Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

from 82 votes

These Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies are made with a surprising ingredient and have been a reader favorite since 2013. If you love bakery-style cookies that are irresistibly moist and chewy, then you’re going to love this recipe, too!

A tall stack of Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies made with cream cheese.

Uniqueness of Our Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

Can you guess the secret ingredient in this new recipe for the best-ever chocolate chip cookies? Here are a few hints:

1. It’s a favorite fridge item for carb-lovers.
2. It works wonders in cheesecake.
3. It’s not sour cream … or applesauce … or cream of tartar.

Still stumped?

The secret ingredient in my chocolate chip cookies is none other than … cream cheese! The tangy spread has become my latest baking obsession ever since I experimented with subbing a bit of it for butter in a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe. The result is the softest cookie that pairs a perfectly chewy center with slightly crispy edges.

Drooling yet? Grab the cream cheese, bypass the bagels and get baking with my new go-to recipe for soft and chewy Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies.

What Readers Are Saying

“These were hands down the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Debbie

“These turned out fantastic! I won’t be using any other recipe ever. Hands down can’t be beat! Thank you! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Chris

Golden brown chocolate chip cookies cooling on a wire rack.

Ingredients You’ll Need

You won’t taste the cream cheese at all. It’s entirely for texture!

Glass bowls containing ingredients to make soft secret ingredient chocolate chip cookies, including flour, cream cheese, brown sugar, baking soda, vanilla extract, butter, salt, eggs and chocolate chips.
  • All-purpose flour: The foundation of our cookie dough, providing structure and texture. Tip: To achieve accurate measurements, fluff the flour with a spoon before scooping it into the measuring cup and leveling it off.
  • Baking soda: Acts as a leavening agent, helping the cookies rise and become soft and fluffy. Ensure it’s fresh by performing a quick test: A small amount dropped into vinegar should produce bubbles.
  • Salt: Use fine-grain or table salt.
  • Unsalted butter: I prefer unsalted butter to control salt quantity. Salted butter can be used, but skip the extra salt in the recipe to avoid making the cookies too salty.
  • Cream cheese: You’ll want to use regular, full-fat cream cheese softened to room temp for this recipe to achieve the best results. The higher fat content adds that perfect richness and moisture to the cookies.
  • Sugar: Not only sweetens the cookie dough but also contributes to its structure.
  • Light brown sugar: Pack the brown sugar firmly into the measuring cup for an accurate measurement.
  • Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor. You can also experiment with DIY vanilla extract!
  • Eggs: Acts as a binder, contributing to the structure and moisture content. For room temperature eggs in a hurry, place them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips: Mix different types or sizes of chocolate chips for varied texture. You can also try using chocolate chunks for a more indulgent experience–my personal favorite in treats ranging from peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies to chocolate chunk scones.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to Make Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe yields about 3 dozen cookies, but that will vary based on how large you make your cookies.

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients. 
  2. Cream together the butter, cream cheese, white and light brown sugars, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Start with softened butter and cream cheese for smooth creaming. To achieve the perfect light and fluffy texture, cream the ingredients for a full 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

No stand mixer? No problem! A hand mixer works well for this recipe. Cream together the ingredients until light and fluffy, just as you would with a stand mixer.

  1. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  2. Mix in the dry ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Kelly’s Note: It’s important to only blend the dough until the flour is just incorporated, as over-blending it can cause it to be too loose. 

Chocolate chip cookie dough covering the paddle attachment of a stand mixer.
  1. Chill the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 3 days.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F before baking. I recommend lining your baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats to prevent sticking and promote even browning.
  3. Drop 2- to 3-tablespoon mounds of cookie dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the mounds at least 2 inches apart. Use a cookie scoop or tablespoons to create uniform mounds of dough. Consistent sizing ensures even baking.
Cookie dough mounds studded with chocolate chips on a baking sheet.
  1. Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for an extra minute before transferring them to a wire rack. This helps them set slightly and makes the transfer easier.

Chilling the dough for at least 2 hours allows the fats to solidify, preventing excess spreading during baking. For a richer flavor and better texture, refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days. This step is crucial for achieving the perfect soft and chewy consistency. 

In other words, this simple yet crucial step is your key to achieving cookie perfection!

Tips for Making Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cream Cheese

Ready to up your chocolate chip cookie game? Here are a few tips to guide you on on your path to cookie perfection:

  • DO use brown sugar in addition to granulated sugar. A combination of the two sugars results in chewier cookies, while cookies made with only white sugar will be much crispier.
  • DON’T use low-fat cream cheese. These are cookies, not green juice.
  • DO chill the dough before scooping and baking it. The refrigeration period, which is anywhere from 2 to 72 hours, gives the ingredients a chance to bind. A cohesive dough is a better dough, and one that guarantees the cookies won’t spread too much while baking. Put simply: The longer you refrigerate the dough, the better the cookies will taste.
  • DON’T over-bake the cookies. For perfect cookies with crispy edges and soft, chewy centers, remove them from the oven 2 minutes before they’re fully baked, as they’ll continue cooking and crisp up slightly as they cool.
  • DO adjust the size of the cookie mounds to your preference, but keep in mind that baking times may vary. Smaller cookies may need less time, while larger ones may require additional minutes in the oven.

Make Ahead and Storage Instructions

Make Ahead Instructions

  • Refrigerating Cookie Dough: Once the cookie dough is prepared, it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or transfer the dough to an airtight container.
  • Freezing Cookie Dough: I recommend freezing the cookie dough in balls/scoops so all you have to do is bake them off as needed. Shape it into balls and freeze on a baking sheet before transferring to a freezer bag.The cookie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, place the frozen dough balls on a baking sheet and bake, adding a couple of extra minutes to account for the frozen dough.

Storage Instructions

  • Storing Baked Cookies: They’ll stay fresh for about 5 days when stored in an airtight container at room temp. Allow the baked cookies to cool completely before storing.
  • Freezing Baked Cookies: To freeze baked cookies, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer the cookies to a freezer bag, placing parchment paper between layers. Frozen cookies can be stored for up to 3 months. Thaw the cookies at room temperature before serving, or warm them in a preheated oven for a few minutes for a freshly baked taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add mix-ins, like nuts, to the cookie dough?

You can add in nuts or other mix-ins and keep the chocolate chips at the same amount, but keep in mind there will be less dough compared to the fillings, so you may have to adjust the baking time. 

Can the cookies be made with low-fat cream cheese?

For the best possible outcome, I recommend using full-fat cream cheese when making these cookies. It’s best to steer clear of low-fat options as they can impact both the texture and flavor of the cookies. Trust me, giving in to the full-fat version guarantees a more indulgent and satisfying cookie experience.

Do I have to chill the cookie dough?

They’ll work fine without the chilling, but it makes them that much better. It does wonders for the dough and allows the flavors to really come together. It makes all the difference in the world!

Why did my cookies turn out flat?

Flat cookies can result from a variety of factors, including using overly softened or melted butter, not chilling the dough long enough, using baking soda that’s too old or even how the heat circulates in your oven. If your first batch is flat out of the oven, I recommend chilling the dough for another 30 minutes and trying again.

Can I make these into cookie bars?

I’ve never tried making cookie bars with this recipe, however I think it could work. Keep the oven temperature the same and start checking them around the 20-25 minute mark.

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Dessert

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

A surprising ingredient guarantees these Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies are soft and chewy in the center and perfectly crispy around the edges.
Author: Kelly Senyei
4.93 from 82 votes
A tall stack of Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies made with cream cheese.
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 11 minutes
Servings 36 cookies

Ingredients 

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, light brown sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, beating to combine, then stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 3 days.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
  • Drop 2- to 3-tablespoon mounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the mounds at least 2 inches apart.
  • Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Kelly’s Notes

  • Measure ¼ cup cream cheese by spooning/scraping it into a dry measuring cup and leveling it off.
  • For the best possible outcome, I recommend using full-fat cream cheese when making these cookies.
  • Chilling the dough for at least 2 hours allows the fats to solidify, preventing excess spreading during baking. For a richer flavor and better texture, refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days. This step is crucial for achieving the perfect soft and chewy consistency. 
  • For perfect cookies with crispy edges and soft, chewy centers, remove them from the oven 2 minutes before they’re fully baked, as they’ll continue cooking and crisp up slightly as they cool.
  • The cookie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Store baked cookies in an airtight container. They’ll stay fresh for about 5 days.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

Nutrition

Calories: 163kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 21mg, Sodium: 106mg, Potassium: 79mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 160IU, Calcium: 16mg, Iron: 1.1mg

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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.


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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The best chocolate chip cookies! Didn’t think the small amount of cream cheese and refrigeration would make such a difference but it did.

  2. 5 stars
    I made these for my daughter’s volleyball team. My daughter said these are by far the best chocolate chip cookies she’s ever had!

  3. 5 stars
    I literally just made these and they are sòooooo awesome! I already had a choc chip recipe that everyone in my family loved- I didn’t tell them I switched and they are like “you made them even better!” How? I’ll never tell! Thx Kelly (and co) for all your great recipes and tips! And for keeping it real! I love real people with real food ideas and tips.

  4. 5 stars
    We are from Mexico city and we love these cookies, now is like a tradition for christmas, the last four years since we met these recipe.

    1. I’m so thrilled hear that you enjoy the recipe, Jorge and I’m gratified to hear that this recipe has become a part of your Christmas tradition!

  5. I have made these cookies a couple of times now and they are absolutely delicious. Definitely my kind of chocolate chip cookie. If I were to make these into peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, how would you suggest I go about making the the dough? And would there be any adjustments to cooking time?

    1. Hi Chelsea! It’d be better to use my Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. You can search for it here on the site!

  6. I made dough today and it is getting chilled in my fridge. Waiting for 2 days is hardest thing for this recipe. Can’t wait to taste the cookies.

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