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. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says:

    omigosh I HAVE GOT to try these!!

  2. Colleen McKenzie Riggins says:

    I love sucanat! I try not to feed my son any refined sugar, which makes my family think I’m nuts, especially because I love to bake! I can make him these sometime!

    1. I’ve found it fun to test recipes with unrefined sugar. If you’d like, try these almond butter chocolate chip cookies. I make them with coconut sugar!

  3. Bummed I can’t find Sucanat and will obviously have to order. Bought demerara sugar when I was at the store, because I didn’t write down Sucanat. Can’t wait to try! Love ATK!

  4. Just looking at this page is making me fat 😉 Hee hee. And I don’t mind

  5. Hello! can you add brewers yeast and flaxseed meal to this recipe? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Claudine– I’m unsure, haven’t tested it.

  6. I always cut sugar in my desserts by ½ – ⅓. While sweet tooth’s are rather personal, I always get rave reviews and few notice the missing sugar. In my opinion, too much sugar, like too much salt, hides the flavor of the other ingredients.

  7. I made these with 1/2 c maple sugar and 2/3 c homemade date sugar. They baked up too high and puffy, probably because I tinkered with the recipe. 🙁 I would like to try my sugar substitutions again next time but maybe if I omit the baking powder they will be flatter. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Sugar makes cookies spread out. I don’t think reducing the baking powder will help, from what I’ve read anyway.

  8. Did you have to grind the sucanat? Or just add straight from the bag?

    1. Just straight from the bag is good!

  9. I ADORE your recipes, especially this one. My mom is a health nut and keeps a healthy supply of sucanat around. Usually, I have to triple the recipe because I have a large family (6 siblings), and I haven’t gotten a bad review yet!
    I’m a bit curious: Why the extra egg yolk? Does it make the cookie more chewy or dense?

    1. Extra chewy, extra dense, extra rich! Don’t leave it out. Enjoy!

  10. I have not had a recipe from your site yet that I haven’t adored! Out of curiosity: do you have any cookie recipes that use coconut oil instead of butter?

    1. Hi Mia! Here are all my recipes using coconut oil:

  11. Hi! This is my first time baking cookies, I’ve used Muscovado instead of Sucanat. Same measurements. It’s good, but I’m just wondering why does mine grows puffy? Am I doing anything wrong. And how can I tweak it to make the cookies more moist and chewy and very slightly crispy? 

  12. I just made these, and they’re awesome.

    At this point, I just go straight to you first any time I need a new recipe. I’ve never been let down. Best baking blog by far.

  13. Can u substitute Sucanat with coconut palm sugar? It’s kinda difficult for me to find Sucanat sugar in Thailand:( Or if you have any other suggestions for a better sugar substitution please let me know!

    1. I can’t see why not!

  14. Hi sally, would rapadura sugar do the same job as the sucanat? (Seems like both are cane sugars and can’t seem to find the sucanat easily in Australia?)thanks

    1. I’ve never used that type of sugar before, but it’s worth a shot! Let me know how it turns out.

      1. I ended up getting Panela sugar- another unrefined cane sugar. Delicious and so chewy!

    2. Rapadura is the same as sucanat; just different names from different producers/countries.

  15. Have you tried substituting all purpose Einkorn flour for the regular flour in this recipe? I have been trying to bake with it exclusively as it has 30% more protein, and is just healthier.

    1. Jennifer, I have made these with Einkorn all purpose flour and they turned out very good. I did think that perhaps they could use a little more flour to make a slightly denser dough as Einkorn isn’t as absorbent as regular organic all-purpose flour, but I haven’t tried it. These also turn out perfectly with the whole wheat Einkorn flour.

  16. I don’t see how this is low sugar since the sugar is approx 72% of the flour content which is high. Maybe I’m missing something?

  17. Andrea Benesh says:


    I used your recipe as a guide and substituted eggs for flax meal eggs, and regular butter for vegan butter. Of course, the chocolate chips were vegan-approved as well. My husband and I loved the cookies! However, I am now trying to make chocolate chip cookies suitable for all of my family’s dietary needs. My mother-in-law is diabetic and my partner and I are vegan. Out of curiosity, could all-purpose flour be substituted for almond flour or any other diabetes-friendly flour?


    1. Hi Andrea, I haven’t tested these with any other type of flour before. Please let me know if you do!

  18. These are almost 60% sugar (or sucanat). That is a higher ratio of sugar than most cookie recipies that I have seen. How is that less sugar? I don’t get it.

    1. I was wondering the same thing.
      I am a type one diabetic and wanted to find a good cookie with no sugar or at least a lot less.

  19. This looks amazing!!! I’m trying it out this afternoon and are having a question: Can you skip the baking soda? I cannot find it in all the grocery stores near my house and I am totally panicking.

    1. Hi Meg! I don’t recommend leaving out the baking soda.

  20. Can chopped dark chocolate candy bars be used for the chocolate chunks?

    1. Hi Brenda! Chopped dark chocolate candy bars should be fine as an add-in to this cookie dough.

  21. These cookies are amazing. I’m not a fan of overly sweet cookies and these are super yummy. I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out fantastic. I love the deep molasses like flavor. As always this is great recipe as are your others.

  22. These are amazing! I have made multiple times!!! Such a great recipe!

  23. Could you use wheat flour instead of all purpose?

    1. Hi Chris, you can but the cookies will have a heartier texture and may taste dry.

  24. I adore the texture of these cookies. I have made and eaten many of your cookie recipes but this one has become my favorite! I substituted 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose with good results. Soft, thick and chewy

  25. These are the best chocolate chip cookies I have eaten in life !!

  26. Hi, any way you can use jaggery instead of sucanat? I can’t seem to find it here in SA.

    1. Hi Basheera, I have not tested it but let me know if you do!

  27. Can I sub in dark brown sugar and maple syrup for the sucanat? How much dark brown sugar and maple syrup would be appropriate for this recipe?

    1. Hi Susanna, I don’t recommend adding a liquid sweetener but you can use dark brown sugar instead of the sucanat.

      1. That’s helpful, thank you!

  28. Delicious as always! My brother and I are huge fans of this recipe. His cookies as way better than mine though 😉
    Wishing you a nice day 🙂

  29. Hi,
    Is this recipe able to be done by hand? Without a mixer? I am extremely new at baking!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lex, You can certainly try mixing this by hand, but it will take a lot of arm muscle to cream the butter. Let us know if you try this recipe!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally