Ingredients That Will Take Chocolate Chip Cookies To The Next Level

There is nothing quite like a homemade chocolate chip cookie. It's a simple yet special treat that balances sweet and salty on a knife's edge of deliciousness. For many amateur and professional bakers, this was one of the first recipes they learned to make from whoever taught them how to cook. From the classic Nestle TollHouse recipe you find on the cookie bag to more modern interpretations like this recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies, there are dozens — if not hundreds — of variations on this classic cookie. 

If you are truly looking to take your baking game to the next level, mastering chocolate chip (or chunk, if you prefer) is a wonderful and easy place to start. In fact, there are many ways to upgrade your current favorite cookie recipe with the addition of just one ingredient. Whether you want to change the texture and size of your cookies, or if you just want to add more toppings in, these ingredients will give your chocolate chip cookies the extra flavor boost they need. 

Flaky sea salt

Salt is obviously one of the crucial ingredients you need to bake chocolate chip cookies. Honestly most cookie recipes will call for salt — even if it is just a little bit. For chocolate chip cookies, the sweetness and richness of the chocolate needs this hint of salt to balance out the flavor from being sickly sweet. But some of the best chocolate chip cookies go the extra mile by adding an extra sprinkling of salt flakes on top. 

An easy way to level up your basic chocolate chip or chocolate chunk cookie is by adding flaky sea salt to the tops of your cookies once they finished baking. These flakes of salt will add a crave-inducing salty kick to each bite, leaving you wanting more sweet at first, and then more salty. If you want to start branching out from your basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, adding a little bit of this ingredient you probably already have lying around is a great place to start. Just be sure to use the flaky kind of salt with large chunks in order to get the right effect. 

Cayenne powder

Ok, now we are cooking with gas. Adding cayenne pepper powder to your cookie recipe is a truly bold and inspired choice. This might seems like a counterintuitive choice when it comes to baking cookies — and it is — but it can pay off when done correctly and in proper portions. A touch of cayenne can go a long way in adding an extra dimension of spice to your sweet and salty favorites. 

Spices like cayenne actually aren't meant to give your cookies a big kick, but rather to enhance the chocolate flavor with subtle heat. Chili peppers enhance the flavors of chocolate and bring out the deep richness of the cocoa. By adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne into your chocolate chip cookie dough, you can bring out the subtleties of the chocolate you use in the cookies. This means that if you are using high-quality chocolate — especially if you include dark chocolate in the mix — you will be rewarded by adding a pinch of cayenne or a favorite chili powder of your choosing. 

Toffee chips

If you want to add an unexpected layer of sweetness and indulgence to an already excellent chocolate chip cookie recipe, we recommend one special mix-in. Sure you could fill the cookie dough with butterscotch chips or pieces of candy, but toffee chips are better than all those options combined. 

Toffee is made from heating up sugar, similar to how caramel is made, but the two substances have distinctions in how they are prepared, and ultimately they taste worlds apart. On their own, toffee chips are sweet, crunchy, buttery treats. But combined with other baked goods they can really enhance the sweetness and emphasize the buttery quality of the cookies. Plus, this secret ingredient is super easy to integrate. All you have to do is toss the toffee chips in at the same time as the chocolate chips. 

This toffee chocolate chip cookie recipe is perfect first recipe to start experimenting with since it uses equal parts chocolate and toffee chips. After making a batch, you can adjust to your preference by changing the ratios. 


Another very unexpected ingredient that can enhance your chocolate chip cookie recipe is oft-overlooked cornmeal. This ground meal made from corn is often added to baked goods like muffins for texture, or used on pizza crust so it doesn't stick to the pizza stone. But using cornmeal in cookies, especially of the chocolate chip or chunk variety, is certainly an unorthodox use of the flour alternative. 

Adding in a bit of cornmeal to your cookie dough in place of a portion of the regular flour will give your cookies a unique soft crunch. This texture is an interesting alternative to what you are probably used to, but it works particularly well when paired with other special ingredients. As you now know, toffee is a must-try ingredient for chocolate chip cookies, and the combination of toffee and cornmeal is divine. If you are feeling especially daring, you might want to try this glorious Martha Stewart recipe for cornmeal chocolate chunk cookies, featuring the unlikely, yet delicious, additions of raisins and fennel seeds.


These days, the gooey chocolate chip cookie is in fashion. The popularity of the dynamite Levain Bakery cookie in NYC and its imitators have ensured that the large, slightly under-baked, and messy cookie is what's in fashion. But if you are looking to make chocolate chip cookies that are thick, but also light and fluffy, then you need to start adding cornstarch to your recipes ASAP. 

Cornstarch is an item you probably already have on your pantry shelf that will change the texture and shape of your cookies. Adding this secret ingredient will ensure that your cookies turn out pillowy and tall, since the cornstarch prevents the mixture from spreading out the way a thin chocolate chip cookie dough would. Adding about one teaspoon of cornstarch to a standard batch of cookies is enough to make a big textural difference. Give it a whirl the next time you are looking to shake things up.

Brown butter

Brown butter can be the ace up a baker's sleeve. When it comes to cookies especially, this easy trick to upgrading your butter will make an instant difference in the flavor of your chocolate chip cookies. It might sound intimidating and like an unnecessary step, but trust us, browning your butter is well worth the time and extra dishes in the sink. 

In order to create brown butter you must first add the required amount of butter for your recipe to a pan over low heat. Melt the butter slowly and continue cooking until it takes on an amber or golden brown hue. You don't want to keep it on the heat longer than this, or you will burn the butter and have to start all over. Once you take the brown butter off the heat, let it cool before transferring it to your cookie dough recipes. When you add hot butter to your dough mix, you risk curdling the eggs into a scramble, ruining the dough.

Once you've made chocolate chip cookies with brown butter, you won't want to go back. The added complexity of flavor the extra step brings really takes these cookies to the next level. Plus, browning butter is a skill you can use in cooking many other sweet and savory recipes


Nutmeg and chocolate chips? Yeah, we know that doesn't sound like the most appetizing combination, but hear us out. The key is to add such a small amount of nutmeg to your chocolate chip cookie recipe that the strong, aromatic flavor of the spice doesn't actually come through. But in that case, we hear you ask, what is the point of adding it in the first place? Well, to put it simply, nutmeg can enhance many of the qualities that people love about chocolate chip cookies to begin with. For instance, just a little bit of nutmeg goes a long way to enhance the butter and salt in your chocolate chip cookie recipe. You will want to put in just a couple dashes into your dry ingredients before mixing them together, no more than 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg per batch of cookies. Any more than that will likely overwhelm the balance. 

Cream cheese

If you are in love with a soft chocolate chip cookie and can't quite get your homemade batches to turn out as melty and messy as you desire, then this ingredient will change your baking life. Adding cream cheese to your cookie recipe is the secret key to satisfying your urge to make the gooiest (and most delicious) chocolate chip cookies. 

Using cream cheese instead of butter will actually make your cookies richer. If you follow the advice of this Averie Cooks recipe for cream cheese chocolate chip cookies, it is best to use a mix of the two — and substituting out a third or half of the butter in your recipe for the equivalent amount of cream cheese is all you need to do to give your cookies a gooey makeover. These cookies will be melty, soft, and indulgent as all get-out. 

Note that this will result in an extremely soft cookie both inside and out. There are ways to make a chocolate chip cookie with a crisp crust and a gooey inside, but if you use cream cheese, the texture will be extremely soft and chewy overall, which may or may not be what you are going for. 

Egg yolks

Ok, so obviously pretty much every non-vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe has eggs in it. By default, this means egg yolks are one of the essential ingredients in any chocolate chip or chunk cookie. But if you really want to take your recipe to the next level, you can add extra egg yolks to kick things up a notch. Just as when you put in cream cheese, adding extra egg yolks is just another way to add fat to the dough. This will in turn will make the dough creamier, and lead to moist and fluffy chocolate chip cookies. And remember that while yolks contain the saturated fat of the egg, that doesn't necessarily mean egg yolks are totally bad for you

You can add one extra yolk or up to an equal number of yolks as you have regular full eggs in the recipe. Like cornstarch and cream cheese, extra egg yolks are another household ingredient you can incorporate to make your cookies lighter without sacrificing any richness or flavor. 

Agave syrup

If you want to make your chocolate chip cookies super chewy, there is one secret ingredient that will make all the difference. By substituting a small amount of your sugar content for agave syrup, you can make crave-able, chewy cookies that are unlike anything you've ever made before. The best part is that the cookies you make with agave syrup won't just be soft and chewy right out of the oven. No, the addition of this crucial sugar substitute ensures that your chocolate chip cookies will stay tender and delicious for days after you've baked them. 

Agave syrup helps your cookies retain moisture once they've baked. However, this means that you will need to add about a tablespoon or two of extra flour to make up for the stickiness of the added agave. In order to properly incorporate this ingredient, you must replace the proper amount of the sugar in the recipe you are using. Keep about 75-80% of the sugar your recipe calls for and replace the rest with the agave. 

Espresso powder

Espresso and chocolate are good friends that truly just bring out the best in each other. These ingredients are so agreeable that adding espresso powder to a chocolate chip cookie recipe is an absolute no-brainer. The espresso in the dough will bring out all the notes of the chocolate that would have previously gone untasted. 

By adding a few tablespoons worth of espresso powder to your dry ingredients, you will enhance your cookie dough with an even stronger cocoa flavor. These will likely turn out slightly darker and more bitter than your usual batch of chocolate chip treats. But combining this with other ingredients on this list such as brown butter and flaky sea salt will bring out the rich, buttery flavor of the cookie to contrast the dark cocoa flavor. These Broma Bakery cookies combine all three ingredients to make for some tasty homemade cookies that will rival what you can find at your neighborhood bakery. 


You could argue that adding an ingredient as game-changing as oats turns this into an entirely new cookie altogether. But regardless of whether you consider the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie to be a variant or its own separate thing, its an essential re-interpretation of a classic baked good. 

Adding old-fashioned oats (we recommend this over using quick oats or oatmeal packets) will add a completely unique chewy texture to your cookies. These cookies might not be as soft and gooey, but they will be hearty and filling. And given all the benefits that oats can provide for your body (via Healthline), this may be one of the healthier additions you can make to your cookies. Just incorporate the old-fashioned oats into the dry ingredients before mixing the dry and wet mixtures together, and you will have the makings of what might as well be an entirely new cookie on your hands. The best part? All you had to do was add one simple and inexpensive ingredient. 

Almond flour

If you want to try a wheat flour alternative in the chocolate chip cookies you are used to making, you can try substituting out the flour you normally use for almond flour. This will change a lot of things about the cookies, but first and foremost, they will be gluten-free (via WebMD) – meaning they will be friendly to people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance — and they will also have a lower carbohydrate content. 

Using almond flour as the base of your cookies imparts a subtle yet enticing nutty flavor that is absent if you use all purpose or even bread flour. This recipe for almond flour chocolate chip cookies is a great jumping off point and tutorial on how almond flour changes the bake. Using this recipe, these cookies are going to turn out soft on the outside and chewy in the middle. However they won't rise or expand much, so you will need to shape them before they go into the oven. 

Bread flour

If you want to make the ultimate thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies, you want to be using this secret ingredient. Now, typically, chocolate chip cookie dough recipes are not overly complicated — so they usually don't call for many ingredients most home cooks wouldn't already have in their pantry. This is why you will usually see all purpose flour on the ingredients list, and for the most part that will work perfectly fine. But bread flour is a complete game-changer that, if used in your chocolate chip cookie recipe, will give your cookies a chewy texture so outstanding that you won't ever want to go back to using all purpose flour again. While it is generally used for making breads and other yeasted loaves, this alternate flour is perfect for chewy chocolate chip cookies. 

You can use a portion of regular flour and a portion of bread flour if you would like. Some recipes, like Alton Brown's famous chewy chocolate chip cookie, encourage you to use only bread flour. Ultimately it depends on which expert you want to listen to, and how chewy and decadent you want your cookies to turn out.