Chocolate Chip Cookies

This Ingredient Changed My Chocolate Chip Cookie Game Forever

Have you tried this?

May 29, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

In 1999, my dad and I memorized how to make chocolate chip cookies in case Y2K actually happened. I’m not sure what kind of world we were expecting if it had, but we feared the future might be cookie-less. And a world without the classic Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe was not a world we wanted to live in.

I admit, that was pretty ridiculous and, yes, we were mostly joking. Partially because I actually did memorize the recipe and still have it memorized to this day. In fact, when people ask, “What’s your favorite thing to make?” (and when you cook for a living you get asked this question often), I always say: chocolate chip cookies.

Those cookies are always the first in mind, for me, which is helpful because when you’ve got a recipe memorized, it’s easy to experiment with it.

After many years of sweet successes and admitted failures, I came up with my own “perfect cookie combo” based on the classic recipe. Though, after so many adjustments, it’s arguably become a new recipe of its own. In my cookies, I use milk and dark chocolate chips, some heartily ground oats, whole-wheat flour, and a big pinch of coarse salt, plus a little more for sprinkling on top. I was curious to see how others personalize their baker's dozens, so I did a little crowdsourcing on Instagram:

Some suggested replacing some of the all-purpose flour with bread or pastry flour. Others traded in chocolate chips for chunks or wafers. There were plenty of suggested pinches and dashes of things from cardamom to orange zest.

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Top Comment:
“These cookies were pretty good. They are chewy and that’s just not my kind of cookie that I like. I’m a short bread girl. But I will tell you what it is a very wet dough. Just recently on this very blog they wrote about a whole grains and how to bake with them. I grind my own grains here at the house. Mainly I stick with making bread’s in the whole grains department. I have wanted to move into baking and have experimented some on my own. But the recipes that are my favorites from my family have not translating very well at all. Well in the article I read from 52 it said to add extra liquids when baking with whole grains and they explained how. Well I think that this recipe would be an excellent recipe since it is so well in the article I read from 52 it said to add extra liquids when baking with whole grains and they explained hell. Well I think that this recipe would be an excellent recipe to try. I’m pretty sure you would not even have to add extra liquid and then it would be a way more crunchy cookie like I like to have.”
— Lee

But one comment was so intriguing, I had to try it out for myself:

"With buttermilk added, please and thank you," the comment read. Which immediately sent me on a mission to create a buttermilk-y chocolate chip cookie! After all, why have milk and cookies when you could have (butter)milk IN cookies?

I had to make a few adjustments to accommodate for the extra liquid. I started by adding some more flour. Since the acidity in the buttermilk would naturally help the cookies rise and help bind the dough, I decreased the amount of eggs to one. I also chilled the dough before baking. (This prevents the cookies from flattening too much in the oven.) And, inspired by a recent trip to Levain Bakery, I decided to make these cookies really, really LARGE.

The colossal cookies have both a slightly cakey texture with a gooey, moist center. And the touch of tang from the buttermilk is the perfect counterbalance to the incredible sweet, slightly salty dough. You could make these cookies smaller if you wanted, but their gargantuan size helps make them the perfect texture.

And, like all cookies, this big buttermilk CCC is easy to customize. So how will you personalize yours?

Have you ever added buttermilk to your cookies? Tell, tell in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jane Partee
    Jane Partee
  • Gail Canning
    Gail Canning
  • Leslie Lewis
    Leslie Lewis
  • janice
  • taash
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, NYT Cooking and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.


Jane P. June 27, 2019
Grant! Very nice article and recipe! I enjoyed revisiting Y2K! My occupation is cooking and I get asked the what is your favorite thing to cook too. I am so going to copy your chic chip cookie answer!
Gail C. June 24, 2019
I wanted to know if anyone made these cookies according to the directions using 3.25 oz of dough per cookie. If you follow the directions and only make 9 cookies, I was wondering
what the finished size of the cookies are in inches.
Gail C. June 24, 2019
does anyone know the size of these cookies. If you only nine, they must pretty big.
Smaug June 24, 2019
If you click the "View Recipe" button next to the ingredient list you will get the full recipe, with instructions.
Leslie L. June 24, 2019
My grandmother's sugar cookie recipe is all about the buttermilk. It alternates a cup of buttermilk with the dry ingredients, and has anise flavoring for Christmas and lemon extract for the rest of the year. With less flour, it is a drop cookie. More flour and the dough can be rolled out for cut-out cookies. Honestly, all other sugar cookies remind me of play dough. These are the best and only ones anyone in my family will eat. They are light, a little crispy on the edges, and fluffy on the inside.
Jane P. June 27, 2019
Leslie, if you share your gmas recipe, I would love to have it. It sounds like all of my most favorite flavor combinations!
Bev M. June 29, 2019
I would love to have that sugar cookie recipe too!
janice June 23, 2019
Did anyone suggest a dried buttermilk addition instead of wet buttermilk?...could save one from fiddling w/proportions of eggs vs flour and increase the overall caramelization.
Baking by volume vs weight...just view that as a way to have an extra challenge on one's way to delicious baked goods...hone the light touch, be one with the cookie dough
Smaug June 23, 2019
Yes, a couple have suggested it, and a fine suggestion it is. Adding moisture to cookie doughs is really to be avoided.
Gail C. June 21, 2019
What is the measurement of the cookies? If you make only 9 they must be very, very big.
Thank you
Laila June 24, 2019
The recipe says 3.25 oz per cookie which is quite big. I use roughly 1 oz cookie scoop for my cookies and that yields roughly 2.5 inch cookies. I am sure you can make regular sized cookies and bake less.
Laila June 24, 2019
I mean the recipe says to measure 3.25 oz cookie dough per cookie
taash June 21, 2019
My go to chocolate chip recipe includes sour cream or Greek yogurt, does similar things, and you don’t have to mess with the proportions of egg, flour, etc.
Lila F. June 21, 2019
I haven't tried the buttermilk but I also have adjusted the perfect recipe to suit my taste
and had some great cudos from the family......
adding dark choc bits is an absolute and 1/4 c cocoa powder made them: choc choc chippers!
shirley S. June 21, 2019
I use chocolate covered coffee beans instead of choc chips. also I add diced dried apricots to an oatmeal cookie recipe. Shirley
Kathy K. June 21, 2019
I'm writing this just before I go in the kitchen to make those chocolate chip cookies with buttermilk! I had buttermilk to everything it's wonderful and banana breads, pancakes, anything instead of milk or cream! On the cookies because I like small ones I roll them in a ball and freeze them before baking them. this way you get that same lovely center texture with a little crispy edge.
Esther June 21, 2019
Sounds wonderful,but not vegan as buttermilk is an animal product.
Kathy K. June 21, 2019
What do you use as a butter substitute? And the eggs?
Sarah C. June 21, 2019
It is confusing but the vegan thing is a link to an actual vegan recipe. It is not referring to this recipe- I think?
Jamie K. June 21, 2019
Brown butter-yes! Also, toasted pecans and walnuts, tri-colored raisins, larger/flatter bittersweet chocolate (I use Guittard's) chips, less sugar (raisins are sweet) and so much of all of these that there's just enough cookie to hold in all the stuff. I form them into balls (sort of) and gently press down on them. This way they stay nice and thick. Bake until lightly brown for a chewier texture, or more for a crunch. They're very satisfying as an afternoon tide-me-over til dinner. I usually freeze them so we can pace our consumption :) I will definitely try the buttermilk recipe-sounds delicious!
tastysweet June 21, 2019
I always freeze mine once they have cooled completely. I actually prefer to eat them frozen, as the dark chocolate chunks taste better. My husband thaws it in micro. I also add Kahlua in lieu of vanilla.
Another thing I like, is flatter cookies, a little more well done just around the edges. My pan doesn’t cool off which helps that effect.
CG C. June 21, 2019
I have made my own adaptions to Nestle's over the years to achieve my "just like Tate's" cookie recipe. But to further customize to my taste, I've also added espresso powder and of course Maldon sea salt on top. Heath Bar chips and pecans are also darn good adds!
Nicholas L. June 21, 2019
Could you please provide your dry ingredient measurements by weight, preferably in grams, as well as volume? The only ingredients that should be provided in 'cup' measurements are liquids or ingredients such as the chocolate chips. The Internet is international and most of the world works on the metric system and any baker worth the bread he or she bakes weighs their ingredients for precision. Just the difference in the amount of flour in a recipe caused by scooping your flour into a measuring cup which can compact it and result in too much being used, ruining the final result, should be sufficient reason to provide weights. Thank you.
Andrea June 21, 2019
“any baker worth...”. Really??
Such a critic worth anything should be able to do the conversion.
Therese June 21, 2019
Thank you for your comment. Why are people so unkind?
Smaug June 21, 2019
Yet somehow bakers have been producing magnificent result for centuries using volume measures.
Nicholas L. June 21, 2019
Always nice to hear from an American who refuses to join the rest of the civilized world. Here is a bit of information to expand your personal knowledge... measuring flour by volume is very inaccurate and can result in as much as a 20% increase in the amount of flour used. That is more than enough to ruin a recipe and waste your time and money. Volume is not an accurate measurement for most dry ingredients. If a recipe calls for a teaspoon of kosher salt and someone uses a teaspoon of regular or fine sea salt, not being aware of the difference, the result may well be inedible. Again wasting time and money.
I made my comment in the goal of helping people out in the long run and in return you post your ignorant reply that helps no one. The recipe should be clear to follow as to aid the readers of the site, the majority of whom are not experienced bakers or cooks and could use all the useful information they can get. The fact of the matter is that professional bakers WEIGH their ingredients and this is the most accurate way to achieve reproduceable results. Shame that you find this not to be worthy information to share.
Smaug June 21, 2019
I hated to disappoint you, but EVERYONE who bakes at all knows all about all of that stuff. Most also can interpret a recipe accurately regardless of the author's preferences in measuring technique.
Rosalind P. June 21, 2019
I've been BEGGING for this forever! Cannot understand why the volume method is so often the only one used. I always try to convert to metric but not just metric. Remember it's using weight not volume that matters so if metric is given in volume, still not good enough. Please, dear Food52, hear us, your loyal fans.
Smaug June 21, 2019
People most likely use volume because that's how they learned to bake, or because that's how the recipe they're working from was written. Up until digital scales became common, the choices were balance scales- the most accurate, but expensive (for a good one) and not that convenient to use- or spring scales, notoriously inaccurate. Modern digital scales are pretty convenient and fairly accurate, but there are quite a few people who don't have them and millions for whom calling up Amazon with a credit card number is not a viable option. Recipes on Food52 are from many sources and are generally left up to the author as to how they're written. I don't care much about how they choose to measure, but I do wish that more care was taken to have ingredient lists, instructions and descriptions match up.
Nicholas L. June 21, 2019
You should change your handle to 'Smug'.
Ocean W. June 21, 2019
I am an “American” and I perfectly agree with Nicholas L. I am a professional pastry chef and I have worked in many hotel pastry departments. Thank you Nicholas, for your thoughtful and helpful information!!!
Andrea June 21, 2019
His comment would be more valid if he were not so smug and arrogant in his attempt to share his so called knowledge. As an American, I bake with the measurements as given whether it be metric or volume. If I wanted to share info with others (most here are not professionals) I would choose my wording accordingly. If one feels a need to be condescending towards the author/community in general, then maybe should start his own blog thus having the option to use whatever measurements of choice.

His comments could have simply been, “can we get metric conversion?”.
Rosalind P. June 21, 2019
Maybe all true, but absolutely not a reason to provide metric weight measurements. I "grew up" with volume and my baking failed -- a lot. Yes, my fault. I was bad at volume measuring. But why use (only) the old way when it is a fact that weight is more accurate. There were no doubt many brilliant bakers who measured by eye alone, but where would that leave the rest of us. But why is this an argument. Professional cooks/bakers/chefs whose practice includes providing recipes to the public should have a goal of making their recipes as user-friendly as possible. If they are professional, they know how to provide weights. Yes, all of us should just go ahead and do the conversion; I do. But it's another impediment. So Just. Do. It. And have the loyalty and gratitude of the rest of us.

Rosalind P. June 21, 2019
OOPS Big drafting mistake. I meant that what Smaug said may all be true but none of it is a reason NOT to provide metric weight measurements.
Smaug June 21, 2019
The reason might very well be that he didn't have metric weight measurements. Actually, in the case of this recipe the use of volumes is somewhat enlightening. This is, of course, an adaptation of the Toll House recipe that people have been making by volume since 1930- longer, actually, as it was an adaptation of an older recipe for sugar cookies- the difference in the amount of flour, presumably to account for the moisture in the buttermilk, is more clearly shown by volumes than weights.
Channon C. June 21, 2019
I think a little kindness and tact might be appropriate and intelligent when asking for a favor to avoid a little work on one’s own part, if you don’t understand the following comment or it hurt your feelings. I don’t believe its author intended any more hurt than you did, but perhaps draw notice of poor manners?
Rosalind P. June 21, 2019
In my opinion (stated as a qualifier) any professional providing baking recipes ought to have it in her professional capabilities the ability to provide weight measurements. And there's no need to defend volume measurements. No one is attacking them, or the use of them. It's simple, I think -- provide both. One doesn't preclude the other. My grandmother didn't use measurements at all and she made some darn good stuff. But would anyone suggest that just because she and others baked that way, we should all follow with that approach. Finally, as to the point about showing the difference in amounts of flour: it may be demonstrable in volume, but it's never NOT demonstrable in weights. I guess it's kind of puzzling that there has been such a contentious discussion. Any baking professional knows weights. Just give both!!
Smaug June 21, 2019
Well, if you wanted to learn how to make something from your grandmother, or from her recipes (if any) it would be well to understand how to do it her way. I agree that it would be nice if all recipes gave their measurements in various ways it would be convenient- I usually use weights if they're there- but I don't feel that I'm owed them. And yes, you could have gotten that difference by weights but written this way, that 3c. of flour really jumps out at a casual glance- maybe "360g" would too if I was used to it, but I've been looking at Toll House derived recipes in cups since long before scales were common in home kitchens.
Rosalind P. June 21, 2019
Yes, bakers are "owed" the best help a recipe-provider can give. Anything less makes that provider less. And when I learned from my grandmother, she would help me convert her eye to some kind of standard measure. So, some of us will have to just agree to disagree with some others of us. And for heaven's sakes, no one is attacking your way of doing things. (and fwiw I always do the conversions if I have access to the information I need to do it. ) By the way, I just emptied a large bag of flour into a canister, and to get it all in, guess what I had to do: compress it by shaking it. So, voila, right before my eyes a container was "full" when it held 4 1/2 cups of flour but than, the same full container held 5 pounds. QED
Smaug June 21, 2019
I think most bakers know that flour will compress and how to deal with it. It will also absorb moisture from the atmosphere, which will effect both it's weight and it's baking properties. As I said, I do think it's a good idea to provide weights if you have them available, but I think people are far too prone these days to expect easy answers, and it's not all that realistic; you can't learn how to cook from a smartphone app anymore than you can learn to play basketball or write a novel. However precisely you may measure ingredients- and scales aren't as infallible as some would have you believe- you're not using the same oven or the same pan, probably not the same flour or the same butter, and for a thousand other reasons you're ultimately going to have to work from your own understanding and experience.
Martha K. June 22, 2019
Nickolas L. Your teaching was excellent however your rudeness not
Laila June 24, 2019
Agree 100%, even professionals use different weights for flour. For example Cooks Illustrated books and internet recipes use 141g per cup AP flour and King Arthur Flour Recipes use 120 g per cup and most other American book sellers use 125 g per cup, bags of flour has different weights per cup depending on brand. Weighing by volume can be anywhere from 115 g for sifted flour to 155 g for scoop and sweep method. Then if you spoon flour in cup, you get anywhere from 120 to 130 g. As you can see I tried it all while trying to demonstrate to friends why the same recipe can have 5 stars and 1 star. Baking by volume is a hit and miss and if there is no weight, I always assume the international average amount of 125g per cup and go from there. I agree if you post a recipe on the net, you should expect international response. Then we have to talk about the difference between All Purpose flour and Cake Flour (115 g per cup, 100 g sifted). The world uses weights and a scale is $25 at Bed&Bath.
So, Nicolas, I suggest use 125 g per cup flour and see how it goes
I always test with half recipes. Happy baking.
Nicholas L. June 24, 2019
Scales are a lot less 'fallible' than measuring by volume. Even a cheap 10 dollar scale from Amazon will be more accurate than anyone measuring by volume. By the way, just so you know, I am not an inexperienced cook. My grandfather was a head chef at a very exclusive Canadian restaurant and I learned to cook at a very young age and have been doing so for almost 50 years. I can do metric to English conversions without the need of any chart, for weight, distance, volume and temperature. Websites such as this are not meant for people such as myself or for trained cooks, they are here to help the average person make something tasty and new to serve to their friends and family. When dealing with flour, the TYPE of flour and weight of flour should always be included. This is essential information, using the wrong type or amount could ruin a recipe and turn a new cook away from baking permanently. That is not what we want, what we want is for a new cook to have a great success and look forward to other challenges in the kitchen.
Nicholas L. June 24, 2019
I wasn't asking for myself, I was asking for others who may not realize that there is a big difference in volume and weight measurements when dealing with flour. I can convert on the fly and do not need any chart to do so. Others may end up with a poor result and waste both their time and money and never try again.
Rosalind P. June 24, 2019
Common sense, and thank you. Some in these comments say "most bakers" know how to use volume. I guess there's data to show that? In any event, don't let's judge those of us who ask for weight as lazy and trying to get our baking instructions by cell phone (I don't, but nothing wrong with that!). So less judgy-judgy comment and more community spirit. Help everyone.
Nicholas L. June 24, 2019
Many people come to sites such as this because they have NEVER baked in their lives. Many have never cooked at all for the most part and come to sites like this to learn. It is the obligation of the website and those who post here to help everyone out as much as possible and not assume that they are all experienced bakers and cooks and chefs. And something else is that never ASSUME that you know everything about anything. Even the most experienced people need help or a tip now and then.
Rosalind P. June 24, 2019
Thanks many times for your advocacy. Some comments have not recognized the validity of what you say. NO way is perfect; all measurements by humans is fallible. But scales are closer to precision; if you want volume, all good. But why the fuss over providing both? Too much judging others, not enough generosity of spirit. So thank you....again!
Rosalind P. June 24, 2019
typo but it sounds so illiterate. I meant all measurement by humans is infallible. oops.
Smaug June 24, 2019
The author has provided a perfectly valid recipe. Most of the great recipe writers and teachers have used volumes in their books, so if someone is a beginner, well that's part of the learning process.
Laila June 25, 2019
I am a self educated baker and spending my retirement testing recipes on anyone that would volunteer to taste and there is never a shortage. I bought a scale for every friend asking for my recipes because I stopped using cups. Everyone complained that recipes I gave them never turned out right. Now with the scale, it does. People on the net tell you to use charts to convert, but the charts are so different from one site to another and not standardized. I don't mind when home bakers post recipes. It is the professionals and bloggers that I expect them to use weights for their ingredients in addition to volume for those resisting to go the extra step. So, as far as your comment, Nicholas, you will find resistance, but we also have to be considerate to all fellow bakers.
Rosalind P. June 25, 2019
So well put. Thank you! Whatever the "virtues" of toughing it out with your instincts and your cups, I was a failed baker until I started using a scale and recipes that provided weights. And I do agree, there is so much variation in charts that we can't always reliably convert. So your generosity of spirit is welcome. This conversation may help make the change.
Bev M. June 29, 2019
You are both arrogant and rude and obviously feel you are better than most of this community. I think you would be happier elsewhere.
Smaug June 29, 2019
Thank you for your outstanding example of what arrogant and rude is all about.
Bev M. June 29, 2019
Wow. And I was supporting your viewpoint.
Smaug June 30, 2019
That's nice, but gratuitous personal insults are really not helpful. This is obviously a subject on which people have strong feelings.
Smaug June 30, 2019
ps- I do apologize for the tone of my comment- certainly the point could have been made in a less contentious manner.
Alatiel September 15, 2019
You arrogantly assume a superiority of knowledge; in fact, some of us have the same facts at are disposal but draw different conclusions. Not everyone wants to jump on board the professionalization of domestic arts. Making cooking seem more technical and esoteric (not just by focusing on measurements that are not readily available to everyone but also with the slavish deference to precise cloning of recipe results rather than personalization) will push more amateurs away. I am not against providing metric measurements (King Arthur's website excels in this regard because it allows the user to choose which type of measurement they want), but the attitude that emulating professional chefs is the only right way to cook I find appalling. Some of us prefer the warmth and resourcefulness of the scrappy, home baker who makes do with what she has available to her.
Laila September 16, 2019
So much anger! usually the bakers you encounter on the net are a happy bunch who love to feed people and always learning from each other and looking for the next tip to bake better. That is how I learned and am grateful to the home bakers and professionals out there sharing their secrets. You have a choice to bake like you always did or benefit from the opportunity to share and learn from this happy community. Throwing unjustified insults just muddies this pleasant sharing of ideas. I always look forward to learn how the commenters enhanced and changed recipes and share their experiences.
Smaug September 16, 2019
Yeah, I'm not sure why this became so- well, choose your own adjective- at any rate it's certainly not helpful. As the apparent de facto leader of the non scale crowd, I'd like to say that I have three scales in my kitchen and use them every day, and have for many years. I just think that the advantages of scales are often overstated.
Chef L. June 21, 2019
I like to add chopped dates to mine. Why, I like them!
Laila September 16, 2019
Sounds amazing. Didn't think of that and we love dates.
Nicole June 21, 2019
What about buttermilk powder? Then you don’t have to adjust for the extra wet ingredient?
Rick B. June 21, 2019
Brown Butter! Brown butter is my secret ingredient. It infuses my cookies with an intriguing, nutty, caramelized butter-protein, irresistible character that everyone senses and no one guesses. You have to make the butter the day before, chill it over night and then let it come back up to room temperature. But it then works exactly the same. Brown Butter! Your new secret ingredient
Smaug June 21, 2019
You can cool brown butter much faster than that- I use my Kitchenaid bowl, a large stainless steel bowl that conducts heat well- on a cold day, or with an ice water bath, you can get it down to refrigerator temperature in less than an hour. I always use cold butter for making cookies.
Rosalind P. June 21, 2019
in the text of the article you mentioned oats and whole wheat flour. can we have that recipe too? Thanks

Joann S. June 21, 2019
my favorite addition is cinammon
Wifey June 13, 2019
Cognac adds a very nice flavor!