Compost Cookies®

These compost cookies, created by Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, have a pretty surprising and impressive array of mix-ins, including ground espresso, potato chips, and pretzels. Salty, sweet, chewy, gooey, and soul satisfying.

A single compost cookie from Christina Tosi.

Celebrity pastry chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar knows a thing or three about cookies. In particular, Compost Cookies, which are the darling of the Momofuku Milk Bar dynasty. Legend has it she learned the premise behind these chocolate-y, potato chip-y, pretzel-y, butter-y, coffee-y lovelies years ago where, with limited access to ingredients, she learned to get creative with what she had on hand. “We might not have had enough chocolate chips to make chocolate chip cookies,” Tosi recalls. “But if we threw in other mix-ins as well, the seven hundred some guests would never notice the shortage of one ingredient—and the cookies would always feel brand-new, because they were different every time. I found after many batches that my favorite Compost Cookies had my favorite snacks in them: chocolate and butterscotch chips, potato chips, pretzels, graham crackers, and coffee (grounds).” We think the stir-ins she fancies most are as sassy and savvy as any cookie stir-ins around. And we think you’ll concur.–Renee Schettler

Compost Cookies®

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 35 M
  • 2 H
  • Makes about 18 cookies
5/5 - 1 reviews
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In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, and glucose (or corn syrup) on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes more.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no more than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step or you risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

With the mixer still on low speed or with a wooden spoon, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and paddle, still on low speed, just until incorporated. Be careful not to overmix the dough or you’ll break too many pretzels and potato chips.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 2 3/4-ounce ice cream scoop or a 1/3-cup measure, portion the dough onto the parchment. Pat the top of each cookie dough dome so it becomes flat. Don’t worry if the dough blobs are super close to one another. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least overnight and up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature as they will not bake properly.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Arrange the flattened, chilled blobs of cookie dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on the prepared sheets and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. During this time, the cookies will puff, crack, and spread. When done, they should be very faintly browned on the edges. If that’s not the case, give them an extra minute or so in the oven. [Editor’s Note: We can’t emphasize enough how paramount it is that you not overbake these cookies. Definitely take a peek at 15 minutes, just to be safe. The cookies will look somewhat underdone in the center, but that’s just the way you want them to look when you pull them from the oven as it ensures the ridiculously perfect ratio of crunchy to chewy in this cookie.]

Let the the Compost Cookies® cool completely on the baking sheets before transferring to a plate for noshing or an airtight container for storage. You can keep the cookies at room temperature for up to 5 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month. Originally published September 18, 2014.

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    *What Kind Of Coffee Grounds To Use

    • See, the recipe calls for coffee grounds. To clarify, that means ground coffee. But not, according to Tosi, “the wet, sog-alicious grounds that have already brewed a pot of coffee” that you’d typically compost. Still, we respect where she’s going with “compost” in the title. And not to worry—it doesn’t make a difference what kind of coffee you use, just don’t use instant coffee.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    These Compost Cookies are pretty wonderful. While my first thought was that the eclectic combination of ingredients would compete against one another, I found they really complemented one another. The depth of the chocolate with the sweet butterscotch chips and the addition of the salty potato chips and pretzels made for a salty-sweet cookie.

    The coffee was a fantastic addition. Even though the cookie didn't have a strong coffee flavor, the aroma of the ground coffee in the cookie was truly wonderful.

    I couldn’t tell you how long these cookies would keep because they were gone the first day. This is the kind of cookie that could be a great adventure with each new batch.

    Keep an eye on them while they bake. They go from underdone to overdone very quickly. I would check them at 15 minutes. This recipe lends itself to creativity. I'm thinking of throwing in peanut butter cups, various chopped candy bars, and a whole host of other snacks. These cookies do not look like a typical chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie. There's stuff poking out from all over the cookie. It may not be the prettiest cookie, but it had a charm all its own.

    These Compost Cookies fit the bill when you need something sweet but also want that hit of salt. You might not taste each of the components, but you’ll be glad they are all there.

    The only problem is that you need to plan ahead—not so easy when you’ve got a craving. I’m wondering if the cookie pucks can be frozen once they’ve hardened up in the fridge so they can be baked when the moment is right. If not, at least we know the baked cookies can be frozen for up to a month. I used my favorite store-brand mini twist pretzels and Lay’s kettle chips, both of which I thought broke down too much in the mixing. Next time, I’ll use the mixer for 1 to 2 seconds and finish the mixing by hand.

    I also used chopped bittersweet chocolate instead of the butterscotch and chocolate chips, so there were pools of chocolate in the cookies. I used a 1/3-cup measure to portion out the cookies resulting in 15 massive but thin cookies. I’m glad I baked 5 cookies on each of 3 cookie sheets—they spread so much that they all ran into each other just a bit. Be careful when portioning the cookies so you don’t crush the chips and pretzels even more.


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    1. I love this cookie recipe, but I hate how much they spread. I have tried to leave them in the fridge and also freezer overnight. The actual cookie they sale at Milk Bar isnt as thin. Is there a way to give the cookie a thicker texture? Thanks in advance!

      1. I’m glad to hear you love them, Tammy! Are you weighing your ingredients? That might help, or you could try adding an extra tablespoon or two of flour to help stiffen the dough a bit. Also, make sure you’re not over-baking the cookies. They should look a little underdone when you pull them out of the oven. I hope that helps!

    2. My family goes nuts for these cookies. I don’t know why, but I tend to only make them once a year and when I do they all positively swoon. Worth every step. I also use corn syrup and I work in some Heath bar chips because I always seem to have a 1/4 cup or so sitting around. I think the name alludes to the fact that you use up all those bits and pieces.

      1. Exactly, Mom24. Just about anything goes. I swap out the butterscotch chips and add more chocolate. One of these times I’m going to mix in some chopped blistered peanuts. Anyways, lovely to hear these are considered swoon-worthy in your house, too!

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