Chewy but tender in the center. Crispy and lightly browned on the edges. Packed with chocolate chips and a slight hint of vanilla flavor. These are all simple properties but yet somehow so difficult to find in a vegan chocolate chip cookie! While I’ve shared some iterations on this theme in the past, like my coconut butter cookies, a standard version eluded me for a while. Thankfully though, I’ve learned a lot over the years and I finally have a no-frills, classic, easy vegan chocolate chip cookies recipe that I’m happy with.
So here it is: my exhaustive guide to vegan chocolate chip cookies and a defense of why my recipe is (at least according to my preferences and my taste tasters) the best ever 🙂 if you don’t want to read my vegan cookie novella, feel free to click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button above and get straight to it!
File these cookies under #VeganButNotHealthy. This is a decadent treat that happens to be made from plant foods, so don’t expect to be pleased with the healthy and nutritious macros or anything. Just enjoy a gooey warm vegan chocolate chip cookie straight from the oven, and be happy 🙂
Vegan chocolate chip cookies without the egg
Over the years vegans have come up with various creative ways to substitute for eggs in cookies. Let’s discuss a few…
- Ground flax: When flaxseeds are mixed with water they form a gelatinous substitute that provides some binding power. Flaxseeds have a flavor of their own and a brown flecked appearance. They work pretty well in cookies, although the cookies can get just slightly gummy because the cooking process does not alter the flaxseeds’ texture. No hate from me though, 7/10.
- Applesauce: I’m still scratching my head about how this became a formal egg substitute, since applesauce and eggs share very few properties. Applesauce will make your vegan chocolate chip cookies crumbly and prone to burning.
- Banana: Don’t try me. Do not try me. If you want cakey, banana-flavored eggless cookies with an odd burnt flavor, then go ahead and use banana.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch works surprisingly well as an egg replacer in cookies! It does a good job of tightening the dough, but when combined with coconut oil it can just make cookies very slightly cakey.
- Commercial products like Ener-g: I don’t use these products and I can’t advise on them. I wanted to create an egg-free chocolate chip cookie that everyone can make.
- Aquafaba: Ding ding ding! The holy grail of vegan chocolate chip cookies. Available in cans at every grocery store I’ve been to lately. Buy a can of chickpeas, borrow a few tablespoons of liquid from it, and you’ll have an egg alternative that replaces the proteins from eggs, providing binding and softness without gumminess. Aquafaba is the essential ingredient for making CHEWY chocolate chip cookies that won’t fall apart and are even a little bit bendy.
Coconut oil used wisely
The majority of vegan chocolate chip cookies you’ll see on the internet call for coconut oil. Many of the rest of them without coconut oil, call for vegan butter or margarine. I really wanted to create a margarine-free version because I’m not a big fan of the aftertaste it has and I don’t want you to have to chase down a specific brand.
The fact remains, however, that coconut oil and butter are not interchangeable. Butter contains a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fat, and also has a percentage of water content; whereas coconut oil is nearly completely saturated fat with no water content. Substituting it 1:1 for butter in a cookie recipe will result in a greasy vegan cookie that spreads too thin.
To get around this while still using supermarket ingredients, I experimented extensively with butter substitute based on a blend of coconut oil, regular vegetable oil (or toasted walnut oil if you’re feeling naughty), and a splash of non-dairy milk. I settled on a ratio that makes reliably awesome cookie dough (I use the same technique in my vegan snickerdoodles) by matching the proportions of saturated fat, unsaturated fat, liquid, and protein solids, and adding a small amount of vinegar to mimic butter’s slightly acidic component.
Miscellaneous vegan choc chip cookie notes:
I’ve been working on this cookie dough in various forms for a long time, and I’ve learned a lot:
- Measure by weight. Please heed my words. Measure by weight. Get a kitchen scale and use the weight measurements. My volume measurements are also accurate, but not nearly as precise.
- These aren’t good gluten-free 🙁. I hope to have a GF version for you someday, but substituting gluten-free flour directly for the all-purpose flour did not have a nice result in my testing. I will report back on my results using oat flour, almond flour, and some other options I am exploring.
- Always be chill. Don’t skip on chilling the dough. It’s so important for getting the right texture.
- Cylinders! I discovered something interesting once when I was trying to rescue a batch of cookie dough that I knew was too wet. If you form the dough into vertical cylinders rather than spheres, the rate at which the crust forms compares more favorable with the rate at which the cookie border expands. The result is a chewier cookie that is much less likely to get flat, and displays that pretty marbled pattern on the surface from the top of the cookie dough cylinder sinking into itself. (Whew, I’m not sure if that explanation made as much sense as I wanted it to, but I tried!)
- Vegan chocolate chips: At natural grocers and some regular grocers, brands of vegan chips available include Enjoy Life (the best, in my opinion) and Sunspire. Most of the most well-known name brands contain milk, but oftentimes, store brands are also vegan, e.g. 365 brand at Whole Foods. If you cannot find vegan chocolate chips, go ahead and use a milk-free semisweet chocolate bar (which should be much easier to find) cut into chunks. Yum!
- Vegan sugar: Standard white sugar and brown sugar are usually processed with bone char. Strict vegans will want to choose a brand of cane sugar labeled as being vegan, such as Florida Crystals.
In conclusion… y’all. The following are real comments that I received from a tester of my final trial run of these chocolate chip wonders. “The cookies are sensational, holy s***. Better than any vegan cookies you can get off the shelf. Comparable to an excellent non-vegan chocolate chip cookie.”
You heard it here first: these vegan chocolate chip cookies are better than store bought and only take about 30 minutes to whip up! I hope you give these little gems a try, and if you do, let me know in the comments or by tagging me @yupitsvegan in your photo on Instagram!
Classic Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
No frills, no creative twists, no special ingredients or equipment needed. Just tasty vegan chocolate chip cookies. (Note: recipe requires dough chilling time).
- 50 grams refined coconut oil (1/4 cup) room temperature
- 1 tbsp neutral oil (13g) such as grapeseed, canola, etc.
- 55 grams cane sugar (1/4 cup)
- 79 grams brown sugar (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
- 39 grams aquafaba (3 tbsp)
- 5 tsp plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk (soy is recommended) room temperature
- 1/8 tsp apple cider vinegar or other vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 169 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup + 2 tbsp, measured by scooping)
- 90 grams dairy-free chocolate chips (1/2 cup), plus more to taste (or chopped dark chocolate)
In a mixing bowl, cream together the coconut oil and vegetable oil along with both types of sugar and the aquafaba. If you don't have an electric mixer you can whip the ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk. Mix until smoothly combined; using a fork this may take several minutes.
Add the non-dairy milk, vinegar, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt, and continue mixing until smoothly combined.
Add the flour and mix just until the flour is smoothly incorporated. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Cover the dough and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, but preferably 4 to 24 hours. (See notes).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat (you may need 2 baking sheets, depending on their size).
One at a time, scoop a heaping tablespoon of the dough, roll it into a ball and then slightly stretch it into a cylinder. (Alternately you can make two smaller balls and squish them on top of each other slightly). Place it on the baking sheet, gently pressing down to keep it from falling over. (See the notes for a picture of what this step looks like!)
(Optional step for chewier cookies) 10 minutes into baking, use a fork to gently press down on the tops of the cookies to flatten them further, and then return them to the oven.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or just until the edges start to turn golden. Let cool for a couple of minutes before removing from the baking sheet and transferring to a cooling rack to cool down completely. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.
WHAT IS AQUAFABA?: Aquafaba is the cooking liquid from beans. For this recipe, white bean or chickpea aquafaba is recommended because of the color. I used liquid measured from a BPA-free can of white beans.
ROOM TEMPERATURE: It's important to have your non-dairy milk, aquafaba and coconut oil at room temperature. If needed, coconut oil can be microwaved for 5 seconds to soften if not a mixable consistency. It shouldn't be melted. Non-dairy milk and aquafaba can be microwaved for 15-20 seconds to bring up to room temperature. Cold liquid will make your coconut oil solidify into pieces.
MEASURE BY WEIGHT: You'll have much more consistent results with these vegan chocolate chip cookies and my other baking recipes if you measure by weight. Get yourself a $10 kitchen scale and become a more awesome chef!
COCONUT OIL: You can use virgin coconut oil, but note your chocolate chip cookies will have a coconut flavor. The vegetable and coconut oil are not interchangeable.
COOKIE SHAPE: My friend Steve kindly took a photo of the shape of cookie dough prior to baking, for those of you who are more visual. You can see the photo here: https://i.imgur.com/QcoNm2c.jpg
DOUGH CHILLING: For the best vegan chocolate chip cookies you MUST chill the dough for at least 2 hours. Baking cold dough is what results in a pleasing chewy texture and crackly surface. Dough that is chilled overnight will result in the most "bakery style" looking crackly cookies with moist interiors. Highly recommended!
Finally, I can confirm that the dough can be premade a day or two in advance and refrigerated and baked successfully, but I haven’t tried it longer than this. I suspect it would also freeze well. Bon appetit!