M&M Cookies (in a jar!)

By Emily Russo, MS, RD, CDN

A popular holiday gift (for any holiday) and a great project for kids to make for friends, M&M Cookies in a Jar are fun to bake, give, and enjoy. Printable tags included! 
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A popular holiday gift (for any holiday) and a great project for kids to make for friends, M&M Cookies in a Jar are fun to bake, give, and enjoy. Printable tags included! 

When I first started working with Ann, I cooked my way through many of her delicious recipes, from sweet to savory and everything in between. 

I was particularly drawn to her Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar because I thought the prep-ahead dry mixture would be a clever gift (or gift to myself and my own family!).

I’m so glad I tried them. They epitomize my favorite kind of chocolate chip cookie, with the classic taste and texture, in the best possible way. I’ve made them for friends and family many times over the years, and they are always appreciated.

So when my kids asked me to make M&M cookies for Santa this year, I asked Ann if she thought M&Ms would work as a substitute for the chocolate chips in this prep-ahead recipe. She said absolutely and wanted me to report back as to what the “big man” thought of them! 

M&M Version
My initial thoughts were that the regular-sized M&Ms would be too large, but they worked perfectly, and my friends and family agreed – this was the perfect chocolate chip (and now M&M!) cookie. 

They can swing into any holiday or celebration, as you can see in the photos we incorporated colors for Easter, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween. But truly anything goes, including the classic colors.

For those who aren’t willing to say a complete goodbye to chocolate chips, a mix of M&Ms and chocolate morsels may be the right call – a perfect balance of classic, colorful, and festive. 

A popular holiday gift (for any holiday) and a great project for kids to make for friends, M&M Cookies in a Jar are fun to bake, give, and enjoy. Printable tags included! 

By switching out various colors of M&Ms, these cookies work for any holiday or celebration!

Crispy or chewy? 
The texture of chocolate chip cookies tends to vary from recipe to recipe, some thick and chewy, others thin and crispy. The following recipe lies somewhere in the middle.

A popular holiday gift (for any holiday) and a great project for kids to make for friends, M&M Cookies in a Jar are fun to bake, give, and enjoy. Printable tags included! 

The quintessential chocolate chip cookie…with m&ms!

Ann’s original recipe recommended baking the cookies at 375℉ for 8 minutes, which produced a cakier cookie that did not spread very much. Over time, she reduced the oven temperature to 350℉, baking for 10 minutes (or 11 minutes for her husband who prefers a crispier cookie). The lower temperature allows the cookie to spread more ⏤ but not too much ⏤ and crisp just a touch.

When she started baking them in a newer oven, she adjusted the cooking time to 11-12 minutes because every oven bakes differently. These parameters may be helpful if you’d like to experiment and achieve the texture you most prefer, but keeping an eye on the cookies starting at 10 minutes will help you gauge when they are done.

Gifting and Prep-ahead Options

Notes on gifting:

  • While layering the ingredients creates a pretty effect for presentation, the brown sugar will harden and be difficult to blend in if not incorporated right away. As a bonus, the prep is also less fussy this way.
  • And funny enough, the M&Ms (or chocolate chips or a mix) will not fit in a standard quart-size jar unless they are mixed in with the dry ingredients. Part of Ann’s challenge when initially creating the recipe was making not only the perfect cookie, but the perfect cookie that fit in the jar.    There simply isn’t room for air pockets. Reserving a few M&Ms for the top, as we did in the photos, is a nice option though. 

    A popular holiday gift (for any holiday) and a great project for kids to make for friends, M&M Cookies in a Jar are fun to bake, give, and enjoy. Printable tags included! 

    Using a funnel makes it easier to transfer the dry ingredients to your gifting jar.

  • Store in one 32-ounce jar or two 16-ounce jars. Half batches allow for economical gift giving and freshly baked treats with minimal effort. If cutting the recipe in half, just remember to halve the ingredients on the attached instructions. 
  • Remember to use a pretty ribbon to attach the printable gift tag, below, which includes the instructions. 

Notes on preparing the cookies in advance:

  • The batter may be mixed and and refrigerated for several hours or up to three days before baking. Simply cover to avoid drying out the dough. Do make sure to let the bowl sit at room temperature for an hour or so before portioning, as the batter will become firm and be difficult to scoop when cold.  
  • Alternatively, you could scoop the cookies right after mixing the dough and refrigerate the unbaked cookies. The dough freezes well too. 
A popular holiday gift (for any holiday) and a great project for kids to make for friends, M&M Cookies in a Jar are fun to bake, give, and enjoy. Printable tags included! 
  • When baking the refrigerated portions, the cookies tend to spread even less and could be baked at a temperature of 25℉ lower than the above-mentioned temperatures to achieve similar results. 
A popular holiday gift (for any holiday) and a great project for kids to make for friends, M&M Cookies in a Jar are fun to bake, give, and enjoy. Printable tags included! 

Leave room between dough balls as cookies will spread when baking.

M&Ms AND Chocolate Chips?
No need to choose one or the other. You can have a combo!

  • 1 cup of M&Ms is 7 ounces but 1 cup of chocolate chips is 6 ounces, so you really only need 1¼ cups of M&M as an equivalent. 
  • As an option, consider using mostly chocolate chips and dollop a few pretty colored M&Ms to represent a holiday or someone’s favorite color for their birthday. 
  • For the best of both, use 1 cup M&Ms and ½ cup chocolate chips, or whatever ratio you prefer. 
  • Beating the batter with the M&Ms will result in some shell pieces, and almost a tye-dyed look when the batter bakes up. This may be a desirable effect, but if not, we recommend hand mixing once the M&Ms are added. 

Can these be made gluten-free?

Because Ann thinks a gluten-free recipe should taste just as good as its glutenous counterpart, she has experimented a lot.

While a good gluten-free blend (I like King Arthur Flour’s Measure for Measure or Ann’s homemade blend) will work, Ann can detect a hint of “gluten-free flavor,” which she attributes to the rice flour. (It can lend a gritty, chalky undertone.)

Short of creating a cumbersome homemade blend of several alternative flours, her best solution to date is to replace 25% of the GF flour with super fine almond flour. So in this case, you’d use 1½ cups (190g) GF flour and ½ cup (56g) super fine almond flour. She’s served this to many gluten eaters, and they raved as usual, not noticing a difference. (Love it when that happens!)  

What about an M&M cookie cake?
For added fun, this recipe can be made as a chocolate chip cookie pizza, which is quicker than making individual cookies and can be decorated for a crowd-pleasing alternative to a birthday cake. Use a 14-inch pizza pan (that’s the measurement across the top), and bake at 350℉ for 15-17 minutes, or until lightly golden and just set in the center.

Ann makes these often and likes to line the pan with parchment paper for easy removal, but you may grease or spray the pan instead. 

A cookie cake is a fun and festive alternative to regular cookies – and faster too!

If you’d like to decorate the cake, Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting is perfect. Once the butter is softened, it takes five minutes to make. Ann was going to add confetti sprinkles to this cookie (and add the birthday girl’s age in the center), but hungry people didn’t want to wait. ; ) She also used a 50-50 mix of M&Ms and chocolate chips for this cookie.

Oh…and Santa?
In case you were wondering, he loved them!

Download printable gift tags with instructions here:  
Printable M&M Cookies in a Jar Gift Tag
A popular holiday gift (any holiday!) and a great project for kids to make for friends, M&M Cookies in a Jar are fun to bake, give, and eat.

I’d love to know if you try this recipe. Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @fountainavenuekitchen on Instagram and Facebook. Your feedback is always appreciated.

M&M Cookies (in a jar!)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes
Yield: About 24 Cookies
Celebrate holidays and birthdays with these prep-ahead (or gift ahead!) M&M cookies in a jar which epitomize the taste and texture of a classic chocolate chip cookie we all love!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (254g) all-purpose flour (see notes below for gluten-free option)
  • ½ cup (96g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (100g) packed brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1¼ cups (255g) M&Ms (or a mixture of M&M and chocolate chips, see notes below)
  • 1 (32-ounce/quart-size) jar or 2 (16-ounce) jars (see notes section below)
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and pack firmly into a quart-size jar.
  2. Cover with the lid.
  3. If you prefer to make these cookies right away, there is no need to store to the ingredients in a jar first. Simply follow the instructions for a delicious batch of classic chocolate chip cookies!

 

Attach card with the following directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat ¾ cup (12 tablespoons) softened butter until creamy. Add 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and beat until incorporated.
  3. Add the contents of the jar to the mixing bowl.
  4. Mix by hand until just combined. Using an electric mixer chips the M&M candy shell (see below for more details on mixing).
  5. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes or until just set.
  7. Enjoy with a glass of milk, coffee, or tea! (Yield: 24 cookies)
Notes

Need a gluten-free cookie? A good gluten-free blend can be used 1:1 (I like King Arthur Flour’s Measure for Measure or my homemade blend). However, for an upgrade that erases the hint of grittiness that can be perceptible, replace 25% of the GF flour with super fine almond flour. So that is 1½ cups (190g) GF flour and ½ cup (56g) super fine almond flour. Even the gluten eaters will have no idea!

If making a half batch, use 6 tablespoons softened butter, 1 egg, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.

• I’ve also used the recipe to make a chocolate chip cookie pizza (see photo in post). To do this, spread the batter evenly over a pizza pan and bake at 350℉ for 15-17 minutes, or until just set in the center. I like to line the pan with parchment for easy removal; otherwise, grease or spray the pan. Once cooled, you may decorate with icing as you would a birthday cake. This recipe for Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting is perfect.

When working with M&Ms and chocolate chips, here are some helpful tips:

  • 1 cup of M&Ms is 7 ounces but 1 cup of chocolate chips is 6 ounces, so you really only need 1¼ cups of M&M as an equivalent.
  • As an option, consider using mostly chocolate chips and dollop a few pretty colored M&M to represent a holiday or someone’s favorite color for their birthday.
  • Do half and half for a bit of both, using 1 cup M&M and ½cup chocolate chips.
  • Beating the batter with the M&Ms will result in some shell pieces, and almost a tye-dyed look when the batter bakes up. This may be a desirable effect, but if not, we recommend hand mixing once the M&Ms are added to keep them whole.

Notes on gifting:

  • While layering the ingredients creates a pretty effect for presentation, the dry ingredients will fit better when mixed as described below. The prep is also less fussy, and more importantly, the brown sugar won’t clump if the mix isn’t made right away.
  • Store in one 32-ounce jar or two 16-ounce jars. Half batches allow for economical gift giving and freshly baked treats with minimal effort. If cutting the recipe in half, just remember to halve the ingredients on the attached instructions. 
  • Remember to use a pretty ribbon to attach the printable gift tag below which includes the instructions. 

Notes on prep-ahead:

  • The batter may be portioned and refrigerated for several hours or up to three days and baked later. Simply cover to avoid drying out the dough. While you could refrigerate the bowl of batter and scoop later, the batter will become rather firm. In this case, the bowl would need to let it sit at room temperature for a while to make scooping easier.
  • When baking the refrigerated portions, the cookies will spread even less and could be baked at a temperature of 25℉ lower than the above-mentioned temperatures to achieve similar results. 

 

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A popular holiday gift (for any holiday) and a great project for kids to make for friends, M&M Cookies in a Jar are fun to bake, give, and enjoy. Printable tags included! 

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Comments

  1. Tara
    (5/5)

    I made a dozen of these for a Galentine’s party after testing the recipe (DELICIOUS!) and the festive jars were a huge hit. I did appreciate Ann mentioning that, despite best efforts, she couldn’t make the M&Ms show through the glass and reserving some to add on top was the best way to make them visible. Despite her warning, I tried to push them down the sides with a knife (there had to be a way!) but she was right. Me explaining this to my friends was funny all over again. Thank you for another great recipe and for managing expectations!

    Reply
  2. Mrs E

    This recipe did not come out well for me. I am so used to creaming butter and sugar first and then the eggs, I made this by hand versus my stand mixer which I usually use to make cookies.

    I purposely mixed the butter and sugar together because that’s what I’m always used to doing, But then I ended up measuring all the dry ingredients and added those and forgot the eggs until after adding the flour.

    By the time I mixed in the eggs, it was really too late. I did not refrigerate the dough but I baked these right away. The M and M’s color melted and bled into the dough and did not stay intact, and the cookie was not very appealing.

    It would be helpful to have this recipe made as a jar method, but also instructions if making from start to finish as a regular recipe.

    Maybe I could have saved my dough if I refrigerated it but I’m not sure what really went wrong and why the M and M’s color bled into the dough.

    I think the instructions on this one just threw me off I’ve made many many cookies over the years but somehow I got distracted with this one.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Mrs E and thank you for your feedback. I cannot even count the amount of times I have forgotten to add an ingredient so in this you are certainly not alone. Adding the eggs later on may have lent itself to extra mixing, which could have caused the candy shells to chip off and melt into the batter when baked. When Ann and I recipe tested, we tried using an electric mixer after the M&Ms were added and this led to more color bleeding. We felt hand mixing kept the M&M most intact. We will make the instructions more clear on this going forward. Again, thanks for the feedback!

      Reply
    1. Ann

      Thank you, Denise! For the 24 cookie yield, I either slightly overfill a 2T scoop or underfill a 3T scoop. I checked my original recipe notes, and I had jotted down the grams of batter per cookie for various yields. For 24 cookies, you’d want about 40 grams of dough per cookie. For larger cookies and a yield of 18, aim for about 54 grams. In the latter case, you may need to add an extra minute or two to the bake time. I hope this helps and that you enjoy the cookies!

      Reply