When I try to pick a favorite dessert, my mind flits between cakes, pies, ice cream, and pastries before invariably landing on chocolate chip cookies. A really good one is hard to beat, hitting all of the right textures (crisp on the outside and soft in the middle) and flavor notes (buttery, brown sugary, chocolatey) in a convenient, hand-held form.
While it once seemed impossible to make great cookies without dairy (butter!) and eggs, expert vegan bakers have made it possible with the smart use of oils, non-dairy milks, and vegan products like chocolate and even sugar.
Vegan chocolate chip cookies are so satisfying that, dare I say it, I prefer them to my non-vegan cookie recipe. They win on both texture and flavor and happen to be quicker and easier to make. There’s no long chill time and no need to cream butter and sugar. You don’t even need a mixer.
Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside with a balance of caramelized sweetness, rich chocolate, and a touch of salt, now that’s what I call a great chocolate chip cookie.
How to Make Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe calls for melted and cooled refined coconut oil, which provides richness. I use refined coconut oil since it doesn’t have a strong coconut flavor and is excellent for baking. If you don’t mind the tropical coconut flavor, you can use virgin or unrefined coconut oil.
The coconut oil is whisked with vegan brown and white sugars, a little non-dairy milk, and vanilla until creamy. This can be done by hand, without an electric mixer.
No eggs are needed—the dough holds together well and baking powder gives it lift. Add the flour then the chopped dark chocolate, which creates tasty specks and gorgeous pools of molten chocolate. A sprinkle of flaky sea salt brings out all the flavors.
There’s no need to chill the dough before scooping it into cookies. In fact, I don’t recommend it, since it solidifies the coconut oil, making the dough too hard to scoop. Instead, scoop the cookies and freeze them for just 10 minutes right before baking. This will keep them from spreading too much as they bake, resulting in soft, chewy centers.
Tips and Tricks
This recipe is straightforward, with just a handful of ingredients and 10 minutes of active prep time. Here are a few tips for the best results:
- I use vegan brown sugar and vegan cane sugar. Not all sugars are 100% vegan because most are processed using bone char. Look for sugar that is labeled as vegan and/or organic. Organic sugar cannot be made using bone char.
- If possible, weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale. It’ll ensure the dough is the right texture. You can also weigh the balls of dough, which helps them bake evenly.
- Chopped chocolate works nicely for this recipe since it provides a little chocolate flavor in every bite along with wonderful pools of molten chocolate. It also helps the dough bind together better than chocolate chips. Plus, it’s easier to find vegan chocolate in bar form. Look for dark chocolate (about 72% cacao) with no added dairy milk.
- Don’t chill the dough before you’ve formed the cookies. It’ll become hard as a rock and difficult to roll into balls.
- If you don’t have freezer space, you can skip the 10-minute chilling before baking the cookies. They will be a little flatter, but still delicious. Keep an eye on them since they will only take about 9 minutes to bake.
- If baking more than one baking sheet at a time, rotate the sheets halfway through.
- Don’t overbake these cookies. They won’t brown as much as butter-based cookies; rather, they’ll lightly brown around the edges and the bottom. Since there are no eggs, it’s better to slightly underbake them (unless you like your cookies on the crunchy side). Check them at the 9-minute mark.
Swaps that Work
If you have a coconut allergy or also eat gluten-free, you can adjust this recipe.
- To make the cookies without the coconut oil, swap it for melted, cooled vegan butter. Note that the composition of vegan butters varies, so your results may vary. Consider waiting to add the non-dairy milk until after the dry ingredients are added. You may need less of it than the recipe calls for to make an easy-to-roll but stiff dough.
- For gluten-free cookies, try a cup-for-cup all-purpose gluten-free flour blend like Bob’s Red Mill. It should have xanthan gum in it. You may need to add more non-dairy milk since gluten-free flours can be on the dry side.
If you’d like to switch up the flavors a bit or add some crunch, try these:
- Chocolate: Swap all or part of the chocolate for vegan semi-sweet, extra-dark, or milk chocolate. A mixture would offer a nice blend of flavors.
- Nuts: Add 1/2 cup of chopped toasted nuts like pecans or walnuts.
- Raspberry: Add up to 1/3 cup of lightly crushed freeze-dried raspberries.
- Potato chip: Add up to 1/2 cup crushed potato chips and omit the salt on top.
- Peppermint: Mix in 1/3 cup crushed peppermint candies and swap half of the vanilla extract with 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract.
How to Store and Freeze the Cookies
The fully cooled cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They’ll keep well for about 4 days. They can be frozen, although the texture won’t be as good after they thaw.
You can freeze the dough for baking later. Shape the cookies and sprinkle them with salt, pressing the salt into the top a bit to adhere. Freeze them for an hour until firm and transfer them into a zip-top freezer bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to a month.
To bake from frozen, let them sit on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet while the oven preheats. They don’t have to fully thaw. Add about a minute to the bake time.
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Not all sugars are vegan. Look for labels that say vegan or organic.
2/3 cup refined coconut oil
6 ounces (170g) vegan dark chocolate bar
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (140g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
1/3 cup (75g) sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk, like almond, oat, or soy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
Prepare the oven and baking sheet:
Set an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Prepare the coconut oil and chocolate:
In a small skillet or saucepan over low heat, add the coconut oil. As soon as the oil fully melts, turn the heat off, remove the skillet from the heat, and let cool a bit while you prepare the other ingredients.
Alternatively, add the coconut oil into a medium heatproof bowl and microwave on 50 percent power in 30-second intervals, just until melted.
Place the chocolate on a cutting board and use a large knife to roughly chop it. The biggest pieces should be about 1/2-inch chunks, but you should mostly have smaller pieces and shards. You can leave it on the cutting board until you’re ready to add it to the dough.
Mix the dry ingredients:
In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together to combine.
Mix the wet ingredients:
In a large bowl, combine the melted and cooled coconut oil, brown sugar, sugar, non-dairy milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk until fully combined and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Make the cookie dough:
Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to mix just until a dough forms and no streaks of flour remain. Don’t overmix the dough. Add the chopped chocolate and mix to combine.
Form the cookies:
Use a #30 cookie scoop or a spoon to divide the dough into 2-tablespoon (43g) portions. Roll each between your palms to form it into a ball.
Place it on a prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Use your hand to gently flatten the dough just slightly and sprinkle the tops with a little flaky sea salt.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, form more cookies and add them to the second baking sheet.
Bake the cookies:
Take the first baking sheet out of the freezer and place it in the oven. Place the second baking sheet in the freezer while the first batch bakes.
Bake until the cookies have doubled in width and are lightly brown around the edges, 9 to 11 minutes. Don’t overbake these cookies. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Move the second batch from the freezer to the oven and bake. Repeat with any remaining cookie dough, if needed.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 10g||13%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||38%|
|Total Carbohydrate 25g||9%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 14g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|