Thick Chocolate Chip Cookies

By Chef Megan Joy / November 15, 2012

One would think that it’d be relatively easy to bake America’s favorite cookie at high altitude.


Cookies are one baked good that continuously challenge me up here. They are so darn finicky. My typical cookie outcome results in really flat, crunchy cookies. Great if you like that style, but…not cool when you’re craving a chewy, thick chocolate chip cookie. Or when you have a client who wants them for her upcoming wedding.

So I hunkered down in the kitchen for a few days. I suppose that is why I am in this profession. I possess an abnormal amount of patience and a good deal of stubbornness. I mean, come on, I am a chef. It’s my job to be able to master this (that’s what I tell myself for pep talk).

And here we have it: thick, chewy chocolate chip cookies.

My advice for keeping these guys soft and chewy is to slightly underbake them and to store them immediately in an airtight container. You want the bottom of the cookies to be a very light golden brown. If you leave them out for a few hours they will get crunchy. That’s just the nature of our thinner, drier air. But you probably knew that already.

I’d also like to share that I cannot believe next week is Thanksgiving. I have no idea where November went. Maybe I lost track of time when I was gone last week for my brother’s wedding in North Carolina. He and his wife had a beach-themed wedding so I made them a very ‘beachy’ cake. It was a yellow butter cake filled with chocolate truffle filling and covered in caramel buttercream. The sand dollars were hand-shaped and completely edible.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy spared them on their special day and it was a beautiful ceremony. But now it’s back to reality in the mountains and I am getting ready for Thanksgiving orders. What will you be dining on?

How to bake this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Sunset Magazine

5.0 from 5 reviews
Thick Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Scant 1½ cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips
  1. Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt all at once and beat until it the dough just comes together.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Chill the dough for 2 hours in the refrigerator or for 10-15 minutes in the freezer.
  7. Once firm enough to easily handle, shape the dough into a log and cut off ¼" to ½" slices, depending on how thick you like your cookies. They will spread a little bit.
  8. Lay the slices 2" apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  9. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  10. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, depending on their size, or until they are lightly golden along the edges but still pale in the center.
  11. Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.
  12. Makes about 3 dozen medium-sized cookies.
Note: This recipe was adjusted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, I suggest increasing the brown sugar to a full 1 1/2 packed cups, increasing the baking soda to 1 teaspoon, and possibly omitting the 1 egg yolk.

About the author

Chef Megan Joy

Jill - November 18, 2012

I’m trying these right now! 🙂 I really appreciate your website, because I don’t have to try & calculate the high altitude adjustments. We leave at 7,000 ft.

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef - November 20, 2012

I’m at sea level and live along the ocean so I don’t have any of those altitude problems. It’s Thanksgiving for this yank but it’s in the middle of summer here in northern Australia where I live now. It’s tough to think of roasting a turkey and making all the trimmings in this heat. 🙂 I will persevere as the Pilgrims did.

Love your blog and that wedding cake is so cute!

Elizabeth - January 20, 2013

I moved to New Mexico about two years ago and I have truly despaired of ever making a decent chocolate chip cookie again. But these are fantastic! Since I’m at a lower altitude, only around 5000, I added more baking soda (a very generous quarter teaspoon), but kept everything else as indicated.

Well, I added more chocolate chips, but I can’t blame that on the altitude.

Thanks for a great recipe!

    Chef Megan Joy - January 24, 2013

    Hi Elizabeth! I’m so pleased to hear they came out. I understand the frustration in finding a satisfactory high elevation cookie! I’ll try to work on some more 🙂

Jenn Lyons - March 26, 2013

I’m so happy that I found your site several moths ago! I live at 8750 feet. My family and friends all love your banana bread recipe and I’m excited to try these cookies today!

Elise - April 28, 2013

I live at 8,000 feet and just made a batch of these cookies. Amazingly thick and chewy; you were not kidding! Thank you so much for the perfect choco chip cookie recipe!! (I also added toffee bits to mine and they were devine!) I’m going to have to try more of your recipes 🙂

Nicole - May 7, 2013

Do you think whole wheat flour would work?

    Chef Megan Joy - May 7, 2013

    Hi Nicole- The whole wheat will definitely make these more dense, but it can work. I’d start by substituting whole wheat (especially white whole wheat) flour for part of the regular, like 1/2 cup, then 2 cups of all-purpose. See how that tastes, and you can keep increasing the amount to your preference in future batches. If you use a large ratio of whole wheat flour and you’re finding the cookies on the dry side, add another egg yolk. Happy baking!

Nicole - May 8, 2013

Thanks Megan. I’ll try partial whole wheat like you suggested next time. I did 100% this time and they turned out very very very flat (like all my cookies up here at 7000ft). They are still soft and chewy and not dry though, so that’s a plus!

    Chef Megan Joy - May 8, 2013

    If they continue to come out flat, you should try adding a little bit more baking soda, maybe an extra 1/8 teaspoon. See if that works for your altitude 🙂

Corrie - May 31, 2013

I am SO happy that I happened upon your blog… I moved to Colorado a year ago (8800 ft) and I do love cookies, but the thin, flat, crunchy ones are just not the same. I am trying this recipe TODAY.

Alaina Covington - August 10, 2013

hello! I am going to try this recipe next time. If the recipe I found tonight dont work. I didnt realize that altitude had anything to do with baking. I moved to west virginia 3 years ago. I lived in kansas my whole life. When my hubby and I lived in kansas before moving to wv. My chocolate chip cookies always turned out good. Until we moved here. I couldnt understand what I was doing wrong until tonight when hubby told me about the higher altitude. Well sure enough that was the PROBLEM. So the recipe I got from somewhere else. If that dont turn out like I want it too. I am going to try yours next time. Which will be this coming up week!!

Lisa Drake - September 13, 2013

Wonderful! This is the first chocolate chip recipe that I’ve found that works here at 7200 ft. My kids thank you! 🙂

Colleen - September 16, 2013

Hello, I live at 6,500 feet. I am challenged by my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe so I tried this one. I did not know what scant meant so I measured the dark brown sugar the way I was taught as packing it into the measuring cup. They looked so good and then they flattened out. I am guessing that I added too muchbrown sugar, Would anyone know what the proper measurement in ouces would be? Thanks for any help.

    Chef Megan Joy - September 17, 2013

    Hi Colleen. Scant means just less than a cup, and in the case with brown sugar, just less than a packed 1 cup. You’ll see a little of the rim inside the cup still since it won’t be completely filled. I think your flattened cookie outcome is actually related to the baking soda. At a lower elevation than me, you’ll need a little bit more chemical leavener to get the right results. Try adding an additional 1/8th to 1/4th teaspoon of baking soda to your recipe next time.

Colleen - September 17, 2013

Thank yo so much. I will try it with thise changes. I really appreciate your help!

Kristin McKinney - September 18, 2013

hi, I live in Ecuador at 9,300 ft. and was very excited to find your blog. I made the chocolate chip cookies, followed the recipe to a tee, and they came out as flat as can be, almost two-dimensional! Do you know why this doesn’t work at my altitude ? Any insight would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    Chef Megan Joy - September 18, 2013

    Hi Kristin. Sorry to hear your cookies came out flat. Sounds like you need to use less baking soda, especially since you are almost 1,000 ft higher up! Try reducing the baking soda by 1/8 tsp.

    Alicia - December 28, 2014

    I live in Cuenca, EC and just wanted to give you a heads-up that the sodium bicarbonate that you get at the store is really Baking Powder. Baking Soda is hard to get (illegal in certain quantities above a few grams) here due to drug trade. That may be your issue.

    Thanks to Chef Megan Joy and others that make my baking attempts semi-successful here up in the Andes Mountains! At least we don’t live in Cusco…….I’ve heard you can’t even hard-boil an egg down there.

    8,500 feet

Callie - October 8, 2013

Hi Megan!

I’m a Colorado native, born and raised, living at over 8,000 ft. in Nederland 🙂 . I’m excited to have found your site and to give your recipes a try. I like that you encourage people to be intuitive and flexible when baking to adjust recipes to their needs.

Have you ever tried any of the chocolate chip cookie recipes out there with cornstarch? They always come out really soft at any altitude.

Ursula - January 29, 2014

Hi Megan,
I live at 9,190 feet, do you think I have to do any changes to the recipe? Let me know, I’m crazy to try these 🙂


    Chef Megan Joy - January 29, 2014

    Maybe use a tiny bit less than 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Just a smidge!

      Ursula - January 29, 2014

      Thanks! I’m going to make it today. I will let you know how was it! 🙂

whitneystarz - April 8, 2014

Im at 6,000 ft basically and I read the reviews about the baking soda so I did almost double of baking soda …. they came out perfectly thick puffy soft and chewy but a little crisp on the outside…. BUUUT I didnt like the flavor 100% I think it tasted 100% like vanilla extract so I dont know if I accidentally bubbled up the top of the tsp way to much or my vanilla could be stronger or if its way cheap (from the $1 store) I dont know there good and edible but just waaay to pure vanilla tasting left the taste in my mouth for 10 mins after eating one even with milk like fake sweetner or something so I dont know im gonna try alot less next time otherwise I think they are perfect im soooo happy with the size and softness soo excitrd to finally a perfect chocolate chip cookie!!!

    whitneystarz - April 8, 2014

    You’re in Vail!?! Im in Colorado Springs!!

mary - October 25, 2014

so….i’m back at high altitude life, and since my return my baking is a mess! when living here before, and before the days of blogs and pinterest, i always used high altitude cookbooks! colorado cache etc, so baking was fine. moved to sea level, ditched the cookbooks and now i’m back….whoa! i can’t bake! living in durango at 6,500 feet, so in general i need to adjust from your recipes by increasing the leavening 1/4 tsp at a time? any other adjustments to your recipes as a general rule? still trying to figure out the adjustments for sea level recipes for here too!

    Chef Megan Joy - October 25, 2014

    Welcome back to altitude Mary! You are correct, I would start by adding an extra 1/4 teaspoon of leaveners at a time to my recipes and see what adjustment works best for your altitude. I would say a general rule for your altitude would be to reduce the chemical leaveners in most sea level recipes by 25%. Happy baking!

Suzanne - February 6, 2015

I love this recipe. For some reason, the recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chip package was working great at 8,000 ft. without any alterations. Then they began to flatten. Might be I was packing the brown sugar too hard and therefore ending up with too much brown sugar. In any case, I turned to Chef Megan Joy’s website for a high altitude chocolate chip recipe and found this one. Worked like a charm. I rolled the dough into a log, wrapped with plastic wrap, chilled and backed two dozen. Then I wrapped the log with foil and put it in the freezer. So I don’t have to bake them all at once and have some ready in the freezer when the envie hits.

Sandi - March 16, 2015

I’m trying to make these now and even though I chilled the dough for almost 3 1/2 hrs in the fridge when I go to cut the log it just kinda squishes down?

    Chef Megan Joy - March 18, 2015

    Hi Sandi, next time place the dough in the freezer for a very firm dough. It will soften up quickly, but this is the best way to really chill it!

Heather - April 13, 2015

My family and youth group loved these!!! I only live at 4700 feet, but cookies are still a challenge. Thank you!

Elise - May 3, 2015

This was my third time making these cookies. Every other time they have turned out perfect. This time I used half brown sugar and half granulated sugar to make them a little sweeter for my husband. I also used white chocolate chips and sprinkles. In the past these have not spread out during baking and they ended up being nice and thick. This time they spread a lot and flattened after I took them out of the oven. Do you think the white sugar had something to do with that?

    Chef Megan Joy - May 3, 2015

    Hi Elise,
    There are a lot of factors that can make cookies spread, but with this recipe coming out perfectly fine before, I’d say so. If you’re trying to make a sweeter cookie, add more vanilla extract. Happy baking!

Teresa - June 16, 2015

Chef Megan, Thank-you so much for sharing this recipe. I made these cookies for a branding lunch and the hungry Cowboys loved them. Needless to say there were no leftovers.

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