These soft chocolate cookies are rich and buttery. Stuffed with dried tart cherries, sweet vanilla baking chips, and mellow toasted pecans, the mix of textures and flavors makes them hard to stop eating.

While this recipe calls for mix-ins, know that you can bake these without any mix-ins at all for some of the best chocolate cookies you’ll ever eat. Thick, soft cookies with just a touch of crispiness around the edges when freshly baked. If this sounds like Your Kind of Cookie, you’re in for a treat!

Read on for the how-tos and some ways to vary the recipe to suit your taste.

If it’s chocolate cookie recipes that really make your heart go pitter-patter, you will probably also enjoy my chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies.

For ease of browsing, you can find all my cookie and bar recipes in one place. Thank you so much for being here.

Soft chocolate cookies on a black cooling rack on a wooden table with out-of-focus Christmas lights in the background.

Why You Need to Make These Chocolate Cookies

What’s to love:

  • Deep chocolate flavor underscored with espresso powder
  • They will start out a little crisp but will soften into lovely soft chocolate cookies after a few hours. And even though they’re soft, they don’t crumble and make a huge mess
  • Makes 4 dozen with mix-ins and around 2 1/2-3 dozen if baking plain
  • Easy to make with a stand mixer or a hand mixer

Anything that might trip me up?

Using a scale will give you the best results that are most like the ones I got. If you are scooping/sweeping or packing your cups with flour, your results could differ a lot from the written recipe.

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What Makes These Chocolate Cookies Thick and Soft?

Using all brown sugar makes for a softer cookie. Brown sugar has molasses in it, which makes the cookies moister to begin with. Combine that with sugar’s hygroscopic properties (it draws water to it from the atmosphere), and that alone can help you have soft cookies.

Baking powder adds a little lift and puff, allowing the cookies to bake up a bit more on the cakey rather than crunchy side.

Eggs provide structure, allowing for a thicker cookie, and the yolks promote tenderness since they are mostly made up of fat and emulsifiers.

Last, baking at 350, which is moderate for cakes but maybe a little on the high side for small cookies, allows the cookies to set up more quickly before they can spread and thin out too much. This results in a thicker, softer cookie.

The Case For, and Against, Mix-ins

Here are the chocolate cookies, plain, sans mix-ins.

You’ll get no complaint from me.

Either way works!

An overhead shot of soft chocolate cookies without mixins cooling on a black wire cooling rack.

Pro Mix-Ins:

  • You can vary the flavor and add textural interest
  • Cookies will spread less and be thicker since many mix-ins are denser than the dough and heat more slowly
  • When it comes to mix-ins, the sky is the limit

Con Mix-Ins:

  • If you are looking for unrelieved chocolatey goodness, sometimes a simple chocolate cookie is the way to go
  • The cookies will spread more without mix-ins.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I started my experimenting with this recipe from Sweetest Menu.

Testing has to start somewhere, and I like to start with a solid, proven recipe and then tweak it until I get the results I want.

How To Make

These are straightforward cookies that are made with the creaming method.

In this section, I’ll go over all the ingredients as well as substitutions where applicable. You’ll also get a step-by-step rundown of making the dough as well as my recommendations for equipment and ways to vary the flavor of these cookies to suit your taste.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here’s what you’ll need to make soft chocolate cookies:

A collage of ingredients for making soft chocolate cookies with cherries, white chips, and pecans all shot on a white background and labeled.
  • flour: All-purpose works great here. Flour adds bulk and structure to the cookies
  • cocoa powder: I use a “regular” American-style cocoa powder. If you use Dutch process, you can leave out the baking soda
  • baking soda: neutralizes the acidic ingredients (cocoa powder and instant coffee)
  • baking powder: Adds a touch of leavening to give the cookies a bit of puff and keep them soft
  • butter: at cool room temperature. I use unsalted
  • brown sugar: Provides sweetness, a little extra depth from the molasses, as well as softness. Cookies sweetened with brown sugar spread less and absorb more liquid, keeping the cookies soft
  • instant coffee: Just enough to underscore the chocolate flavor. The cookies do not taste at all like coffee. Use instant coffee or espresso powder. Either will work
  • vanilla extract: Rounds out the flavors and provides some nice floral notes
  • salt: Snaps all the flavors into focus. Please don’t leave out the salt. I call for one teaspoon, plus an optional few flakes of sea salt on top. You can forgo the flaky salt, but the chocolate really needs the salt in the recipe
  • eggs: Provide structure, a touch of “lift” or leavening, and extra moisture. The eggs help to keep these cookies softer
  • pecans: I toast pecan halves in the toaster oven and then chop them fairly fine. Leave them out or substitute any other toasted nut: hazelnuts, cashews, or walnuts would be lovely
  • white baking chips: You can also use a white chocolate bar and chop into “chip-sized” pieces. Substitute dark or milk chocolate chips
  • dried tart cherries: I love the pops of sweet-tart dried cherries. Feel free to leave them out or substitute Craisins, raisins, or chopped, dried apricot

Procedure

A brown plate with five brown cookies stacked on top of each other.

These cookies are very straightforward to make.

I divide the ingredients into 4 parts:

  • ingredients to be creamed together first: butter, brown sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla
  • eggs that get beaten in one at a time after creaming
  • dry, which I whisk together first before adding to the bowl: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda
  • then the chopped pecans, white chips, and dried cherries which all get mixed in at the end

Visual How-To

Here are a couple of collage images to show you how to make the dough.

A collage of four images: one with ingredients in a mixing bowl before mixing, one mixed, one showing adding an egg, and the last showing the dry ingredients added to the bowl.
  1. Butter, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and espresso powder go in a bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer.
  2. Cream until smooth and uniform.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to make sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
  4. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder), all at once, and mix until mostly mixed.
A collage of four images of making chocolate cookie dough. The first shows the dough almost completely mixed. The next shows a bowl of chopped pecans, dried tart cherries, and white chips. The third shows dough portioned on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and the last shows the baked cookies cooling on a rack.
  1. The dough is almost mixed–see there is still some loose flour?
  2. Dump in the mixins (if using) all at once and mix until evenly distributed.
  3. Portion the dough in 1 oz (2 Tablespoon) portions. I sprinkled a few flakes of sea salt on top of each one.
  4. The cookies, fresh out of the oven and cooling on a rack. Baking takes between 13-17 minutes, depending on how crisp you’d like the edges to be.

NOTE the cookies do soften after a few hours.

If you like a crunchy/crispy cookie, stay tuned, because I’ll have one of those in a couple of weeks!

Equipment You May Need

You can make these cookies using a stand mixer or a hand mixer. I tested it both ways, and both work well.

I like to bake on half-sheet pans, because they are very versatile. I also use them as roasting pans, for making jelly rolls, for cooking vegetables, etc.

If you don’t weigh your cookies, use a 2-Tablespoon cookie scoop so all your cookies come out a uniform size.

You may also want to check with my post about tools for serious bakers to see if there are any other equipment necessities you can pick up.

Variations

These cookies are very easy to vary. You can add spices to the dough, switch up flavorings, and of course swap out mix-ins as well. Just stick to roughly 3 cups total mix-ins, and you’ll be fine.

  • Minty Chocolate Cookies: Add 3-4 drops of peppermint oil to the dough. Use crushed candy canes and peppermint bark as the mix-ins
  • Cherry Chocolate Cookies: Substitute chopped red and green glace cherries for the mix-ins called for in the recipe
  • Chocolate Cashew Cookies: Add the zest of one orange to the dough and substitute chopped toasted cashews for the mix-ins called for in the recipe
  • Triple Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies: Swap out a mixture of dark, milk, and white chocolate chips for the mix-ins called for

Tips for Success

No need to refrigerate this dough, but it is pretty sticky. A 30-minute rest in the fridge does make it easier to handle.

For more uniform soft cookies, roll the dough into balls between your hands before baking.

Note that the cookies will spread more without mix-ins. With mix-ins, you’ll end up with smaller, thicker cookies. Either way, your cookies will be nice and soft, especially after the first day.

Chocolate Cookies Q & A

How many cookies does this recipe make?

4 dozen if using the mix-ins in the amounts I call for. If you are making plain soft chocolate cookies, you will probably get about 3 dozen cookies.

How should I store these?

Keep at room temperature, tightly sealed, for up to 5 days. Freeze in freezer bags for up to 3 months.

Can I make them gluten-free?

Your best bet is to use a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour. If the mix contains rice flour, allow the dough to sit for a good 30 minutes to reduce the possibility of graininess.

Can I make sandwich cookies with this dough?

Absolutely. I would leave out the mix-ins and make “plain” chocolate cookies. Then you can sandwich them together with marshmallow cream, buttercream, Nutella, jam, or whatever you can think of.

Serving Suggestions

A white plate with poinsettias on it with a stack of cookies and a green mug in the background.

These little guys would be a wonderful addition to a cookie tray.

I always like a mix of colors, shapes, and sizes, so pair them with angel slices, some brown butter chocolate chip cookies, and throw in a few pieces of candy: penuche or peanut butter fudge would be a great choice.

And if you just want to enjoy chocolate cookies by themselves, pair them with a tall glass of milk, maybe some orange hot chocolate, or a homemade adult peppermint mocha latte.

If you’d like to check out the crispy version of this cookie, see my post on crispy cocoa cookies.

Questions

If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

A Note About Measurements

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A white plate with poinsettias on it with a stack of cookies and a green mug in the background.

Chocolate Cookies (With or Without Mixins)

Jennifer Field
These chocolate cookies are deeply chocolatey and fudgy. Crisp around the edges (or all the way through if you bake them long enough) they will please the chocolate lovers in your life. The version I'm sharing has lots of mix-ins: white chocolate chips, dried tart cherries, and toasted pecans. Make them the way I did, or do your own thing. You can even bake them without mixins, but note you will end up with fewer cookies than stated in the recipe.
5 from 1 vote
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Cookies and Bars
Cuisine American
Servings 4 dozen
Calories 136 kcal

Ingredients

  • 238 grams all-purpose flour 8.5 oz or about 2 cups
  • 84 grams cocoa powder (not Dutch process) 3 oz or about 1 cup
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 280 grams unsalted butter, at cool room temperature 10 oz or 2 1/2 sticks
  • 308 grams dark brown sugar 11 oz or 1 1/3 cup packed
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt I use Morton’s
  • 2 large eggs at cool room temperature
  • 112 grams pecans, toasted and chopped 4 oz or about 1 cup, optional
  • 168 grams white chocolate baking chips 6 oz about a 1 cup, optional
  • 140 grams tart dried cherries 5 oz or about 1 cup, optional

Instructions
 

  • Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment. You'll use each one twice. Set your oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat to 350F.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream butter, brown sugar, instant coffee, vanilla, and salt together until nice and creamy.
  • Thoroughly beat in each egg, one at a time, making sure the first is completely incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
  • Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until mostly mixed. There will still be some loose flour in the bowl, but the dough will be coming together. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
  • Dump in your mix-ins–pecans, white chips, and cherries–and mix until evenly distributed and there is no more loose flour. Dough will be sticky
  • Using a 2 Tablespoon cookie scoop, portion out into 12 cookies per pan. Flatten each cookie slightly with a spatula. Sprinkle on a few flakes of finishing salt if you'd like. Refrigerate the remaining dough.
  • Bake for 14-17 minutes, depending on how crispy you'd like the edges, rotating pans 180 degrees and switching racks after about 8 minutes.
  • Allow cookies to cool on the pans for 2 minutes before removing to cooling racks to cool completely.
  • Repeat steps 7-9 with remaining dough.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Notes

Yield

If you decide not to use mix-ins, you will end up with closer to 3 dozen cookies.

Variations

Here are some ideas for variations to get your started:
  • Minty Chocolate Cookies: Add 3-4 drops of peppermint oil to the dough. Use crushed candy canes and peppermint bark as the mix-ins
  • Cherry Chocolate Cookies: Substitute chopped red and green glace cherries for the mix-ins called for in the recipe
  • Chocolate Cashew Cookies: Add the zest of one orange to the dough and substitute chopped toasted cashews for the mix-ins called for in the recipe
  • Triple Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies: Swap out a mixture of dark, milk, and white chocolate chips for the mix-ins called for

Storage

To store, keep tightly covered at room temperature for up to five days.
For longer storage, keep in zip-top freezer bags. Be sure to press out as much air as possible before sealing. The cookies will keep well for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 136kcalCarbohydrates: 16.1gProtein: 1.8gFat: 7.8gSaturated Fat: 4.1gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 112mgFiber: 1.1gSugar: 10.2g
Keyword chocolate cookies, cookies, soft chocolate cookies
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Thanks for spending some time with me today.

I really hope you love these soft chocolate cookies, whether or not you add the mix-ins.

Take care, and have a lovely day.

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