Make the best chocolate chip cookies ever with these hacks

Who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies? Possibly the most beloved cookie flavor that ever existed, whipping up a batch of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies is guaranteed to put a smile on any face. Despite how common this classic cookie flavor may be, getting the recipe just right can be a challenge. Ask any home baker how to make the best chocolate chip cookies and you'll probably get a variety of responses, which only makes it harder to perfect the recipe. 

Ultimately when it comes down to it, baking is a science. Whether your cookies are turning out less than stellar or you want to take your cookies from good to grand, with a few baking tricks and ingredient hacks you can make the ultimate chocolate chip cookies. So roll up your sleeves, grab your ingredients, preheat the oven, and use these hacks to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

Use the right butter

Not just any butter will do if you're on a quest for the perfect cookie. Salt is a crucial ingredient that helps to bring out the sweetness of the chocolate chips and the sugar in the dough, so using salted butter is a must. By having salt already in the butter, it will become fully infused into the cookie, enhancing the overall flavor. Just be sure to pay attention to any recipe that calls for more added salt. Too much salt and that delicious sweet flavor will be masked.  

Speaking of butter… have you ever tried to mix cold butter into chocolate chip cookie dough? It's not fun. Before you add butter to the mix, soften it first to room temperature. Softening the butter not only makes it easier to cream together with the other ingredients, but it also makes for a better cookie flavor and texture. Softening the butter will help the cookies keep their shape, resulting in a nice, fluffy cookie. Melt the butter too much and you may wind up with flat cookies with an uncooked center.

The order of steps totally matters

While we're still on the subject of butter, make sure you cream together the sugar and butter before adding in the rest of your ingredients. It may be tempting to just dump all the ingredients into a mixer at the same time and call it a day, but remember, baking is a science. Creaming butter allows tiny air pockets to form, which ultimately results in a better cookie. The best way to do this is to first beat the butter, by itself, at a low speed until it's a creamy texture. Next, add in the sugar and beat it on high until it's a fluffy masterpiece. Building upon the sugars and fats, the tiny air pockets that are caused by creaming will result in a lighter, fluffier cookie. Failure to do so, and you're more likely to wind up with dense cookies. Dense over fluffy? No thanks. Take the extra step and you'll wind up with the best chocolate chip cookies you'll want to sink your teeth into.

It's possible to mix too much

Before we talk about incorporating the rest of the ingredients, remember that it's important to avoid over-mixing the cookie dough. You've no doubt been told at one time or another not to do this, but do you know why? Sure, all the ingredients need to be well incorporated, which includes taking a spatula and scraping the stuff that sticks to the side of the mixing bowl, but get a little too crazy with it and you change the structure of the cookie. What happens when you over-mix is you wind up with stiff, dense cookies. To prep chocolate chip cookie dough just right, mix all the ingredients on a low speed just until the flour is incorporated — and then stop. When the flour is at the point where it's just incorporated, the dough should be pulling away from the sides. Once this happens it's ready to bake.

Get your eggs to the right temperature

Remember what we said about room temperature butter? Well it's also best to use room temperature eggs when making any kind of cookie. The reason for this has to do with the fats in the cookie dough. When you add eggs to the chocolate chip cookie recipe, it's right after creaming the sugar and butter. If you add in cold eggs, that can cause the butter fat to harden once again. That's not good when making chocolate chip cookies. Hardened fats can cause the cookies to become lumpy, which unless you're talking about chunks of chocolate, is not what we're going for here. It's easy enough to avoid this disaster, just take your eggs from the fridge about 30 minutes before you start making your cookies. If you forget, help them catch up by putting them in a bowl of warm water while you mix up the earlier ingredients.

Use the right chocolate

If you want to make the ultimate chocolate chip cookies, then it's time to step out of the box a bit and cut your own chocolate. I know, it's hard to think about a chocolate chip cookie without actually using those sweet chip morsels, but those chips can often contain other ingredients that compromise flavor. We don't want added ingredients, we want chocolate — sweet, rich, delectable chocolate without a compromised flavor. A chocolate chip cookie is all about the chocolate, so nothing but the best will do.

That's why when it comes to making the best darn tootin' chocolate chip cookies,you have to use quality chocolate — cut it yourself using a serrated knife, and don't worry about getting pieces of exactly the same size. Using chopped chocolate not only tastes superior, but it will give the cookies a great texture. You can even get creative with it and use different types of chocolate. Bittersweet, darkdark, semi-sweet, and milk chocolate all have their own unique flavor that pairs beautifully when added together. Once you sink your teeth into a warm, chewy cookie with chunks of perfect chocolate, you'll never use chips again.

Adjust the sugar measurements

If you think all sugar does is add sweetness, then you'd be sorely mistaken. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes call for the use of white sugar and brown sugar because while both vary in sweetness, they also contribute to the overall consistency of the cookies. While each has its own benefits, if you want the best, consider using more brown sugar. By decreasing the white sugar and using more brown sugar, the cookies will achieve a softer consistency and a richer, caramel-y flavor. Whereas if you were to add more white sugar you would wind up with a crispier cookie. Unless you like crispy chocolate chip cookies, do yourself a favor and the next time you make a batch, adjust the sugar ratio. With more brown sugar you'll get a more cake-like cookie with more depth in flavor. Just don't go all out brown sugar — there still needs to be a balance.

Don't skip this last step

The cookie dough is ready, time to plop it into the oven, right? Wrong. There's another step before the cookies can hit the oven, and that step is chilling the dough. Chilling the cookie dough gives it a chance to set, which does two things. The first is it allows the cookies to bake more evenly, perfecting the texture and rise of the cookies. The second is it also lets the flavors meld. I know what you're thinking, this isn't meat marinating. And no, it's not. Yet by letting the cookie dough chill in the refrigerator for half an hour to an hour, the dry and wet ingredients are able to fully meld. That means once they bake, you get the best out of your ingredients. After all that hard work you went through, it'd be a shame to skip a step that could have made your cookies only that much better.

Portion the dough

Now that you've chilled the dough, it's time to get those dough balls onto the baking sheet. By using a cookie scoop or shaping dough into relatively the same size by hand, the cookies will get a more uniform shape. This is key when baking. Have you ever noticed that when you don't shape the dough and simply plopped each dollop down that some wind up more crisp on the outside or under-cooked in the middle? That's because they are all different sizes. While varying sizes can look great, they don't all cook evenly on the sheet pan, which is what causes them to be cooked with varying results even though they were baked in the same batch. Unless you like doughy middles and burnt edges, portion out your dough so the cookies bake to perfection. After all, we are trying to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

Be careful with the timer

The hardest part about making chocolate chip cookies is waiting for it to bake. As you watch the clock in anticipation, prepping a cold glass of milk, your taste buds are probably already salivating. Speaking of the clock, what time did you set the clock for? When baking the ultimate chocolate chip cookies, it's best to set the clock for the shortest amount of time given in the recipe you're using. Once the timer goes off, take a look and see where the cookies are at. Is the bottom starting to turn golden brown, and have the middles set? If so, the cookies are ready. If not, give it a few more minutes and then come back and check again — but don't wait too long! The worst thing you can do to the best chocolate chip cookie recipe is mess it up by burning the cookies in the oven.

The finishing touch you never saw coming

Remember what we said about salt enhancing the flavor of sweet? If you really want to make some phenomenal chocolate chip cookies, then sprinkle some sea salt on top of your cookies. This can be done either before baking or right after when the cookies are cooling. The result will be a beautiful combination of sweet and salty that makes your cookies taste even better than you ever thought possible. While some people might say caramel chunks or nuts are what make the best chocolate chip cookies, it's really a simple pinch of salt that makes all the difference.

You might be concerned that this may make the cookies too salty, but it won't. What it will do is accent the richness of the chocolate, creating the ultimate bite. Try it for yourself and you'll see how this one simple ingredient can transform your chocolate chip cookies into the very best. Just be forewarned, you my wind up eating the whole batch.