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My Grandma's Potato Chip Cookies, Made With An Entire Bag of Potato Chips

December 11, 2015

The first time I baked my grandma’s Potato Chip Cookies, I was sixteen, had never successfully baked anything in my life, and was watching Mean Girls for the first time. Needless to say, it was a memorable afternoon.

Photo by Linda Xiao

I found the recipe in a book my dad’s mom had made for him and his sister, comprised of fifty-some rectangular recipe cards—generation-old family recipes—that had been hand-typed, laminated, and bound by two binder rings. Red ink indicated important information (“DOUBLE THE PEANUT BUTTER HERE”) and the margins were filled with miniature cut-outs of butter and mixing bowls from issues of Gourmet and Parade circa 1950.

Of all the well-loved, Crisco-filled recipes in the book, like peanut butter “morsels” and deep-fried Love Knots, the Potato Chip Cookies were the only ones my dad didn’t remember from childhood. But the entire bag of potato chips listed in the ingredients grabbed my attention—and I never looked back. Even after I realized I didn’t have an electric mixer.

The recipe from my grandma "Mimi's" recipe book. Photo by Evelyn Stephens

The recipe calls for beating the butter until light and fluffy, which my grandma specified in underlined red ink, “A long time—at least ten minutes or more.” In my family, we cooked every night but never baked; we had three food processors, a knife for every imaginable cut of meat, and pans for days, but no electric mixer. So, I planted myself in front of a screen with Rachel McAdams and whipped the soft butter by hand, until it became almost white, with stiff peaks.

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Top Comment:
“I don't know if this says something about the preservatives in potato chips or what but as of last night they were still the same exact flavor and texture as they were the day I baked them, 14 days ago. That's my limit though so the last four are getting tossed tonight when I get home. Just thought I'd report that they last quite a while.”
— JustKatB
Comment

I couldn’t feel my arm, but the end result—a blend of butter, crushed Lay’s potato chips, sugar, and flour—was worth it. The cookies, topped with confectioners’ sugar while still warm, melted in my mouth and, in my opinion, mastered the balance of sweet-and-salty. To borrow a word, they were fetch.

Photo by James Ransom

When my grandma visited us for Thanksgiving that year, many miles from her home, I made the cookies again. I repeated the same process, but planted myself in front of her while she crushed the potato chips by hand and explained the reason my dad didn’t remember the cookies: This wasn't a recipe passed down through my dad's family through generations. Instead, my grandmother had coaxed the “secret recipe” from a woman at the New York State Fair, and loved them so much that they were the only recipe that didn't predate her children that she decided to include in the book.

While my grandma passed away the year after that Thanksgiving, her Potato Chip Cookies have gained a life of their own. Now every year when I return home for the holidays, I make the cookies for Christmas. I now beat the butter with an electric beater, but I still crush the chips by hand.

Do you have holiday cookies you return to every year? Have you ever tried potato chip cookies? Tell us in the comments below!

37 Comments

Aprilheyse September 22, 2017
Mine didn't get flat? I read the recipe 85 times after and I believe I did everything right.... except I have a KitchenAid mixer which I figured was at least twice as strong as a handmixer so, I only whipped the butter 4-5 minutes...maybe that's it?<br />They still had great flavor though!
 
JustKatB September 22, 2017
Maybe it's the type of butter you used? Mine weren't flat either but they didn't stay mounded up. They last a good while, too. I need to make another batch of these soon.
 
JustKatB September 22, 2017
Maybe it's the type of butter you used? Mine weren't flat either but they didn't stay mounded up. They last a good while, too. I need to make another batch of these soon.
 
Maren L. December 26, 2016
I make krumkake every year.<br />Krumkake are kind of like a very, very thin ice cream cone, but crispy, yet crumbly the way they should be.
 
marjorie February 9, 2016
Wondering of you could use Sweet Potato chips?
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. February 9, 2016
I wouldn't! The recipe contains so much sugar and the thing that makes it so delicious is the combination of the sweet and salty. But if you try it, let me know if it works!
 
JustKatB February 9, 2016
She could always cut back on the granulated sugar in these if needed. What I was wondering about is the texture, though. Lays chips tend to be very thin and very crispy. The sweet potato chips are usually thicker and a little.... chewier, maybe? But I'd love to know if it works!
 
Jessica January 2, 2016
Do you use a whole bag of chips, or you just 3/4 cup of crushed chips? My 3/4 cup of crushed chips was not anywhere near an entire bag... That being said, these are the most amazing cookies I've ever had. We couldn't stop eating them and I made them several times throughout the month of December. Mine didn't spread out either, but I used my standing mixer. The dough was fluffy and perfect.
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. February 9, 2016
I use 3/4 cup, which is usually just over a small bag of potato chips (so I usually buy a "family size" bag and save the rest for snacking). So glad you enjoyed them!
 
Nancy H. December 27, 2015
I made these because we are fans of potato chips but we were disappointed. We thought they were tasteless.
 
JustKatB December 22, 2015
These cookies have the longest shelf life of any other cookie I've ever made. I don't know if this says something about the preservatives in potato chips or what but as of last night they were still the same exact flavor and texture as they were the day I baked them, 14 days ago. That's my limit though so the last four are getting tossed tonight when I get home. Just thought I'd report that they last quite a while.
 
Cath H. December 22, 2015
Awesome! I love these cookies!
 
Valerie R. December 19, 2015
My mother-law-made these regularly, and I inherited the recipe when she past. Her's even has the comment about beat for a long time. They are so good!
 
Margaret December 19, 2015
I am looking for the recipe for the deep-fried love knots! My mother would make them every year however now the recipe is in really bad shape and I can not read the ingredients. I remember years ago asking Woman's Day for it (which I THINK the recipe came from originally) however, they could not help me. THANK YOU!
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. December 19, 2015
Hi Margaret! I just uploaded my grandmother's recipe for Love Knots per your request here: https://food52.com/recipes/39791-love-knots. I've never actually made them, but they were my dad's favorites so I'm sure he can vouch for them and I'll try to test them over the holidays—if you get to them first be sure to comment and let me know how they are!
 
Margaret December 19, 2015
OMG!!! I think this may may be the recipe I have been looking out for at least 20 years! When I make them, I will let you know!! P.S. I bought the potato chips today and will make them also:) THANKS SO MUCH FOR DOING THIS FOR ME! ♥ Margaret
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. December 19, 2015
Wow!!! 20 years! That would be unbelievable! I hope they taste how you remember! And enjoy the cookies!! :)
 
Natalie C. December 13, 2015
Delicious, we used Ruffles, which my 4 year old happily crunched. I love trying quick unintimidating recipes.
 
susanann December 7, 2015
I made these yesterday and they're fantastic! I used salted chips and they worked well (and unsalted butter). Mine took about 12 minutes to bake for the edges to get tan. Thanks! Looking forward to making another batch!!!!
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. December 7, 2015
So glad you enjoyed them!!
 
Annie S. December 7, 2015
I think these evolved from Scandinavian butter cookies made with potato flour. I was so skeptical the first time I bread about these but now I have got to make them! Thanks and love the card!
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. December 7, 2015
Such an interesting fact!! I'm not sure how similar they taste to the Scandinavian cookies but they're delicious—I hope you enjoy them!
 
Catherine December 7, 2015
Thx!!
 
Catherine December 7, 2015
Leslie, will you share more of these recipes (with photos of the cards)? I have been coaxing recipes out of my family and really enjoy them! Thx for sharing yours!
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. December 7, 2015
Yes! The book is at my parent's house, but I'll scan some more recipes and put them on the site over the holidays when I'm there!
 
Lori N. December 5, 2015
Did you use Salted or unsalted butter? Can't wait to try these!!!
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. December 7, 2015
I'd recommend unsalted (which I used for the cookies pictured here) but I've also used salted and it worked, if you're in a pinch!
 
Cath H. December 5, 2015
So how long do you bake it for? BTW, I too love Cape Cod potato chips!
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. December 7, 2015
It depends where you live—I grew up in a city at high altitude so the bake time where was about 10 minutes and here it was roughly 12, but you'll know their done when the edges just start to brown. Hope that helps!
 
steffano2 December 4, 2015
Please explain where the peanut butter that needs to be doubled in the recipe header that's supposedly underlined in red on recipe?
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. December 5, 2015
Hi there! There's no peanut butter in this recipe- I think you may have misread that paragraph. That's only to illustrate some of the personal notes my grandmother added to her recipes. Let me know if that clarifies things!
 
JustKatB December 4, 2015
I've got to try these -- I'll make them this weekend and report back.
 
JustKatB December 7, 2015
I made the cookies yesterday. They are delicious! I used salted butter and they turned out perfect. Mine pretty much kept their shape and so they're fluffier looking than they are in this picture. My son and I absolutely love these so they are definitely being added to my list of go-to cookie recipes.<br /><br />The taste is similar to shortbread but the dough is much lighter than that. I can see why your grandmother included this recipe with her others.
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. December 7, 2015
Thanks for reporting back :) I wonder why the turned out fluffier! Maybe the butter? So glad you enjoyed them!!
 
JustKatB December 7, 2015
I have no idea but they surely are delicious! I used Challenge brand salter butter and my stand mixer to beat it until it was fluffy. Really, really yummy.
 
Libby D. December 4, 2015
Hi Leslie. These sound awesome. My family has a mad crush on Cape Cod potato chips so I think we will have to use those instead. Consistency might be different between the two brands but I am guessing the main job of the chip here is for the salty effect and crunch. We might also feel the need to drizzle some chocolate on top of some of these.
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. December 5, 2015
Yes that sounds great!! And my aunt just told me that the higher the fat and salt content of the potato chip the better the cookies are- which doesn't surprise me at all :)