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: Kitchn)

Growing up, my mom kept the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies on hand at all times, so that on snow days or sick days, we could grab the bag of Nestlé Toll House chocolate morsels and have warm cookies on the table in less than 30 minutes. I never even considered using a recipe other than the one on the bag. In fact, I just assumed that was the only way to make chocolate chip cookies.

In a bake-off against the most popular chocolate chip cookie recipes, I knew Toll House would win points for nostalgia. But when it came to the most important criteria — taste, texture, dough-to-chocolate ratio — would they be able to hold their own? Here’s what I found out.

(Image credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: Kitchn)

How to Make Nestlé Toll House’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Nestlé Toll House cookie is the very first chocolate chip cookie to ever exist. Although the recipe has been tweaked throughout the years, the current version is still pretty close to the one published by Ruth Wakefield (owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts) in her 1938 cookbook Tried and True. The following year, Nestlé bought the rights to the recipe and began printing it on their now-iconic yellow bags of chocolate chips. The recipe has been beloved by home bakers ever since.

Because it’s the original chocolate chip cookie recipe, it’s unsurprisingly simple. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; beat softened butter, equal parts granulated sugar and brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl; add the eggs; beat in the flour; stir in a full 12-ounce package of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate morsels and optional chopped nuts; and drop by tablespoons onto un-greased baking sheets and bake until golden-brown.

What I Thought of Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was hoping just one bite of these classic cookies would instantly transport me back to my childhood kitchen, pulling a freshly baked tray out of the oven with my mom. But despite growing up on Toll House, I’ve since eaten a countless number of variations on the chocolate chip cookie — which left these feeling very boring.

It’s hard to blame the classic cookie — which is so beloved because it doesn’t have any frills — for being basic, but that’s exactly the problem. In a time when chocolate chip cookies are being topped with flaky salt, or filled with pools of bittersweet chocolate, or shaped into such massive balls of dough you can’t eat the whole cookie in one sitting, Toll House falls flat to me. They don’t have a single distinguishable quality, and they’re lacking the contrast I crave in a cookie: part chewy, part doughy, part crispy.

If I’m in the mood for a cookie and someone offered me one of these, I would still say yes. They’ll always satisfy a craving for a classic chocolate chip cookie. But next time I need to bake a batch of cookies, I won’t be turning to this recipe.

(Image credit: Grace Elkus)

If You Make Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies …

1. Use a different brand of chocolate. I know this seems counterintuitive — if not disrespectful — to the original Toll House recipe. But time and time again, Guittard semisweet chocolate chips come out on top in taste tests. With their rich, creamy texture and intense chocolate flavor, Guittard’s morsels are an easy way to instantly upgrade any chocolate chip cookie. Another option? Forego the chips altogether and use Guittard chocolate wafers for more melty, chocolate-y goodness in every bite.

2. Refrigerate the dough. According to the New York Times, Wakefield used to chill the cookie dough overnight when she made the cookies at the Toll House Inn. And the Times’ own experimentation left them to believe that refrigerating cookie dough gives cookies a richer taste, a darker color, and stronger hints of toffee and brown sugar. It can’t hurt to try.

3. Make larger cookies. A tablespoon of dough makes a rather small cookie. And while it may be nice for portion control, it means the cookies don’t have a chance to form distinct textures; there’s not enough outer edge to become crispy, or enough center to stay doughy. Try making these twice as big instead (trust me, because the original recipe yields 5 dozen, you’ll still have plenty of cookies).

Overall Rating: 6/10
Sure, they’re classic. But in the end — especially with so many other cookie options out there — they aren’t very memorable.

Read More About This Cookie Showdown