Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

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Chocolate crinkle cookies have a soft brownie texture and a flavor enhanced by two sources of chocolate; unsweetened cocoa powder and chopped bar pieces. Each delectable cookie is rolled in powdered sugar for a beautiful crackly surface once baked.

Chocolate crinkle cookies on a plate

When the holiday baking season hits, chocolate crinkle cookies are on the top of my must-bake list. If you’re a fan of cakey brownies, these cookies are like mini handheld versions. The dough has a thick and sticky consistency like a rich fudgy cake and they bake up with a similar texture.

If you’re looking for an easy cookie exchange recipe that will impress your family and coworkers, these crinkles are the perfect solution. The contrast of snow-white sugar with brown cracks and crevices looks like a piece of art. The overall texture is fudgier and doesn’t disappoint in the flavor department.

red spatula mixing melted chocolate in a glass bowl

Let’s talk about chocolate

The best way to have the most chocolate flavor impact is to add cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate to the cookie dough. Cocoa powder is the dried leftover solids from cacao beans that have been fermented, roasted, and processed. I also use 100% cacao unsweetened baking chocolate bars, not chips. It’s got a clean, rich, chocolate flavor without the sugar or emulsifiers. It melts smoothly with the butter, to create a silky, fudgy cookie base.

photo showing the steps of coating the cookie dough in sugar

Ingredient functions

A cakey texture is all about making a base that’s light, airy and moist. Eggs are efficient at holding air when whipped and keeps the dough light while binding everything together. It prevents the cookie from crumbling into pieces. Brown sugar is a humectant that loves to bond to water molecules, so not only does it add a slight molasses flavor but it also keeps the cookies soft.

All-purpose flour is selected because it has a moderate amount of protein for gluten formation. A generous amount of cocoa powder adds volume to the cookie without the added protein for balance. The acidity in the naturally processed cocoa powder also reacts with the baking soda to create carbon dioxide for internal lift, not to mention some baking powder for the extra puff.

crinkle cookie dough balls on a sheet pan-lined with parchment paper

Brownie batter-like consistency

Making the cookie dough for crinkle cookies is very similar to making a brownie mix. The batter has a similar consistency as the chocolate ganache filling for truffles. Allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes so the melted chocolate can cool down and become a little more solid for scooping. It will feel sticky like a thick brownie batter, but don’t worry, once you place it in granulated sugar, it will be easier to roll into a ball.

Important steps to remember

  • Allow the batter to cool at room temperature and firm up. This makes it easier to scoop and creates just the right sized cracks. Don’t refrigerate the dough before baking, it reduces spread and causes too wide of cracks.
  • Chemical leavening agents are used; baking soda and baking powder. Once the dough heats up in the oven, carbon dioxide bubbles form and quickly break through the surface. The result is numerous thin cracks and a textured white surface.
  • Do a double roll of the cookie dough, first in granulated sugar, then in powdered sugar for the most attractive crinkle appearance.

top down view of baked crinkle cookies on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper

More cookie recipes

Granulated sugar causes the crinkles

Rolling the cookie dough balls first in granulated sugar helps to dry the surface quicker during baking. While the surface hardens, the interior is still spreading and setting. Gradually the force pulls apart the surface and causes more cracks than just powdered sugar alone.

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Chocolate crinkle cookies with a soft brownie texture that are rolled in powdered sugar for a beautiful crackly surface once baked.
Pin Print Review
4.66 from 20 votes
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings 22 cookies
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar, confectioner's sugar

Instructions 

  • Set the rack to the middle position. Preheat to 325ºF (163ºC).
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Whisk brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a large bowl. 
  • Microwave chopped unsweetened chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second increments, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted, heating for about 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
  • Whisk the melted chocolate into the egg mixture until combined.
  • Fold flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until no dry streaks remain.
  • Let the dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. The dough will be thich like fudge and feel sticky. It solidifies more as it cools but does roll nicely into balls.
  • Spread the granulated sugar into a shallow dish.
  • Spread the powdered sugar into a separate shallow dish.
  • Scoop 2 tablespoons (1 ounce, 32 grams, #30 scoop) sized rounded dough balls and drop one at a time into the granulated sugar, roll to coat and then form into a ball.  
  • Transfer to the powdered sugar bowl and roll to generously coat. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Evenly space the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, 11 cookies per sheet pan. 
  • Bake one sheet at a time until puffed up and cracked and the edges set but the centers still look soft and raw between the cracks, 12 minutes. Make sure to rotate the pan halfway through baking.
  • Cool cookies on the sheet pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before serving. 

Equipment

Notes

  • Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour. I recommend Bob's Redmill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour. 
  • Storage: Airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Recipe Adapted From America's Test Kitchen, The Perfect Cookie.

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Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Amount Per Serving
Calories 164 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 3g15%
Cholesterol 30mg10%
Sodium 81mg3%
Potassium 126mg4%
Carbohydrates 29g10%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 21g23%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 100IU2%
Calcium 33mg3%
Iron 1.7mg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

16 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Riley Cronk says

    Hi Jessica,

    As requested here is how I altered the recipe to be gluten free, dairy free, and egg free for those of us suffering from annoying allergies!

    1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    A pinch of salt
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    6 tbsp of vegan butter (softened)
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (egg replacer)
    1 cup of dairy free chocolate chips
    3 tbsp cocoa poweder
    Powder sugar to roll in

    I added a little more flour and melted chocolate chips and decreased the cocoa powder.

    I modified between The Pretty Bees recipe and yours to try and get the best crinkle cookie!

  2. Daranee Elkins says

    Last minute recipe add to my annual Christmas baking last year for the Doctors & nurses. It’s absolutely a sinfully, delicious delight. Funny thing a nurse came to me to rave about these crinkles.

    I knew exactly what cookie she was talking about.. there was powdered sugar all over her shirt 🤣

  3. Judy Caywood says

    Delicious. I made these last year and several other of your recipes for our church Christmas program. This year with so many events cancelled I made one batch for us here at my sisters home in Idaho. These cookies are always a hit. I never go wrong with one of your recipes and I always read the entire recipe and food scientist notes you put on each one Jessica. Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family. Judy

  4. Shannon says

    Hi Jessica! I’ll be trying this out later and while I have cocoa powder at hand, I only have chocolate compound and regular dark chocolate. Will either work in place of the unsweetened chocolate?

    As for the cocoa powder, would Dutch-processed work well with this recipe?

    Thank you! 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      They will taste sweeter, but the texture shouldn’t be too different. I think you could use either one, I would select whichever is higher percentage cacao. Yes, dutch processed will give the least bitter taste from cocoa powder.

      • Shannon says

        Hi Jessica! I wanted to report that I used regular dark chocolate (Meiji Black) but sadly the batter was very wet and not fudge-like. In the end, I had to refrigerate it for awhile (and because I’m impatient), and when I tried to “shape” it, naturally it did not hold shape. I ended with crinkle pizzas. Any idea what may have gone wrong? All my ingredients were at room temp.

        But I do love this recipe! In spite the failure, it was my family’s favorite flavor so I’ll be trying again.

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Do you know what cacao level the chocolate was? I’m wondering if next time you could increase the cocoa powder to help firm up the dough and get a more intense chocolate flavor.

          • Shannon says

            Hi Jessica! About 60% I think. If I were to increase cocoa powder, how many cups should I put? Should I lessen the amount of cacao chocolate as well?

          • Jessica Gavin says

            I would try to increase the cocoa powder by 2 tablespoons (so 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons). The batter should thicken more as the melted chocolate cools. I will always be more soft and sticky but should be spoonable. I was also thinking, how did you measure the flour? I use a dip and sweep method, which is a little denser than spooning the flour into the cup. Perhaps you might need a little more flour.

  5. Shannon says

    Thanks Jessica! For measuring the flour, I used the spoon and level method. Perhaps I’ll weigh it out instead.

    I also did just buy 100% unsweetened cacao so will let you know how it turns out. Thank you!

    • Shannon says

      Hi Jessica! I am extremely happy to report that by following your recipe exactly with the tips you gave me and using the right ingredients, my chocolate crinkles were a success! I have long wanted to find a recipe that didn’t require refrigerating so I’m definitely keeping this for the books. 🙂

      Thank you so much for your additional advice as well. I might try using the 60% cacao again with additional flour & cocoa powder too just to experiment.

      No question about giving this a 5 out 5 star rating! Will check out your other recipes as well. Thanks!

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