Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are a foolproof, decadently rich and fudgy holiday classic that will steal the show at every cookie exchange and get together!
These Chocolate Crinkle Cookies will be your favorite holiday cookie – they are mine! They are EASY, ridiculously DELICIOUS and a must-make for any chocolate lover. These crinkle cookies boast divinely rich, chocolaty, thick, soft-baked centers with a delightful contrasting crisp, crackled powdered sugar shell. They taste like cakey, fudgy brownies – but better! This Chocolate Crinkle Cookie recipe is make-ahead friendly, freezer friendly and waiting to become a new family favorite!
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HOW TO MAKE chocolate crinkle COOKIES VIDEO
Chocolate crinkle cookie recipe
These Chocolate Crinkle Cookie are at the top of my must-make list all year round AKA we are pretty much obsessed around here. My husband and I had to pace ourselves not to eat the entire batch in just two days. We barely made it to 3.
So, I can pretty much guarantee anyone who is human will fall in love with these crinkle cookies (they make the best gifts!). But as a fair warning, you may want to double or triple the batch because this recipe will not make your chocolate cravings go away. It might just make them worse. As in, I want/I need the whole platter of cookies. And you’ll love every soft, crispy, fudgy, bite.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- They’re great for any occasion! Whether you’re rolling a batch in Christmas cheer for a holiday party, pulling them warm out of the oven for a cookie exchange, lining on a cookie platter for gifting, or baking a batch to enjoy as a family, I promise these cookies are always a hit!
- Easy, foolproof recipe. Even though this recipe is just making its debut on Carlsbad Cravings, it has served me well for years. The cookie batter is very straightforward, and quick and easy to whip up. It combines the perfect proportions and the easiest technique (no melting chocolate, etc.), tips and tricks (like coating them in granulated sugar so the powdered sugar doesn’t melt off) for the best foolproof cookies every time.
- Simple Ingredients. You probably have everything you need to make these crinkle cookies right now!
- Quick to make. Even thought this recipe looks fancy, the cookies are easy to whip up and left to chill ahead of time.
- Soft, fudgy and crisp. If you can imagine what a brownie would taste like in cookie form, this is it. They boast a melt-in-your mouth texture with soft, fudgy centers but with the crunch of cookie on the edges.
- Double the chocolate. This recipe uses a chocolate cookie base and then adds chocolate chips for more pockets of melty, chocolaty goodness.
- Beautiful. The chocolate dough balls are rolled around in granulated sugar followed by powdered sugar. As they bake, the cookies rise and spread, cracking and crinkling the sugar coating, allowing the chocolate to peak through, thus the cute name. The contrast of snow-white sugar with fudgy crinkles and crevices looks like a piece of art. No two cookies are the same.
- Keep Well. These cookies are not only delicious right away but like brownies, taste even better the next day. They are also freezer friendly.
- Cocoa powder: use unsweetened cocoa powder, no need for fancy Dutch processed. Cocoa powder is the best (and easiest!) way to have the greatest chocolate flavor impact. Cocoa powder is the dried leftover solids from cacao beans after the cocoa butter has been extracted, that have been fermented, roasted, and processed.
- Flour: all-purpose flour because it has a moderate amount of protein for gluten formation but I think white whole wheat flour would also work or gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour.
- Sugar: I use a mixture of brown sugar and granulated sugar to add both sweetness and flavor. Brown sugar loves to bond to water molecules, so it helps keep the cookies soft and tender.
- Baking powder: is a leavening agent that promotes tenderness and helps add lift, making the cookies “crack.” Make sure your baking powder is fresh so it works.
- Eggs: you will need two large eggs and two large egg yolks. The eggs help provide the cakey texture because they hold air when whipped which keeps the dough light while also binding the ingredients together.
- Butter: use unsalted butter or reduce the salt in the recipe. The butter plays a critical role in cookie structure and impacts the shape, spread, and texture so I don’t suggest making any substitutions.
- Salt: enhances all of the flavor. Use good old table salt or twice as much kosher salt. If you’re using salted butter as opposed to unsalted butter, reduce the salt.
- Vanilla extract: adds a depth of flavor that is the perfect complement to the chocolate. Use quality extract for the best results.
- Chocolate chips: provide pockets of melted chocolate. I prefer mini chocolate chips for more even distribution and chocolate in every bite, but you can use regular if you like.
- Powdered sugar: is what makes the crinkled appearance as well as add additional needed sweetness. I do not recommend using organic powdered sugar without anti-caking ingredients for these.
This Chocolate Crinkle Cookie recipe is extremely versatile. Here are just a few ideas:
- Swap the chocolate chips: try peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips or white chocolate chips.
- Add nuts: add 1/2-1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts.
- Peppermint chocolate: add ½ teaspoon peppermint extract when you add the vanilla extract and add some crushed candy canes to the powdered sugar coating.
- Black Forest: add one cup of chopped dried cherries or cranberries. They would also be tasty along with white chocolate chips.
- Add a Hershey’s kiss: you can use a plain or a holiday peppermint Hershey’s kiss. Just poke the kisses right into the tops of the cookies immediately after they come out of the oven.
- Make a caramel center: stuff the cookies with half of a soft caramel or a Rollo before baking for a molten caramel center.
- Make a Nutella center: freeze Nutella by the teaspoons on parchment paper until solid. Stuff the Nutella in the center of the cookies before baking.
- Make a peanut butter center: same as above, but with peanut butter! Freeze peanut butter by the teaspoons on parchment paper until solid. Stuff the peanut butter in the center of the cookies before baking.
HOW TO MAKE chocolate crinkle COOKIES
- Mix dry ingredients together. Combine the all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Mixing the dry ingredients separately ensures that everything is evenly dispersed before combining with the wet ingredients.
- Beat wet ingredients together. Cream the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. This will trap air and help the cookies be extra soft. After about two minutes, beat in the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla extract
- Combine all the ingredients. On low speed, slowly mix in the dry ingredients just until combined, followed by the chocolate chips. The dough will be very thick and sticky, so you may need to give the chocolate chips a hand with a spatula.
- Chill the cookie dough. The cookie dough is impossibly sticky so it needs to be chilled first. Chilling will also help create beautifully plump, soft, thicker cookies that won’t spread. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap clinging to the surface of the dough and freeze for 1 hour or chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours up to 3 days before rolling.
- Roll cookie dough into balls. After chilling, use a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop, to roll the cookie dough into balls.
- Coat in powdered sugar. Roll each dough ball in a bowl of granulated sugar, then in between the palms of your hands so it really sticks, then roll the balls in a bowl of powdered sugar, then in between the palms of your hands so the sugar is compact and coats the entire surface of the dough. Why both sugars? See section below.
- Bake. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are set, the tops are slightly cracked and the centers are soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
How to Work with the Sticky Dough
This dough is very sticking, which means extra thick, extra crackly, and extra fudgy cookies! Chilling the dough for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator or in the freezer for 1 hour certainly helps make it more manageable, but if you’re still having trouble, here are some tips:
- Use a cookie scoop so you can work quickly.
- Get the kids involved! Create stations for scooping the dough, rolling the dough and rolling in each sugar.
- Work quickly and efficiently by rolling several cookie dough balls at once and then dredging them in sugar at once so you’re not going back and forth and back and forth.
- Wash your hands in between each batch that goes into the oven.
- Chill the dough in between batches. I find it helps to pop the dough back in the freezer in between batches to so it can firm up a bit because it thaws/softens very quickly.
How to Prevent the Powdered Sugar from Melting
Many recipes only roll Chocolate Crinkle Cookies in powdered sugar, but the moisture from the cookies causes the sugar to melt a bit, so it loses its bright white, opaque appearance and instead becomes slightly transparent giving the coating a yellowish appearance.
Thanks to America’s Test Kitchen, I learned that if you first coat the cookie balls in sugar, and then the powdered sugar, they remain beautifully snow white. The granulated sugar creates a moisture barrier while still allowing the powdered sugar to stick to the cookies.
How long does the powdered sugar coating last?
The iconic crinkled cookie powdered sugar coating should last the duration of the cookies (5 days) if the cookies are kept at room temperature. If the environment of the cookies rises in temperature, then the cookies release moisture, melting some of the powdered sugar. To avoid this:
- don’t skip coating the cookies in granulated sugar first
- store the cookies at room temperature or in the refrigerator
- don’t use organic powdered sugar
- use a “non melting” powdered sugar, also known Snow Sugar, or Sucraneige, instead of standard powdered sugar. Snow sugar is specifically designed to be unaffected by moisture or temperature, so it does not disappear, melt or dissolve. You can find it on Amazon here or by King Arthur here.
TIPS FOR MAKING the best chocolate crinkle COOKIES
This recipe is pretty straightforward, but there are a few tips and tricks for the best Chocolate Crinkle Cookies in town:
- Use a cookie scoop for uniform cookies. Uniform cookies = evenly baked cookies. Plus, this cookie dough is heavy, sticky, and thick, and not dry like some cookie doughs. A cookie scoop makes rolling the batter quick and easy. I have found a 1 ½ tablespoon capacity cookie scoop works best for this recipe. The cookies are on the thicker side, so the smaller cookie scoop helps them bake more evenly.
- Larger cookies. If you want to go larger, then use 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie. They will bake in 12-15 minutes.
- Use a stand mixer. I highly recommend using a stand mixer, or at the very least a hand mixer. This recipe would be difficult to make by hand with a whisk because the dough is just too thick and sticky.
- Use room temperature butter and eggs. Room temperature ingredients: 1) mix more evenly together creating a uniform texture, 2) whip into a greater volume for softer cookies. Cold eggs, on the other hand, can break the emulsion of the sugar and butter, so the dough loses air cells, resulting in drier, denser cookies
- Room temperature eggs hack. Add warm (not hot) tap water to a bowl then add eggs (still in their shells) for at least 20 minutes.
- Don’t pack the flour. It is important that you measure the flour correctly because too much flour will result in denser, drier cookies. The best way to measure flour is with a kitchen scale. If you don’t have one, then fluff your flour with a spoon, and scoop it into the measuring cup and then level as opposed to scooping the measuring cup into the flour which can cause the flour to compress.
- Don’t overbeat the eggs. When adding the eggs, beat just until combined otherwise your cookies will puff up too much in the oven.
- Don’t overmix after combining. Again, mix just until combined after adding the flour. Mixing flour with the eggs and sugar activates the gluten proteins that give baked goods their structure. Over-mixing can lead to cookies that are tough, gummy, or unpleasantly chewy.
- Don’t skip chilling the dough. The dough is super sticky and impossible to work with if it’s not chilled first. Chilling the dough also ensures thicker cookies with less spreading and a fudgier center. If you’re in a hurry, you can pop the dough in the freezer for 45 minutes to 1 hour then let it sit on the counter to soften for 10 minutes if needed.
- Don’t flatten the tops of the cookies. The cookies will spread just fine on their own, and too much if you flatten them.
- Don’t grease the pans. As with virtually all cookie recipes, line your baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick silicone baking mats to prevent the cookies from sticking. Do NOT use cooking spray or the cookies will spread out too much.
- Chill cookie dough in between batches. As you’re waiting to roll out your next batch of cookies, place the dough in the fridge or in the freezer if it’s super soft. This will help the dough be less sticky and easier to work with.
- Don’t skimp on the powdered sugar! Coat the cookies in a generous, thick even layer without any gaps, taking the time to roll them in between the palms of your hands to finish – that’s the only way to get that beautiful contrasting crinkle finish.
- Cook just until the edges are set. The cookies will be break-apart soft and almost pudding-like when they come out of the oven but will firm up to the perfect texture as they cool. Don’t be tempted to cook the cookies longer or they won’t fudgy in the center.
- Feel free to reshape unruly cookies. Even if you roll your dough into perfect balls, you may have a few rogue edges that don’t bake up symmetrical. If this bothers you, you can use the edge of your spatula to push the edges back into a circle when the cookies are still soft fresh out of the oven.
HOW DO I STORE chocolate crinkle COOKIES?
Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days (if they last that long!).
You can make the cookie dough, cover and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow it to soften a little before rolling the dough into cookie balls. You can also store cookie dough balls either plain or rolled in granulated sugar (not rolled in powdered sugar) in a single layer on a parchment paper lined airtight container or covered on a baking sheet lined with silicone baking mats for up to 3 days.
CAN I FREEZE chocolate cirnkle COOKIES?
Yes! These crinkle cookies freeze very well, but the white powdered sugar coating won’t be as crisp or as white once thawed – but they will still taste delicious! For perfectly crisp cookies, freeze them in dough balls:
TO FREEZE COOKIE DOUGH:
- Roll balls per instructions WITHOUT the powdered sugar. Fit as many balls as you can on a parchment/nonstick lined baking sheet without touching.
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze the balls until the outsides are hard (about 1-2 hours).
- Transfer the dough balls to a freezer size plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To bake: Thaw the dough balls on the counter for 30-60 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar followed by powdered sugar per recipe instructions. Bake as directed.
TO FREEZE BAKED COOKIES
- Fit as many baked cookies on a parchment/nonstick mat lined baking sheet without touching.
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until solid (about 1 hour).
- Transfer cookies to a freezer size plastic bag with sheets of parchment in between any layers. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- To EAT: Remove any parchment paper and let the cookies sit at room temperature in a single layer until thawed completely. I like to warm mine in the microwave for a few seconds – yum!
Besides delicious, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are decadently rich and chocolatey cookies with a melt-in-your mouth fudgy softness. They are rolled in powdered sugar before baking which forms “crinkles” as they rise and expand in the oven.
Most cookies are soft and flexible, so the dough evenly expands as the cookies bake. In crinkle cookies, however, the powdered sugar dries out in the oven, creating a hard outer shell that is not flexible. As the cookie expands, it cracks the rigid powdered sugar, producing an attractive crinkly, cracked exterior.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies were invented by Helen Fredell in St. Paul, Minnesota in the early half of the 20th Century. They made their debut in Betty Crocker’s famous cookie cookbook, “Cooky Carnival.” In the cookbook, Crocker recounts being served the cookies by Fredell at her home, and begging her for the recipe. Fast forward to today and these cookies are a beloved holiday staple.
Chilling the dough prevents the cookies from spreading too much while the cookies are baking, creating, thick, soft cookies. If you want even taller cookies, then: 1) chill the dough balls after rolling either in the fridge or freezer then work quickly when rolling in sugar and 2) bake the cookie dough balls on a chilled baking sheet.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies can come out flat if the dough wasn’t chilled long enough before rolling or the rolled dough balls sat at room temperature too long after being popped into the oven. The dough should be chilled at least for 3 hours and the cookies baked as soon as they are rolled.
The dough should be very sticky but will firm up and become easier to work with once it is chilled. It helps to roll one batch of cookies at a time and pop the dough back in the oven to firm up again before rolling the next batch.
I know chilling dough can be a pain because we want our crinkle cookies NOW, but yes, chilling the dough is mandatory for this recipe. The cookie is very sticky when first mixed and impossible to work with so it needs to be chilled for at least three hours. Chilling the dough helps it firm up a bit to become more manageable to roll both into dough balls and in the powdered sugar. The chilled dough also makes for fudgier, softer cookies.
You’ll know the crinkle are done when they look soft on the top, barely set on the edges and start to develop the signature cracks on top. Typically, this takes anywhere from 10-12 minutes depending on their size.
Tools Used in This Recipe
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup mini or regular size semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar for rolling
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (may use a large bowl and hand-held mixer) cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on medium-high speed until fluffy about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, egg yolks and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- On low speed, slowly mix in the dry ingredients just until combined, followed by the chocolate chips (the dough will be very thick and sticky).
- Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap clinging to the surface of the dough and freeze for 45 minutes-1 hour or chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours up to 3 days before rolling.
- Using a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop the cookie dough and roll into balls. Roll each ball in a bowl of granulated sugar, then in between the palms of your hands, then roll in a bowl of powdered sugar, then in between the palms of your hands so the sugar is compact and coats the entire surface of the dough. Place the balls on the baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches in between, 8 balls per half sheet. Chill the dough in between each batch because it softens and becomes unmanageable very quickly.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are set, the tops are slightly cracked and the centers are soft. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Do I have to use granulated sugar? The moisture from the cookies causes the powdered sugar coating to melt a bit, so it loses its bright white, opaque appearance and instead becomes slightly transparent/yellowish. If you first coat the cookie balls in granulated sugar, and then the powdered sugar, they remain beautifully snow white. The granulated sugar creates a moisture barrier while still allowing the powdered sugar to stick to the cookies.
- Powdered sugar that lasts: The iconic crinkled cookie powdered sugar coating should last the duration of the cookies (5 days) if you also use granulates sugar and the cookies are kept at room temperature. If the environment of the cookies rises in temperature, then the cookies release moisture, melting some of the powdered sugar. To avoid this, try using a “non melting” powdered sugar, also known Snow Sugar, or Sucraneige, instead of standard powdered sugar. Snow sugar is specifically designed to be unaffected by moisture or temperature, so it does not disappear, melt or dissolve. You can find it on Amazon here or by King Arthur here.
- Recipe variations: see the post for lots of recipe variations, tips and tricks.
- Storage: store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days (if they last that long!).
- Make ahead: the cookie dough can be made, covered and chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow it to soften a little before rolling the dough into cookie balls. The cookie dough balls, either plain or rolled in granulated sugar (not rolled in powdered sugar), can also be stored in a single layer on a parchment paper lined airtight container or covered on a baking sheet lined with silicone baking mats for up to 3 days.
- How to freeze cookie dough: roll the dough balls per instructions WITHOUT the powdered sugar. Fit as many balls as you can on a parchment/nonstick lined baking sheet without touching. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze the balls until the outsides are hard (about 1-2 hours). Transfer the dough balls to a freezer size plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To bake: Thaw the dough balls on the counter for 30-60 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar followed by powdered sugar per recipe instructions. Bake as directed.
- How to freeze cookies: these crinkle cookies freeze well, but the powdered sugar coating won’t be as crisp or as white once thawed – but they will still taste delicious! To freeze, fit as many baked cookies on a parchment/nonstick mat lined baking sheet without touching then in the freezer and freeze until solid (about 1 hour). Transfer the cookies to a freezer size plastic bag with sheets of parchment in between any layers. Freeze for up to 3 months. To EAT: Remove any parchment paper and let the cookies sit at room temperature in a single layer until thawed completely. I like to warm mine in the microwave for a few seconds – yum!
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