Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

4.90 from 29 votes
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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. Once baked, each delectable cookie is rolled in powdered sugar for a beautiful crackly surface.

Several chocolate crinkle cookies with cracked surface and coated in powdered sugar.

When the holiday baking season hits, this chocolate crinkle cookie recipe is at 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 with a similar texture.

These crinkles are the perfect solution if you’re looking for an easy cookie exchange recipe that will impress your family and friends. 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.

Ingredient functions

Brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla being whisked together in a metal bowl.
Step 3. Prepare wet ingredients

All-purpose flour is selected because it has a moderate amount of protein for gluten formation. It’s combined with a generous amount of cocoa powder and 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.

A cakey texture is about making a light, airy, and moist base. Eggs are efficient at holding air when whipped and keep the dough light while binding everything together. It prevents the cookie from crumbling into pieces. It’s combined with brown sugar and pure vanilla extract to balance the bitterness of the chocolate.

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.

Let’s talk about chocolate

Red spatula mixing melted chocolate in a glass bowl.
Step 4. Melt the 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 sugar or emulsifiers. It melts smoothly with the butter to create a silky, fudgy cookie base.

Brownie batter-like consistency

Thick chocolate cookie dough batter in a bowl being mixed with a spatula.
Step 5. Make the dough

Making the cookie dough for crinkle cookies is similar to making a fudgy chocolate brownie mix. The chocolate mixture is combined with the wet ingredients. Then the flour mixture is folded in. The batter has a similar consistency as a ganache filling for truffles. Allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes so the melted chocolate can cool down and become 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.

Roll and bake

Portion the cookie dough into 2 tablespoon-sized mounds. Roll them in granulated sugar, shaping them into a ball. Coat with powdered sugar, then transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 325ºF (163ºC) until the cookies puff up and look crackly on the surface, about 12 minutes. I let them finish cooking on the sheet pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. It’s hard not to eat them when still warm!

Important baking tips

  • 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 the 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.

Recipe Science

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 confectioners sugar alone.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Chocolate crinkle cookies with a soft brownie texture that are rolled in powdered sugar for a beautiful crackly surface once baked.
4.90 from 29 votes
Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time1 hour
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 dark brown sugar, packed
  • 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

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the rack to the middle position. Preheat to 325ºF (163ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Mix the Dry Ingredients – Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Prepare Wet Ingredients – Whisk brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a large bowl. 
  • Melt the Chocolate – Microwave chopped unsweetened chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second increments. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted, heating for about 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
  • Make the Dough – Whisk the melted chocolate into the wet mixture until combined. Fold in the dry flour mixture until no dry streaks remain.
    Let the dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. The dough will be thick, like fudge, and feel sticky. It solidifies more as it cools but does roll nicely into balls.
  • Roll Out the Cookies – 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 coat generously. Repeat with the remaining dough.
    Evenly space the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, 11 cookies per sheet pan.
  • Bake – Bake one sheet at a time until puffed and the edges set, but the centers still look soft and raw between the cracks, about 12 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.
  • Let Them Cool – Leave the cookies on the sheet pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack. Cool completely before serving.

Notes

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

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 22 cookies
Calories 164kcal (8%)Carbohydrates 29g (10%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 5g (8%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Cholesterol 30mg (10%)Sodium 81mg (3%)Potassium 126mg (4%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 21g (23%)Vitamin A 100IU (2%)Calcium 33mg (3%)Iron 1.7mg (9%)

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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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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Recipe Rating




16 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  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. 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 ?

  5. 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!