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The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (High Altitude)

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Chewy center; crispy, caramelized edges, not too fat, not too thin, the BEST Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies! Below I share my secrets, tips and hacks for achieving the perfect chocolate chip cookie at altitude or sea level!! They are, after-all, THE quintessential, iconic American cookie!

These thick chocolate chip cookies are deliciously chunky and chewy, practically perfect in every way!

This was the first recipe on my blog! These thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies are one of my most POPULAR recipes on the blog! Enjoy great cookies like we do? Then try these amazing Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies or these Oatmeal Sandwich cookies are spectacular too!

Chewy Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie broken in half with gooey center showing.

Baking Cookies at High Altitude

I share more about “why” I started The Fresh Cooky on my About page.

Baking can be a bit of a challenge especially living at high altitude! Since moving to Colorado more than 25 years ago, I’ve made it my goal to achieve the BEST, chewiest, most chocolatey, chocolate chip cookies. TA-DA!

Baked chocolate chip cookies on a cooling rack with sea salt sprinkled on top.
See that cookie on the left smiling at you!

My hope for this blog is to encourage others to try something new, remove fears about adapting a recipe to your taste, try a new recipe and most importantly to return to the family table and invite others to join you!

*Entertaining seeks to impress. Hospitality seeks to bless.”

Jen Wilkin

Chewy Cookies at Sea Level

SEA LEVEL INSTRUCTIONS| No problem, I’ve provided recipe adjustments for sea level or other non high altitude locations, but please follow instructions below for the best, chewiest chocolate chip cookies!

Cream softened butter for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy, light and silky.

Hot chewy chocolate chip cookies on wire cooling rack.

HOW TO SOFTEN BUTTER

{ALWAYS use real butter for cookies; no blends, margarine, nothing with oil. Rule of thumb, if it’s soft coming out of the fridge it’s not pure butter}

Forget to take out the butter? Place butter on microwave safe dish, starting at 8-9 seconds, increasing to about 12 (total) seconds if needed.

Or simply take your butter out of the fridge and cut into chunks while you assemble all of your ingredients and it’ll be soft by the time you are ready to cream it!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies | #thefreshcooky #chocolatechipcookies #chewy #altitude

Toss in light brown sugar and all natural cane sugar. Cream sugars and butter together on medium-high, 2-4 minutes; you want it really fluffy and light, scrape down the sides about half way through.

TIPS WHEN BAKING WITH ALL NATURAL CANE SUGAR

  • All natural cane sugar is typically more coarse than refined white sugar, so creaming the mixture longer is key, typically 1-2 minutes longer than the recipe calls for.
  • Creaming the sugar and butter mixture longer; breaks the larger crystals down further giving you a light, fluffy base.
  • Plop eggs into batter, one at a time with mixer on medium-high. Mix each egg for a full minute. Scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Adding eggs into chocolate chip cookie batter | www.thefreshcooky.com
  • While eggs are creaming; measure all-purpose flour, soda and sea salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine all ingreds.
  • Dribble vanilla into batter; maybe even try your own Homemade Vanilla, it’s the best!
  • Turn mixer to lowest setting, add all-purpose flour a little at a time.
  • Pour in a couple teaspoons of water* with each flour addition. Let it mix for a second, then add more until all flour is incorporated.
  • Scrape down sides, making sure all of your flour is incorporated, careful not to overmix. *Do not add water for sea level.
adding flour to chocolate chip cookie dough | www.thefreshcooky.com
  • Trickle the chocolate chips into dough, mix with mixer on low or by hand or on the lowest mixer setting.
  • With the mixer on low, pour in chocolate chunks. If you can’t find chocolate chunks, simply rough chop a bar of your favorite chocolate and stir in, I like this one or use additional regular chocolate chips.
  • Finally, add the mini chocolate chips and mix on low – you might need to grab a wooden spoon at this point. 
Pouring in chips and chunks for chocolate chip cookies | www.thefreshcooky.com

You should have a beautiful, doughy, chocolate-y chip thang going on. One final mix to make sure those chips are evenly incorporated. Or just give it a good hand stir. The dough should be soft, fluffy and pretty sticky.

At this point my family grabs their spoons and digs in; I’ve been eating and serving raw cookie dough for decades and nobody has ever gotten sick!

In fact, read this article especially since our eggs our pasteurized the risk is very low, but if you still aren’t convinced then please try this edible Cookie Dough.

It’s not always the eggs that cause the problem, sometimes it’s the flour, my recipe for edible cookie dough shows you how to “heat treat” the flour to reduce risk as well, I keep my flour in the fridge or freezer though reducing exposure. 

However; if you aren’t afraid of raw eggs, you might also enjoy my Mini French Silk Pies with Toffee Graham Crust. WOW!

Jar of edible cookie dough with chocolate chips and m&m's spread around, spoonful of cookie dough in foreground.

How to make cookies the same size

Not only does a cookie scoop make life so much easier; scoop, swish, plop…repeat.

But it keeps the cookies uniform in size, which means they will bake evenly, resulting in perfect cookies every time! But is it necessary?

Nope, the good old fashioned, spoon, roll into ball works great too!

Cookie scoop sitting on parchment paper lined cookie sheet with scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough.

Using a medium scoop (2 Tablespoons, about the size of a walnut) scoop your dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets, about 2-3 inches apart.

I typically put 9 cookies on each sheet. Feel free to make them smaller too, sometimes I use a small scoop, bake less time, fitting 12 on a pan.

  • This allows the dough to firm up, flavors to mingle, doing some science-y thing that then allows them to spread perfectly and evenly while baking.
  • Stick entire pan of dough balls in the fridge for 10 minutes, this is a CRITICAL step to the thick and chewy factor!
  • Scoop remaining dough into balls while your first batch is chilling, placing close together onto a wax paper or parchment lined quarter sheet pan, then freeze until firm.
Cookie dough balls scooped close together for chilling.

Take out just enough chilled dough balls to bake and bake between *350375° for 8-10 minutes, repeating the process (scooping, chilling, baking, cooling, salting).

*Start at 375°, see how they do, if they brown too quickly, reduce temp to 350°, ovens are inconsistent, I use this oven thermometer to be sure. 

Chilling the dough firms up the fat (butter, in this case), also allowing the flour time to absorb the liquids evenly, which reduces the dough’s stickiness, making it easier to work with and slows the spread.

Two chocolate chip cookies on wire rack with tea towel in background.

So give me the recipe already!
You got it, the recipe is below, but keep reading for tips on packaging, transport, chewy, perfect cookies every time and gifting ideas!

Like this recipe?
Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating and comment below the recipe!

Tips

  • CREAM BUTTER WELL |Cream butter until light & fluffy (1-2 minutes), then cream butter with sugars for 2-4 minutes, on the longer side for all natural cane sugar.
  • CHILL | I know people aren’t fans of cookies requiring chilling, but if you want the best chewy cookie that doesn’t spread too thin, then chill the dough!
  • REAL BUTTER |Many people who have not had success with this recipe have used butter blends, my motto, if it’s soft coming out of the fridge, it’s not real butter, use real cream butter for this recipe!
  • OVEN TEMP | Many ovens vary by 25-50 degrees, for accuracy purchase an oven thermometer.
  • COOL | Leave on the pan for about 2 minutes, they actually continue cooking slightly, then transfer to a wire rack for full cooling.
  • STORAGE | Store cooled chocolate chip cookies in an air tight container for 2-3 days on teh counter, or freeze up to 3 months, bringing to room temp before serving.
  • SALT | If you have never tried a little flaky sea salt on your cookies now is the time, it enhances the caramel flavors in the cookie as well as the richness of the chocolate!
Stack of 4 chocolate chip cookies on wooden table with chocolate chips sprinkled about.

When dough balls are frozen then transfer them to freezer baggies, removing as much air as possible; because air is not your friend in the freezer.

frozen cookie dough chocolate chip cookies | www.thefreshcooky.com

Be different and give your friends and neighbors cookie dough so they are ready for fresh cookies anytime! Check out this post on How to Package Cookie Dough for Gifts

HOW TO BAKE COOKIES FROM FROZEN DOUGH BALLS

When ready to bake your frozen dough, pull desired number out of freezer, then place dough balls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet allowing them come to room-ish temp (about 10-20 minutes).

In the meantime, preheat the oven, bake at 350-375° for 8-10 minutes and cool as described above.

Adding M & M's to the batter in chocolate chip cookie dough balls, sitting on parchment lined pan.

FRESH PRO TIP: Start by baking them at 375 for high altitude for less time, for sea level, I suggested 350 and you will have to play with the time for your oven.

Baked chocolate chip chewy cookies on cooling rack on countertop.

BEST WAY TO TRANSPORT COOKIES?

Making up the entire batch of cookies for a team feed, picnic, school party or potluck?

This is a fabulous way to transport cookies so they don’t get smashed or broken, plus you can fit a LOT into the container.

FREEZE the container with cookies overnight; thaw on the counter for an hour and they’ll be perfect!

Chocolate Chip Cookies in a large airtight container, showing how to set them on their edges, at an angle, for best way to transport.

Another sweet recipe using cookie dough is for these Mini Skillet Cookies or Half-Bakes as we call them, boy are they amazing!!

HACKS for CHEWIEST, Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies:

  • Always use real butter, NO butter blends or substitutes that how cookies can go wrong.
  • Refrigerate your dough for 10 minutes prior to baking for up to 36 hours (covered)
  • Remove cookies from oven when edges are golden, the centers still appear slightly underbaked, they will continue cooking and set while cooling.
  • Cool on pan 2-3 minutes before transferring to wire rack, so the cookies will set.

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71 Comments

  1. I live in Denver and I followed the recipe exactly except I skimped on the baking soda and these still came out with a cake/muffin texture instead of a cookie texture. They are tall and fluffy, so much so that they taste like a muffin instead. What could I have done wrong???

    1. Hi Claire, so the most common thing would be your flour. Here are a few things that could have played into your cookies being cakey:

      Did you use all-purpose flour (I always use unbleached)? And watch how you measure it, scoop into your measuring cups with a spoon and then level.
      Did you use bigger than large eggs?
      Did you spend plenty of time whipping your butter and creaming with the sugars?

      I have had mine turn out flatter than I like them when I’ve used cheaper butters as they have a higher water content, but can honestly say I’ve never had them turn out cakey. And you followed the reduced amounts of sugar and increased amounts of flour along with the water?
      Curious why you skimped on the baking soda, I have adjusted this for altitude as I live in the Denver metro area too, so baking soda should be spot on.

  2. I’ve been using this recipe for years and my friends always beg me to bring these cookies to every event. The only thing I do differently is I leave the cookie dough in the fridge over night to chill before baking. I have better luck with them that way. Thanks for a great recipe!

  3. Thank you for making this recipe! Very tasty but mine were a bit flat and brown on the edges. I live in Denver and did the high altitude approach and weighed all my ingredients to try to be exact but perhaps I messed up somewhere, how do you adjust for this? I am refrigerating the dough overnight but if there is something I can do to tweak it and help the rest please let me know!

    1. Two things I suggest, make sure your baking soda is active, that is oftentimes the biggest culprit and make sure your oven temperature is accurate, you can purchase an inexpensive oven thermometer to test that, many ovens (including my own) run hot or cold and that can make a big difference! Let me know if that works!

  4. 3 stars
    These cookies turned out delicious, but they spread out a bunch. Why did my cookies turn out flat? I was hoping for some cookies with more volume and chewyness. Any suggestions? FYI: I’m low altitude and followed those instructions.

    1. Hi Tara — I have never tried these cookies with GF AP flour, while I have had success with other bake goods I’ve never tried with these. Please let me know if you try and how they turn out!

    1. Absolutely Regina, you just shouldn’t have to cream the butter and sugars as long. Also be sure to use the high altitude or sea level adjustments depending on where you live, as it’s either less or more sugar! Happy baking, hope you love them!

      Merry Christmas,
      Kathleen

  5. 5 stars
    These are great. I am in the midst of using this recipe for the second time. This time, I’ve doubled the recipe to take some to work tomorrow. It’s the first day of students coming back to in-person learning since COVID-19 struck. It will be a nice treat. PS-I live in CO, too. 😊

  6. Hi, I am not much of a baker and have not done so yet in the altitude. I am also in colorado and have been itching to bake with some tips like yours here. is it okay if I do this with out a kitchen aid and just use a spoon? I also have been wanting to make chocolate chip cookies with toffee in it. If i add Skor toffee bar to the cookie mix will it mess with the recipe? Thank you so much and im excited to see how baking turns out!

    1. Hello Helen!
      Absolutely, but be ready for a bit of an arm workout! It’s been years since I’ve made with a spoon, if you have a hand mixer that would help in the beginning, then finish it off by hand, but absolutely it can be done, that’s how our grandparents did it! And YES, add Skor toffee for sure, shouldn’t mess with it at all! Can’t wait to hear how they turn out for you!

      Happy High Altitude Baking!

      1. I ran across the recipe and am anxious to make these cookies. I have a question about the temperature. The recipe gives the direction to preheat oven to 350-375 degrees. When cooking at low altitude, which temperature should be used?

        1. Hi Kenneth, thanks for asking. For lower altitude if you are confident your oven heats accurately, I would bake them at 350 degrees. But every oven heats a bit differently, so try a batch and if necessary make adjustments. Hope they turn out great! Let me know!

    1. Hi Suzanne, they are SOO good and absolutely, I regularly change up the mix=-ns, just add about the same volume as what is in the recipe. I’ve used M&M’s, white, dark, milk chocolate chips, butterscotch, caramel chips, pretzel pieces, toffee bits, walnuts, etc. Let me know what you try! Kathleen

  7. These cookies were delicious!! Easy recipe and baked up perfectly. Kathleen, you did it again! Another fantastic recipe from “The Fresh Cooky”. xo

  8. I am on the team chewy for sure and these were the best cookies I have ever tasted! I had to make another batch because I ate them all and there weren’t enough for my son and his friends LOL!

    1. Thank you, that’s a great question! 3 months is ideal, but I’ve “discovered” older dough balls buried and they baked up just fine. But honestly, they usually don’t last much more than a few week with all of the teenagers coming to our house!

  9. Two questions. Sorry if they’re stupid! Lol

    How do I know if I am in high altitude or not?

    Salted or unsalted butter?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Amy — No stupid questions! High Altitude is really anything over 5200 ft and you may use either salted or unsalted butter, I use salted, but I tend to like my baked goods a titch saltier. I’ll make a few comments based on your questions to the recipe.

  10. Follow up to making these amazing cookies…Grown son, “new recipe mom?” Me answering, “yes! and this one doesn’t come out of the yellow package!!”

    Storage tip: store unbaked dough in freezer in a ziplock bag inside a BROWN bag, otherwise, if they are in sight, you will eat a doughball every time you open the freezer!!

  11. 5 stars
    These are absolutely AMAZING cookies. I’ve been looking for a high altitude chocolate chip cookie recipe for years and this is it – chewy in the middle and crunchy on the outside. Thank you!

  12. 5 stars
    These are absolutely AMAZING cookies. I’ve been looking for a high altitude chocolate chip cookie recipe for years and this is it – chewy in the middle and crunchy on the outside. Thank you!

      1. Finally made them, not sure what took me so long but they are delicious! My new favorite go to recipe for warm chewy chocolate chip cookies!

  13. Can’t wait to try making these—–like you, since moving to Colorado I’ve been on the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie! My Mom’s recipe was perfect in CA, but I’ve never been able to tweak it for altitude. Thanks for sharing….excited to see what else you have in store for us! 🙂

  14. Every year I search for the perfect fancy recipe for our Christmas cookie exchange, and my husband and son say, “why can’t you just make chocolate chip!” Looking forward to trying this recipe (at altitude) instead of cheating with the package.

    1. YAY, so glad Cindy! Make them fancy by dipping them half way in chocolate and then in mini chocolate chips and then they are perfect for your Christmas Cookie Exchange!

  15. Kathleen, I just got this blog from your mom. She’s very proud of you. Everything looks so delicious. I can hardly wait to try out some of the recipes once I get my daughter, Lisa, to take me to the market for ingredients.

    Wishing you all the luck and success in your new venture. Lovingly, Christine

    1. Thank you Christine, that is wonderful! My mom is kind of a gusher, I love her! Thank you for your kind and sweet words, I hope everything turns out great, let me know how they work for you!

    1. Yes, Ma’am! 3 types, gives it the chocolaty amazing texture and volume it needs! Thanks Tracey! Let me know if you make them!

    1. Of course Allie!! And they are yum, I’m pretty sure I’ve made them for you all a few times! But they really never get old do they! 🙂 Just finished making a double batch tonight as a matter of fact!