Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Unrefined Sugar

Dense chewy centers, soft and toffee-flavored, filled with warm chocolate, and crisp edges! Chocolate chip cookies with less sugar on

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:


Dense chewy centers, soft and toffee-flavored, filled with warm chocolate, and crisp edges! Chocolate chip cookies with less sugar on

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!

Naturally Sweet 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.

Sucanat for chewy chocolate chip cookies with less sugar on

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:

Cookie dough for chewy chocolate chip cookies with less sugar on

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.

Cookie dough for chewy chocolate chip cookies with less sugar on

Cookie dough for chewy chocolate chip cookies with less sugar on

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.

Dense chewy centers, soft and toffee-flavored, filled with warm chocolate, and crisp edges! Chocolate chip cookies with less sugar on

And, from my experience, madly addicting.

Dense chewy centers, soft and toffee-flavored, filled with warm chocolate, and crisp edges! Chocolate chip cookies with less sugar on

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

Dense chewy centers, soft and toffee-flavored, filled with warm chocolate, and crisp edges! Chocolate chip cookies with less sugar on
Dense chewy centers, soft and toffee-flavored, filled with warm chocolate, and crisp edges! Chocolate chip cookies with less sugar on


Comments are closed.

  1. heather (delicious not gorgeous) says:

    the chewier the better! and i’ll have to check out sucanat (which my spell check wants to change to sultanate, which apparently is a female sultan).

  2. This cookie sounds amazing!! I was wondering if you know the carb total on them. Very interested in trying it with the new sugar product, sucanat.

    1. I don’t, sorry! You can use an online calculating tool if you’d like. 🙂

  3. I am blown way by the photos in this post.

    1. Thanks Lotte!

  4. Wow, these sound (and look) awesome! I think sucanate sounds delicious, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before…I’ll have to explore a bit 🙂

  5. Hi Sally!

    I always remove between 1/4 and 1/3rd of the sugar in your recipes (I like my cakes a bit less sweet) and they always work beautifully!


  6. Peppermint Dolly says:

    These look SO good!! Also love the photography, so great!


  7. Wow, these are gorgeous. I am so getting that book! And ordering Sucanat on Amazon. I’ve heard that word, but I swear I never knew what it was. That is pretty cool!
    And chocolate chip cookies? Please. I can never stop. Will eat them all before anyone has a chance, and that is totally not anything I will ever apologize for.

    1. You won’t be disappointed in this book. They’ve done their low sugar research! And you’ll really enjoy sucanat too.

  8. I am a huge fan of your cookies!!! and cakes and pies and cupcakes and everything …. But cookies are my favourites. And this one looks amazing! The chocolate chunks makes the cookies even more tempting!!

  9. Sophie Stewart says:

    These sounds so tasty, definitely must try! Sophie x

  10. Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It says:

    Self control around cookies is a thing? I missed the memo on that one. 😉 Love the idea of these cookies! 🙂

  11. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    Love that you’re all about the sugary and naturally sweet treats.  I’m the exact same way, one week I want cupcakes with all the buttercream frosting and another week I’m looking for something with less or natural sugar. Balance 😉

    1. YUP! Exactly how I feel.

  12. Carissa @ Domestic Dreamboat says:

    These look great! I can’t wait to try them and the Naturally Sweet Cookbook! I’m a sucker for any and all America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks…

    1. So am I!

  13. Dawn - Girl Heart Food says:

    I know what you mean about have no self control around cookies. It happens to the best of us sometimes 😉 Usually, I’m pretty good, but other times, watch out! Love that these look completely delicious and chocolatey but are lower in sugar. Does that mean I get to eat more, lol 😀 Have a great weekend!

  14. Once upon a time there was a perfect cookie… and I will devour it!

  15. I’m the biggest ATK fan and was so excited for this cookbook but I saw it got mixed reviews on Amazon. Is it worth it? I guess I’ll have to try these cookies and find out. 🙂

    1. Hayley– I love it. And I’m not being paid to say this! Besides the chocolate chip cookies, I’ve tried the molasses spice cookies and summer berry pie. All utterly fantastic.

  16. Wooo can’t wait to try these! I’ve made ATK’s perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe before and the cookies are soooooo good so I’m sure these are equally as amazing. Thanks for including some pictures from the baking process, I always find those so helpful!

  17. I have never ever been interested in baking healthy because I thought it would take away from the taste. And when I want sweets, they better taste amazing. But Sally, you just made me consider it! Those cookies look damn good. I need to have them all. Like, right now. But sadly, I must wait to make them until this weekend. Cannot wait to test them out. Thanks for convincing me to try new things!

    1. You’re welcome! And please let me know how they turn out.

  18. Sally,
    I just purchased this cookbook earlier in the week. I have a terrible sweet tooth…and I love to bake. So happy to read that you have already tried out a recipe that looked like a new favorite in our household.

    OMG – I made your Sweet Chili Chicken again for dinner last night. We never get tired of it.
    Please create more asian inspired recipes:)

    1. Thanks June! I also tried the molasses spice cookies in the book as well as the summer berry pie. I LOVED the pie. I’m glad you love that sweet chili chicken!

  19. Shelby @ Go Eat and Repeat says:

    These cookies are gorgeous, Sally! I also love your honesty in admitting Kevin maybe got one 😉

  20. Spirited Morgan @ Spirited and Then Some says:

    I’m so glad to know about this recipe! I am always on the hunt for tweet tooth recipes that are low in sugar. Not easy to do! 🙂

  21. Why do you call for 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sucanet when it is apparently added all at once?  Is this a misprint of measurement?

    1. Hi Robyn! That is the correct amount. I’m not really sure how to put that amount of sucanat into a measurement other than maybe 18.6 Tablespoons. I guess I could have written 1 cup plus 2.6 Tablespoons, but I followed how the cookbook printed it.

  22. Awesome, Sally, thanks for posting this. I’m all about chocolatey goodness with less sugar. And somehow I knew you’d be a fellow ATK fan. Baking nerds unite.

  23. Hey Sally….I love your recipes because they never fail me and I’ve recommended them to loads of my friends. However I find I want to eats loads of dessert and I just can’t if it’s very sweet (just personal taste not necessarily health reasons). So generally I just take out about 1/3-1/2 a cup of sugar from your recipes, sometimes more if I’m frosting.

    So I wanted to ask you, what the difference between using this stuff and just decreasing the regular sugar amount is. Does this taste as sweet as your regular recipes? In which case I would anyway prefer to put less in. I wonder if my question is clear! Thanks again for your clear recipes and beautiful pictures.

    1. I completely understand the question. These cookies do not taste as sweet as regular chocolate chip cookies. They have a ton of flavor and without all the extra sugar, you can really taste it. When you decrease sugar in recipes, usually decreasing a little is OK but if you cross the line and decrease by too much– the texture and look of your baked good can change. Especially with cookies. 1/3 cup is definitely an OK amount to decrease, depending on the size of the recipe. I hope my explanation makes sense!

      1. Your explanation is perfect. Thanks Sally.

    2. I guess I have a ‘Similar’ question as you, Tripti. And that question is pretty clear. So, am I able to change the sucanat (my spell checker changes it into Susan) into the same amount of normal granulated sugar even if that is so NOT the healthiest choice? Looked through all the stores but no way I’m ever going to find that thing! (I am super bad at finding stuff)

  24. Hi Sally!
    I’m a huge fan of coconut sugar! I bought a bag at Trader Joe’s on a whim and substituted a 1/4 cup of it for regular sugar in a sugar cookie. They were the best sugar cookies I ever made! I will have to try your almond butter chocolate chip cookies with it! Stunning new pictures by the way!

  25. Nila @ The Tough Cookie says:

    Hi Sally, I just have to tell you that I LOVE the photos in this post, especially the first one. It’s beautiful! I’ve noticed that you’ve been experimenting with new backgrounds in your photos and I was wondering whether you made them yourself. They look awesome! 😀

    1. Thank you so much Nila– I really appreciate that compliment! I wish that I was talented enough to make my own– I have in the past, but they don’t compare to these– but I purchase them all from Erickson Woodworks. I don’t know what I’d do without my collection at this point!

  26. Hi Sally, I made these cookies today. Actually found the Sucanat in town at Whole Foods. However, my cookie dough didn’t turn golden, and the cookies didn’t spread out. They were yummy, don’t get me wrong, but they didn’t look anything like yours. They are cookie beige, and still kind of domed, not nice and flat like yours. I used a scoop to portion out the dough, and they baked a total of 12 minutes. My oven runs a bit hot. The color could be a different brand of the sucanat i guess, but not sure about the not spreading. any ideas? Thanks! Love your recipes and as mentioned above, the pictures are beautiful!

    1. Funny – I had the opposite experience. My cookies spread out paper thin. Followed the recipe exactly – with a scale even, let the dough chill for an hour, and I have an oven thermometer so I know where my temp is at. The cookies taste great but I think wheat thins are thicker than my cookies.

      1. Sorry about your experience! If you’d ever like to give them a 2nd try, I would chill for longer. You can even chill for 1 hour, roll into balls, then chill for 2-3 more hours if you have the time. This should help.

      2. Wait 3-4 hours plus baking/cooling before I get to eat chocolate chip cookies?? Girrrrrl… cray cray. They’re still soft, chewy cookies that have a serious butterscotch flavor goin on – you shouldn’t apologize.
        You know what this dough could probably handle – some oats. I think it’s sticky enough to take on oats, and the fiber boost would be a great add for a lower sugar cookie.

      3. Adding oats is a GREAT idea!

    2. I truly wonder if it is the brand of sucanat?! I’m sorry about your results! But I’m happy you enjoy the taste. How about skipping the chilling? They should spread by skipping that step.

      1. Ok, WIll try that. Thanks! I did let it sit in the fridge for 60 minutes. Will try not leaving them in that long, or just skip it altogether. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t do something terribly wrong! Loved them and will make as many times at it takes to get them correct!

  27. Is sucanat interchangeable in this recipe with panela? Visually they seem quite similar, but I’m not familiar enough with sucanat to know how it reacts in cooking.

    1. I’m unsure– sorry! I don’t have any experience baking with it. Worth a try though.

  28. Hi Sally these cookies look so yaming

  29. Mmmm! They look so, so good! I am definitely going to have to try them out. x

  30. Hi, I was wondering if I could replace all or some of the sucanat with stevia or a stevia sugar combo? Thanks 

    1. I’m unsure about stevia or a combination, but it wouldn’t hurt to test it out. Coconut sugar is tested substitution. See the recipe notes if you’d like to try them with it.

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