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.

comments

  1. Teresa Davis

    Can’t wait to try this recipe. Years ago, I had an incredibly delicious Grape Nuts Muffin at a cafe in Newport, RI (named The Coffee Pot???). The flavor wad so good – it will be awesome in cookies.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Teresa, I think there may be a rush on Grape Nuts at the grocery stores! Barb@KAF

    2. Bonnie

      Just made the batter for baking on Monday. I put in dried cherry flavored cranberries with chocolate chunks, chocolate chips, grape nuts and oatmeal. Tried the dough and loved it.
      Can’t wait to bake.

  2. Karen Lambert

    Grape Nuts are a staple in my house…and yes I grew up in New England. We make Grape Nut custard pudding with them, another New England thing! I can’t wait to try this cookie recipe!!! Grape Nuts and coconut together in the same recipe, wow !

    Reply
  3. Kathryn Kemp

    Elsewhere on this website there is an item on using a scale to speed up measuring of ingredients. After the basic batter in this recipe is done, can the additions be measured by weight, or in this case would volume be the better way? Can a banana be incorporated in the batter without adjusting other ingredients?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kathryn, if you go to the recipe page you can choose to see the ingredients listed in volume, ounces or grams. I think adding a banana might cause these cookies to spread. It might work if you added additional flour, but we haven’t tried this. Barb@KAF

  4. Amy @ The American-Made Guide to Life

    Genius! Sounds yummy. Definitely love the idea of adding coconut. Mmm.

    Reply
  5. Mary Spina

    Just want to clarify – 3 cups of oatmeal??? It seems to be a lot, if oatmeal is considered an “add-in”, the ratio is 50/50, and the basic dough has only 1-1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup butter. I’d love to try this!

    Reply
  6. Marian E

    My mom’s “secret” ingredient was All-Bran. I secretly think it was a frugal substitute for nuts. It did provide a unique texture to her chocolate chip cookies.

    Reply
  7. Belinda

    Though I am not a fan of Grape Nuts, this recipe looks yummy and I’d like to give it a try. Is there something I might use in place of the Grape Nuts?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Belinda, my mom used to make a cookie with cornflakes in it. I think you could get creative with cereal choices here. Barb@KAF

    2. Jennifer

      Also, you don’t really get a “flavor” with the addition of grapenuts, just a crispy crunch which is awesome! I’d say try it with the grapenuts, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. ( can you tell I’ve made the batter, and sampled it? I’ll be baking some tonight!) 🙂

    3. Posie Harwood, post author

      Agreed, Jennifer! You don’t taste the Grape-Nuts except to get a slight nuttiness but really it just tastes like cookie dough (and more like coconut, pecans, etc.) — Belinda, I’d definitely recommend giving them a try with the Grape-Nuts and seeing how you like them! Cornflakes would work, also you could try some All-Bran cereal or wheat germ in place of the Grape-Nuts too. Enjoy!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t tried this, Patti. Usually when substituting for butter in a cookie recipe you want to use a fat that has a similar consistency and can be creamed. Barb@KAF

    2. Patricia McCafferty

      Coconut oil is solid at room temp so it might cream with the sugar like butter. Might be worth a try.

    3. jennifer

      Equal amounts of coconut oil to butter. You may notice a difference in texture and flavor in your final result but it should work okay.

  8. Emily Dixon

    When I was in college in North Carolina on the 50’s, a real treat was having grapenut ice cream. I had never had it before or since. My Mother said they had it when she was there in the 20’s. Thanks for reminding me.

    I can’t wait to try this cookie recipe with my granddaughters.

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood, post author

      I’ve seen Grape-Nut ice cream a few places in New England and NYC, maybe we’ll have to post that recipe this summer!

  9. Sheila Bertoncini

    I’ll be trying this. I usually bake (nearly) sugar free by using sugar substitute and brown sugar blend, sugar free choc chips and unsweetened coconut. I double the baking soda when using substitutes.

    Reply
  10. Liz Belthoff

    My family does not like coconut. Is there anything else we could substitute, or can it be omitted?

    Reply
  11. Barbara Beall

    My secret ingredient is Chinese five spice powder for oatmeal cookies. It adds a seasoning that nobody can quite place but that tastes so good. I put maybe a teaspoon or so in…

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood, post author

      Love that idea! Clever and really interesting to spice things up.

    1. Posie Harwood, post author

      Patti, we don’t have the nutrition information available yet for these cookies but depending on your add-ins (coconut, Grape-Nuts, raisins), they’ve got a lot of fiber compared to a standard chocolate chip cookie. Sorry about that!

  12. christine beniwal

    I live in Maryland and we have grapenut ice cream here also, love it, in fact. With all these ingredients we call it a Ranger cookie, it has about everything but the kitchen sink. Love it because there is a degree of nutrition and not just empty calories. Raisins can also be added and this recipe makes a lot of delicious cookies.

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood, post author

      Agreed! It’s a great blank canvas for getting in fruits and anything else you like.

  13. Livingwell

    Since we’re not Grape-Nuts fans and aren’t crazy about the idea of subbing corn flakes, as suggested above, can they be omitted or wheat germ used instead?

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood, post author

      Yes definitely! Wheat germ is a fantastic addition and I can vouch for using it in this recipe. It has the same nuttiness which is great.

  14. Julie

    I grew up on my mom’s delicious Grape-Nut cake. So good warm with powder sugar glaze drizzled over the top. Looking forward to trying these cookies. Oatmeal raising are my husband’s favorite, and he also loves Grape-Nut cake, so this will be a win for him.

    Thanks,
    Julie

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Feel free to use nuts that are preferred in your home, Lynn. Jon@KAF

  15. Jackie

    Can’t wait to try these. My secret ingredient for my meatloaf has been Grape. nuts. It works great.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      In Meatloaf? I am imagining in place of the oats or bread crumbs (or maybe just a portion)? Very good idea, Jackie. Elisabeth@KAF

  16. Leah

    This recipe looks wonderful! I can’t wait to try them. Funny thing though … we just moved from the Boston area after 15 years there and I always used to avoid Grape Nuts ice cream like the plague! Bad cereal experience from childhood … those things were hard!! I guess I might have to try the ice cream version on our next visit back home! 🙂

    Reply
  17. Robin Birnbaum

    if I skip the coconut do I need to replace its volume with another ingredient or can I just leave it out?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Robin, I would recommend replacing the coconut with a little more of the other ingredients, since these cookies have a tendency to spread. Barb@KAF

  18. member-kegrip9171

    How can I adjust this recipe to contain less sugar? I have erythritol, coconut palm sugar, Organic granulated sugar, honey and stevia in my cabinet. I know from experience that using too much stevia in a recipe can give it a bitter flavor. Can you suggest how I might use any of the above ingredients to reduce the sugar in this cookie recipe? Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We recommend using half sugar and half sugar substitute (your choice). We have had some luck using Splenda in some recipes. Good luck! Elisabeth@KAF

  19. Monica B

    I made these last night and oh my they are wonderful. My husband said they are the best cookies he’s ever had! I baked three of them right off without chilling and had no issues. The rest of the dough went to the fridge overnight and now seems a little too firm, so I’m going to let it soften up a bit. Question: could I portion out the scoops and freeze before baking? This will make a lot more cookies than I need right now. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Monica,
      So glad you all loved the recipe. Yes, you can freeze the dough for up to 3 months, no worries. ~ MJ

  20. Suzanne Ogle

    I’m in oklahoma and it sounds like Im going to have to make a trip to New Englang!!!
    These cookies are a hit

    Reply
  21. Stephanie Hunt

    Oh my gosh ! I’ve been adding grape nuts to my vanilla ice cream for 15 years! I’ve never ever heard of anyone else doing it ! It’s so amazing!

    Reply
  22. Diane Benjamin

    Just baked a batch of these and they are excellent! Real old-school cookie jar cookies. The parchment paper is not essential (I baked just one on a cookie sheet just sprayed with Pam and it came out just fine. I do think that with the parchment the bottoms are just the tinies bit less fatty when cookies are still warm.) This is a real cookie jar winner! Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t attempted this recipe with your substitution. I would suggest to only replace 1-2 tablespoons of the butter with peanut butter to start with and see how it goes. Jon@KAF

  23. 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!

    Reply
  24. 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!

    Reply
    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

  25. 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.

    Reply
  26. 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.

    Reply
  27. 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.

    Reply
    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

  28. 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 ?

    Reply
    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

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