Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are good cookies and there are great ones.

Today’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe is a great one, and also one with a surprising secret ingredient. My mother passed it down to me after perfecting it over years of tinkering (and feeding a cookie-loving family).

Stripped down to its base, it’s a pretty standard and straightforward chocolate chip cookie recipe. In order to give it some semblance of nutrition for her four ravenous children, my mother smartly added in raisins, toasted pecans, shredded coconut, and the best tool in her pantry arsenal: Grape-Nuts cereal.

It’s a bizarre ingredient to grace the dessert category, but bear with me. If you’re lucky enough to live in New England, you might have tasted Grape-Nut ice cream, which is a little-known regional specialty. In both cookie dough and ice cream, the crunchy cereal stands up surprisingly well. It retains some of its bite and imparts a delicious, nutty flavor.

I should warn you here: this particular cookie dough is incredibly good and very, very difficult to resist. I implore you to try because the cookies are even better baked, but I won’t judge you for sneaking a spoonful of the dough here and there.

A few notes on the recipe before we begin:

First, the dough has a lot of add-ins (fruit, nuts, chocolate, and so on), but don’t worry if it looks a little overloaded and the batter seems heavy. The end result is a crowded, jam-packed cookie with a wonderful jumble of textures and tastes.

You’ll want to aim for about a 50/50 ratio of batter to add-ins.

Once you try the recipe, you can tweak it to your liking. Keeping the base at a 50/50 ratio of the batter to add-ins, you can customize it however you like. Love coconut? Add more! Don’t like raisins? Try tart dried cherries. Want some spice? Swap the nuts for crystallized ginger.

This dough is a bit sticky, and you need to let it rest and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes. It’s not required, but I’d recommend letting it chill even longer and keeping it overnight in the refrigerator. This firms up the dough, making it easier to work with and giving the baked cookies a better consistency.

Plus, it gives you extra hours to sneak spoonfuls of dough. Win-win!

Now on to the recipe:

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe via @kingarthurflourStart by beating 1 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1 cup of granulated sugar.

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe via @kingarthurflourAdd in your 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe via @kingarthurflour

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and add those to your wet ingredients to create your base batter.

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe via @kingarthurflour

Now mix in 3 cups of oats, 1/2 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut, 1/2 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of toasted pecans, 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup of Grape-Nuts. As you can see in the finished dough below, you’re aiming for roughly half batter and half add-ins.

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe via @kingarthurflour

After letting your dough rest (you need to chill it for a minimum of 30 minutes, but as I’ve explained, overnight is ideal), scoop your dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

You can use a cookie scoop, but I prefer to use my hands because the dough has so many chunks of nuts and chocolate and cereal. Make the cookies as small or large as you like; you’ll get about 18 large, or up to 50 smaller cookies from this recipe.

Bake your cookies for 10 to 15 minutes (the shorter amount of time for smaller cookies, longer amount for larger cookies), or until they’re just beginning to brown. I recommend eating them warm, while the chocolate is still melted and oozes from the center:

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe via @kingarthurflour

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Loaded Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Print just the recipe.


Posie grew up on a farm in Maryland and spent her summers in Vermont. As an editor for King Arthur and Sift magazine, she feels lucky to bake every day and connect through writing. She loves homemade bread warm from the oven, raw milk cream, ...


  1. Ann

    I cut out most if not all the butter in cookie recipes – subbing 1/2 the amount with applesauce. Works great. Have learned recently that if the cookies bake up like
    “cakies” (cake), whack them on the stove top after cooking or toward the end of cooking while in the oven to flatten them down so they’re like cookies. Will that work with this recipe? We actually prefer the applesauce to butter in cookies…makes them less greasy and obviously less unhealthy.

    1. Ann

      I may have not made it clear with my post. If recipe calls for 1 cup butter, I use
      about 1/2 cup of applesauce and maybe 2 tablespoons of butter. Works fine.

  2. Arlene Ross

    I’m just making these. Made them 40 gm each and the first batch is in the oven. Now for almost 10 minutes and haven’t even attempted to flatten out. After you refrigerate them overnight, do you have to let them sit to get back to room temperature before baking ?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Arlene, it does help the spreading to let them warm up a bit after being in the fridge, or else they will just take a bit longer to bake and be a little thicker. Hope this helps! Bryanna@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Consider All Bran, Cornflakes, even Rice Krispies! We’re not sure about Shredded Wheat (maybe crumbling it first?), but whatever cereal you have in your kitchen pantry will probably work. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  3. LaDonna

    These cookies sound amazing, just wish I could eat them. I am celiac so grape nuts are a no-no. My mother use to make grape nuts ice cream years ago, and we live in Kansas! Our family loved it.

  4. Thomas Nelson

    This could very well be the cookie I have been looking for and which I asked for on another post. Let me try and I will get back to you.

  5. jackie

    I have found that a good thing to do when making cookies is to cover the bowl between batches. This keeps the dough from drying out.

  6. Shari Marshall

    It may be just me but I’ve always been frustrated by the ‘brown sugar’ part of baking recipes, particularly when it comes to cookies. Some recipes specify ‘packed’, some do not, some specify light or dark brown sugar, some do not. Is there a general rule about this? What’s the correct way/kind to add to this recipe? Packed or not packed? Light brown or dark brown? Thank you!

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Shari,
      Our default for brown sugar in our recipes is light brown, packed into the cup. If we use dark, or measure differently we try very hard to specify that in the recipe. ~ MJ

  7. Maryellen

    Just to add to your map of the “origins” of Grape Nut Ice Cream: My father (I’m 65, he’s about to turn 101) grew up with Grape Nut Ice Cream in Viroqua, Wisconsin, a specialty of the local dairy. We had it every time we visited my grandparents!


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