These snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookies are so soft and chewy with a warm cinnamon sugar coating. It's everything you love about snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies in one!
I love eating these snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookies when they're still warm from the oven, but they're actually even better the next day. I can't explain it. They just are!
🍪 Why I love making these cookies
Snickerdoodles are one of the first cookies I ever remember baking on my own growing up. If memory serves, the recipe came from a then-pristine, eventually battered copy of Mrs. Fields Cookie Book that might still reside on a shelf in my parents' kitchen.
I remember nothing of the specifics of the recipe, only that I loved scooping and shaping the soft snickerdoodle dough between my hands. Rolling each dough ball carefully in a mixture of sparkling cinnamon sugar before baking made it feel more like Real Baking™️ than if I just dropped scoops of dough haphazardly onto a cookie sheet.
But as much as I loved making snickerdoodles, my childhood baking projects were mostly about getting to eat chocolate chips by the handful. You know, for "quality control" purposes. And I lamented that snickerdoodles didn't have any chocolate chips in them!
So, two decades later, when the idea for snickerdoodles jam-packed with chocolate chips and coated in a crackle of cinnamon sugar came to mind, I already knew I was going to like how they turned out.
Cinnamon and chocolate are such a good combo! It was an obvious match!
Hilariously, it wasn't until I bit into my first test batch of these snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookies that I realized I had basically taken my spiced chocolate chunk cookies and turned them inside out. Here's what makes the two recipes different:
- Instead of adding the spices directly to the cookie dough, here the spices are mixed with sugar to envelop the outside of each snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookie in a warm hug.
- Where the spiced chocolate chip cookies are thin with crispy edges and chewy centers, these snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookies are thick and chewy throughout.
- Instead of hand chopped chocolate chunks, these snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookies use actual chocolate chips. (More on that below.)
🥣 Ingredient notes
Here's what you'll need to make these snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookies!
- Unsalted butter - You'll need it melted, then cooled. To do this in as little time as possible, microwave in 10-second bursts, but stop when there are still a few solid pieces of butter left. Stir until they melt, then let cool at room temp for 25-30 minutes. When you can see some butter just barely starting to solidify around the edges, and the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch, it's ready.
- All-purpose flour - Nothing fancy here. I use King Arthur Baking's AP flour.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, which has larger, airier crystals than most brands. I've provided the salt measurement by weight so it doesn't matter what brand you're using.
- Baking soda - Baking soda is the primary chemical leavener in these cookies. It is activated by the cream of tartar. You must have both!
- Cream of Tartar - Cream of tartar can be found in the spice aisle at the grocery store. It is acidic and will activate the baking soda when mixed with a liquid. This is also what gives snickerdoodle cookies their classic slightly tangy, sour bite that goes so well with the sugary coating.
- Granulated sugar - Plain white granulated sugar goes in the snickerdoodle dough. You'll also need some to make the cinnamon sugar blend they get rolled in before baking.
- Dark brown sugar - Not a usual ingredient for snickerdoodle cookies, a small amount of dark or light brown sugar brings that classic chocolate chip cookie flavor while still keeping them distinctly snickerdoodle-y.
- Egg yolks - I know, it's annoying to just use egg yolks, but when I tested these with egg whites the batter was just too loose and sticky! (Save the egg whites to make these crispy meringue oven s'mores. You're welcome.)
- Vanilla - Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, whichever you prefer. You could even use the seeds from one whole vanilla pod if you're feeling fancy. I use Heilala vanilla bean paste because I like big vanilla flavor.
- Chocolate Chips - Semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips are perfect here. This is one of few times I'll tell you to use actual chocolate chips instead of hand chopped chocolate, but in this case we want the chips to hold their shape in the cookies as they bake.
- Cinnamon - I've been really liking Burlap & Barrel's Royal Cinnamon, but whatever ground cinnamon you like is fine.
- Cayenne - This is totally optional, but I find adds a very nice, very subtle heat to the outside of the cookies. Feel free to skip if you're sensitive to heat. I barely notice it but my mom (who finds black pepper spicy) definitely noticed it was there.
See recipe card for quantities.
🔪 How to make snickerdoodle cookie dough
Start by melting, then cooling the butter. Do this in the bowl you plan to mix the cookie dough in. Everything else will be added to this bowl, so give yourself plenty of room.
When the bowl is cool to the touch and the butter has just started to solidify around the edges, you're ready to start mixing. You'll want to use a sturdy balloon whisk that is super efficient at incorporating air for this step.
Add both sugars, then whisk vigorously for at least two minutes. Seriously, set a timer. The goal isn't just to combine the butter and sugars, it's to incorporate air and start dissolving the sugars — turning it into a paste. It should be quite pale in color and very smooth.
Then, add the egg yolks one at a time, whisk again after each one for one minute. Add the vanilla along with the second egg yolk. Everything should be very well combined and your batter should look cohesive — not wet.
Then, switch to a spatula and add the flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the flour is almost incorporated.
Add the chocolate chips and continue folding. The flour will finish mixing in as you mix in the chocolate chips. This prevents over-mixing and will keep your snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookies tender!
🥄 Rolling and shaping snickerdoodles
When it comes to making snickerdoodle cookies, how you shape them is just as important as the ingredients.
Use a 2 tablespoon scoop to portion the dough onto a quarter sheet pan. Then roll the dough balls in your hands so they're smooth and round. You really want nice, smooth dough balls here.
Now for the cinnamon sugar coating. This is my favorite part. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon (and cayenne if you're using it). Put it in a wide, shallow bowl so its easy to roll the dough balls.
Each snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookie dough ball will get rolled in cinnamon sugar TWICE before it bakes. Once while they're soft, and once after they chill for an hour in the fridge.
While the dough chills, the cinnamon sugar will start absorbing into the cookie dough. This hour rest in the fridge also allows the flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar to fully hydrate and gives your cookies a better texture.
Once the snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookie dough balls have chilled, roll them in cinnamon sugar again right before you bake them. This gives them that classic, sparkly snickerdoodle exterior.
Hint: Doing the first coating of cinnamon sugar while the chocolate chip snickerdoodle dough balls are still soft helps the cinnamon sugar stick really well. If you wait to do both cinnamon sugar coatings after the dough balls chill, it's harder to get it to stick.
These snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookies bake at 400F for 8-9 minutes. They'll look quite soft, airy, and slightly underdone when you take them out.
Scoot them into circles with a round cutter if you want. Then let them cool for 5 minutes on the pan before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
🧂 If you don't have baking soda and cream of tartar
Snickerdoodles traditionally use cream of tartar (a powder, not a cream) and baking soda to rise in the oven. That rise is what creates those craggy cracks on top.
Baking soda, aka sodium bicarbonate, is activated by the acidic cream of tartar. When you add liquid and heat, the baking soda produces carbon dioxide and leavens your cookies. Without cream of tartar, baking soda won't do anything for your cookies but make them taste like soap. Yuck.
Baking powder is a combination of baking soda, an acid (like cream of tartar), and a starch that keeps them from combining until you add liquid and start mixing. It can be used instead, but it doesn't give quite as dramatic of a rise.
Substitution: If you don't have baking soda AND cream of tartar, you can substitute 2 teaspoons baking powder. Most people probably won't notice a difference. Your cookies just won't have that subtle slightly tangy snickerdoodle flavor.
👩🏻🍳 Recipe notes, tips, and equipment
- I use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop to portion the snickerdoodle cookie dough. Try to scrape each scoop flat on the edge of your bowl as you portion so they're all uniform in size.
- Adjust the baking time if needed. If you chill the dough balls for longer than 2 hours in the fridge, you may need to increase the baking time by a minute or two. I recommend doing one or two tester cookies before you do a big batch to get a feel for how they bake in your oven.
- Chilling the dough lowers the temperature of the cookie dough prior to baking and gives the dry ingredients time to hydrate. This resting period gives the cookies a better chewy texture. The colder temperature slows the rate at which the cookies will spread in the oven. If you bake them immediately after shaping they will be thin and crispy.
- For perfectly round cookies, scoot! Use a 3" round cutter or open mouth of a drinking glass to "scoot" the cookies into round shapes as soon as they come out of the oven while they're still soft.
- My favorite whisk for mixing the butter and sugar together is the GIR ultimate whisk. It's ergonomically designed, super comfortable to hold, and the spacing of the whisk tines makes it super efficient for incorporating air and cutting through lumps of sugar. It makes whisking anything for longer than 30 seconds a breeze.
- Store baked and cooled snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookies in an airtight container for up to a month.
- To freeze: Roll cookies once in cinnamon sugar, then freeze on a sheet pan instead of chilling in the fridge. Transfer frozen dough balls to airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To bake from frozen: Defrost at room temperature 20-30 minutes (just enough to soften the outside), then roll again in cinnamon sugar before baking. Bake 10-12 minutes at 400F.
💭 Recipe FAQ
Use the paddle attachment and cream the butter and sugar together for at least 3 minutes on high speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice throughout.
They need to be chilled at minimum for 20 minutes before baking. The texture is best if you let them rest for at least an hour. If you bake them immediately, the dough is too soft and warm; the cookies will spread out into massive puddles. They won't be thick and chewy, they'll be thin and slightly burnt. Chilling your snickerdoodle chocolate chip cookies gives the dry ingredients time to fully hydrate, gives the cookies a better texture, and brings the temperature down so that they don't bake so quickly in the oven.
A kitchen scale is more accurate than cup measurements and will give you the right ratio of butter, flour, sugar, and chemical leaveners so your snickerdoodle cookie dough behaves the way you want it to. I tested and developed this recipe using weight measurements. If I were to convert it to cups, I would be using Google — just like you would. And I wouldn't be able to promise you'd get the same results! A kitchen scale is very affordable (this one is ~$20) and totally worth it, I promise.
Cream of tartar is a white powder and can be found in the spice aisle at your grocery store.
(Cautionary tale: One time, my sister and I tried to make homemade play-doh as kids and used tartar sauce because we assumed cream of tartar had a creamy texture and therefore tartar sauce would be an acceptable substitute. Tartar sauce is not a substitute for cream of tartar!)
Snickerdoodle Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 226 grams unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
- 300 grams all-purpose flour
- 5 grams salt
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 200 grams sugar
- 40 grams brown sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (extract or paste)
- 200 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
Cinnamon sugar topping
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in 15-20 second bursts in the microwave. This is the bowl you'll make your cookie dough in, so give yourself plenty of extra room. Stop when there are a few solid pieces of butter left — stir gently until they melt. Set aside to cool 25-30 minutes (you should see some butter starting to solidify around the very edges).
- While butter cools, combine flour, salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix together sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne for topping and set aside.
- Whisk both sugars into cooled butter until it begins to thicken and is very smooth and pale in color, about 1-2 minutes (seriously, set a timer!). Add egg yolks one at a time, whisking for at least 30 seconds after each. Add the vanilla and whisk vigorously 60 seconds more.
- Add the flour mixture all at once. Switch to a spatula and stir gently but firmly. At first it will seem like there is too much flour, but keep stirring and folding the mixture over itself and it will combine. When there is still a bit of flour in the bottom of the bowl, add the chocolate chips and continue stirring until you have a cohesive dough.
- Use a 2 tablespoon scoop to portion the dough onto a quarter sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Then roll each dough ball in your hands to smooth it out into a round ball. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar, then place back on the parchment paper. The dough balls will be quite close together, that's okay. Cover and chill 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Line a half sheet pan with parchment or a silicone mat. Right before baking, roll each dough ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture again, then arrange on the sheet pan at least 3 inches apart. I can usually fit 6, maybe 8 cookies per pan. Don't crowd them.
- Bake 8-9 minutes. They should look slightly underdone in the middle. Remove from the oven and immediately use a round cutter or upside down glass jar to scoot them into shape (scooting is optional!). Let cool on the sheet pan 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- If you don't have baking soda and baking powder, you can sub in 2 teaspoons baking powder. You'll have a less dramatic rise, and will miss the subtle tangy flavor expected in snickerdoodles, but most people probably won't notice a difference.
- Resting time includes time for melted butter to cool and time for cookies to chill in the fridge.
- To freeze: Roll cookies once in cinnamon sugar, then freeze on a sheet pan. Transfer frozen dough balls to airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To bake from frozen: Defrost at room temperature 20-30 minutes (just enough to soften the outside), then roll in cinnamon sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes at 400F.
- Save the egg whites to make crispy meringue s'mores!
- Recipe sources: Hummingbird High, Sally's Baking Addiction, The New York Times.
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
- Raw eggs and flour are not safe to consume uncooked