Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cookies

April  4, 2019
32 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

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.

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. This dough recipe makes nine LARGE cookies, which I like to bake three at a time. Each chocolate chip cookie comes out perfectly this way.

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

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 9 large cookies
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups chocolate chunks (I like a mixture of milk and dark chocolate)
In This Recipe
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars. Add in the egg and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Turn the speed to low and add in half of the dry mixture. Once incorporated, slowly stream in the buttermilk followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chunks. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (I typically let it refrigerate overnight and bake my cookies the next day.)
  3. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Using a 3.25-ounce cookie scoop (I used a #10 scoop), scoop the dough so it overfills the scoop and then mound the dough to make a big ball, slightly smaller than a tennis ball. You should end up with 9 dough balls. Bake them, three per sheet tray on the middle rack of the oven, for 12 minutes. They’ll spread out quite a bit. If you like them a little less gooey, cook them for 3 minutes more. Let the cookies cool on the sheet tray while the second round bakes. Remove the first round of cookies to a cooling rack and reuse for the third and final round of baking.

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Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, Food Network Kitchen and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.