Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies


The thing I missed the most when I gave up gluten was having delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies at the ready. Well, that, this, and just bread in general. But chocolate chip cookies were quick, easy, and satisfied my cravings for something sweet, chewy, crispy, and even salty – all at the same time.

When Mary and I got married, one of our favorite things to do together was to make eat chocolate chip cookies. We used the recipe on page 212 of the Bride and Groom Cookbook by sisters Mary and Sara Corpening. These cookies were perfect. Everyone who tried them instantly demanded that we share the recipe, and we did. Mary and Sara’s recipe calls for regular all-purpose flour, but we don’t stock that in our kitchen anymore. It’s a beautiful book and was a wedding gift to us from one of our friends. Sadly, we haven’t used it much since going Paleo.

After sifting through web page after web page looking for a suitable replacement, I eventually came across Alton Brown’s highly-acclaimed recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. It only took making this recipe once to realize it would become my ultimate go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. It got to the point where every trip to the store resulted in a cart full of more rice flour, brown sugar, and pounds of butter.

Inevitably, I attempted to take on what would prove to be a difficult task – to adapt this recipe into a Paleo-friendly version. At first, things went rather smoothly. I was able to swap out the regular sugar for honey, eliminated the milk altogether, and even got rid of all the butter. I was on my way.

Then I took a more drastic approach by experimenting with applesauce and mashed avocado. Mashed avocado actually has wonderful binding properties from its high fat content, but it seemed to completely prevent the cookies from spreading on their own in the oven.

I tried a few other things, but I just couldn’t conform these eclectic independent-types. I wanted them to be Paleo chocolate chip cookies without feeling like Paleo chocolate chip cookies. Kind of like how I want to look like I work out a lot without actually working out a lot.

I gave up experimenting for a while; it was getting expensive.

Things started to look up again one night while watching Chopped on the Food Network. One of the basket ingredients was chestnuts. Just then they cut to one of the judges who mentioned how starchy chestnuts are compared to other nuts and how they can be used in baking. That got me thinking, so I did a little research.

Chestnut Flour

I had previously seen a recipe that called for chestnut flour, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I figured it was just another nut flour. Boy, was I wrong.

chestnut flour

Chestnuts contain little to no fat, which means they won’t weigh down your baked desserts or make them oily. It also means that unlike almonds, which contain high levels of fragile polyunsaturated fats, pastries made with chestnut flour are far less susceptible to oxidation [1].

Chestnuts also contain far less phytates than almonds [2], about 96% less to be exact. And because they contain twice as much starch as a potato [3], there’s no need for xanthan gum.

Another reason why chestnuts are great for baking is because they can be ground into a fine powder, which means they will bind better with the wet ingredients much like regular all-purpose flour will, resulting in a lighter crumb. Paleo chocolate chip cookies made with other nut flours or butters can’t compare to the texture that the starches in chestnut flour provide.

ultimate paleo chocolate chip cookies

The chestnut is soaked in culinary history. One article I read suggests that chestnuts may have been one of the first foods ever eaten by man [4]. For good reason, the tree from which the chestnut falls is often referred to in some areas of the world as the “Bread Tree” [5].

After learning all about chestnut flour and experiencing its all-purpose tendencies for myself, I can honestly say that chestnut flour is a magical thing for Paleo folks. And it was just what I needed to make the ultimate Paleo chocolate chip cookies. I highly recommend you keep your pantry stocked with chestnut flour; it’s one of the few ingredients I will not hesitate to regularly order online, that is until I start finding it down my local baking aisles.

Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe, makes 2 dozen cookies


  • 11 ounces by weight (2 cups) chestnut flour
  • 1 1/4 ounces (32g or 1/4 cup) arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 ounce (15g or 2 tbsp) tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp salt (5g), preferably kosher, but fine sea salt will work
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 8 ounces by weight coconut oil, at room temperature (not melted)
  • 12 ounces by weight homemade maple sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Note: If using store-bought maple sugar, I’d recommend grinding it up in a food processor first because the granules tend to be larger and harder than my homemade maple sugar. Make sure to re-weigh the sugar after you process it.

ultimate paleo chocolate chip cookies baking


1. In a large bowl, mix the chestnut, arrowroot, and tapioca flours together with the salt and baking soda. Then set aside.

2. In another large mixing bowl, “cream” the coconut oil with the maple sugar using an electric mixer on medium speed, about 2 minutes. The mixture should be moist (not oily), kind of crumbly, but hold together when pinched with your fingers, like wet sand. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Then mix in the vanilla, followed by the coconut milk.

3. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly incorporate the dry ingredients in three separate additions until fully incorporated.

4. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips by hand using a firm spatula or clean wooden spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

5. After the mixture has been chilling for 30 minutes, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F while the dough finishes firming up in the fridge.

6. Once the cookie dough is fully chilled and your oven is pre-heated, use a 2-ounce ice cream scoop to form six balls of dough and space them out evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

7. Bake cookies at 375 degrees F for 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking time.

8. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack.

9. Serve cookies while still warm or let them cool completely before storing them in an air-tight container at room temperature.

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  1. [1] [2] Eat This: Chestnuts. Paleo Leap. n.p, 31 Dec 2013. Web. 15 Jul 2014.
  2. [3][4] Chestnut History. Home Cooking. Trowbridge Filippone, Peggy. n.d. Web. 15 July 2014.
  3. [5] The Chestnut Tree in Italian Gardens. The Bread Tree. Radford, Jonathan. n.d. Web. 15 July 2014.


  1. Indica says:

    I just happen to have a jar of chestnut flour standing around, and I just happen to be in the mood for chocolate chip cookies – I will definitely try this recipe out tonight!

    Oh, and I love your blog :)

  2. Chelsea Norman says:

    I have seen SO MANY paleo recipes with chestnut flour and overlooked them because I didn't want to buy "another fancy paleo ingredient!" Thank you so much for sharing about it and why you use it, I can't wait to stock up and make these!

  3. Michelle says:

    Do you know much about making your own chestnut flour. We have a massive tree in our backyard and every year we just throw rake up the chestnuts and get rid of them. Maybe now I could put them to good use instead.

    • James says:

      Free chestnuts? I would hang on to those. I don't know how to make flour directly from chestnuts but I'll do a blog post on it the next time I get my hands on some.

  4. Danielle says:

    Please tell me that you have an alternative to maple sugar on tap! What would you suggest?

  5. glor says:

    These look INCREDIBLE.

    However, my age-old question, the one that makes paleo a pain in my rear… how would you make these if you're allergic to coconut? For the oil I generally use butter, but I'm not sure how to work on the water in this one.

  6. Michelle says:

    I love chestnut flour. I have a great recipe for chestnut and coconut flour pancakes that is amazing. I'm definitely going to be making these cookies. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  7. Stephanie says:

    most expensive cookies ever

  8. Amy Ayers says:

    While I can't have nuts because of an allergy, these sound like something my husband and kids may enjoy (none of them are huge fans of almonds). Now to find chestnut flour…..

  9. Unka Rick says:

    One of the few things that has kept me from going completely paleo is my love of cookies… My cookie sweet tooth could not be sated otherwise. But, this, my friend, is most definitely a game changer! My wife and I will seek out some of this flour and try this recipe. Thank you so much for this blog! Can't wait!

  10. Kristin says:

    Hey James…quick question. If chestnuts are so starchy how is it that they are approved by the Paleo lifestyle? I'm new to this so I'm trying to figure out all the rules….

    • James says:

      Hey Kristin,

      The way I understand it is Tapioca and Arrowroot Flour are considered Paleo-friendly by people within the community who know more than I do. Also, a couple popular Paleo food bloggers like Michelle from Nom Nom Paleo and Steph from Stupid, Easy, Paleo have recipes for whole roasted chestnuts. Therefore, I would think chestnut flour, ground from whole chestnuts with no added ingredients, would be Paleo-friendly as well. Nothing from my research suggests otherwise (see my footnotes). Lastly, if almonds are Paleo, then chestnuts must be because they contain far less phytates, which is the reason a lot of people soak there almonds first before using them. Thanks for the question!

  11. Wow. I've never thought of using chestnut flour. I find arrowroot/tapioca and nut meals give a more traditional cookie consistency and flavour than coconut flour. Chestnut flour would awesome! Thanks!

    • James says:

      Chestnut flour has been flying under the radar for quite some time now as it still isn't available in most stores. And it is hard to find whole chestnuts in the summer to grind your own flour. I agree, coconut flour is no good for making cookies.

  12. Shannon says:

    I am too afraid to try to make the maple sugar. The expense of the ingredients is what makes me shy away from Paleo baking, and then we eat toxic when we want a sweet treat. *sigh*. My hubby would LOVE these.

    • James says:

      Hey Shannon,

      I understand why you might be intimidated to make the maple sugar, but it is honestly so easy. I don't have a ton of experience with stuff like this and I found it to be very straightforward and practically fool proof. Once you do it a few times, you'll be an expert at it. I haven't made this recipe with store-bought maple sugar, but see my recommendation in my notes if you do choose to use the store-bought kind.

    • Sherri says:

      I do consulting work for an organic maple syrup and sugar producer in the beautiful Hudson Valley, NY. Their syrups and sugar are delicious. You can always throw the sugar in a small food processor quickly to "powder" it. If you aren't fond of the idea of making your own maple sugar you can order it via their website–you won't be disappointed and the sugar and syrups are certified organic. They will soon also have available maple "pearl" sugar–akin to coarse garnishing refined sugar. I'm not paleo but am intrigued enough to give this recipe a try!

  13. Maggie says:

    wow this is the first time i have heard of chestnut flower, i am so excited i can't wait to try some. The cookies looks yummy :D

  14. Debbie says:

    Chestnut flour also makes fantastic crepes. I served mine with rosemary ham and hollandaise from Trader Joe's for a quick dinner. Thanks for sharing the cookie recipe!

  15. Victoria Jones says:

    Looking forward to trying this recipe, James. While looking for a dessert recipe to make for tomorrow, I came across your Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies. I am hoping I find all the ingredients in our health food stores. I also wanted to tell you how impressed I am by your directions and explanations. You are a great writer, James. And I am sure Mary has been a wonderful encourager.

  16. Emily says:

    Can you use Coconut Palm sugar instead of maple sugar?

    • James says:

      I cannot vouch for that in this recipe as I haven't personally tested it. I don't particularly like coconut palm sugar, especially not over maple sugar, so I know the flavor would definitely be different than intended.

  17. Great recipe. I'm a big fan of chestnut flour, I used it for the cake recipe in my book. Excellent taste and texture!

  18. Stinky says:

    Are there any substitutes for coconut products? My wife has an allergy. I'd be in a bit of trouble if I had cookies I couldn't share :-)

  19. Jeanne says:

    Been wanting the perfect paleo chocolate chip cookie so can't wait to try this. Thanks!

    Here's a less expensive family-run place to get chestnut flour, more U.S. local (North Carolina instead of Italy).


    And Michelle, send me your chestnuts if you're passin' them along – I love them. Or slice an X, boil awhile, then roast and they're fabulous.

    • James says:

      Thanks for telling me about this site, Jeanne! I've contacted them and they're going to send me a free sample to test out with this recipe. :)

  20. […] Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies [made with chestnut flour] This is a new one on me.  I had not heard of using chestnut flour before.  The blogger says that it is gluten-free and has 96% less phytates than the almond flour commonly used in paleo and low-carb recipes. […]

  21. David says:

    Looking good, dough is chilling in fridge. I'm using brown sugar instead of maple sugar, but not sure about the weight. Do you know what the measurement would be? Looks like brown sugar is a fair bit heavier than maple sugar.

    • James says:

      Well by now you have already figured out if it worked or not. I would guess that it turned out just fine. I find that maple sugar can be subbed 1-to-1 with brown sugar. Let me know how it turned out for you!

      • David says:

        Well they turned out pretty awesome, even though I got busy and had to leave the batter in the fridge for 24 hours instead of 1 :-)

        The creaming stage of the oil and sugar was still super oily until I added the eggs, but the results were still very good.

  22. Erin C says:

    I am so happy I found your blog! I used to run my own "cookie shop" when I was a teenager and was kinda famous for my chocolate chip cookies. None of the paleofied ones have been able to recreate that texture and flavor yet, but you totally nailed it! P.S. Duck fat works quite well as a coconut oil and/or butter substitute for those who are very dairy intolerant and can't or don't like coconut oil. Gives the cookies more of a browned butter flavor.

    • James says:

      I'm thrilled that you like them so much! Duck fat, huh? I love when people aren't afraid to sub an ingredient at their own risk, especially when it pays off. I, too, don't love coconut flavor that can sometimes overpower desserts or even sautéed vegetables, but I wanted to keep it dairy free by not using butter and I think the coconut flavor is very subtle in this recipe.

  23. Abby says:

    Michigan also grows chestnuts! I just ordered some of their flour to try with this recipe (though I've never had it before, I will let you know how it tastes!)


    Thanks for the recipe idea. Do you have a good source for coconut milk? Everything I find around me has added ingredients:/

    • James says:


      I just buy the canned variety at my local store. It has added guar gum. I'm not too worried about it. I think there is a brand on Amazon that doesn't have any additives, but I don't remember the name.

  24. Emily Limaye says:

    Currently coconut oil at room temperature here in So Cal is very much liquidy and melted. Would you suggest hardening it in the fridge and then softening again at room temp until butter consistency?

    • James says:

      Hey, Emily. Thanks for the question. Honestly, I don't know how to advise you here because I have not tried it. You may try it as you suggested and see what happens. You may also try instead adding the coconut oil to a chilled stainless steel mixing bowl: it doesn't take much to firm up coconut oil. Using cold eggs might also help keep the oil chilled as you progress through the recipe. I always use cold eggs because the dough needs to chill for a bit in the fridge anyway. Who knows, melted coconut oil might even work just fine; I've not tested it.

  25. Barb R says:

    How can I sign up to regularly receive your blog?

    • James says:

      Hey, Barb! I'm so glad that you like my blog enough to want to subscribe! I have not added that feature yet. Features like that one, along with search, and subscribe to comments, will be added over time. Sorry for any inconvenience!

  26. J says:

    These cookies are well named. I just made my first of what will be many batches and they are absolutely delicious! Crispy edges, just the right amount of tender crumb, and slightly soft in the middle. And so large! I used half ghee and half coconut oil as I love butter in my cookies. These are on my permanent list. Thank you so much for thus recipe!

  27. Patsy Hinson says:

    Love your site!! Sure would appreciate it if you'd link to ziplist for recipes. Seems the best way for me to keep up with them.

  28. DC says:

    I made these today and sadly they didn't turn out like yours look at all. The dough did not spread, the cookies got very dark at 12 minutes so I shortened the cooking time to 9 minutes, and they have a grainy texture and appearance (my daughter said they look like sand – you can see light colored specks).

    The only change I made in the recipe was to substitute 1.5 ounces of date sugar for the same amount of maple sugar, since I was a bit short, so I'm assuming it's the grind of the chestnut flour – although the batch I purchased was labeled as extra fine. Or perhaps the flour I purchased was older (chestnut season is long past) and thus drier and needed more moisture?

    • James says:

      Aw, I'm sorry to hear that. I don't think the age of the chestnut flour was the issue. Also, you can't substitute date sugar for any amount of maple sugar and expect the same result. Date sugar is essentially ground up dehydrated dates. If you add liquid to it, it'll become thick, like a paste, which will inhibit spreading of the cookies because dates don't melt. Also, I'm using homemade maple sugar for this recipe which results in finer, softer granules. Store bought maple sugar is typically harder and coarser. One, or all, of these things was probably the reason it didn't turn out for you.

  29. tidy little chicken says:

    Thanks to nom nom paleo, I found this recipe months ago and have been wanting to try it. I ordered the chestnut flour and couldn't wait to bake them. I got home from work tonight and was like, I'll make them tonight! But i didn't notice upon reading the original recipe that it called for homemade maple sugar. I had everything except that. So. I made some substitutions because i was determined to make them tonight. I even accidentally substituted baking powder instead of baking soda because i read it wrong. I'm usually not that scattered but i guess i really just wanted these cookies in my belly.

    Despite all my subbing, they were the most amazing cookies done paleoish I've ever tasted. Thank you so so much!

    Here are my subs (some by accident):

    I used pascha chocolate bars instead of enjoy life chips. I just put three different percentages of darks in a bag and smashed them up. They were awesome!

    I subbed coconut palm sugar for the maple sugar. It worked fine with the same amount subbed out.

    I accidentally used baking powder instead of soda, but it was fine.

    Lastly, i found i did not have enough coconut oil for 8 oz, so the last 2 oz i used butter mostly melted. It was dreamy.

    Thank you again!

  30. Renee says:

    I am awaiting my shipment of chestnut flour so I can make these. A couple questions. Do you think coconut sugar would work in place of the maple sugar? I don't have a kitchen scale. Would 1 1/2 measuring cups be equivalent to 12 oz by weight? Also, I have arrowroot, but not tapioca flour. Can I just add a bit more arrowroot. I know how annoying these substitutions questions are and would normally just look for a recipe that includes the ingredients I have, but chestnut flour recipes are few and far between.

    • James says:

      I just made these with the substitutions you asked about. Subbing more arrowroot for tapioca worked fine. Subbing all coconut sugar for the maple sugar worked fine as well. Although, I'm not a huge fan of coconut sugar and find that there is a slight coconut sugar aftertaste, but not enough of an aftertaste to keep me from going back for another, and another. 12 ounces of coconut sugar came out to be about 2 and 1/4 cups.

      • Renee says:

        Thanks – I bought some tapioca flour so I'm good to go. Do you have other favorite recipes using chestnut flour you can suggest in addition to this one?

  31. Chris says:

    Oh James, the sight of these cookies makes me want to jeep with joy! They look superb, and let me tell you, a continual supply of these would not go amiss if you're up to it. Just saying. I do have a question though. Say you were to have an egg allergy. Would it be at all possible to make these?

    • James says:

      Hey Chris,

      Sorry, but eggs are a key ingredient here. Not only do eggs help emulsify the coconut oil and sugar, but they provide richness, moisture, and some of the rise when they bake in the oven.

  32. April says:

    Just made these last night and they are FABULOUS. I cannot say enough about them. Can't wait for my husband to do the taste test when he arrives in town today. I used coconut sugar with no maple sugar on hand… and arrowroot because I'm off tapioca for now. Measured everything to your exact specifications and they turned out great. I look forward to buying some maple sugar to use next time! Going to share your recipe on my blog. :)

    ~ April

  33. […] You can find the recipe for James Trenda’s “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Paleo Cookies” HERE. […]

  34. Lilian says:

    Wow! I am not really a chocolate chip cookie kind of gal but made with chestnut flour, I now am a fan. I substituted the sugar with some Sucanat and coconut sugar and a total of 1/4 less. I also added cinnamon and used bittersweet chocolate chunks. We tend to like our cookies less sweet. Lastly, instead of eggs I used Ener-G Egg Replacer.
    I did not need to chill dough but rather had to flatten my dough and reduced baking time to 8-9 min. My cookies did not look like yours but these cookies were soooo GOOD! Super light and no heavy sugar, cookie coma after eating. Thank you for the inspiration.


  35. Sebast says:

    These look delish! I was just wondering about the coconut oil- is the amount 8 ounces/226 gram correct? I thought like that sounded like a lot so was just unsure..?

  36. Sissy says:

    I baked these cookies the other day and they are AWESOME! I had never tried such moist, delicious and light in texture baked cookies! I only replaced the maple sugar with coconut sugar and a bit less than in the recipe, but it ddidn't make them worse! Highly recommend these goodies for everybody who eats paleo and is health-conscious. Thanks for posting the recipe!:-)

  37. […] first learned about chestnut flour when I saw a post for a Paleo chocolate chip cookie recipe from James Trenda on Instagram.  The cookies looked drool worthy, and I was excited to try out a […]

  38. […] Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies [made with chestnut flour] This is a new one on me.  I had not heard of using chestnut flour before.  The blogger says that it is gluten-free and has 96% less phytates than the almond flour commonly used in paleo and low-carb recipes. […]

  39. […] first learned about chestnut flour when I saw a post for a Paleo chocolate chip cookie recipe from James Trenda on Instagram.  The cookies looked drool worthy, and I was excited to try out a […]

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