Butter Drop Do Cookie Recipe

Ruth Wakefield Butter Drop Do Cookie Recipe
Ruth Wakefield, Chocolate Chip Cookie Hero

When Ruth Wakefield of the Toll House Inn decided to make her Butter Drop Do Cookie recipe in 1937, she reached for the Baker’s chocolate and discovered she didn’t have any. She decided to substitute Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate instead.

Unlike Baker’s chocolate, Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate did not melt completely into the cookies. Ruth inadvertently created the world’s first chocolate chip cookie.

(This story doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, since I doubt Baker’s chocolate would have fully melted, either.  Some stories say she ran out of nuts, so she chopped up some chocolate instead.  Read more about the history of chocolate chip cookies here.)

Butter Drop Do Cookies are an old Colonial recipe, and I was unable to find it for quite some time, until alert reader Mary Gage, of the very yummy NewEnglandRecipes.org, was kind enough to send a copy. Thanks, Mary!

Mary writes:

The only reference to this recipe I know of is Amelia Simmons’ “American Cookery,” published in 1796, page 36:

“Butter Drop Do No. 3. Rub one quarter pound of butter, one pound sugar, sprinkle with mace, into one pound and a quarter flour, add four eggs, one glass rose water, bake as No. 1. [Bake 15 Minutes]”

Apparently, there are several versions of this recipe, this being number three… I wonder whether recipe number one or number two included chocolate?  Or if, like the recipe below, it used nuts instead.

A Modernized Butter Drop Do Cookie Recipe

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
About 18 whole nuts


Preheat oven to 400 F; grease a cookie sheet.

Cream butter and sugar.

Beat in egg, then beat in flour, then add vanilla.

Drop by spoonfuls on to cookie sheet, and top each cookie with a nut.

Bake 10 minutes.

I guess we need Ruth Wakefield to really know the original Butter Drop Do cookie recipe!

9 thoughts on “Butter Drop Do Cookie Recipe”

  1. Well, my grandmother worked there and it was her cook, not her, that made the mistake. She chopped up the chocolate and thought it would melt and make chocolate cookies, but the chucks didn’t melt.

  2. WOW, there I was thinking that I made the first set of chocolate chip cookies in 1984 or 1985 or thereabouts when I substituted chocolate chips for currants in a Rock cake recipe and in reality, the Americans had it all long before… Thanks for all those Europeans who came to America, the Indians with their “gold” and the Irish with their butter… Anyway, I am glad that I thought that Nabisco had the best chocolate chip cookie…….

  3. You can find the original text of that 1796 cookbook on Project Gutenberg. There are two completely different baking recipes before this one. That’s why it’s number 3. This modernized version makes no mention of mace or rose water. And this story always mentions she originally wanted to use baker’s chocolate, but there is no chocolate either. This might be a great recipe, but it doesn’t seem much like the original. I also cannot find any other reference to a “Butter Drop Do” cookie. I would love to try the original recipe, if I can figure out how to scale it down. All the recipes in this book make massive quantities.

    • Look at the number of eggs and dived everything by that and convert to ounces. When making it, after measuring put it into a measuring cup and note how much it is (if you are like me and hate weighing everything). If it turns out to make not enough then make it for 2 eggs by doubling the 1 egg recipe.

    • Baking soda and powder weren’t around in 1796 when this recipe was recorded; they didn’t show up until around 1840. One way that people encouraged rising in the 1700s was by beating a lot of air into their eggs. Sometimes they used potash, too, but it was smelly and hard to work with. You may get better results by adding a bit of baking soda or powder now, though!


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