How to make a killer brown-butter bacon chocolate chip cookie

Photo: Kevin Pang
Photo: Kevin Pang

We’re not usually prone to hyperbole, but pastry chef Dana Cree made one of the best chocolate chip cookies we’ve ever tasted.


Cree, the James Beard Award-nominated chef of Chicago’s The Publican, came up with a cookie using brown butter and crispy bacon bits. Whereas other recipes have you incorporating cold butter into the mixture, the fats used in Cree’s cookie are liquid—melted, but not hot. The flour gets hydrated differently than usual, which creates a cookie that’s crisp around the edges and teeth-sinking soft and gooey as you bite into the center. It’s also one of the easier cookies you’ll make. (Note: This will taste just as great without the bacon.)

If at all possible, use the metric measurements (grams).

Brown-Butter Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe by Dana Cree, The Publican

The Publican pastry chef Dana Cree and her brown-butter bacon chocolate chip cookies. (Photo: Kevin Pang)
The Publican pastry chef Dana Cree and her brown-butter bacon chocolate chip cookies. (Photo: Kevin Pang)
  • 1/2 (120 g) cup melted butter liquid, but not hot
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) bacon fat liquid, but not hot
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) vanilla paste
  • 1 cup (220 g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) sea salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 cup (280 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) baking soda
  • 8 oz. (200 g) dark chocolate chips
  • 8 oz. (200 g) milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (200 g) bacon bits

1. Brown the butter. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will foam and turn from pale yellow to toasted light brown. Make sure you don’t rush this step and burn the butter! Set aside to cool.

2. Mix the wet ingredients. Place the melted brown butter, bacon fat, vanilla paste, brown sugar, sugar, sea salt, egg, and egg yolk in the bowl of a mixer fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until everything is smooth and even.

3. Add the chunky bits. Add the dark and milk chocolate chunks and the bacon bits and mix on low speed until they are mixed and even.


4. Mix in the dry ingredients. Sift the flour and baking soda together and add them to the bowl. Mix on low speed, pulsing the mixer on and off to avoid the flour poofing out of the bowl. When the flour is 50 percent incorporated, let the mixer run at low speed until the dough comes together, about one minute.

5. Scoop the dough and bake. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop with a 2-oz. cookie scoop into balls. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top if you like. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes, until the cookies puff up and then just start to collapse on themselves. The centers should feel gooey, and the edges should appear golden brown and crisp. When the cookies are done, remove the pan from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pan for 10 minutes before removing them.


Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.


Lord of the Ducks

The Publican has a cookbook, it seems to have good reviews but I’ve not read it and don’t know if this recipe is in there or not.

This recipe looks good. A couple of quick notes:

  • It takes about 1lb (12-16 strips) of bacon precooked weight to get a cup of cooked bacon bits
  • Do NOT use imitation bacon bits
  • Recipe doesn’t specify (as of this post) but I’m guessing it calls for dark brown sugar
  • I’d probably use all brown sugar (especially since i would be using vanilla extract instead of paste)
  • The salt may not be needed depending on how salty your bacon is
  • Remember sea salt has a different density than table or kosher salt so best to go by mass
  • The recipe looks like it was scaled down from a restaurant scale one
  • Vanilla extract can be used in place of vanilla paste
  • If desired, you can use two whole eggs instead of one egg and one yolk, but you may need to add some more flour (up to 1/4c)
  • Otherwise you can refrigerate or freeze the egg white for later use
  • I would add the baking soda in with the wet ingredients, then incorporate flour 1/4c at a time, adding some of the bits and chips in with each 1/4c flour to make sure they get evenly distributed