4 Basic Cookie Doughs to Master

Here are 4 basic cookie doughs to master! Chocolate chip cookies, fudgy chocolate cookies, sugar cookies, and the best oatmeal cookies! sallysbakingaddiction.com

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]

My favorite chocolate chip cookie dough on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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]

My favorite chocolate cookie dough on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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]

My favorite oatmeal cookie dough on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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]

My favorite sugar cookie dough on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Here are 4 basic cookie doughs to master! Chocolate chip cookies, fudgy chocolate cookies, sugar cookies, and the best oatmeal cookies! sallysbakingaddiction.com

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:

Here are 4 basic cookie doughs to master! Chocolate chip cookies, fudgy chocolate cookies, sugar cookies, and the best oatmeal cookies! sallysbakingaddiction.com


  1. I currently have your chewy chocolate chip cookies (with some m&m’s added in) made for our cookie “fix.” We also love your oatmeal raisin recipe.  I love how whenever I make these recipes the cookies are NEVER flat. They are always soft, chewy, and fluffy. Thank you for the delicious recipes! 

  2. Great post! I love learning about food sience and you make it fun. Our family loves chocolate chip shortbread logs. The recipe is from a 1980’s Tollhouse cookbook. My husband made them for me on our 2nd date and now our little ones ask for them on pizza and cookie night (every Friday

    1. Oh I love that! Are they like slice and bake cookies? You slice up the log? Or is it something like this: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/10334/chocolate-chip-shortbread-cookie-logs/

  3. I  have a slight obsession shall we call it with cookie baking (22 different flavors of cookies made for last Christmas). Discovered your site about two years ago and is now my go to site for baking recipes. While love all of the cookies I think my current obsession are what I  refer to as is your Black-and-White Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (the combo half-and-half two differ doughs). I find that one the best as I get two distinct flavors in a single cookie and they are ever so moist. 

  4. I have baked many of your cookies, and they are the best! I especially love your oatmeal cookies; the best I have ever eaten! Thank you for this post!

  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. This is such a great post! How awesome to have this as a reference then use those cookie dough bases to make your own recipes!

  8. Summer Resolution (companion to New Year’s Resolution): Attempt to bake all four kinds listed here. (What am I going to do with leftovers once school ends….? No friends or classmates to hand them to 🙁

    Also, thanks for the tips. In the short time that I’ve been baking, I’ve found that I’m pretty good with cake and cupcake recipes (maybe because of the decorating and frosting?), but my cookies always either: a) end up dry, hard, and very similar to biscuits, or b) turn out soft, chewy, and utterly breakable. Maybe your tips will help.

    And I’m a die-hard chocolate fan–current favorite is dark chocolate with powdered sugar….although I’ll eat anything really, including some of the batter. 😀

    Thanks again!

    1. That’s incredible you’re so talented at decorating cakes and cupcakes. That’s where I struggle in the dessert world!

  9. I started making my own biscuits when I had to pack lunches for my boys, so that was a LONG time ago (probably 15 years or so).  My reasoning was that, if I made them myself, they’d be healthier – that holds up, right?  I’ve not dropped the habit yet, much to the relief of my work colleagues, who have occasionally been known to benefit from a surfeit of baking…

    My favourites are shortbread, custard creams, choc chip cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies.  I’ve added your double choice caramel cookies and chewy brown sugar cookies to my repertoire as well; the former go down a storm with Son No 2.  My daughter is particularly fond of Empire biscuits, and then there are Monte creams, pinwheels, Granny Boyd’s biscuits, chocolate snickerdoodles, spicy Christmas cookies, double choc oaties, jammy dodgers…  Yes, I’m slightly OTT where biscuits are concerned!

    1. So many cookies! Chocolate snickerdoodles caught my attention. I’ve been meaning to try a recipe like that!

  10. Versatile recipes are my favorite, since you can make a few easy swaps and have a totally new recipe! I really like your caramel stuffed chocolate cookies or pistachio mascarpone chocolate chip ones on my blog

  11. I wanted to say THANK YOU for all your recipes, but particularly that choc chip cookie recipe. It’s my go to one – I’ve tried lots of others (including Christina Tosi’s) and yours is consistently the best, and super easy with the melted butter. It’s the one I make when I’m having a bad day and need to cheer myself up, or have people dropping by and nothing to serve them.

  12. I love the fact that you have weights listed for the ingredients! Just came across your blog today with the 4 basic cookie doughs – and I can’t wait to try them out!!

  13. All of these cookies look DELICIOUS!! My friend just made chocolate chip cookies yesterday from scratch and they were PHENOMENAL! I am actually going to make your recipe for homemade thin mints for my friends (whose birthdays are in a week- this’ll be the practice bake!)! Super excited!
    Also, my go to cookie recipe that my whole family is addicted to must be these nutella, salted caramel stuffed cookies:
    They are DIVINE! :)… and now i’m hungry for cookies…..errrrr 

  14. Started trying out these 4, first shot was at the funfetti cookies. It came out wonderfully well. But I used 1tsp of cookie dough for baking as the 1.5 tbsp came out too large. also for the funfetti cookie recipe, 3 cups and 360 gsm didnt match. So had to adjust. will try out the next three soon! thank you for sharing these wonderful recipes!

  15. I just love your recipes! I never leave comments on these things but I found your website several months ago and made your oatmeal cookies. They were completely amazing. I also made the blueberry muffins for Easter and those rocked too! I’m a nutrition science major so I absolutely love that you incorporate science into your baking, it definitely sets your recipes apart. Keep being awesome, you are a true inspiration!! 

  16. Hello, I recently retired and started baking.  I need to share with the world how great your chewy chocolate chip cookies are!  They turned out amazingly good….chewy, chocolaty– is that s word- and rich……ill follow you forever now..can’t wait to try another recipe….love that you did the step by step directions with pictures….made everything so easy!  The extra chocolate chips on top while the cookies were still hot, is a great idea..thanks 

  17. Love this CC Cookie recipe! I’m more of a eye-ball-method woman myself and I love that you can do that with this recipe, no problem!
    Kids and hubby loved them will be adding to pocket list!!!
    Much thanks!!!

  18. Sally dear,your recipes are just exceptionally wonderful,I have tried your chocolate cup cakes with the nutella topping and they tasted great and super moist.more grease to ur elbow…yours greatest fan..

  19. Thank you so much for starting this baking basics series! I’ve become an avid baker this past year and love learning more about the “why” that goes behind every step. My question is though, what do you do with all the baked goods you make? Do you make mini-batches or end up throwing away anything? I ask because I’m trying to improve my baking as well as learn more about the effects of manipulating ingredients, and am baking quite often. As much as my friends and family support this, we’ve all put on about five pounds and I’m wondering if there is a more efficient way of doing this. 
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks 🙂

    1. Not much goes to waste. Before we moved, I had a neighborhood full of neighbors who took leftovers off my hands. And I really try to bake when I have some place to go– a party, event, dinner, etc so I can bring it all with me. Takes some planning (and restraint) for sure.

  20. Hi Sally!   My family loves everything on your website that I bake…..they say best recipes ever!!  Never lose that website. 🙂      I just made your pumpkin chocolate chip cookie, oh so flavorful!  It tasted like eating a pumpkin pie!  Mmmmm….. Soft and chewy!   However, my family is wanting a much crunchier cookie when biting into it. The kind you can dunk in coffee if you wanted to.   Not, however, as hard as an Oreo, biscotti, or bars.  A cookie that isn’t soft.  Do you have such a recipe, or can you suggest a way to alter an existing recipe.  Thanks so much!   Carm

    1. Thanks Carm! I’d simply suggest baking them a little longer, about 3-4 minutes longer. The edges should be crispier by doing that!

    1. Any of these cookie doughs can be baked for a little longer than the recipe states- maybe 3 minutes longer- to get a crispier edge. 🙂

  21. 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.

  22. My daughter who is a junior in college and I love to make a cookie called Cherry Almond Chews. It’s a rich butterscotch/coconut type cookie with a maraschino cherry on top. I personally add a little tiny bit of the cherry juice in with the dough and it makes it taste even better. Sometimes they rise and sometimes they go flat but either way, we eat them all.

  23. By fluke I found your site and I am so glad I did!!! I can’t stop raving about how good your cookies are! I took your advice, my son & I came up with our own creations. We turned the chocolate cookie into a S’more Cookie. We didn’t add any chips but we did take a small marshmallow and stuffed it in the dough, tapped the base in Graham cracker crumbs, once baked we added 1 marshmallow on top with a generous sprinkle of graham crumbs. So soft and chewy! 

  24. 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?


    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!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally