How to Make Cookies

If you're a novice wondering how to make cookies, check out our helpful tips. Plus, we've got recipes for hundreds of cookies from basic to gourmet.

Nothing beats a warm homemade cookie, especially when it's served with a cold glass of milk. Whether you love chocolate chip or sugar cookies, the method to making cookies at home is pretty much the same. You'll need butter (or a butter substitute), flour, eggs, salt, and sugar. From there, you can dress up your dough with chocolate chips, nuts, fruit, and spices. Use our step-by-step directions to bake a perfect batch of cookies every time. Plus, get our favorite cookie recipes and tips for storing cookies so they stay fresh for longer.

Chocolate chip cookies on cookie sheet
Jason Donnelly

Cookie Sheet Tips

You don't need many pieces of special equipment to make homemade cookies but a quality cookie sheet in good condition can make all the difference when you make cookies. Here are some tips from our Test Kitchen to use when shopping for pans.

  • Replace cookie sheets that are warped or dark from years of baked-on grease.
  • Purchase shiny, heavy-gauge cookie sheets that have very low or no sides.
  • Be sure cookie sheets fit easily in your oven with one to two inches of space around the pan.
  • Avoid dark-color cookie sheets, which can cause cookies to overbrown.

How to Make Homemade Cookies

When it comes to making cookies, butter is king. It adds that delicious flavor, texture, and richness you expect. Only substitute another ingredient if the option is offered in the recipe instructions. Start with butter softened to room temperature. It should have lost its chill and be spreadable; 30 minutes should do the trick. Never use melted butter unless specifically called for.

Test Kitchen Tip: To speed up softening butter, cut the cold stick into pieces.

Step 1: Cream Butter

Whether you're making drop cookies (such as chocolate chip or oatmeal), shaped cookies (such as peanut butter blossoms), or cutout cookies (such as rolled sugar cookies), you'll use the same general process to make cookie dough.

Beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth. This ensures the butter is adequately softened and eliminates lumps. Beat in the sugar and other dry ingredients (except flour). This is called creaming. Creaming incorporates air into the cookie dough, ensuring light cookies. Scrape sides of bowl as needed to get a uniform mixture.

Step 2: Add Eggs

Beat in the egg and any other liquid ingredients, such as vanilla. There should be no streaks of egg in the mixture.

Step 3: Add Flour

Beat in as much flour as you can with the electric mixer. Some hand mixers bog down if the dough gets too stiff. Don't burn out the mixer.

Step 4: Add Additional Ingredients

Work in any remaining flour and dry ingredients, such as nuts, oats, or chocolate pieces, with a heavy-duty scraper or wooden spoon. Stir just until the flour is incorporated.

Step 5: Bake Cookies

If making drop cookies, such as chocolate chip cookies, drop your cookie dough by rounded teaspoons or a small cookie scoop onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake as directed in the recipe. If making shaped cookies, such as peanut butter blossoms or chocolate crinkles, shape your dough and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet as directed in the recipe. If making cutout cookies, such as sugar cookies cutouts, chill your dough until easy to handle. Roll out dough on a floured surface, cut shapes, and bake on ungreased cookie sheets as directed.

How to Store Cookies

Our complete guide to storing cookies includes tips for freezing unbaked cookie dough, baked cookies, and tips for keeping cookies at room temperature. If you're giving homemade cookies as a gift, we've got tips for packing cookies so they stay in one piece. Now that you know the general steps to make cookies, put your skills to use with these homemade cookie recipes.

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