Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Unrefined Sugar

stack of chocolate chip cookies

It’s official. I no longer have self control around chocolate chip cookies. I also have zero self control around new cookbooks considering this is the 3rd cookbook I’m raving about in less than a month! That’s neither here nor there though.

Anyway, I used to be able to stop at one cookie. It’s this super weird gift I get from my mama. The woman can have an entire batch of gingersnaps in her cookie jar and eat just 1 every day with her coffee until they’re gone. And I could do it too!

Until 2 weeks ago. When these happened:

overhead image of chocolate chip cookies

I’ve been talking about these lower sugar chocolate chip cookies for weeks now and I’m excited to finally publish the recipe today. They’re unlike any cookie I’ve ever baked before, which is probably why I inhaled the entire batch myself. (In my defense, I believe Kevin ate 1.) The thing about these chewy chocolate chip cookies? They’re lower in sugar.

It’s a recipe that comes from the brilliant team over at America’s Test Kitchen, more specifically from their new cookbook Naturally Sweet. This cookbook is packed with 100 dessert, breakfast, and baked treat recipes all made with 30% – 50% less sugar. But all the flavor! Nothing compromised. I wouldn’t expect anything less. The book also goes into detail about the science of sugar and how, why, and when unrefined sugars are appropriate for substitution. Like coconut sugar, date sugar, maple syrup, honey, and sucanat. I feel like you’d LOVE all that as much as I do!

Natually Sweet cookbook by America's Test Kitchen

Now let’s get something straight for a sec. I’m all about the super indulgent, tooth decaying sugary desserts (hi.) but I also believe there is room out there for desserts with lower sugar and that’s why I’m so intrigued with Naturally Sweet. And why I think you will be too.

When flipping through this cookbook, my eyes immediately darted to page 76. Their chewy chocolate chip cookies with less sugar. The recipe itself has a very long intro explaining why this recipe works and how it came to life. After I made them, I bit into one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. These are insanely chewy with rich toffee-like flavor, crisp edges, soft centers, and warm chocolate in each bite. To lower the sugar, sucanat is used to replace both brown and granulated sugar and bittersweet chocolate is used to replace semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Typical chocolate chip cookies = 25 grams sugar. These cookies = 15 grams sugar.

2 images of sucanat in a teal bowl and in a measuring cup and zoomed into the teal bowl of sucanat

Sucanat. What the heck is it and why does my spell check keep correcting it to scant? Sucanat is used pretty frequently in this cookbook. It’s dehydrated cane juice. It has a deep molasses flavor, so a small amount goes a long way. Which is why it’s perfect when you’re looking to reduce refined sugar in desserts. As you can see from the photos above, sucanat is large granules, irregular in both size and shape. Where can you buy it? You can find it online or in any major grocery store’s baking aisle or natural food section.

My first tip is to cream the heck out of the butter and sucanat. Like 3 straight minutes of creaming. Stop the mixer a few times, mix it all up with a rubber spatula, and start creaming again. You want it to look like this:

creamed butter and sucanat in a glass stand mixer bowl

The other ingredients are all very familiar to you: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and chocolate. I don’t typically make chocolate chip cookies with baking powder– only baking soda. But America’s Test Kitchen added it here so the cookies rise super high in the oven, then slightly fall as they cool. This is a good thing! It makes a very chewy and dense center.

Because of the sucanat, the cookie dough is a bright gold color– not your typical beige. The cookie dough will also be very sticky, very thick, and a little grainy, so don’t be alarmed if you look at it and are super confused.

chocolate chip cookie dough in a glass bowl

2 images of cookie dough in a glass bowl and cookie dough balls on a silpat baking mat on a baking sheet

The cookbook recipe’s biggest tip is to let the cookie dough sit for 30 minutes before baking; your cookies could turn out bland and dry without taking this time. And I completely agree. However, I found that letting the cookie dough sit for 60 minutes– and in the fridge– produced an even better tasting (and looking!) cookie. My cookies spread a ton when I let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Chilling is always the way to combat spreading issues.

Just look at these beauties. They’re perfect.

chocolate chip cookies

And, from my experience, madly addicting.

stack of 4 chocolate chip cookies

More cookie recipes with unrefined sugar alternatives:

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stack of chocolate chip cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Less Sugar

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 20 minutes
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


These chewy chocolate chip cookies with less sugar taste every bit as amazing as the full sugar version. Dense, chewy centers with crisp edges!


  • 1 and 3/4 cups (218g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tablespoons (145g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup + 1/2 cup (216g or 1 cup2.6 Tbsp) sucanat*
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract (yes, Tbsp!)
  • 5 ounces (140g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped


  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until combined. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sucanat and beat on medium high speed for 3 full minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides as needed. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  3. On low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be gold in color, sticky, and thick. Fold in the chopped chocolate. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
  4. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. If the cookie dough chilled longer than 3-4 hours, let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This makes the cookie dough easier to scoop and roll.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  6. Roll cookie dough into balls, about 2 Tablespoons of dough each.
  7. Bake the cookies for 11-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned and crisp looking on the edges. My oven has hot spots and yours may too- so be sure to rotate the pan once during bake time. The baked cookies will look soft in the centers when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. I find their flavor is even better the next day.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 5. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing cookie dough.
  2. Special Tools: Naturally Sweet Cookbook | Sucanat | KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Flex Edge Beater | 5-qt Tilt Head Measuring Bowl | Silpat Baking Mat | Mini Bowls | Measuring Cups
  3. Sweetener Substitutions: Instead of sucanat, use 1 and 1/4 cups coconut sugar. Cookies will spread more and have crispier edges. Or use packed 2/3 cup + packed 1/4 cup dark brown sugar. Cookies will have a milder molasses flavor and spread more.
  4. Sugar Content: 15g sugar per cookie if using Wholesome! brand sucanat and Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate bar.
  5. Check out my top 5 cookie tips before beginning. It includes how to prevent cookies from over-spreading and why room temperature makes a difference.
  6. Excerpted from Naturally Sweet: Bake All Your Favorites With 30% to 50% Less Sugar by America’s Test Kitchen. Reprinted with permission from author and publishing company.

Keywords: chocolate chip cookies with less sugar, chewy chocolate chip cookies


  1. Amazing recipe! I used coconut sugar and they were perfect- thank you!

  2. My cousin wanted me to make her cookies and all we had was cane sugar. I’m glad I came across this recipe because the cookies came out great and everyone asked for more

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