Growing up, I thought there was only one way to make a chocolate chip cookie. You started with the yellow bag of Nestlé Toll House chocolate morsels, followed the directions on the back, and nine to 11 minutes later you were rewarded with a tray of warm cookies. Simple as that.
Fast forward 20 years, and there are now more recipes for chocolate chip cookies than I’d ever have a chance to make in my lifetime (although I’d be down to try). To distinguish themselves from the competition, they all claim to be the best, whether that’s because they’re the easiest, or the most flavorful, or the chewiest, or the softest.
Some have even gone viral. There’s the version adapted from Jacques Torres in the New York Times, which was so thoroughly researched and tested that it likely is the most “perfect” chocolate chip cookie, although you have to wait for it (and pay for it), because science says a chill time of 36 hours yields the best cookie, as does 1 1/4 pounds of bittersweet chocolate disks.
Then there’s Alison Roman’s salted chocolate chunk shortbread cookies (aka #thecookies), in which she took all her favorite parts of the classic dessert and created something new altogether — a buttery, crumbly, salty concoction that proved just how far we’ve come since Toll House. Another Instagram favorite? The giant crinkled chocolate chip cookies from cookbook author Sarah Kieffer, featuring the unique (yet incredibly noisy) technique of banging your cookie sheet on the oven rack as the dough bakes.
But traditionalists, fear not, because some of the internet’s most popular chocolate chip cookies — from Alton Brown, Martha Stewart, and Joanna Gaines — don’t stray too far from classic versions. (We also tossed Toll House into the competition, to act as our control cookie.) There are no chocolate disks or flaky salt, no overnight chill or pan-banging — these are just good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies. For consistency’s sake, I tested each with King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour, Nestlé Toll House semi-sweet morsels, and Domino sugar, and baked them all in the same oven, on the same cookie sheet, on the same day.
Here’s how they ranked, from my least favorite to the very best.
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