Joanna Gaines' Butter Tip For Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are almost always a universal hit when it comes to choosing a dessert. It's nearly impossible not to love them. But while many people can agree on the appeal of the sweet treat, many more are divided when it comes to pretty much everything else about this staple cookie, especially since there are so many different ways to bake them, with each minor difference resulting in a majorly different final result.

Joanna Gaines knows this well. In her "Magnolia Table" cookbook introduction, as published by The Kitchn, the author discusses her trademark chocolate chip cookie recipe, sharing how she has experimented over the years to achieve "something that was chunky, beautiful, and also delicious." It turns out her winning recipe creates cookies that are soft and chewy on the inside, but with a crispy, crunchy outer crust. So what ended up making all the difference?

If you're a crispy cookie lover, listen up: It all comes down to the butter. But, the trick isn't in how soft it is or when to mix it in. "In the end," Gaines writes in the intro, "the one big change I made was to cut back on the butter." Yep, you read that correctly ... less butter!

The trick is using less butter

When baking chocolate chip cookies, it's important to know that each ingredient will have a different effect on the final outcome. When you play around with the ratios of those add-ins, you can start to discover your preferred texture. Gaines' crispy on the outside, soft on the inside chocolate chip cookies, for example, call for one stick of butter (aka, a half-cup) and 2 cups of sugar, which makes for a butter to sugar ratio that's much lower than the typical cookie recipe. For reference, Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies call for 2 whole sticks of butter to 1-½ cups of sugar.

So why does Gaines' recipe work to achieve a cookie that's chunky and soft in the middle but delightfully crispy on the outside? It's twofold: the kind of sugar used, and the ratio of sugar to fat. Gaines uses only brown sugar in her chocolate chip cookies, which keeps them moist, soft, and "chunky" on the inside. Lowering the amount of butter also lowers the fat and removes some of the liquid content in the dough, which results in a crispier and crunchier outside as it bakes.

Because there's so much more sugar than butter — four times the amount — this essentially makes sugar the main ingredient, allowing all of its qualities to shine. The brown sugar is able to not only keep the cookie soft and chewy, but almost caramelize the outside of it, creating a crispy crust that sets these cookies apart.

More ways to crisp up your cookies

If you enjoy baking, you know that it truly is a science, and every ingredient has its role, particularly in the cookie-making process. Joanna Gaines ended up lowering the amount of butter compared to brown sugar to get her crispy cookies, but there are many other ways to achieve a textured outer edge.

The specific types of ingredients you use can make the difference between chewy and crispy. While brown sugar keeps cookies moist, if you use white sugar (or a higher ratio of white to brown sugar), you can ensure a crispier outcome because your cookie will spread more while in the oven. Using corn syrup will have the same effect. But, if you really want to crank up the crispiness, try throwing in your favorite crunchy ingredient like potato chips for an extra-crispy chocolate chip cookie.

Another easy — and fun — trick is the sheet pan drop. It makes sense that the flatter the cookie, the more crispy it will become, since there's less density to bake. The trick is, when your cookies are nearly done baking, take the pan and drop or bang it on the countertop to flatten out the cookies even more; this will increase the surface area and crisp up the treats nicely as they finish warming in the oven.