Adobo Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Abi Balingit

Adapted by Genevieve Ko

Updated Oct. 11, 2023

Adobo Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe (1)

Total Time
2 hours
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
2 hours
Read community notes

These cookies amaze with a salted caramel richness that comes from bay leaves, soy sauce and vinegar, key ingredients in many savory Filipino adobo dishes, bound by toasty brown butter. This chocolate chip cookie recipe is adapted from “Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed” (Harvest, 2023) by Abi Balingit. In it, she writes of her “insatiable desire for new combinations of sweet, salty, savory, sour and umami in desserts,” and this cookie hits all of those notes. But Ms. Balingit balances those seasonings so no single flavor distracts from the thrill of tasting something familiar with a totally new depth. Crisp around the edges and soft through the centers, they also have a fruity, aromatic pop of pink peppercorns on top. —Genevieve Ko

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Yield:About 20 cookies

  • 1cup/228 grams unsalted butter
  • 2fresh bay leaves or 4 dried bay leaves
  • cups/306 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1teaspoon baking soda
  • 1packed cup/220 grams dark brown sugar
  • ¾cup/150 grams granulated sugar
  • 1large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • ¼cup/66 grams soy sauce
  • 2teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 10ounces/290 grams dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1tablespoon pink peppercorns
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (20 servings)

303 calories; 16 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 37 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 22 grams sugars; 4 grams protein; 256 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Adobo Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Place the butter and bay leaves in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the butter melts and the specks of milk solids turn golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Immediately pour the brown butter into a large bowl and discard the bay leaves. Set aside until cool enough to touch, about 10 minutes.

  2. Step


    Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the flour and baking soda until the baking soda is evenly distributed.

  3. Add both sugars to the cooled butter and mix by hand until well combined. Mix in the egg, egg yolk, soy sauce, vanilla and vinegar. Gently mix in the flour mixture until no floury streaks remain. Stir in the chocolate until evenly distributed.

  4. Step


    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and chill the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or, ideally, overnight to allow more time for the flavors to meld. (If you have time for an overnight rest, the baked cookies will have an intense caramel flavor.) If the dough has rested overnight, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to make it easier to scoop into balls.

  5. Step


    Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.

  6. Step


    In a small skillet, toast the pink peppercorns on low heat until they start to smell fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or by pressing with a heavy skillet on a cutting board.

  7. Step


    Using a 3-tablespoon cookie scoop, portion the dough into balls. Place about 6 balls on a prepared sheet, making sure to leave at least 2 inches of space between the balls. Place the bowl of remaining cookie dough back in the fridge until the first sheet is done baking.

  8. Step


    Sprinkle some of the crushed pink peppercorns and flaky sea salt on top of the dough balls before popping the baking sheet into the oven.

  9. Step


    Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown, then drop the sheet against the oven rack (or another sturdy rack or surface) from a height of 5 inches to create outer ripples in the cookies. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat the process with the remaining cookie dough and lined baking sheets.



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Cooking Notes


When I first saw this recipe of the day, I thought it was an early April Fool's joke, but... no. Try these. They're a life-changing experience. Take note of your soy sauce's sodium content before using that full 1/4 cup, though. My japanese kikoman has 3,720 mg of sodium in that amount, and a teaspoon of salt is around 2,300 mg. Most brown butter cookie recipes use half the salt that this one winds up calling for. 3 tablespoons of soy sauce (about 1.5 tsp salt) was perfect for me.


These are fabulous and so easy to make. I changed the 1/4 cup of soy sauce to 3 tablespoons like another commenter suggested. Used Maldon flaky salt and pink peppercorns, what a crazy concoction of ingredients! These might be the best cookies I've ever made.


Scoop and then chill. Then you can let them rest for up to 36 hours (optimal hydration time) and pop as many in the oven as you want without the warming up period to scoop period. You can also then freeze and bake a few from frozen as desired.


Incredible!! Used dairy free butter and flax egg to make them vegan, and they still turned out great. Reminded me of my mom’s chicken adobo growing up. I used a bit less chocolate (simply because I was running low), and I actually think it allowed more of the cookie base to come through. Only let them fridge for a few hours and could still taste the caramel. Will be making these again next week and am excited to see how a longer time in the fridge affects the flavor.

London Mary

Try cracking the peppercorns whatever the colour by half covering the bottom of a garlic press: crack, remove with a knife point, and repeat. Tidy and efficient.


I've never seen a cookie recipe that could tolerate 1/4 c added liquid without either flattening out (in a thin batter) or becoming cakey (in a thicker one). Can someone help me understand the food chemistry that makes this recipe work?


What a fun recipe to try and a great way to use up the last of my Trader Joe's soy sauce and have an excuse to play with pink peppercorns. I made a few modifications for my own taste buds. Cut the sugar to 1/2 cup dark brown and 1/4 granulated. Used about 9oz dark chocolate...results are still plenty sweet for me. I chilled the batter overnight and it needed more than 30 minutes to soften. Yield 27 cookies, not all the same size, as I don't have a cookie scoop.


Believe it or not, these are fantastic. I bought a whole bag of red peppercorns to use in this recipe and I intend to make them again and again until they’re gone. Worth it.


Good in a way that you didn’t know cookies could be good. You don’t taste the soy sauce, bay or vinegar as separate ingredients. They just add an umami depth that makes these hard to describe and even harder to stop eating. I made them exactly as written and they came our perfect. Don’t skip the step of dropping the pan on the counter. It makes a difference in the final texture.

Maria La Ganga

I made these today, and the jury is still out. I was so looking forward to the mix of sweet and savory. I’m a very regular cookie baker. I can’t remember a cookie that didn’t work. And I’m a Genevieve Ko fan. Her flourless fudgy brownies are the best ever. But I think the bay leaf flavor in these was a bit strong. And there was a definite apple cider vinegar aftertaste. Any thoughts?


OK, we've reached peak CCC silliness. These are not good cookies. I shared them with a dozen friends and co-workers, and the consensus is, why? J Kenji Lopez Alt has developed a set of brilliant CCC recipes, and this one doesn't add anything that improves on those. I acknowledge those who grew up in Filipino homes, for whom these flavors carry strong memories. I love adobo, as a savory dish, and I like chocolate chip cookies. Let's keep them separate.

Catherine Marchant

I’ve never found a chocolate chip cookie that I hated…until now.

Ken P

I have made countless recipes from NYT. They are always delicious. The recipe is the single worst cookie I have ever eaten. I followed the recipe exactly, and a single cookie made my stomach churn in the worst possible way.

Highlander Rob

OMgoodness! These are a wonderful contrast to the "over the top sugar bomb"cookies that are the staple in our Recipe Box of Chocolate Chip Cookies. I do agree with others that 3 tablespoons of soy sauce (I substitute Braggs Amino Acids). Plus using 290 g. of Scharffen Berger Unsweetened chocolate chopped. I find they are even better the following day to enjoy the Savory-Sweet contrast. This is a winner and gave 15 cookies for a birthday gift recently and I got rave reviews too. Cheers!


It was fun to try something new, but I would describe this as an overly sweet chocolate chip cookie topped with cracked pepper. The complexity that I wished for just didn't come through for me. I agree with reviewers who thought there was too much chocolate and not enough cookie. The adobo flavors of soy sauce and apple cider vinegar were subtle to the point of non-existence. Followed the recipe to a T.


Ok so yeah, fantastic cookies. I followed the other two and only used 3 tbs of soy sauce and I’d actually add the full 1/4 cup next time bc I want a little more funk (it’s only 1 tbs more). I also accidentally doubled the ACV and it was totally fine, couldn’t taste the difference. I replaced pink peppercorns with a mixture of white pepper and cayenne folded into the dough. Would probably still prefer the pink peppercorns if you have them though!


I made these following the instructions with the only exception being that I reduced the sugar. The dough was in the fridge overnight. I even dropped the baking pan onto my counter. However the cookies were mounds instead of flat. I am not sure what went wrong there. The cookies are good but the pepper takes too much of a center stage rather than being a mysterious hint of spice. Maybe the peppercorns I got were more potent but I would reduce the amount used next time.

Joe Shocket

The cookies did not turn out well in my first attempt. I decided to try one more time, and what a difference! The only thing I did differently was the egg...I was out of eggs! so I substituted water, vegetable oil, and baking soda. Also, when I chilled the dough in the frig. I plastic wrapped it this time and chilled overnight. The cookies turned out wonderful, as the nurses in the hospital where I volunteer can attest to. I'm glad I gave these cookies a 2nd chance. They are wonderful.


I made these cookies yesterday. I chilled the dough in the frig. overnight and baked the following day. They came out of the oven flat like pancakes and underbaked, moist and sticking to the parchment paper. I froze them in the freezer the following night and they came out infinitesimally better, but not much better. Not a great recipe, first NYT recipe to let me down.

Emily B.

These cookies are INCREDIBLE!! Such beautifully complex, rich caramel flavor. I made these for holiday cookie boxes this year and they were the standout. My husband kept sneaking cookies when I wasn’t looking. Followed the recipe exactly and had no issues. I did chill the dough overnight and agree that it helped build the flavor.


Next time i make these I’ll cut the chocolate in half- it overpowers the taste of the amazing dough. Also followed others note to only use 3 tbsp of soy sauce


I think I had more loose peppercorn flakes on the sheet pan than on the cookies. In the last step, dropping the sheet of baked cookies resulted in peppercorn bits flying everywhere. I agree with the suggestions to cut the amount of sugars (I used half); I also used 3 tbsp soy sauce as many others suggested. I also reduced the amount of chocolate by about 1/3.

bethany H

This cookie has so many scientific fails for me. The brown butter made it flat and greasy. The soy sauce also messed with the texture. Flavor wise it was good. But not a pretty cookie. I must have done something wrong bc mine looked nothing like the one in the pic


I had the same issues. They came out flat like pancakes, undercooked (10-12 minutes), sticking to the parchment paper. Very disappointed.


I don’t understand the last step (dropping the sheet against oven rack?). Could someone explain how exactly to do that?


My daughter made these, and as an experienced baker, I rolled my eyes and said “Whatever.” OMG, these are truly the bomb and I’m afraid I ate way more of them than she intended for me to! Going to put them in the Christmas rotation this year.

kilo sierra

I'm not sure about this- the peppercorns were overwhelming (too many?). The batter was good but that's a lot of liquid. I made some w/out peppercorns. My cookies didn't flatten out- I expected this to be more like the "Giant Crinkle Cookie" recipe here which is my favorite recipe- these stayed kinda tall in the middle, maybe I needed to bake them longer? They browned but are very soft in the center. I chilled overnight, scooped and chilled them again.I'm glad I tried them though!

Rita Nathanson

These cookies from the Filipino American cookbook by Abi Balingit, adapted by Genevieve Ko are an amazing melange of flavors. They are smoky and rich and have real depth. After the first bite, my taste buds said.....exotic! I found the pink peppercorns (not really peppercorns) online. You need these.

anna r

I’ve made these cookies four times now, they are fantastic and the flavor is so unique - a perfect dessert to bring to parties. Chilling the dough overnight makes a big difference in the development of depth of flavor. If you do this and let sit at room temp. in order to scoop, I would suggest re-chilling the balled dough on the sheet before baking so they don’t spread out.

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Adobo Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe (2024)
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