Back to Basics: The Original Chocolate Chip Cookies

Plate of Chocolate Chip Cookies | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

They are the chocolate chip cookies we all ate as kids and probably still make on occasion. Toll House, of course. The recipe right off the bag. It is the cookie by which all others are measured. The perfect balance of sweet, salty, gooey, chewy and crisp. Most of us, as we got more confident in the kitchen, ventured from the bag and experimented with other recipes. We dared to add oats, nuts, dried fruit, black pepper, and even pumpkin puree to our chocolate chip cookies but there is still a place for the original.

I know some of you will recall that I’ve gone out of my way in cooking classes to warn against using Toll House morsels in anything but these cookies. I am not maligning the cute little kiss shaped chips, but it is true they really only have one place in this world and that is in their original Toll House chocolate chip cookies recipe. In fact, they were invented for this cookie by the Nestle company and we are all happier for it. Having said that feel free to substitute any of your favorite high quality chocolate in these chocolate chip cookies as well.

I bring all of this up because I got a desperate email from Tracy, she wrote:

what’s the secret for great tollhouse choc. chip cookies…??!
you know, the one right off the bag? –
for years i’ve tried getting it the right consistency –
when they’re too buttery (and flat and porous looking)
my friends tell me to add more flour
when i add more flour they turn dry and crackly….
i’ve tried hand held blenders, cuisinarts, gas stoves, electric stoves,
lining the pan with tin foil, buttering the pan, not buttering the

someone told me it has to do with the temperature of the butter creamed
into the sugar??

help! i just feel hexed – why can everyone else make the perfect
cookies but me??!
if you have any idea what i’m talking about pls. share your wisdom.

But what does Tracy consider the perfect cookie? I asked her to describe her dream cookie:

okay – so the perfect cookie i imagine is one that’s soft all around but still holds its shape! soft, but without having MELTEd out! you know? turned flat and greasy….
and that seems to be my problem – i add more butter – which i THINK will make them soft, but they just go completely FLAT – then i add more flour and they turn dry and crackly.
thanks so much for answering this question – i will check your blog soon – is that at

OK this was a challenge I couldn’t resist and an excuse to bake some cookies.

First I had to buy a bag of Nestle Toll House Chips to get the recipe off the back:

Toll House Chocolate Chips | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used unbleached, but the bag didn’t specify)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt (I used kosher, but again they don’t seem to care what kind)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (I used salted because I like my cookies to be sweet and salty. Room temperature, NOT cold, not even cool or it won’t cream with the sugar properly)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark brown)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (it goes without saying that I used PURE vanilla)

2 large eggs (room temperature eggs will incorporate more easily)

2 cups (12oz) Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1 cup chopped nuts (I left them out this time)

I’m going to put my thoughts in parenthesis as I go through the directions.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (place rack in the middle of the oven. If baking two trays at once then be sure to rotate the cookies midway through baking so they bake evenly)

(Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. This makes for easier clean up and the paper acts as a slight insulator form the pan and will not brown as much.)

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar (make sure it is not dried out or too lumpy) and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy. (When I was a kid I made them by hand but now I use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment. I cream the butter and sugars together for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.)

Beating chocolate chip cookie dough | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Beating chocolate chip cookie dough | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Gradually beat in flour mixture. (mix the flour in only until combined.) Stir in morsels and nuts (if using). Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet. (I always bake on parchment to eliminate the clean up of my pans and I use an ice cream scoop to portion out the chocolate chip cookies. If you don’t have an ice cream scoop that is the right size then use a tablespoon, but make sure they are nice and rounded. The rounder the ball of dough the less it will spread in the oven.)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough on Baking Sheet | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. (This is just about perfect timing if your oven is calibrated and you are only baking one sheet at a time. If you have two or more sheets going you must rotate them half way through baking so that they bake evenly. They may also require a minute or so more baking.) Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies on Baking Sheet | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

(I baked one batch of cookies at 375 degrees (above) as the directions said to on the bag and another at 350 degrees (below). The cookies at 350 spread a little more and were slightly crisper. Not a huge difference.)

Chocolate Chip Cookies on Baking Sheet | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Other baking tips:

If you want your chocolate chip cookies crisper, press them flat before baking and lower the oven to 350 degrees.

If you want your cookies to be evenly golden but not browned on the bottom try using an insulated baking sheet. I think this will help Tracy get her perfect cookie!

If you don’t want to bake all the chocolate chip cookies at once, form the rest of the dough into a log in plastic wrap and save for another day. They will last in the refrigerator for a few days or wrap them really well and freeze them for up to a month. When you are ready to bake cut them into 1/2″ slices and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. If you don’t let the dough come to room temperature first you will end up with cookies that are crisp around the edges and soft in the middle. I happen to like this but if you want a cookie that is soft all over than wait until they are room temperature before baking.

Get a glass of milk and enjoy!

Plate of Toll House Cookies with Milk  | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

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12 thoughts to “Back to Basics: The Original Chocolate Chip Cookies”

  1. I have a chocolate bread question pertaining to your “Artisan bread in 5…Book” and this was the only place on your web-site that i could find to leave a comment or question. Your chocolate bread recipe on page 211 mentions in the write up (prior to the ingrediants) that “the honey is subtle” but no where in the ingrediant list or recipe is honey mentioned. Am i missing something??? I am making the bread now w/o honey.

  2. Hi Larry,

    Wow, that would make for a very subtle honey flavor indeed! Yet another item to add to the errata sheet. Thanks for pointing this out.

    As for the recipe it should be 2/3 cup honey, not sugar. That will be added in step 2 with the water.

    Thanks again!!! Zoë

  3. Hi Zoe,
    Hi Zoe,
    I came to your website to check out your beautiful holiday cookies, and couldn’t resist adding my two cents to the Tollhouse cookie discussion. Jeffrey Steingarten, in his hilarious book “It Must’ve Been Something I Ate,” devotes a chapter to the perfect chocolate-chip cookie, which is a modified Nestle’s recipe. It has less flour and more sugar than the package recipe:
    2 cups all-pupose flour
    1 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 lb unsalted butter (1 cup)
    3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
    1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
    3/4 cup granulated white sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 Tbs. water
    1 egg
    1 1/2 cups choc. morsels

    It’s a great recipe. I also have one bit of advice that was passed along to me. Always save some chocolate chips to add to the batter at the end, when the last few scoops always seem to be chip-free.


  4. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for the recipe and the tip!!! These cookies sound great. The extra sugar and butter will make for a cookie that is probably slightly crisper and spreads more. I love it when they caramelize around the edges!

    Happy New Year!!! Zoë

  5. i am so excited to get these cookie tips! alas – my new year has started off at such a pace that all i have TIME for is baking your bread!!! (did i EVER think i’d say THOSE words??! no, never.)
    hopefully things will settle some in the next weeks and i can get to trying insulated cookie pans, parchment paper, room temp. butter and eggs and maybe less flour and more sugar!
    thanks for all your help and TIME with this, my quest for the perfect cookie …will keep you posted!
    happy new year!

  6. try a little less white sugar, add 1 tablespoon real maple syrup, and 1 ounce of fresh but cool coffee or espresso. Friends will go crazy trying to figure out why yours are so much better than theirs.

  7. Hello the cookies you made you said the ones you baked at lower temp of 350 were more crispy that the ones cooked at 375? Is it because you flattened them or does lower temp crisp this recipe more? 8m trying to have cookies that habe crisp edge and soft middles and not thin cookies. I love more buttery chocolate chip cookies

    1. Hi Michelle,

      I’m sorry I missed your note, thanks for flagging it again! The lower temperature for a longer time will mean the cookie has time to bake through and crisp up. When I bake at 375 the outer edge gets crisp, but the center stays softer. Here is a great recipe for that. They are perhaps a little thinner than you are looking for?

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Oh Zoe, thank you i love chocolate chip cookies in lots of varieties I just always want to try different baking methods on them. I’ve made your recipe a bunch of times everyone loves it!
        I’ll also try the other one you posted in your comments.
        Thank you much!

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