Southern Kitchen's best cookie recipes for National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen
Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Do you like your cookies soft or crisp? Extra-sweet or semi-sweet? Whatever your personal preference, we have the recipe for you.

Make a big batch for your coworkers to celebrate National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day on Aug. 4, or hoard them all to yourself. We won't tell.

Bourbon-bacon chocolate chip cookies

This is about to change your life. Or at least it’s going to change your mind about the best chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever tasted. The saltiness of the bacon combined with the tannins of the chocolate create an umami flavor that’s unforgettable.

It’s important to use a total of 1 cup of fat in this recipe. The amount of fat rendered from the bacon will tell you how much butter you need to use.

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For example, if you have 1/4 cup bacon fat, you’ll use 3/4 cup unsalted butter to equal 1 cup. Generally, 1 pound of bacon renders 1/3 cup fat, in which case you’d add 2/3 cup butter to equal 1 cup total fat. However, all bacon is not the same in terms of thickness, size, fat content or quality.

Reprinted with permission from "The Bourbon Country Cookbook" by David Danielson and Tim Laird, Agate Surrey, 2018.

Makes: 5 dozen.

Hands on time: 30 minutes.

Total time: 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Ingredients

1 pound thick-cut bacon

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2/3 to 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (see note)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla

10 ounces dark chocolate chips

Instructions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the bacon in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Pour the bacon grease from the baking sheet into a glass measuring cup and place it in the refrigerator to solidify, about 30 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a cutting board, cut into small dice, and set it aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder.

Once the bacon fat is solidified, add just enough of the unsalted butter to make 1 cup. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, bacon fat and sugars. Beat on low speed until combined.

Add the eggs, bourbon and vanilla and beat on low speed until thoroughly mixed. With the machine still running on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture until completely combined. Stir in the bacon and chocolate chips.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough, reusing the parchment if desired. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie

Cast-iron baked chocolate chip cookie

Here’s an experiment to try: Yell out “Warm chocolate chip cookie” and see how fast people show up. This recipe yields one chocolate chip cookie, but one that's big enough for a small crowd. It’s made and served in a cast-iron skillet, so hello crunchy crust.

Should you happen to serve this fresh out of the oven, make sure you let guests know the skillet is hot, or at least throw a kitchen towel over the handle. 

Serves: 8.

Hands on time: 10 minutes.

Total time: 40 minutes.

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon coffee extract (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Instructions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Using a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and continue creaming until once again light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and coffee extract, if using, followed by the salt. Beat until combined. 

In a medium bowl, sift the baking soda into the flour, and then gently beat into the dough mixture, taking care not to overwork. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Press the dough into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, flattening the top into an even layer. Bake until the center is just set, about 20 minutes. Let the cookie cool for 10 minutes, then serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Light and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Light, crispy chocolate chip cookies

Crushed cereal and a little more sugar and leavening than usual give these cookies a thin, crisp texture. Yum. We used half butter and half butter-flavored vegetable shortening in this chocolate chip recipe, but feel free to use all butter or margarine.

We used Crisco for the shortening and Wheaties or Rice Krispies for the crushed cereal in this recipe. 

Serves: 60.

Hands on time: 25 minutes.

Total time: 45 minutes.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter-flavored vegetable shortening

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup lightly crushed cereal

1 (12-ounce) bag chocolate chips

Instructions

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the shortening, butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and then beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture. By hand, stir in the crushed cereal and chocolate chips.

For the best-shaped cookies, form dough into walnut-size balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets (or just drop by small spoonfuls).

Bake 9-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes on the pan before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

.

Neiman Marcus $250 Cookies

Recipe reprinted with permission from "American Cookie: The Snaps, Drops, Jumbles, Tea Cakes, Bars & Brownies That We Have Loved for Generations," copyright 2018 by Anne Byrn. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

Before the internet, this cookie recipe made the rounds via chain letters and word of mouth. It was called the Neiman Marcus $250 Cookie, but in spite of the fancy name, it was just an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. A wonderful chocolate chip cookie, by the way – distinctive because it contained not only semisweet but also milk chocolate as well as chopped pecans.

Anne Byrn used old-fashioned oats in this recipe, but you can use quick-cooking oats; just skip the step of pulsing in the food processor.

As for flour, use bleached or unbleached. Unbleached flour will create a cookie with more shape and bite to it.

The original recipe called for Hershey’s milk chocolate, but our tastes today gravitate to less sweet chocolate, so the addition of grated chocolate is your chance to customize this recipe. Use a bittersweet or semisweet for a stronger chocolate punch. Use milk chocolate if you like a sweet creaminess.

Grate the chocolate with a cheese grater or cut the chocolate into shavings with a heavy, sharp knife. For a modern touch, use grated bittersweet chocolate and sprinkle the cookies with a little sea salt before baking. The salt really brings out the flavor of dark chocolate.

Serves: Makes 7 to 8 dozen 2-inch cookies.

Hands on time: 30 minutes.

Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups oatmeal (see note)

2 cups all-purpose flour (see note)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

4 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, grated (see note)

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

Instructions

Place a rack in the top third of the oven, and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Set aside two ungreased baking sheets.

Place the butter and sugars in a large bowl, and with an electric mixer beat on medium speed until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the machine, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the eggs and vanilla. Beat on low speed until combined and smooth, 1 minute.

Place the oatmeal in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until the oatmeal is finely ground, 10 to 15 seconds. Place the oatmeal in a medium bowl and add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine the dry ingredients, and dump the dry ingredients into the bowl with the butter mixture. Beat on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Fold in the chocolate chips, grated chocolate and nuts. Drop the batter by heaping 1-inch tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, on the baking sheets. Bake until the cookies just begin to crisp around the edges but are still a little soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Let rest on the pan for 1 minute, then, using a spatula, transfer to a rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.

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Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

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Reach me: mlunsford@southernkitchen.com