An easy recipe for the best, homemade M&M cookies made with real, unsalted butter, and no shortening. Simple to make and kid-friendly, this is the perfect holiday cookie!
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Why do children act like they’re being punished when we take them out to buy things? If somebody took my hand and said to me, “Come on, Kelly. We are going to the mall and I’m gonna deck you out with a season full of new clothes and shoes,” I would literally marry them, right there on the spot. But, oh. Not the case for my children. No. To my kids shopping is pure torture, and they make sure I know it. So, in order for their torture not to become my torture, I’ve picked up a few tricks. The main one being bribery.
When the shopping bags begin stacking up, and my kids are borderline breakdown, I can’t tell you how truly grateful I am for that little cookie shop in the mall. It’s just the incentive they need to keep on trucking, and it’s the happy ending I need after dealing with two unhappy children in public.
Yes, that little cookie shop in the mall is the light at the end of the tunnel, and that precious, little cookie with the festive M&M’s? It’s is exactly what we all needed to brighten our spirits.
Then, one day a stroke of genius hit me: Why not bring those precious M&M cookies home? Then, I could practically bribe them all the time. Genius. So I went to work, in an effort to create the best, chewy M&M cookie a kid could ask for…or get paid off with. Whatever.
SWAPPING CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES FOR M&M COOKIES
However, the endeavor was a lit-tle more time consuming than I had originally expected. You see, I thought I could take my prized chocolate chip cookie recipe, and simply replace the semi-sweet chocolate chips with M&M’s. Unfortunately, the cookie just wasn’t right. Replacing the chocolate chips with M&M’s had a greater impact on the cookie than I would have expected. The base of the cookie was sort of one note — and that note was sweet. Really sweet.
When I thought about it, the overt sweetness actually made sense. M&M’s are made with milk chocolate, not to mention that whole candy shell thing, and chocolate chip cookies call for semi-sweet chocolate chips. The bitterness from the semi-sweet chips helps to balance the sweetness in the cookie base. So, I reduced the sugar in the M&M cookie recipe, and that definitely helped — but they still weren’t perfect. And, I needed a cookie worth bribing for.
So, it was back to the test kitchen. This time, I made two changes. A reduction in flour, and rather than using a mixture of both butter and shortening, I used only butter for the M&M cookies. Butter has more flavor than shortening, and this cookie needed more depth of flavor. Shortening usually helps to produce a chewy, cake-like cookie, but with lots of baking experience under my belt, I knew if I adjusted the flour ratio just right, I would still end up with a soft and chewy M&M cookie. Mission accomplished.
HOW TO MAKE M&M COOKIES
M&M cookies have all the same elements as a chocolate chip cookie, minus the chocolate chips (actually, if you wanted to throw in a few semi-sweet chocolate chips, you could totally get away with that), and they are made using an identical method.
WHISK DRY INGREDIENTS TO COMBINE
To make the M&M cookies, you first mix your dry ingredients: Flour, baking powder, and salt. A whisk is all you need to mix the dry ingredients. Then, you’ll move on to your wet ingredients: Butter, granulated and brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
MIX WET INGREDIENTS WITH CARE
If you want a picture-perfect, chewy M&M cookie, you’ll need to pull in some equipment right about now. Either a handheld mixer or a stand mixer will do. To help get some air in those cookies, we’ll beat the butter and the sugars together on medium-high speed for no less than two minutes. After the sugar and butter mixture is all light and fluffy, scrape down the bowl, mix once more, and the eggs go in. One. At. A. Time. Mixing well in between each addition. The whole “scraping down the bowl” and “eggs one at a time” thing is actually kind of important. It’s what ensures the cookie batter is evenly mixed. Properly mixed wet ingredients are like insurance against random spreading and burning while baking. Then the vanilla extract goes in, and the wet ingredients are mixed once more.
DON’T OVERMIX WHEN ADDING THE DRY INGREDIENTS
Once the wet ingredients are evenly incorporated, the dry ingredients are mixed in on low, just until dry flour is no longer visible. And, finally, the time has come — M&M time, that is. A hefty serving of M&M’s go into the batter and it’s time to bake.
CRACKS IN THE M&M’S
Cracks. They were my arch nemesis. I baked these cookies at all different sizes, temperatures, and times, and there was one common denominator between all the batches — the cookies with M&Ms exposed on the surface had cracks in the candy. If you aren’t an O.C.D. perfectionist type personality, you should be totally fine here. However, if you don’t like the look of cracked M&M’s, you should totally try one of these other ah-mazing desserts, cause honey, there ain’t no get’n around those cracks. Trust me. I tried. Ultimately, I came to love and accept them, cause I mean, c’mon — just look at this cookie. It’s adorable.
So adorable that I should have no trouble at all bribing my little ones at home. Now, if you aren’t into bribing, I’m sure you could find tons of other great uses for these festive, little M&M cookies. In fact, I’ve got one for you right here: Just about every season, M&M puts out a new batch of seasonal colors so no matter if it’s Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas on the horizon, you can count on this M&M Cookies recipe to be a simple, make-ahead crowd pleaser.
Use ’em as chore bait, or a festive way to ring in the season. Either way, please, enjoy.
An easy recipe for the best, homemade M&M cookies made with real, unsalted butter, and no shortening.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup unsalted, room temperature butter (preferably, use a high-quality butter)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup M&M candies
Preheat the oven to 350° and have ready a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside until ready to use.
Add the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. If you do not have a stand mixer, use a handheld mixer and a large mixing bowl. Beat the butter and sugars together for 2-3 minutes on medium-high, or until light and fluffy.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix once more. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more, add the vanilla and mix again.
Add the dry ingredients, and mix on medium-low speed just until combined. Add the M&M candies and mix once more.
Add a scant tablespoons of dough to the baking sheet, spacing each dough round at least an inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until sides of the cookies are golden brown.
Do not use salted butter.
Makes 35-40 cookies.