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Two Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes (& How They Stack Up)

In my quest to find the greatest, most beloved, reliable back-of-the-box recipes, I knew I’d come to chocolate chip cookies eventually.

Do these look familiar to you? Photo by Posie Harwood

I am an equal-opportunity chocolate chip cookie lover. I like crunchy ones, chewy ones, dark chocolate ones, and even ones packed with Grape-Nuts or granola or pretzels.

But even I will attest to the glory of the Nestle recipe above most others. Many bakers swear by the cookie recipe printed on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag (and Phoebe Buffay made them even more famous in an episode of Friends).

Jacques Torres cookies. Photo by Posie Harwood

To solidify my stance, I tested the Nestle recipe alongside another highly-acclaimed recipe: Jacques Torres’ chocolate chip cookies. (I thought about testing them side-by-side with two other famous back-of-the-bag recipes, Ghirardelli's and Guittard's, but the differences between the three recipes seemed minimal.)

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In the interest of research, I made more chocolate chip cookies than I care to admit. I did it for you! My freezer is packed with bags of frozen cookie dough balls; they’re crowding out the frozen peas and the ice cube trays of pesto.

Nestle cookies, pre-oven. Photo by Posie Harwood

And here’s what I determined: If you have to choose two chocolate chip cookie recipes to make forever, choose these two. Though very different, they cover everything I want in a perfect cookie.

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Top Comment:
“I make it just like the recipe, with the exception of substituting Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips for the discs. They might be even more decadent with the discs, but they make everyone who eats them swoon, so I don't go to the extra effort of ordering the discs online. I have Kenji's tome sitting right here, so I will give his recipe a try, but I have to say I am skeptical...”
— Kat S.
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Let’s start by talking about the differences between the two recipes.

  • The Nestle recipe calls for 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour. Jacques Torres uses about 2 2/3 cups of flour, and it's a combination of cake flour and bread flour.
  • Both rely on approximately a 1 1/2-cup blend of brown sugar and granulated sugar: equal parts of each for Nestle, and slightly more brown sugar for Jacques Torres.
  • Nestle has 2 sticks of butter. Jacques Torres has 2 1/4.
  • You’ll use semisweet chips for the Nestle cookie and a whopping 1 1/3 pounds of bittersweet disks for the Jacques Torres cookie (more on the chocolate later).
Nestle cookies, post-oven. Photo by Posie Harwood

The biggest difference is resting time. The Nestle cookie is baked as soon as the dough is finished. No resting. Jacques Torres asks you to practice extreme patience and rest your dough for a minimum of 24 hours (or up to 72).

Why bother? Chilling the dough is actually important here. The flavor is concentrated (the dough dries out slightly, the caramelized sweetness intensifies); the texture is firmer; the cookies spread less. There’s plenty of science behind this to read up on; my general layperson’s takeaway is that resting the dough makes for a more nuanced, complex-tasting cookie.

These are Jacques, too. Photo by Posie Harwood

The Jacques Torres recipe brings to mind words like "epic" and "decadent" and makes you want to whip out your camera phone. Alluringly rumpled on the surface, this cookie has a pleasingly chewy but firm texture. Using wafers instead of chips creates melted puddles of chocolate throughout the cookie. A sprinkle of sea salt on top intensifies the chocolate flavor.

A note on the chocolate: Jacques Torres is the chocolate man, so far be it from to question his technique—but I did. I made the recipe with all bittersweet chocolate. Then I tried it with a mix of 50% bittersweet, 25% unsweetened, and 25% milk chocolate. The cookies were even better: The different types of chocolate mingled in each bite. Whichever type you choose, make sure to use wafers, discs, or fèves, not chips. The wider shape is responsible for those big, addictive pockets of chocolate.

This cookie is what you make when you want to really impress. It’s not so decadent that you can’t finish an entire one in a sitting, or packed with novelty ingredients, but it is sexier and bolder and more intense than the Nestle cookie.

Which is not to say you should forget the Nestle recipe, which yields the cookie of your childhood dreams. Simple and uncomplicated, it has a lightly crisp edge and a soft middle. The brown sugar gives it a caramelized sweetness, which is really what brings this cookie to greatness. It’s easy to make. It’s deeply satisfying and just buttery enough. It begs for a cup of milk.

This is the cookie you imagine when someone says “chocolate chip.” My taste testers swooned over the first bite, and were shocked when I told them it had no secret ingredients or special techniques. It’s just that good.

Both of these recipes are incredibly good. I’ll make them over and over again in the years to come. I know they’ll turn out reliable results, and please even the most discerning crowd.

To decide which to make, consider what you’re looking for. A simple, perfect, satisfying cookie for a picnic lunch, a light snack, or a gaggle of children? Nestle is your recipe. An impressive, can’t-take-just-one-bite cookie to bake for a third date, a bake sale, or to fill a chocolate craving? Jacques is your man.

Name your go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe in the comments below.

55 Comments

Steven W. August 1, 2017
I have always used the toll house one but never toll house chips...ugh...I shave or chop a nice dark chocolate bar, the best I can afford. I use unbleached King Arthur ( I used to live near there in VT) flour and finely ground oatmeal as part of the flour.
 
Sydney E. July 31, 2017
Crisco's Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are perfect balance of salt and sweet. I've tried making them with butter instead of butter flavor Crisco and they were just not as good!
 
Becky R. June 19, 2017
I stumbled across Jennie Perillo's recipe around the time she first posted it on her blog (In Jennie's Kitchen) and it's been my go-to ever since. My friends and coworkers absolutely love when I bring a batch to share.
 
Jennie April 21, 2017
I made the Nestle cookies for about 30 years without changing anything. The cookies always came out lovely, with nice cakey centers and slightly crispy edges. For the last few years, though, my formerly wonderful, reliable, go-to cookies now just spread out over the sheet in flat messes and I can't figure out the problem. I've tried refrigerating the dough, I've tried using a brand-new box of baking soda, I've used firmer butter, I've used various pans (both regular and non-stick), and I've switched between convection baking and standard at various adjusted temperatures. I want my cookies back! Any suggestions?
 
Allison L. June 20, 2017
It could be the flour. Look at the protein content - it's different across brands. I'd look for a harder flour (more protein).
 
Jamie B. April 21, 2017
The Vanilla Bean baking Book's chocolate chip cookies!!!
 
Lori August 4, 2016
Google the Ritz-Carlton chocolate chip cookie its the best ever !<br />Try to be patient & chill overnight- it is makes them better. If you have to make them right away they still turn out but are better when the batter is chilled overnight. It's a huge recipe I usually cut it in half, or freeze half of the dough balls for later.
 
donald K. July 22, 2016
There is no way the Nestle recipe can compare with Torres. The main reason is Nestles chocolate chips are terrible. Use Giardelli or evenTrader Joe's but never Nestle.
 
Ellen M. July 22, 2016
The Torres recipe is wonderful. A sprinkling of sea salt before baking adds gives another dimension....
 
BRN July 22, 2016
I make the Nestle recipe, but use 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar. That's the only change I make.
 
Ellise July 22, 2016
I had never heard of this Jacques person before today, but I'm definitely open to new CC cookie recipes. My latest adventure into them was a recipe found on Pinterest for a chocolate chip cookie stuffed with a Ghiradelli Caramel Square stuffed in the middle and baked in a muffin top pan. Oh, my. Perfect combination of crisp edge and soft and chewy middle that stayed that way as long as the cookies lasted! Incidentally, a muffin top pan might be the way to go with the Jacques cookies....no spreading there!
 
tucsonbabe July 22, 2016
Jaques Torrres recipe has been my "go to" chocolate chip cookie recipe for years. They are unbeatable. I don't bother with chocolate discs as they are hard to get and very expensive. Any good bittersweet chocolate bar cut into chunks works. Sometimes I add milk chocolate and white chocolate toi the mix. Anyway you make them, they are divine. Don't skip the rest period in the refrigerator.
 
jody July 22, 2016
is there a mistake in the amount of flour listed in the jacques recipe?<br />1 2/3 bread flour + 2 cups cake flour <br />thanks for checking
 
Patkunstenaar July 22, 2016
There is a huge difference between regular commercial chocolate chips, like Nestle's, and better grade chocolate, like Valharona or even Ghirardelli's - they make the Nestle's taste like wax! Try a better grade; you'll impress yourself.
 
meg July 22, 2016
Nestle has done something to the chips.<br />They taste like coconut now. Recently I have developed a sensitivity to coconut just when every one and their cousin has decided to put coconut and coconut oil into everything, especially gluten free foods.<br />What do you think Nestle has changed in their chocolate?<br />I love both recipes. but still have not figured out how to make chewy soft large choc chip cookies that will be soft the next day.
 
BRN July 22, 2016
If you keep them out of plastic, they should be chewier. And, if it's humid, you're golden.
 
KBec July 22, 2016
Subbing in some corn syrup for white sugar? Or maybe up-ing the brown sugar as the commenter above does. You'll have to play around with it.
 
Lori August 4, 2016
Underbake them just a little!!
 
Linda C. July 22, 2016
I have always used a recipe I found or adapted years ago, that includes both baking powder and baking soda, white and brown sugar, egg and milk, and quick oats in addition to the flour. I was always asked for the recipe when I served them to family or friends. I was at a community baking shower at one point and there was a platter of cookies with the tag "Linda's Chocolate Chip Cookies" and when I asked the hostess about the recipe, she produced a tattered photocopy of my original handwritten recipe, given to her many years earlier by a friend of hers. I will surely try resting the dough (I always rest my perogie dough!) and discs instead of chips!
 
Susan W. July 22, 2016
I admit that I haven't tried Jaques' recipe. It was the bread and cake flour that stopped me since I rarely to never use them. I have a feeling I'd love that recipe. He's a master with chocolate. I stopped using Nestle when Cook's mag first came out with their recipe many years ago. I may revisit. <br /><br />Then I came across Serious Eats version and I'm sold. I had two bags of Guittard dark chocolate chips so I went off recipe and used them. I determined these are my forever go to chocolate cookies on the rare occasion that I make them. They are fabulous. <br /><br />http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/12/the-food-lab-best-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe.html
 
BerryBaby July 22, 2016
I've tried them both and family and friends were just lukewarm to both of them. I most request Chocolate chip recipe is the (supposedly) Neiman Marcus recipe. They have ground oatmeal, in addition to AP flour. This last batch I added dried cherries for a really good texture surprise. I guess it just boils down to 'a matter of taste'.
 
Annagon July 22, 2016
My go to is the Nestle recipe with bread flour and I've always rested them. I find they spread too much otherwise. Sometimes I add an extra yolk for extra chewiness, but I think I'm going to move away from that. On the Torres recipe, wouldn't mixing cake and bread flour essentially give you the same gluten content as AP? I don't get it.
 
Louise M. April 12, 2016
@Judi, @Holly - The Jacques Torres recipe as it's written is correct. Posie slipped up in her writing.<br /> 2 cups minus to 2 tablespoons Cake flour (8 1/2 oz.)<br />1 2/3 cup Bread flour (8 1/2 oz.)
 
Author Comment
Posie (. April 12, 2016
Thanks for noting that! I'll fix it in the article right away :) happy baking!
 
judi H. April 11, 2016
er...I'm confused. In one place it says Jacques Torres uses 2 2/3 C flour (total) but in the recipe, the amounts given add up to almost 3 2/3 C flour.