Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies®

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4.59 from 12 votes

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Crispy, buttery cookies filled with butterscotch and chocolate chips, graham crackers, oats, coffee grounds, pretzels, and potato chips. The perfect cookie for indecisive dessert lovers!

compost cookie with chips and pretzel pieces

Welcome to the 3rd installment of my cookie party! This is a cookie recipe I’ve had living here on FAF for manyyyy years, but it’s gotten so popular that I needed to give it some major updates!

Now… Don’t get me wrong, I am a cheerleader for all of the cookies I’ve ever brought you so far EVER and also in this extravagant cookie parade, but these cookies…

Ohhh, these cookies. They hold a place near and dear to my heart. And Matt’s. And Alison Brie’s (there’s more to that).

Let’s back up to a several years ago: in December 2012, Matt decided he was going to give up sweets until our wedding in June 2013. Now, this was a huge feat. HUGE.

Matt loves sweets, like, a lot. This man, with all of his muscles and intense focus in the gym can get completely undone in a matter of moments if you place cookies/candy/ice cream/gelato/chocolate/sugar in general in front of him.

stack of compost cookies scattered with chips, pretzel pieces, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips

It’s scary.

I didn’t think he could do it, but he did, and at our wedding (in June 2013), I think he ate 6 cupcakes, not to mention the 5 EACH that we ate the day after our wedding. Oopsies. BUT THEY WERE SO GOOD (thanks, Sarah! )!!

Anyway, so for New Year’s Eve that year, I told Matt I would make him any sweet he wanted so he could have one last hoorah.

Another fun fact about Matt: he is super indecisive, in that he will take for-ev-errrrrr to make a decision, especially when it comes to food.

Often times, he just picks one of everything, if he’s able to. When we go out to eat or order in, we always splitzies.

aerial photo of compost cookie scattered with pretzels, chips, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and graham cracker pieces

So you can imagine my surprise when he knew exactly what he wanted me to make him that day.

He asked me if I remembered “those cookies” we had seen on the Food Network, and despite what sounds like a super vague description, I knew exactly what he was talking about.

Momofuku is a restaurant in NYC that calls itself a “noodle bar,” specializing in Asian cuisine like ramen and kimchi. It. Sounds. Fabulous. It has several “extensions” of itself, and the Milk Bar bakery is one of them, specializing in amazingly innovative and interesting desserts.

Their compost cookie®, created by chef/owner Chrisina Tosi, was featured on the Food Network, and upon hearing what was in it, Matt and I knew we needed to try a batch at some point in our dessert future.

I happen to have a wonderful friend (hey, Brit!) who visited Milk Bar one summer and oh so graciously brought me back a compost cookie® so we could try it. Uhhhhhmazing. But NYC is far from here.

Huge WOMP WOMP.

milk bar's compost cookie sitting on a plate with the milk bar logo and business card

BUT, lucky for me (and YOU), Milk Bar shares their compost cookie recipe right on their website! Score! A little adapting and BAM! we had incredible, wondrously tasty cookies in no time and we’ve made them approximately a bajillion times since.

Now, you may be wondering at this point why they’re called compost cookies.

compost cookie with chips and pretzel pieces

Don’t worry– they aren’t full of anything gross, they’re simply a hodgepodge of several ingredients that come together so wonderfully that you’ll wonder why you never ate all of them together in a handful before making these cookies.

Some of the things you’ll find in these cookies:
•chocolate chips
•butterscotch chips
•graham crackers
•oats
•coffee grounds (eek!! MY FAV PART!)
•potato chips
•pretzels

aerial photo of compost cookie with chips, pretzel pieces, and chocolate chips

Compost cookies? Garbage cookies? Kitchen sink cookies?

Whatever you want to call these cookies, they’re AMAZE-BALLS (and I don’t say that word often, or ever, if I can help it) because they have ALL THE FLAVORS.

Chocolate + salty + sweet + oaty + grahamy + coffeey. I’m getting delirious.

I better get to sharing this recipe with you before I talk type too much.

The great thing about this cookie recipe is it is, like all of my favorite cookies, super easy. There is a bit of chilling time, but it’s only an hour, and you can totally handle that!

aerial photo of compost cookie scattered with pretzels, chips, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and graham cracker pieces

The only weird part? You’re actually going to roll the dough into balls and then chill them, and you also must use parchment paper as opposed to silicone baking mats.

Making these cookies over the years and hearing from readers, I know that some compost cookies spread too much. Combat this with my roll then chill + parchment tricks.

Roll the dough and then chill it

Because the dough has so many bits and chunks in it, rolling them before the dough is hard is much easier. And less painful. Have you ever been injured rolling cookie dough?

Food blogger life. It’s tough.

aerial photo of compost cookie with chips, pretzel pieces, and chocolate chips

Don’t love all of the ingredients? That’s totally ok. Leave some out, or replace some with other treats! I give some suggestions at the bottom of the recipe.

I think you’ll agree these cookies are a great addition to the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies spectacle. They are crispy, crunchy, salty, sweet, and everything you love about dessert. Best of all… They go wonderfully with a tall glass of milk or steamy cup of coffee or tea!

Oh, and re: Alison Brie… This past summer, during the pandemic, I discovered thousands of people viewing this recipe at one time on a random weeknight.

It turns out Alison had found the recipe for my cookies, made them, and then shared them on her Instagram. I was so grateful for her for that, so they are now lovingly called “Alison Brie compost cookies” in our house.

aerial photo of compost cookie with chips, pretzel pieces, and chocolate chips

She also prompted us to watch Community (we were already giant fans of GLOW), and that’s now the second time I’ve referenced sitcoms in the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies this year.

I DIGRESS.

A simple and tasty yet complicated and confusing cookie all rolled into one (they’re like 7 layer bars , but in cookie form!). These easy compost cookies are the bomb. I promise to stop using ridiculous phrases if you promise to try them for yourself to understand.

compost cookie broken apart to see inside

Just invite me over to help taste test, please? I simply can’t get enough of them!!

More Favorites from Fresh April Flours

compost cookie with chips and pretzel pieces
4.59 from 12 votes
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Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies®

Crispy, buttery cookies filled with butterscotch and chocolate chips, graham crackers, oats, coffee grounds, pretzels, and potato chips. The perfect cookie for indecisive dessert lovers!
Prep Time1 hour 20 minutes
Bake Time16 minutes
Total Time1 hour 36 minutes
Recipe Author Lynn April
Servings: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 and ⅓ cups (160g) all-purpose flour be sure to measure properly
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (40g) coarsely crushed potato chips
  • 1 cup (80g) coarsely crushed pretzels I prefer sticks or minis
  • 4 graham cracker rectangles coarsely crushed (approximately 1 cup)
  • ½ cup (85g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup (85g) butterscotch chips
  • cup (27g) quick or rolled oats
  • 1 Tablespoon (5g) coffee grounds not instant coffee
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • cup (132) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In another medium size bowl, toss together the crushed potato chips, crushed pretzels, crushed graham crackers, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, oats, and coffee grounds.
  • In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream to gather the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat again on medium speed until completely combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until the dough just comes together. Do not over mix the dough.
  • With the mixer still on low speed, add the bowl of mix-ins, only for about 10 seconds, being careful not to over mix the dough or break too many of the chips or pretzels. Continue mixing with a spatula, stirring carefully until everything is thoroughly combined.
  • Using a cookie scoop (I use this #50 cookie scoop for all of my standard size cookies), roll the dough into balls. You can also combine two cookie dough balls to make large cookies. Place them on a couple large plates. Chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour and up to 3 days (if chilling longer than a few hours, cover with plastic wrap).
  • When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375°F (191ºC). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper (not silicone baking mats)*, and place chilled dough balls on them (no more than 8 small or 6 large dough balls on a sheet at a time). Bake small cookies for 12-13 and large cookies for 15-16 minutes until cookies just begin to brown on the edges. The centers will look under-baked. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days. Cookies freeze well– up to 2 months.

Notes

Other ingredients to consider adding: peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips, white chocolate chips, crushed Oreos, Chex cereal, raisins, chopped candy bars, Rice Krispies, Ritz crackers, Goldfish crackers, or tortilla chips (to name a few)! If using mini chips of any kind, reduce amount to ¼ cup.
*I find that this particular cookie recipe does not like silicone baking mats. I’m not sure why, but I advise against using one for these cookies. The cookies will spread much more and thus bake faster. If you decide to use one, bake at your own risk!
Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar
Did you make this recipe?Mention @freshaprilflours on Instagram or tag #freshaprilflours!

Nutrition Disclosure

All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.

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47 Comments

  1. WHAT THE WHAT?! These sound incredible. You had me from the first sentence, but then I saw that COFFEE is included, and then it was GAME OVER. You KNOW these will be tested in our kitchen soon. And I think you need to come over to make sure I’m making them right 😉

  2. One of my magical food moments from my most recent trip to the US was visiting Momo Milk Bar! We immediately bought their cookbook and have been recreating their magical treats at home. I didn’t get to try one of their compost cookies but they look and sound incredible. Seriously incredible! I loved reading your story too about Matt and his love for sweets! I’m glad I’m not the only one who can eat 5 cupcakes in a sitting 😉 Well done you two!! xx

    1. Oh I’m SO jealous, Jess! We have a bucket list to visit all 50 states before we die, and can you believe we’ve never been to NYC together?! We’ve been there separately, but that’s not the rules of our list! When we do get to NYC, you better believe we are heading right to Milk Bar!

  3. I made these this week! You are a genius! Other versions of this recipe look to flat and crunchy. YOUR recipe was absolutely perfect. My family loved them. Thank you so much! This will definitely be a staple recipe for all types of holidays!

  4. 5 stars
    These were wonderful…I only made 1/2 recipe as two sticks of butter makes my butter go too fast in my house. I also just used graham cracker crumbs and added 1/4 C. Oatmeal flour so they weren’t so runny. I used instant coffee and it was fine as well. I smashed my chips and pretzels for better baking consistency. I chopped my butterscotch chips and next time will probably used less as it had too strong of a butterscotch flavor. My kids love coconut so I will add that. I used some canned milk. These actually turned out very nice. Much nicer looking than the ones on your video (sorry). I will pass this recipe on to family and friends. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. 5 stars
    Been looking for a simplified recipe for these ever since my visit to Milk Bar in 2018 but one that was still as good as the original.. bingo! Just made a version of these – I didn’t have much in the house so I used a mix of sweet and salty popcorn, digestive biscuits, oats, butterscotch chips, coffee and shreddies cereal in mine and I have to say they were absolutely brilliant. Thanks for the recipe! ❤️

  6. I make these at the firehouse with whatever I can find around the kitchen that are as close to the original mix-ins as I can get. Always a crowd pleaser!

  7. 2nd yearly attempt and these cookies always spread despite cooling and parchment. Added marshmallows and toffee chips and it isn’t pretty but is delicious. Looks more wafery than cookiey.

    1. What a bummer– because I just remade these cookies for this year and they’re perfect. My guess is your oven is either too hot or your baking sheets are too close to the heat source. Do you have gas or electric, and do you use convection?

  8. Coffee grounds or ground coffee? In my mind coffee grounds are used…. ones that are left over from brewing a pot of coffee. Is that right? Ground coffee would be straight out of the coffee can. Looks like I am the only one that is confused by this. Please help.

    1. i came to the comments looking to see if this question had been asked. So you weren’t alone! I was about to use the ones from my coffee this morning. 🙂

  9. I want to make this recipe but I’m not a coffee drinker (I know!) so what’s the difference btwn ground coffee and instant coffee? I have the Nescafe Riche but it does say it’s instant coffee on the container. It looks like coffee grounds to me though. How will I know which one to buy?

    Also, what type of potato chips do you use? Can I use Lays or will it be too thin? The Milkbar store website recipe says not to use potato chips that are too thin but doesn’t really specify mass market brands (I don’t have access to Cape Cod potato chips here in Canada).
    Thank you!

    1. Hey, Grace! If you’re not a coffee drinker and would rather leave it out, that’s fine. But if you want to use coffee, coffee grounds will stay intact in these cookies whereas instant coffee will dissolve, just like it does when mixed with water. You’d know as soon as you put it in water. Coffee grounds won’t really take on much water at first, and instant will quite literally instantly turn into coffee.

      And I use super thin, generic brand chips. I’ve never used anything else. Let me know how you like them!

  10. 2 stars
    I find these cookies don’t hold their shape in my non-convection oven. I tried reducing temp to 325⁰F on parchment paper after allowing the dough to cool for 2 hours and reducing the baking time, but to no avail. I’ve tried these twice now but both times the cookies went melty.

  11. 5 stars
    So I’m intrigued by Christina Tosi and what she considers wonderful. The woman has a amazing pallet and that’s the truth. She’s pretty much a sweets genius. Compost cookies sounded a little weird but you must respect the process. Coffee grounds in cookies? Who the heck does that? Christina does and you know what? It’s amazing, my husband loved it and he doesn’t like coffee, lol. When I bake I always use the Irish butter because it totally rocks! I also use salted butter and cut the salt back as a add in. Love, love love Aldi and used their pretzels, chips, butter scotch chips, coffee and it saved me a ton! And it was great! So two batches of these cookies. some go to my husbands work and some goes to Bible study (I’m the baker) and these are beautiful and unique. I used parchment paper and I chilled the dough and still I got pretty big cookies. Yes they spread. 6 cookies to my extra large sheet pan, do crowd them. Thanks for this site. Great instructions. Super cookies!!!

  12. 5 stars
    Finally got around to trying these! Mine didn’t turn out too pretty but super flavorful. Butterscotch kinda took over on some cookies that had smaller chunks of everything else, but good nonetheless.

  13. 5 stars
    I made these and they turned out super! I used parchment per your instructions, but I’ve also made her chocolate chip, cornflake marshmallow cookie and used silicone and had no negative results with a runny cookie. When I make her cookies I start using the fridge method just to form up the dough. Then what I’ll do is leave a few out to bake and I freeze the rest of the cookies. I like to do this because then when guests come I always have a treat to share with some coffee! I thank you for sharing this recipe and will also experiment with other German treats like Lebkuchen or maybe some Milka chocolate!

  14. I haven’t tried these yet (maybe this weekend) but I was wondering if maple syrup would work instead of corn syrup?

  15. 5 stars
    i made these on the weekend and they are so good. Everyone loved them and wanted the recipe Thank you!

  16. 5 stars
    Subbed some sugar alternatives and mostly whole wheat flour to make “healthy.” Even with these mods they were amazing! Thanks for throwing down this version of compost cookies that didn’t include corn syrup.

  17. 3 stars
    My cookies spread a lot in the oven and while it wasn’t that bad, like you can still pick them up, it still had a lot of small holes and the edges were very flat. To be fair, I only chilled for a little over an hour but there was just too much butter to flour ratio. I think I would probably either add more flour or less butter next time. Wonder if I did anything wrong because it seemed like it worked for other people. As for flavor, they taste good but the flavor of all the mix-ins gets kinda lost in the flavor of coffee. Kinda disappointed overall but I’ll still eat and enjoy them 🤷‍♀️

    1. Hey, Elly– bummer to hear you were a bit disappointed! I have heard some folks here and there have a big issue with spreading, but I personally never have, and I make these pretty often, so it’s hard for me to troubleshoot. If you try them again and adjust anything, I’d love to hear that! Thanks for your review 🙂

  18. 5 stars
    This was a super fun recipe to bake – well written and easy to follow for a novice baker! Thanks 🙂 Taste wise they are deliciously rich and sweet. I didn’t have pretzels so I used saltines and wish I had held out for crunchier pretzels. I found the butterscotch chips to be pretty dominant so next time I will maybe try PB chips instead! I also found the coffee a bit much but I also did not measure so it is quite possible that I went a bit heavy hahah. Would you recommend a fine or coarse grind for the coffee grounds?

    1. Hi, Nadine– that’s a great question– I usually use a fine ground. You only need 1 Tablespoon and any more than that will definitely be over-powering! Hope that helps! Thanks for your review 🙂