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Up Your Chocolate Chip Cookie Game with These Easy Hacks

A variety tray of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock

Ready to take your chocolate chip cookies to the next level? Try some of these hacks to upgrade your favorite cookies without hassle!

Chocolate chip cookies are so not basic or boring—especially when you find just the right recipe for the absolute perfect cookie. There are two general ways that you can use these tips when baking: either as guidelines to choose a recipe that will give you the results you want, or as tips for tweaking a recipe you already have.

If you’re choosing the second route, be prepared to do a little experimentation. Baking is both an art and a science, and tweaking ingredients can produce delicious results, but also unexpected ones!

For Thin, Crispy Cookies

Thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies, cooling on a wire rack.
SamaraHeisz5/Shutterstock

If you love thin, spread-out, and crispy-chewy chocolate chip cookies, there are a few different tricks and techniques you can use. Look for a recipe that uses butter as the fat (rather than shortening). Because butter contains water, whereas shortening is pure fat, recipes with butter will release steam during baking and will melt faster, resulting in more “spread” as they bake.

Recipes that bake higher and faster will also typically result in a chewier, crispier cookie, because it forces the fat to melt more rapidly. It might take a little experimentation to find the perfect recipe or adjust your existing recipe—don’t be afraid to try a few different versions (what’s the worst that can happen—you have extra cookies?)!

For Fluffy, Cake-y Cookies

On the other end of the spectrum, you might like your cookies fluffier and more cake-like in texture. There are a few different ways you can achieve this. One option is choosing a recipe with shortening as the fat. Not only does shortening melt more slowly, resulting in taller and fluffier cookies, but the lack of steam production results in a more tender texture inside the cookie.

Wilton 3-Tier Cooling Rack

Playing around with these tips you'll probably bake a bajillion cookies. Grab these racks to cool them all!

Fair warning, however: Because of the difference in fat/water content, you typically cannot directly substitute shortening for butter (or vice versa) in a 1:1 ratio. If you look at the instructions on most shortening packages, you’ll typically see a note that recommends adding a couple tablespoons of water per cup of shortening that you’re swapping in place of butter.

If you’re not a fan of the taste of shortening—or simply prefer the butter flavor—you can still achieve a lighter, fluffier texture! Look for a recipe that uses a higher proportion of leavening (baking soda and/or baking powder), use a lighter flour like cake flour, and bake at a lower temperature for a slower, longer bake.

For Textured Cookies

Highly textured cookies with nuts and coconut.
tanrun1970/Shutterstock

Gone are the days when your only options for chocolate chip cookies were plain batter with chips! Adding textured elements to your chocolate chip cookies can make both the flavor and the feel of the cookies more interesting and layered.

Consider adding in some sweet but textured ingredients in the batter, such as oats, chopped nuts, or coconut, or look for a recipe that already has these ingredients in it. Nuts can be coarsely chopped and added in along with your chips (as can coconut), but ingredients like oats should be added in as part of your dry ingredients.

Anna and Sarah's Organic Coconut Chips

Fresh, organic, and flavorful, these coconut chips can dress up your cookies, smoothies, and more.

If you choose to add these—especially oats—you’ll probably want to cut out some of your flour to avoid having super-heavy, dry cookies. You can try swapping out in a 1:1 ratio, or experiment a bit to see what ratio gets you the texture you like best!

For More Unique Chocolate Flavor

Semisweet chocolate chips are the gold standard for chocolate chip cookies, but if you want to up your game, tweaking the chips is one of the easiest ways to create a unique cookie that’s perfectly tailored to you! One option is to use a multi-chip blend instead of just plain semisweet chips; a combination of milk chocolate chips with dark bittersweet can give amazing flavor and dimension to your cookies.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Chips Bundle

Mix and match semi-sweet, dark, and white chocolate for a fun variety of flavors.

Alternately, you can ditch the plain chocolate chips altogether! Switch in some white chocolate (and add macadamia nuts) for another cookie classic, or throw in some mint chocolate chips instead. You can even browse the grocery store for seasonal chips, which often come in different color combinations to make bright, eye-catching cookies without having to alter your base recipe.

For Fancy Cookies

Chocolate drizzled cookies.
Kam Del/Shutterstock

Want to get that “gourmet pastry chef” style in your own kitchen? The secret to top-notch baked goods is focusing on the small details of how they’re finished. If you’re putting your cookies on display—whether at a party or just on Instagram—try using melted chocolate for an elegant finish.

Songziming Stainless Steel Double Boiler

If you're melting chocolate, a double boiler insures creamy and delicious results (instead of gnarly burnt chocolate)!

Drizzle your favorite chocolate over the cookies for a delicate look, or dip half the cookie for something a little bolder. Plus, this extra dose of chocolate gives you another chance to play with the flavor profile—you can choose to use the same chips as in your cookies or a complementary flavor.

Mercer Saucier Spoon

Achieve drizzle perfection with this made-for-the-task spoon.

The right tools make this job easier, so if you’re going the fancy-drizzled-chocolate route, we recommend grabbing a small double boiler bowl to melt the chocolate. Once melted you can dunk the cookie right in the melted chocolate or use a saucier spoon to drizzle it properly across the cookies.

For More Complex Flavor

Fresh chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with sea salt.
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Salt is the underrated “secret ingredient” to the best sweet treats. Experienced bakers know that adding just the right amount of saltiness can enrich and deepen the flavors in your favorite dessert, especially when chocolate is involved.

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

Handmade since the 1880s, these flavorful sea salt flakes will add a pop of flavor to your cookies.

One elegant way to upgrade your chocolate chip cookies? As soon as you pull them out of the oven, sprinkle the tops with just a tiny pinch of high-quality flake sea salt. Flake sea salt has a more intense flavor that pairs perfectly with chocolate (especially darker chocolates), giving your cookies that extra dimension you crave.

For Transforming a Cookie

If you love the taste of chocolate chip cookies but want to expand beyond the typical cookie bake, try using your favorite dough in a different way! Using the exact same dough, you can put it in different pans to turn it into a totally different dessert.

Lodge 10.25 Cast Iron Skillet

A good cast iron skillet is a versatile kitchen companion that can help with just about everything. Even cookies!

Grab a small cast-iron skillet, press the dough into it, and bake it for a gooey skillet cookie. You can also spread it out more and press it into a baking pan (i.e., a 13 x 9 pan) to turn it into bars—those are especially delicious if you want to go all-out and layer it with something else, like brownie batter! The possibilities are endless, bounded only by your ingenuity and willingness to experiment.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »

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