Compost Cookies (to Satisfy Every Craving!)

Compost Cookies® are loaded with all kinds of sweet and salty snacks. Adapted from Milk Bar’s famous recipe, this version has peanut-ty flavor.

Compost Cookies

Compost Cookies. I think we can all agree that it’s not the most tempting name. But don’t let that fool you! These cookies are buttery rounds of YUM. Filled with plenty of mix-ins that include chocolate chips, peanut butter morsels, pretzels, graham crackers, oats, honey-roasted peanuts, and coffee grounds. Yes! You read that right. Not used coffee grounds, but fresh ground coffee. Each bite offers something unique for the ultimate snacking experience.

The story goes that these cookies were born of necessity due to an ingredients shortage. And sweets chef Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame made something special from what was on hand. They’ve been called Kitchen Sink Cookies and Garbage Cookies due to their impressive amount of add-ins. Tosi says “Call them what you want, and make them as we make them at Milk Bar, or add your own favorite snacks to the cookie base in place of ours”. Which is exactly what I did.

Compost Cookies

One special ingredient I added to the base dough is plain yellow cornmeal. This gives the cookie even more creaveable texture. I’ve made these a few times now – with and without – and I love the cornmeal addition. However, if you don’t have cornmeal on hand, it can be replaced with an equal amount of flour. No big deal!

Get all the dry dough ingredients into a big bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Next, it’s time to raid your snack pantry!

My suggested mix-ins: broken pretzels, honey-roasted peanuts, broken graham crackers, peanut butter morsels, oats, ground coffee, semisweet chocolate chips.

Compost Cookie mix-ins.

The Milk Bar cookie recipe encourages experimentation, which makes me happy. Who doesn’t love a variable recipe where almost anything goes? However, my peanut-ty take was so well-received that I keep repeating the same ingredients. And that was the reason I decided to post the recipe here.

Gather the recipe’s mix-in ingredients, or whatever mixture of snack foods that inhabits your pantry, and stir them together in a bowl. Set aside to make the base dough.

Make the base dough

In the bowl of an electric mixer (preferably a stand mixer) cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Add an egg and vanilla extract; blend those together well.

Add the dry mixture and beat until just combined. Don’t over mix!

Finally, get all those bits and bobs in the bowl and mix briefly. Beat together for 10-15 on low speed. This should distribute the mix-ins throughout without beating them up too much.

Compost Cookies

Look at that gorgeous dough chock full of – everything! All of those additions seem to be held together with a whisper of cookie dough. But in the end, the cookies bake up with a nice balanced ratio of dough to mix-ins.

Compost Cookies

The right measure.

Portion these by the level 1/4 cup measures. Use a standard size ice cream scoop if you have one. Because it’s approximately 1/4 cup capacity. Space the cookies far apart. They will spread a little. If you find they’re spreading a little unevenly, you can gently push the cookie edges into a round shape using a butter knife while they are still hot.

Compost Cookies

Add some extras on top! This gives the finished cookies bakery-made appeal. I used broken pretzel sticks on some of the unbaked cookies, and tiny twists on others. Bake the cookies. They should be well browned on the edges and barely set in the centers. About 13 minutes was just right in my oven, but no two ovens are alike. So keep an eye on them as they bake.

Compost Cookies

I’m tempted to call these ‘Midnight Snack Cookies’ instead of ‘Compost Cookies’ because they’re sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy, chocolaty, and peanut-buttery all at once. They satisfy every craving!

Compost Cookies

This recipe makes about 2 dozen (I got 21 in my kitchen), so there’s plenty to share. Although, no judgment here if you decide to keep them all to yourself!

Related recipe: 10 Cup Cookies

Compost Cookies

Heather Baird
Simply put, this is a really delicious cookie with a lot of stuff in it. Adapted from Milk Bar’s famous recipe, this cookie has an abundance of sweet, salty, and crunchy ingredients. This rendition of the recipe has peanut-ty flavor with honey-roasted peanuts and peanut butter morsels in the mix. It also has semisweet chips, oats, crushed graham crackers, and ground coffee.
A small amount of plain yellow cornmeal bumps up the texture of the cookie dough. If you don’t have any on hand, you can still make this recipe. Swap in 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour for the cornmeal.
Be careful not to overbake these cookies. The cookies are done when the edges are brown and the center is just set and still soft and pale. 13 minutes was just right for my oven, but since ovens vary, I urge you to keep an eye on the cookies as they bake.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
1 hour chill time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 2 dozen


  • ¼ cup measure, or trigger ice cream scoop
  • parchment paper
  • 2-4 Light aluminum cookie sheets


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plain yellow cornmeal stone ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 cup honey-roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup broken pretzel sticks or tiny twists or a combination of the two
  • 1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers about 8 squares
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter morsels such as Reese’s
  • 1/3 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 tablespoon coffee grounds
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar firmly packed
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a separate large bowl combine the peanuts, pretzels, graham crackers, peanut butter chips, oats, and coffee grounds. Stir to combine.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract. Beat again until well combined.
  • Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture and beat until just combined on low speed. Scrape down the bowl as needed and beat again briefly.
  • Pour in the mixture of add-ins and stir together on low speed until they are all well dispersed throughout the dough, about 15 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a large rubber spatula to make sure there are no hidden pockets of plain batter. If you find some, incorporate them using a large rubber spatula.
  • Line large cookie sheets with parchment paper (avoid using dark-coated cookie sheets; light aluminum works best here). Scoop dough by the level 1/4 cup measures and place them on the cookie sheets, well-spaced because these cookies spread. Top with additional chips, nuts, and pretzels, if desired. Chill the dough on the sheets in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  • Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the centers are just set yet still soft. The centers will look underbaked. Let the cookies stay on the pans until they are firm enough to transfer, 5-7 minutes. If cookies aren’t perfectly round when they come out of the oven, use a butter knife to gently push the edges into shape while they are still hot. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Store cookies airtight for up to 5 days. To freeze cookies, store double bagged freezer bags with the air removed for up to 2 months.


Use the right pan: Light aluminum pans work best with this recipe, as dark-coated non-stick pans tend to make the edges of the dough spread.
Anything goes! Fritos, tortilla chips, cereal, nuts, dried fruit – you name it. The original Compost Cookie recipe has potato chips as an ingredient. If you plan to swap in potato chips, choose a thicker cut variety with ridges so they’ll stand up to being mixed into the cookie dough.
This recipe was adapted from Christina Tosi’s recipe from Milk Bar
Keyword compost cookies, garbage cookies, ground coffee, kitchen sink cookies, midnight snack cookies, peanut butter morsels, semisweet chips
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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11 months ago

What do the coffee grounds do for the recipe?? I am not a fan of coffee flavor, but use it often in chocolate desserts to bring out the chocolate flavor…same idea???

11 months ago
Reply to  Heather Baird

It does, but I know that sometimes ingredients that may seem strange have an ulterior motive of sorts…I’ll probably try without first…love your recipes!!!

Phoebe J
Phoebe J
4 months ago

5 stars
Crazy good! I love the sweet, salty combo! My favorite cookie!! I make mine a bit smaller than suggested because when I tried a quarter cup size, they spread out to be thin and humongous! I’m making them for the…4th time in a month!! I’m so glad I found this recipe!!