Perfect M&M Cookies:
All Butter, No Shortening

One of America's favorite cookies, M&M Cookies are an adaptation of the traditional Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, topped with crayon-colored M&M candies. It's my friend Kathy's 'signature' recipe, one she's tweaked and perfected over many years. Best of all, her cookie recipe uses butter, real butter, not shortening.

M&M Cookies

Observant bakers, study the ingredient list. Yes, it’s just a nibble different than the classic Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe, America’s favorite for 75 years. But oh, the difference!

My friend Kathy has tweaked the M&M Cookies variation for a decade, achieving a perfect balance of crispy chewiness and chocolaty sweetness. If it stirs an irresistible urge to clip, bookmark or print – now! – you’re not alone for the recipe rouses otherwise rational cooks into the kitchen at odd hours.

Kathy makes 15 – 20 batches a year and at Christmas, shares ten dozen at my friends’ annual cookie swap where new recipes may be ooo-ed and aaah-ed over but Kathy’s cookies are coveted. Topped with red and green M&Ms, they’re just so eye-catching – the ones kids snatch up and grown-ups reach for first. Fights have been known to break out over the last cookie on the plate.

ALANNA's TIPS These cookies spread during baking! My cookie sheet usually holds 20 cookies but fits only 6 or 10 M&M Cookies. Place the M&Ms gently atop the partially baked dough, they’ll settle in perfectly. If you press, even lightly, they’ll be buried. Seasonal M&Ms transform favorite Christmas cookies into black and orange Halloween treats and pastel Easter goodies. For anyone courting Leprechaun Luck, for St. Patrick’s Day, consider the mythical aphrodisiac seduction of all-green M&Ms. I save a perhaps-obvious tip for last: a double batch.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. If you like this Kitchen Parade recipe, consider a free e-mail subscription. Once or twice a week when a new recipe is published, you'll be notified via e-mail. How to print a recipe on Kitchen Parade. If you like Kitchen Parade, forward this recipe to a friend who might too! If you really like Kitchen Parade, you'll like my food blog about vegetables, too, A Veggie Venture.


First grabbed, first to disappear
Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Start-to-finish: 1-1/4 hours
Makes 3-1/2 dozen cookies, easily halved
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, golden or dark
  • 1 generous teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs at room temperature (or warmed in warm water for 5 minutes)
  • M&Ms, 6 per cookie

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars with an electric mixer until creamy. Add vanilla, then one at a time, the eggs, mixing well after each. Mix in flour mixture til fully combined. (Kathy doesn't but I like to chill the dough until firm before continuing, the cookie dough is easier to work with.)

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray (Kathy uses Pam, I use Baker’s Joy). Form balls a tad smaller than a golf ball and arrange well apart (see TIPS) on a baking sheet. Place in oven for about 9 minutes. Remove and lightly place M&Ms on top (see TIPS). Return to oven for 3 – 5 minutes. (Cookie sheets and ovens vary in performance. Track the exact number of minutes so your cookies neither under- nor over-bake.) Remove from oven and let cool before transferring to a rack to cool.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE (How many calories in an M&M cookie? How many Weight Watchers points in an M&M cookie?) Per Cookie: 117 Calories; 6g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 15g Carb; 0g Fiber; 129mg Sodium; 24mg Cholesterol; 1g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points 3, PointsPlus 3

Perfect M&M Cookies: Perfect for Holiday Occasions

Christmas St. Patrick's Day Valentine's Day
Easter Halloween


BUTTER | Please don't use European-style higher-fat content butters, the cookies are prone to running and burning. Both Kathy and I use Land O' Lakes unsalted butter for baking although I also use Land O' Lakes salted butter with great results.
FLOUR Be sure to fully incorporate the flour. At least with a 1970s-vintage Kitchen Aid mixer, this means wiping down the sides three or four times.
Cooking Spray | Parchment paper is an okay substitute, so is a silicone mat, but cooking spray just works better.

TIS THE SEASON: This Week, Other Years

Three Quick Appetizers Graham Cracker Toffee Date-Night Chicken Perfect M&M Cookies Eggnog French Toast with Apple Cranberry Compote Sesame Candy Colored Roll-Out Sugar Cookies Breakfast Casserole with Sausage, Apples & Caramelized Onions

Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Cranberry-Mac Morsels Frosty Christmas Trees Graham Cracker Toffee

© Copyright 2007 Kitchen Parade

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Love the show of holidays for the M&M cookies. One day I'll live near to some calorie burners (little kids) and can make cookies again. My husband would be through several cookie sheets of these in a couple of hours. I know only to well from experience.
    Why do I feel the urge to bake at midnight?

  2. I agree with Tanna about the calories. It's kept me from baking for years. Now that the grandson is 8, he's making noises about baking Christmas cookies. These look *perfect*! Thanks Alanna!

  3. I've started making mine with the new dark chocolate M&Ms. They are just wonderful. Use the basic recipe and just substitute. They're much less sweet and still very m&m-y.

  4. One of the first cookies I ever baked with my mom was chocolate chip cookies with M&M's on top. Now 30 years later, she bakes them with my nieces. You're right, they are perfect.

  5. Oh my! So tempting. I may have to come up with a gluten-free dairy-free version.

    See what you've started? ;)

  6. Just made the M&M cookies. Could not roll into a ball, too gooey. They cooked pretty good but the top is cooked and the bottom is still a little soft. Is this normal?

    Taste great but just wondering. Thanks for all your great recipes. The Oatmeal Raisins are the BEST......Mary Brooks

  7. Hi Mary ~ I'm so sorry you had trouble, gooey is absolutely not normal. And it's hard to imagine how gooey would happen, unless maybe the butter was melted instead of at room temperature, or perhaps the flour was accidentally mismeasured?

    Since Kathy makes them SO much and I tested her recipe myself three times, it isn't likely the recipe. I suspect that the baking issue is related to the dough, too, rather than its own issue.

    I wish I could rush over and bring you some cookies!

  8. Hi. I just made a double batch of these to share at a cookie swap. I'm not a frequent cookie baker and I had a little trouble getting the size/time right. I think I figured it out after a few sheets. But even though some are a little crunchier than others, they're all delicious! Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe.

    I found that a 14 oz bag of M&Ms was just shy of enough for the double batch. I put some chocolate chips on top of the last few and it turned out fine.

    1. My cookies looked gorgeous until I put the M & M's on them after 9 minutes of baking time. Then they collapsed flat as a, err... crepe! Flavor was great but I would have liked them to have stayed thick. Should I cook them another minute or two?

    2. I followed Alyssa's suggestion about using the dark chocolate M & M's. They were yummy but to my surprise there were no white candies, only red, dark green and light green. Do the regular chocolate candies include white in the holiday mix? The white adds nice contrast, so in the future I may add some white sprinkles if I use the dark chocolate.

  10. Libby ~ Great tip on the M&M quantities, thank you! And FYI, when Kathy brought her own cookies to my cookie swap yesterday, her edges were crunchier than mine, too. How that happens, I'm not sure. She and I are even using the same cookie sheets (though I've tested on three different cookie sheets, which is something I always do, since learning how different cookie sheets actually do perform very differently).

    Adriana ~ Flat as a crepe. Hmm, no, I don't think that they'd fluff up again. Re: the white M&Ms, I bet I know that answer. The pictures were taken with a batch I tested with Christmas Reese's pieces, the candy-coated peanut butter thingies. They weren't half so good as plain M&Ms (though I'm much looking forward to trying Alyssa's recommendation for dark M&Ms) so I didn't include them in the recipe but the pictures were good, so I let them run. I do apologize for that surprise.

  11. Anonymous3/02/2008

    I was searching all the comments but nobody mentioned the cookies texture. Do they turn out soft and chewy or crisp/crumbly? I so prefer soft and chewy and am wondering if I should try these.

  12. Anonymous ~ These are definitely not a 'crisp' cookie - although they can be, if baked a little longer. That said, my friend Kathy and I compared notes again over Christmas and realized that her cookies are slightly crisper than mine, even though I'm following her recipe to the T and even use the same cookie sheets. I also test cookies on two other cookie sheets, also on parchment. So the difference is likely a difference in how much we cream the butter or in our ovens.

    I think these are just completely delicious, I don't think you'll get any complaints, no matter!

  13. I made these cookies for my son's preschool graduation. I hope they will be a hit tomorrow. I'm not a big chocolate fan, so I had to go by my husband's taste buds. He liked the cookies, but said he would have liked chocolate chips in the cookies, too.

    I had the same problems as two other people's comments.

    1) The dough was a bit too gooey to roll into a ball (I read the comments before I started, so I was very careful about my measurements--I definately used the right amount of flour and the butter was room temp, not melted). So instead I used a spoon and made little mounds on the cookie sheets.

    2) The cookies came out very flat. After cooking several sheets worth of cookies, I discovered that cooking them a bit less worked well. Also, I enlisted my husband to help put the candy on so the cookies were out of the oven a minimal amount of time. They were still very flat, but not as bad as the first few batches.

    I have one question: might refrigerating the dough help? I make snickerdoodles a lot, and the dough has to be cold to roll into balls. Otherwise, it sticks to your hands. Has anyone tried this recipe with cold butter and eggs?

    And one final suggestion: I used an airbake cookie sheet and a baking stone. The cookies cooked more evenly on the stone. However, I only have one, and it takes a while to cool.

  14. Hello Cookie Bakers ~ With a recent batch, I had the same trouble that others have experienced, the dough being super sticky and gooey. I experimented with another batch and found that chilling the dough seems to eliminate that issue so I've adjusted the recipe to say so.

    Another reminder: these really do spread. I can only get six cookies onto a cookie sheet.

    I've also learned to really watch the cookies as they bake, my new electric oven bakes/heats differently than my old gas oven did. Once I figure out the right timing, it all goes fine.

    The good news, these cookies sure do taste good! They're worth perfecting.

  15. Anonymous8/11/2010

    Those M&M cookies are amazing!! thank you thank you thank you for perfecting the recipe!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna