These large bakery-style brown butter chocolate chip cookies are sure to put a big smile on your face. Each bite contains a rich toffee flavor, gooey chocolate chips, and crunchy pecans.
If you like chocolate chip cookies with a crisp exterior, chewy center, and toffee-like flavors, then you’re in for a real treat! The trick to this recipe is to transform regular butter into the divine liquified browned butter. After a few extra minutes of heating on the stove, the milk solids develop incredible butterscotch flavors that bake into each bite.
I’ve adapted my chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe to add crunchy pecans and a toffee-like flavor from the brown butter. It’s reminiscent of the classic store-bought Nestle Toll House version that you slice from the tube and pop into the oven, but way better!
Mix the dry ingredients
All-purpose flour is used to add structure to the cookies. It contains 10 to 13% protein, giving just the right amount of chew but not tough. A small amount of baking soda encourages spread for crisp edges and a deep golden brown hue. Whisk them together to disperse the fine granules evenly.
Making browned butter
Milk solids in butter begin to turn a golden brown over high heat. The process creates brown bits with the most amazing nutty aromas and flavors. Compared to just using regular softened butter in the batter, brown butter further enhances the taste of the cookies. It reminds me of fresh peanut brittle. Smells so good!
Adding a little bit of cold butter to the hot browned butter helps to cool it down and slows the browning process quickly. This is the crucial step in the recipe, so don’t skip it. However, keep an eye out, and remove it from the heat when ready. You don’t want charred bits!
How do these cookies get so crisp and chewy?
Why are these the best brown butter chocolate chip cookies? It comes down to the combination of ingredients. White granulated sugar adds crispiness, while dark brown sugar adds chew.
Brown sugar tends to stay moist and likes to hold onto water which helps to add softness to the middle of the cookie. Melted butter also adds some chew because the fat crystals change shape and add to the dense texture.
Dissolve the sugar in the butter
The warm browned butter is mixed with the granulated sugar and brown sugar. This dissolves the granules, making it easier to break down into simple sugars in the oven. The sugars will caramelize in a shorter time when baking at lower temperatures. It creates crispy edges with soft centers if done correctly. The texture on the surface also becomes more crackly for contrast.
Mix longer for better texture and flavor
There are multiple whisking and waiting steps when incorporating the butter, sugar, and eggs. The process is essential because it allows the sugars to dissolve slowly into the liquid from the eggs and butter. This process repeats a total of four times. This helps the sugars fully dissolve and emulsify the butter with the eggs. The mixture should look shiny and thick.
Make the cookie dough
Add the flour mixture to creamed butter mixture. Mix enough to hydrate the flour and encourage gluten formation for a chewy texture, but don’t overmix! Stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips and chopped pecans.
Alternatively, use your favorite types of chocolate chips or chunks like dark, milk, white, or even butterscotch chips. Chopped walnuts, almonds, or peanuts as a delicious substitute.
Chill the dough
The dough is briefly chilled in this recipe to help shape the cookie and allow the flavors to disperse. Refrigerate or freeze the dough until it feels firm, between 65 to 70ºF (18 to 21ºC). This chill time will be about 15 to 30 minutes. The dough should not feel overly sticky, signaling the flour is adequately hydrated.
The trick to a prettier appearance
Most of the time, we tend to roll the dough into a ball, set it on a baking sheet, and place it in the oven. The problem is that the chocolate chips sink into the middle of the dough and won’t break the surface once baked.
Here’s an easy technique I learned in culinary school to get a more natural surface with lots of exposed chips. As you roll each dough ball, break it apart in half, and recombine the smoother pieces together. You’ll get more exposed chocolate chips on the cookie.
Place the shaped cookie dough on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, eight on the pan. At 375 degrees, it takes about 10 to 12 minutes to bake the cookies. They are done when the centers are puffy and slightly underdone and the edges are set. Don’t let them sit on the baking sheet for longer than 5 minutes.
The addition of the browned butter and dissolved sugars brown the cookies faster. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely or to room temperature. However, it’s hard for my family not to eat them while they are still warm!
- Sprinkle sea salt on top before baking
- Add chopped walnuts, peanuts, or almonds
- Add chocolate chunks, dark chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips
More holiday cookies
Frequently asked questions
Making brown butter, or beurre noisette, is a method that toasts the milk solids in butter. This creates sweet aromatic compounds and develops a butterscotch flavor. This ingredient adds a toffee-like flavor and deeper golden brown color to cookies.
The butter was not adequately incorporated into the eggs. If the butter fat is not emulsified with the eggs, it can cause the fat to rise to the surface and bottom of the cookie. My method thoroughly mixes the two. Also, ensure you are weighing out the right amount of flour to help absorb the fat.
Brown butter can be easily substituted for any cookie recipe that calls for melted butter. If the recipe requires softened butter, brown the butter, then chill until solidified. This gives the cookie structure, a deeper golden color and a toffee flavor.
Browning butter happens very quickly!
The method of browning butter is called beurre noisette (aka hazelnut butter), and it happens in less than 5 minutes. You can quickly smell this aroma as the milk solids heat up in the pan. Watch closely for the change in appearance from a bright yellow to an amber color. The butter can quickly burn off if not closely monitored.
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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ¾ cup pecans, roughly chopped
- Mix the Dry Ingredients – Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl, and set aside.
- Brown the Butter – Cut the butter into 14 even-sized pieces. In a medium skillet, melt 10 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until golden brown and a nutty aroma forms, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into warm butter until completely melted.
- Mix the Butter and Sugars – In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the browned butter to the mixing bowl. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla. Whisk on medium speed (setting 5) until combined, 30 seconds.
- Whisk and Rest – Add the whole egg and yolk to the mixing bowl. Whisk on medium-high speed (setting 8) until smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes.Repeat the whisking and resting process 3 more times: 30 seconds mixing at medium-high speed and 3 minutes of rest. After four total times, the mixture should be thick, smooth, and shiny.
- Add the Flour, Chocolate, and Nuts – Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in 1 ¼ cups chocolate chips and pecans, and ensure no flour pockets remain.
- Chill the Dough – Transfer the mixing bowl to the refrigerator or freezer. Chill until the dough firms up, around 65 to 70ºF (18 to 21ºC), about 15 to 30 minutes. The dough should not feel overly sticky.
- Preheat the Oven – Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat to 375°F (191ºC).
- Roll Out Dough Balls – Divide the dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (about 60 grams, 2 ounces), and roll into a ball. If the dough starts to warm and get sticky, place it on a sheet tray and refrigerate for 15 minutes.For a rustic appearance, tear the dough balls in half, then press the two halves together again with the lumpy torn sides facing upward to expose the chips. Shape the sides of the dough back into a circle. If desired, use the remaining ¼ cup of chocolate chips and press some on top.Arrange dough balls at least 2" apart on lined baking sheets, 8 portions per tray. Smaller baking sheets can be used but will require baking in 3 batches. The dough should be room temperature or just below for even cooking, around 65 to 70ºF (18 to 21ºC).
- Bake the Cookies – Bake one tray at a time in the center position. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet. Continue to bake until the cookie edges are golden brown and the centers look slightly underdone, about 5 to 7 minutes. The color will continue to darken during cooling.
- Let Them Cool – Leave the cookies on the baking sheet to cool for 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack. Make sure the oven returns to 375°F (191ºC) before baking the remaining tray.
- Salt Substitution: Use ¾ teaspoon table salt for kosher salt.
- Make Ahead: Refrigerate dough balls for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 2 months.
- Storing: Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: Store in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container for up to 1 month.
- Recipe Adapted From: Cook’s Illustrated
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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