Cooking with Lisa: The Greatest Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Hi folks! Happy Week After Spring Break! Have a cookie recipe.

Everybody in the whole world loves these cookies. If there’s a person who doesn’t love these, I have yet to meet them. After making them a few weeks ago, I got a bunch of requests to write about them. Unfortunately, I ate about fifteen of that batch, so had to wait until I could handle them.

This recipe makes a ton of cookies. I make them pretty small, so I usually get about 24-30.

The cookie batter is originally vegan, but it doesn’t have to be. I also use regular chocolate chips. To be totally honest with you, I’m not really sure what vegan chocolate chips are. If you know what they are, and find they taste good, awesome!

1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp  salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup vegan buttery spread, or butter
2 cups chocolate chips
2-5 Tbsp water (to soften dough if needed)

To begin, as always, make your playlist. In honor of this weather, I recommend a combination of Beyonce and Fun.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Now, get out a large mixing bowl. Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. You can use forks, a spoon, or a sifter if you’re feeling fancy and/or have a sifter.

If you have a microwave handy, you can put your butter and oil into the microwave for a few seconds to soften it. If not, don’t even worry about it. I just left mine out so it got to room temperature and put it near the oven.

In a bowl of equal or slightly smaller size, mix together apple sauce, maple syrup, vanilla, sugar, butter, and oil. The original recipe suggested agave nectar as a substitue for maple syrup, but I can’t imagine this recipe without the maple taste.
I know maple syrup is kind of expensive, but I think it’s a worthwhile investment. I use mine for baking and my BYO Maple Syrup breakfasts at Sharples.

The recipe also recommends sugar free applesauce, which I usually use. I’ve also used regular Motts applesauce, and it turned out fine.

The oil and butter will not appear to fully mix into the wet ingredients, but that’s alright. Just make it homogenous, and it will look great after the batter is fully mixed.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix fully. I tend to have some trouble incorporating all of the dry mixture, so just make sure you’ve gotten all of it. The recipe recommends adding a tablespoon or two of water to get the best texture. I have tried it with and without the water, both are fine.

Add your chocolate chips. I do this by sight. About 1 or 1.5 cups should do it, but it really depends on how much you like chocolate chips. Also bear in mind that these cookies are a little bit difficult to form, so too many chocolate chips makes the dough unwieldy.

Your dough is done! Now, the greatest part of vegan dough is that there are no eggs, so feel free to just eat a whole bunch of cookie dough. I know I did! It is insanely delicious. A fun challenge is to stop yourself from eating the dough after a reasonable period of time.

Put the dough in the freeze for a bit. About 10-20 minutes is fine. During this time, clean up or just hang out. Listen to “Call Me Maybe” over and over and over again. That’s your jam now.

Take the dough out, and using two spoons, scoop it onto a cookie tray. Ideally you should use parchment paper on your baking sheets, but if you don’t have any, Pam is fine, or just hope for the best.

Shape the cookies into circles, press down just a little bit.

Put them in the oven. I usually put them in for 10-12 minutes, but keep an eye on them. The bottoms should be a darker brown. Leave them in for 12 minutes if you want them to be crispier.

Take your cookies out and let them rest on the sheet. If you have one, transfer them after a few minutes onto a cooling rack.

I’d recommend waiting a few minutes to eat them since the melted chocolate can burn your mouth. I sometimes just eat them scalding hot anyway, since they’re crazy delicious. They also become firmer as they cool, so don’t worry if they’re really soft when you first take them out of the oven.

100 percent of the people who eat these love them, and 90 percent of those people will ask you “does this have cinnamon in it?”

Special thanks to Andi Merrit and Taylor Wuerker who sent me a picture of the pumpkin bread they made over spring break. They used pumpkin pie mix since they didn’t have any pureed pumpkin. Apparently it turned out delicious, so bear that in mind!


  1. Some chocolate chips will often contain milk, milk solids or milk fat. 100% pure chocolate is vegan. Trader Joe’s, Whole Food,Raley’s/Nob Hill here in California carry vegan ones.

    • Indeed–Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips, pictured here, aren’t vegan. There are a lot of vegan brands, however. One commonly found outside of health food stores is Ghiradelli’s semi-sweet chips (putting aside the question of sugar filtered with bone char). My favorite vegan chocolate chips are by Tropical Source: best flavor and texture, but are increasingly hard to find. I actually haven’t seen them in stores for years, though they still are sold some places online. Sunspire seems to be the only common, unambiguously vegan chocolate chip brand out there.
      For the past ten years, I’ve made my chocolate chip cookies with the classic Tollhouse recipe. I just sub Earth Balance for the butter and Ener-G egg replacer for the egg. They come out perfectly.

  2. Why the hell are you writing vegan recipes if you don’t know what vegan is? No one needs baking instructions from someone who is clueless.

    • Because she has a baking column and she wants to put up a recipe for her vegan friends! If you’re vegan, you know about what chocolate chips and sugar to use. If you’re not, delicious cookies with fewer animal products. It’s great for everyone. Calm down.

  3. Just wanted to say thanks for this if you’re still here. I’m a vegan with a sweet tooth so I’m always on the lookout for cookie recipes. As others have pointed out, it’s not 100% vegan as written, but the swaps to make it such are simple.

  4. Eating cookies can be a lifetime pursuit and a great way to share time with your kids. I remember eating many pounds of my mothers cookies and that taste for these kinds of sweets has never lessoned.
    Good post and tasty treats.

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