Learn how to make the best soft and chewy chocolate sugar cookies with this easy recipe! Just mix the dough and bake it right away and you will get perfect soft chocolate sugar cookies with a crackled finish.
There are two types of sugar cookies that you can make: the drop kind (that is dough that is scooped into balls and rolled in sugar before baking) and the cutout kind (that is rolled out into a sheet of cookie dough and cut out with cookie cutters), like these easy cutout sugar cookies.
This drop chocolate sugar cookie recipe makes perfect sugar cookies that are so delicious! If you like the texture and look of these chocolate sugar cookies, you should definitely check out these chewy maple cookies and these molasses cookies. These are quite different than these chocolate crackle cookies, which are more of a brownie cookie and coated in powdered sugar.
Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookie Ingredients
If you want to make chocolate sugar cookies that are soft and chewy, you will need the following ingredients:
- butter, preferably unsalted butter because you will add salt to the dough, but if you have salted, it will work. Just adjust the salt in the recipe accordingly, otherwise your cookies may be too salty
- granulated sugar is needed to coat the scoops of cookie dough to give these cookies a cracked surface and also in the cookie dough
- dark brown sugar adds flavour but also helps make these cookies soft
- large eggs—don't use smaller eggs because your cookie dough may be too dry and your cookies won't spread enough, but don't use extra large eggs because they could cause the cookie dough to puff too much as it bakes, leading to a more cakey cookie
- all-purpose flour is needed to bind all the ingredients together and give the cookies structure, contributing to the chewiness of the cookies as well. If you don't use enough flour, your cookies may spread too much as they bake
- cocoa powder—this recipe was tested specifically with Dutch-processed cocoa powder, contributing the dark chocolate flavour that you need to balance out the sweet flavour of sugar cookies. I like to use Cacao Barry Extra Brute cocoa powder, which is a dark cocoa powder with a rich flavour.
- baking soda is a base (alkaline) and contributes to that signature cracked finish that we expect of the best chocolate sugar cookies. You need baking soda for the cookies to spread properly and to crack. Do not use baking powder. Read up on baking soda vs baking powder if you are unsure
- salt is really important to balance out the sweet molasses flavour. Don't skip it. I like to use Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt, but table salt will work, though the cookies will be saltier and you may want to halve the salt in that case.
Please refer to the recipe card below for the exact ingredients and quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Cocoa powder: You should use dark cocoa powder, like Cacao Barry Extra Brute for this recipe. The cocoa powder should be Dutch-processed, meaning it was treated with a base to raise the pH of the cocoa, leading to a darker colour and a richer flavour.
- Do not use "natural" cocoa powder for this recipe. The pH of natural cocoa powder is lower and this may affect the texture and how the cookies spread in the oven. You may have to do a few tests to see if it works in this recipe.
- Sugar coating—try rolling these in cinnamon sugar to create cinnamon chocolate sugar cookies.
How to Make Drop Chocolate Sugar Cookies
These chocolate sugar cookies are scooped like typical drop cookies. The dough requires little to no chilling (30 minutes or less depending on if your dough is too soft to scoop and roll). You can make the dough and bake it right away! Please note that this is not a chocolate sugar cookie that is rolled out before cutting with cookie cutters.
Here's how to make these:
Step 1: Cream the butter and sugars in a mixer bowl using the paddle attachment (image 1) or using an electric hand mixer until fluffy (image 2) before adding in the egg (image 3).
Step 2: In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, leavening agents and salt) (image 4), then add it to the mixer bowl with the creamed ingredients (image 5). Stir it in to make a thick chocolate sugar cookie dough (image 6).
Step 3: To make perfect sugar cookies with an even size, I highly recommend using a 22 mL (¾ ounce) cookie scoop (also referred to as a disher) to portion out the cookies (image 7). Each scoop of dough should weigh roughly 30 grams. Roll the scoops in a shallow dish of sugar to coat them.
Step 4: Place the coated chocolate sugar cookies on a sheet pan. I can fit eight cookies on one half-sheet pan (image 8). Then, bake them until the surface has cracked and the cookies have spread out nicely (image 9).
Bake your cookies on light-coloured aluminum pans to help the cookies spread out just enough before the edges set and crack. If you use sheet pans with a darker finish, you may have to drop the oven temperature by 25 ºF so that the cookies bake properly without setting too quickly.
Sugar cookies like these should be fairly soft and maybe a little chewy. To achieve that texture you need to weigh your flour (to avoid adding too much or too little) and underbake them (these bake for exactly 12 minutes and not a minute more in my oven!). Once baked and cooled, store them in an airtight container with a marshmallow or two, or a brown sugar keeper that will help them retain moisture.
The sugar coating absorbs some of the moisture on the surface of the cookie and helps dry out the surface: the dry surface of the cookie dough is more prone to cracking.
The dough is made with an excess of baking soda: this chemical leavener not only contributes to rise in baked goods, baking soda also raises the pH of the cookie dough, promoting cookies to spread by weakening gluten.
Also, the dough is room temperature when baked, which means it bakes faster on the surface and edges, and since the surface is set first before the interior, it will crack as the inside of the cookie dough tries to expand and/or rise within that outer baked shell.
Finally, the sugar coating dries out the surface of the cookie dough, causing it to crack as the cookies expand in the oven. This is the same principle behind crinkle cookies, like these lemon ricotta cookies and classic chocolate crinkle cookies.
Make Ahead Cookie Tips
If you are wondering if you can make this cookie dough a day ahead and refrigerate it overnight to bake the next day. You can! Portion out the dough into scoops and refrigerate them on a parchment-lined sheet pan covered in plastic wrap overnight. While the oven is preheating, take the scoops of dough out of the fridge and roll them in granulated sugar. You may need to add a couple of minutes to the baking time if the scoops of cookie dough are still very cold when they go into the oven.
If you'd like to freeze the chocolate sugar cookie dough, portion it out into balls, then freeze them in a single layer before storing them in a freezer bag. When you want to bake them, I like to defrost the scoops overnight in the refrigerator (or in a pinch, do so at room temperature for 20–30 minutes while the oven preheats), then roll them in sugar before baking.
If you notice your cookies aren't spreading enough, it's likely the dough is too cold and combined with the hot oven, the edges set before they have a chance to spread. To fix this, try dropping the oven temperature to 325 °F (165 °C) when baking cookie dough from frozen, and add a few more minutes to the bake time to promote a little more spreading.
Other Crinkle Cookie Recipes
Crinkle and crackle cookies are completely irresistible! Here's a rundown of other cookie recipes that crack when they bake!
If you tried this recipe for chocolate sugar cookies (or any other recipe on my website), please leave a ⭐ star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
- 218 grams bleached all-purpose flour
- 47 grams Cacao Barry extra brute cocoa powder
- 7.5 mL baking soda
- 2.5 mL Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 173 grams unsalted butter room temperature
- 150 grams dark brown sugar
- 100 grams granulated sugar plus 50 grams (¼ cup) more for rolling
- 1 large egg(s) room temperature
- 5 mL pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line large baking sheets with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the remaining butter the brown sugar, and the 100 grams (½ cup) of granulated sugar until it is light and fluffy (takes at least 3 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.
- Add the egg and vanilla, and beat them in until the mixture is smooth and light.
- Add the flour mixture slowly, on low speed and mix until the dough is combined.
- Put the remaining 50 grams of sugar in a shallow bowl.
- Roll scoops of cookie dough into balls and then coat them in sugar. Place each sugar-coated scoop of dough on a cookie sheet, spacing them out every 1.5 inches. You should be able to fit 8 per sheet pan.
- Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or so, until they have puffed and cracked and are just beginning to set in the middle. Let cool for 5 minutes to firm up before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
- Use Dutch-processed cocoa powder, which has a darker colour and richer flavour. Natural cocoa powder is more acidic and may affect the texture and appearance of these cookies.
- If your chocolate cookie dough is too soft, you may chill it briefly for about 30 minutes. I have never needed to, but you may have to especially if your kitchen is warm.
- Use a ¾ ounce scoop to evenly portion out perfect scoops of dough. You can smooth them out by rolling them briefly between your palms.
- Do not overbake these cookies because they will dry out.
- These cookies are best eaten within 2–3 days because they may dry out and become more crispy.