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How We Made the Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Our recipe is as good as the real thing. Honestly.
By Published Apr. 13, 2017

When it came to developing a vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe for our latest publication, Vegan for Everybody, we weren’t willing to settle for anything less than perfection. The recipe had to produce a cookie that would be moist and chewy on the inside and crisp at the edges, with deep notes of toffee—which those of us who have eaten vegan chocolate chip cookies know is a tall order.

I caught up with Anne Wolf, the test cook responsible for delivering on those high expectations, to talk about the choices she made (for example, using almond butter to mimic the richness of real butter in traditional chocolate chip cookie recipes) en route to arriving at a recipe that’s as good as the real thing. That conversation is below.

What led to the almond butter discovery?

One of our research recipes used ground almonds in its dough. Out of the 11 research recipes we tasted, it was the only recipe that came close to recreating that nutty, toffee-like "baked good" flavor that butter contributes to cookies. During our testing, we kept coming around to the fact that we were missing that toasty, buttery richness that we expect from a hot, gooey chocolate chip cookie, and I remembered we had a trick up our sleeve: almonds! Since almond butter is such an easy product to find and could simply be stirred into the dough, I went with that over grinding almonds into a flour for our cookie.

The recipe mentions there was no need in the end to substitute for the eggs that you took out. Did you try different egg substitutes along the way? If so, which ones, and what were the results?

We tried every egg substitute we could think of. We actually expected ground flax seed to be crucial here, since it's great at binding and creating a chewy, moist quality. But with the almond butter and brown sugar contributing richness and moisture, we were able to get that same quality without the fuss of supplements or substitutes.

About how many different versions of this recipe did you make until you arrived at the final product?

I tested 36 different iterations of this cookie.

I've had people tell me they prefer this cookie to their nonvegan recipes. Even talking about them now makes me crave them.

How many batches did you make?

In total, I made 79 batches.

What was the most challenging part of this development?

Honestly? Not making myself ill from eating too much cookie dough. Also, getting a chewy cookie with a crisp outer edge and soft center. Letting the cookie rest gives the proteins and starches in the flour a jump start at breaking down; meanwhile, the sugar dissolves, hydrates, and later retains this moisture during baking, preventing the cookie from becoming brittle.

What was your most insightful discovery?

The combination of almond butter plus oats—in our Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie variation—truly mimics the rich, buttery goodness we look for in a baked good. The nutty, toasty, toffee flavor it gave our cookie blew us away.

Are these vegan chocolate chip cookies truly as good as the real deal?

Yes! I've had people tell me they prefer this cookie to their nonvegan recipes. Even talking about them now makes me crave them. And the best part: there's no raw egg in the dough, so you can chow down on the unbaked stuff while you work!

For more on cooking vegan, read these posts: