4 Basic Cookie Doughs to Master

chocolate chip cookie dough in a glass bowl with text overlay that says 4 basic cookie doughs

We’re heading back to the basics today, as in baking basics. I began this series a year ago with two goals in mind: (1) to share what I’ve learned in the kitchen and (2) to have these posts be a place where we can all chat about BAKING! Whether that is super science-y chemical reactions or simply my favorite baking pans, this series has been a space for me to deliver something a little more substantial than recipes: knowledge. I’ve really enjoyed writing these tutorials and rambles (um, thanks for reading all 2000 words in MY PIE NOVEL) this past year and I have even more up my sleeve for year #2. Grab a seat and stay awhile!

Today I want to dive into the world of cookie dough. Because before our beloved soft and buttery cookies become chocolate chip wonders, they start in a bowl with ordinary ingredients like butter, sugar, and eggs. If you have a few basic, super dependable cookie dough recipes under your belt– you’re set for life. Who doesn’t yearn for that kind of simplicity?!

I have 4 basic cookie dough recipes that I make more than any others. These are timeless favorites that have only been in my kitchen for 3 or so years, but I constantly go back to ’em. From these 4 favorite cookie doughs, I have created dozens of other cookies and desserts. Consider them your cookie smorgasbord starting point! They’re all versatile, simple, and straightforward. Not to mention, taste PHENOMENAL when baked. Since I’ve got big love for more than 4 cookies, I’ve got a couple runners-up at the bottom of this post. Cookies taking over the world!!

We’ll start with the head honcho of all cookie doughs.

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

These are the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made. It’s the only recipe in this list using melted butter. Why? I love me some chewy chocolate chip cookies and melted butter helps achieve that chew. We also use an extra egg yolk (fat) for even more chewiness, a higher ratio of brown sugar to white for flavor and tenderness, and cornstarch for super soft centers. Chilling the cookie dough is imperative– in fact, the longer the better. I’ve chilled this dough for 3-4 days and the cookies have SO much flavor and bake up supremely thick. Try them with butterscotch or stuffed with Rolos. If you haven’t yet, you must! [click here for the recipe]

chocolate chip cookie dough in a glass bowl

Chocolate Cookie Dough

So damn fudgy! That’s what I love about this cookie dough. It’s been everywhere from salted caramel and peanut butter swirled to peppermint mocha and double trouble. This is a very sticky cookie dough, so chilling it is crucial in order for the cookies to hold their shape. By the way, the cookies legit taste like brownies inside. [click here for the recipe]

chocolate cookie dough with white chocolate chips in a glass bowl

Oatmeal Cookie Dough

Soft and chewy, hearty and healthy. That last one’s a lie, but who the heck cares when you’re eating old-fashioned style oatmeal cookies that taste nearly as good as grandma’s? This recipe is a mix of three other oatmeal cookie recipes I love (these, these, and these). I took what I enjoy about each one (including molasses!). And know what makes it all even better? RAISINS. [click here for the recipe]

oatmeal raisin cookie dough in a glass bowl

Sugar Cookie Dough

Be still our rainbow hearts. This cookie dough produces buttery and super soft cookies without the need of a rolling pin, cookie cutter, or decorating icing. It’s a blend of a few sugar cookie recipes that are on my blog and a recipe that is in my 1st cookbook. They’re extra soft in the centers, extra buttery, and mega chewy on the edges. Try them with extra sprinkles. And try not to smile when you eat one. [click here for the recipe]

sugar cookie dough in a glass bowl with sprinkles

All of these cookie doughs are for drop cookies, which are the kind I bake most often. Here are a few others I love, including cut-out cookies and slice ‘n’ bakes.

Runners-Up ★

Soft chocolate chip cookies – not quite as chewy as the ones above, but still ridiculously soft.

Snickerdoodles – my favorite! The dough is so sturdy and thick that we don’t have to chill it before baking. So this is a quick recipe.

Peanut butter cookies – nothing fancy, just in-your-face PB classics. Try adding 1 – 1.5 cups of chocolate chips or even chopped peanuts! You could drizzle the finished cookies with melted chocolate too. Or even sandwich some chocolate ice cream between two of them?! Someone stop me.

Cookie cutter cookies – a staple. So many shapes we can make! By the way, have you seen my chocolate sugar cookie version?

Slice ‘n’ bake cookies – a recent love. At the bottom of that recipe post, I share lots of ideas for variations! Also: funfetti. As if you were surprised.

overhead image of a variety of cookies

So tell me! What are your cookie staples? Are you more of a chocolate chip cookie family or is oatmeal/sugar cookie/anything-with-chocolate your standard cookie jar fave? I want to hear it all!

Further reading:

15 Comments

  1. Can the sugar cookies be made without the sprinkles? Should I add extra four if omitting sprinkles?

    1. Yes, you can certainly leave out the sprinkles. No need to alter any other ingredients.

  2. I ALWAYS have good luck with your cookies!! They stay nice and big and poofy and PRETTY! 🙂 Not to mention – delicious!!

  3. Kathy Wyckoff says:

    Cookies are my favorite dessert, snack, gift, whatever! And I love to bake! Thank you, Sally, for your wonderful cookie recipes. I love these basic dough recipes because they open up all kinds of possibilities. I do love crispy/crunchy cookies, especially sugar cookies. Is there I way I should tweak the cookie dough so they bake up crispier? Thinner is okay, too. Thanks so much!

    1. I wouldn’t make tweaks to the cookie dough. Rather, just increase the bake time. Leave the cookies in for an extra 2-3 minutes. 🙂

  4. I love the fact that you have so many core recipes! I’ve made cookies and cake and dozens of cupcakes just swapping out flavorings, fillings, frostings and frills to customize them for the taste of the recipients. Next on the list for me personally? Those oatmeal cookies with dried cranberries and dark chocolate!

  5. Wow! Sally, these recipes are soooo awesome! They are all delicious – especially the Chewy Chocolate Chunk recipe. Absolutely to die for!

  6. Love, love, L*O*V*E the baking basics!  I do have one question – why do you always use unsalted butter?  I am guessing to control the amount of salt in your recipes.  Does it matter – can you omit salt from the recipe if you use salted butter?  I never have unsalted on hand and inquiring minds want to know!  I’m making your (pink) frosted sugar cookie bars tonight – they came up in an email from Pinterest and I thought why not?!  Rock on Sally – love your blog.

    1. Hey Roseanne! I prefer unsalted to salted because yes, you control the salt in the recipe that way. The amount and taste of salt varies between brands of salted butter. Some are saltier than others. So, to completely control things, I use unsalted. Generally, though, if you are subbing salted for unsalted butter– you can reduce the added salt in the recipe by 1/4 teaspoon per 1/2 cup of butter.

  7. Hi sally! I wanted to ask you about your opinion and experience in reducing sugar in recipes… Ive come to realize that the less sweet a cookie or cake, the more I want to continue eating. Most of american recipes tend to be really sweet, as well as peruvian desserts (where I live), so my question is.. what is the recommended ratio or maximum amount of sugar I can cut out off a recipe without affecting the overall texture? (cookie or cake)

    1. It really depends on the recipe. I’d be careful with delicate cakes and cupcakes, but generally a 20% – 25% decrease is OK.

  8. Sally,

    I tried your choc chip cookies and they were great! One question…I typically have to bake large quantities and so I use a scooper to “drop” the dough. Since this dough comes out of the fridge, that is impossible. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah! I suggest chilling the cookie dough for half of the time. Scooping into balls on a baking sheet, then chilling for the remainder of time. That always helps!

  9. I tried making the cookie dough according to your measurements and it was successful at first. Then i did it in big batch and multiplying the measurements by 4 however, it turned out failure as the dough starts to get very sticky when i tried making balls. Worst when baking them.y cookie turned like a flat bread as it spreads all over the pan. Help please!

    1. Hi Sarah, Most of my cookie recipes are ok to double – but I would not recommend quadrupling them. Not only is there a higher chance of mis-measuring an ingredient, it’s simply too much dough for our mixers to handle at once, and dough will be very over-mixed by the time it’s all incorporated together. For the best results I recommend sticking to single or double batches!

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