Cookies could just be the best dessert ever — right?
Of course, moist cakes, delicate puddings and fresh-out-of-the-oven pies all have a special place in our hearts, but cookies are essential. They are timeless. They are most likely one of the first recipes a child gets to help prepare in the kitchen. The smell of freshly baked cookies wafting through the air is etched for eternity in our minds, associated with home and comfort. Cookies are a simple pleasure: They're so easy to throw together quickly, transport and share with loved ones. Plus, with so many ingredient combinations, the cookie possibilities are truly endless.
If you're looking for a cookie with a chewy, soft center and a crunchy outside, take a bit of advice from former TODAY food stylist Alli Hawes, who shared her Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever recipe with us: "My secret is to scoop the cookie dough and freeze the scoops before baking."
Kristen Tomlan, founder of DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections, also shared her cookie-baking tips with us: "Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat so that the bottom of your cookies don't burn," she advised. "Rotate your baking sheet halfway through baking to make sure the whole batch is evenly cooked."
And if you want a perfectly round cookie, check out this trick from TikTok — all you need is a mug or glass.
To help home bakers embrace their adoration for the classic confection, we rounded up our favorite cookie recipes — from fun and easy to elegant and impressive. This way, your cookie jar will never go empty.
Easy cookie recipes for any occasion
It's a classic cookie that we all love and adore, but a little more grown-up! The deep, rich flavor of the brown butter and sprinkle of the flaky sea salt is what sets this cookie apart from the rest.
Don't have much too much to bake with on hand? No problem! These sweet and nutty cookies only require three ingredients. They're easy to make with the kids and will easily satisfy a craving for something sweet.
The surprising ingredient in these cookies is actually leftover bread! After baking, they freeze well for a month or two (though they won't last that long). Just put them in an airtight container and microwave them on high until warm and chewy.
When there's a need to bake a few big batches of cookies, this easy recipe by Duff Goldman will come in handy. The dough is buttery and topped with homemade frosting. These are perfect to use for any event, as you can shape and decorate them to suit the theme.
All you need for these easy no-bake (and no-cook!) cookie balls is a few simple pantry ingredients and a food processor.
These classic chocolate chip cookies do not disappoint. They're perfectly browned and crispy on the outside and oh-so gooey on the inside. There's a reason TODAY staffers are obsessed with them.
Palmiers are a classic French cookie made with caramelized puff pastry. They might look difficult but they are actually incredibly simple to make, and they look incredibly elegant. Their crispy, flaky texture makes them absolutely irresistible. Use store-bought puff pastry to prepare a batch in just minutes.
These bars are rich, creamy, satisfying and taste better than any store-bought peanut butter cup we've ever had. You can use crushed pretzels instead of graham crackers, if you like. Serve 'em straight from the fridge so they don't get too soft.
"These shortbread cookies come from the brilliant Eli Zabar," says Ina Garten. "They are the quintessence of shortbread and have been my all-time favorite cookie since the first time I tried one, over 15 years ago."
Looking for a color-filled creation? Bright pink bits of rhubarb peek out from these pretty cookies, which are tangy, tart and lightly sweet, all at once. The sour cream adds a tangy lightness, too. With their soft, light-as-air texture, they practically melt in your mouth.
These timeless sugar cookies by Christina Tosi are adopted from her grandmother, Nonna Trudy. The best part about them? You only need four ingredients!
Sprinkles make everything better! The touch of sea salt brings out all the sweet flavors of the cookie and sprinkles.
Keep a batch of these in the freezer at all times in case of a cookie emergency. There's no need to defrost before baking. Just pop the frozen dough balls on a baking sheet, place in a preheated oven and in 15 minutes the freshly baked cookies are ready to eat.
A soft, not-too-sweet anise cookie has been a staple in Dylan's family since she was a young child. While her family made them a holiday tradition, the fun rainbow sprinkles make them perfect for birthdays, too.
Baker Allison Carlock of The Crumbling Cookie in Fort Irwin, California, adds brown sugar to her amazing butterscotch cookies for an extra layer of flavor.
Colorado knows how to do winter well, and these giant cookies from Cake Crumbs Bakery in Denver, Colorado, are the perfect treat to make you feel cozy inside all year long. They're packed with nutty oats and dried cranberries.
Made with lots of salted butter, the dough has just enough flour to hold it together and just the right amount of light brown sugar. The chocolate is cut into chunks to prevent chip congregation, and once the dough is formed into a cylindrical log, the whole thing gets rolled in Demerara sugar for the crispiest-ever edges. Less chocolate chip cookie, more brown sugar shortbread with chocolate chunks — these just might be exactly the cookie you've been looking for.
Sweet chocolate, creamy caramel and nutty pecans make these easy cookies a surefire crowd-pleaser. Plus, the buttery crackers hidden inside provide a salty surprise with each bite. This kid-friendly recipe is a fun way to get all family members together in the kitchen.
This cookie recipe takes the sandwich to a whole new level and will quickly become one of your favorites!
Aside from simply serving up a giant slab of Hershey's, this is the best a chef can do in terms of a full chocolate profile. This cookie is slightly firm on the outside, but melts in your mouth on the inside.
These chewy treats are topped with a decadent coconut and pecan-studded frosting. They're a delightful change of pace from a crunchy cookie.
The best part about this recipe is you can do it all by hand (no mixer needed!), so you get a little workout in before enjoying these decadent treats. Whether you freeze into individual cookie balls to bake at a later date, or bake in a skillet for one giant, sensational, ooey-gooey golden-brown cookie, this is ultimate comfort food. Top it with good-quality vanilla ice cream for an extra sumptuous treat.
These ooey-gooey bars bring all the crisp sweetness of cookies with the tender texture of cake. They are wonderfully comforting and can be customized for any occasion.
The name of these nutty shortbread cookies comes from the word "polvo," which means dust in Spanish. It references the powdery sugar that covers the cookie, as well as the trademark crumbly texture of the cookie itself.
"I am very particular with chocolate chip cookies and I've been adjusting this recipe for years," says Dylan. "I finally figured out the perfect combination of ingredients for a chewy and fluffy cookie with just the right flavor that my family loves."
These bars are freaky good. Packed with protein from the peanut butter, they’re basically a workout food … that’s how that works, right? They’re sweet, chewy, ooey-gooey and very worthy of your next girls’ night Netflix marathon.
Jaki Soper, one of the TODAY holiday cookie contest winners in 2016, remembers her Aunt Gerry first bringing her oatmeal and chocolate cream "Double Crunchers" to a family gathering in 1961. From that time, the cookies have become a family tradition, and now Jaki bakes them for her own children and grandchildren.
These perfectly buttery cookies have a crisp cookie shell and a soft and chewy finish. They're great for holiday cookie swaps and gifting, as well as lovely additions to any year-round celebration.
This is the the most popular base they have at DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections — it is perfect for so many mix-ins, toppings and swirls. It brings you back to your childhood.
The secret to Siri's easy and festive holiday cookies is using store-bought brownie mix to for a perfect fudge texture every time.
This recipe is so simple. It has so few ingredients, but the cookies are insanely delicious and they keep their shape beautifully when baked. And it's a large batch recipe, so you can get a ton of cookies from it.
A double dose of maple sets these leaf-shaped sandwich cookies apart. Maple sugar goes into the buttery shortbread dough and maple syrup sweetens the rich cream filling.
The whole-wheat chocolate chip cookie from the book "Good to the Grain," by pastry chef Kim Boyce, inspired this recipe, which relies on farro flour. (You can use spelt or regular whole-wheat, if you prefer.) With fruit, nuts, and chocolate chunks in every bite, these cookies are perfect for the countertop jar.
Cookies that are dressed to impress
Angel Wong created these cookies to honor precious memories from her childhood spent with her late grandfather who used to brew afternoon tea. The two would sip tea with cookies while talking about the events of the day.
Welcome spring with the floral flavors of lavender and vanilla combined with nutty brown butter and fragrant Earl Grey tea.
These cookies are not only incredibly tasty, they also provide such a sweet surprise inside. Win-win.
With one delicious formula — crunchy cookie base, layered with a flavor center, a crunchy/sandy layer, chocolate coating and a textural topping (like crushed nuts, candies, etc.) — you can get super creative and dream up a snap that tells whatever flavor story you’d like.
Not only is the cookie dough beautifully bake-able but also safe to eat uncooked. This really elevates the classic peanut butter cookie you know and love.
The dough for these cookies can be made ahead and kept indefinitely in the freezer, which is perfect for when your kids say at 7 p.m., "I need cookies for tomorrow!" They'll also remind you of the little Andes after-dinner chocolate mints.
While these powdery treats may resemble Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes, they have a decidedly different flavor, thanks to the chai-inspired combination of Darjeeling tea and warming spices in the batter.
"I absolutely love the flavor that sourdough discard imparts into the cookies: funky, smooth, and delicious," says Bryan Ford.
For anyone who wept when the Girl Scouts stopped selling Ginger Snaps, this cookie will be a saving grace. These glorious and simple cookies are chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside and covered in a splendid lemon-scented sugar. And all you need is your hands, a bowl or two and a few minutes to make them.
These cookies are a bit of a project, but they are so worth it. There’s something really special when you combine the delicate almond sponge cake with raspberry jam, apricot jam and chocolate glaze.
In the early 18th century, a marriage took place in Turin, Italy, and the world has never been quite the same. That sacred union was, of course, between chocolate and hazelnuts, ground together into what is called "gianduja." Nik Sharma's cookie recipe pairs chocolate and hazelnut with black pepper and ginger for a sweet, fragrant and slightly spicy flavor profile that's truly unforgettable.
Think of these beautiful cookies as mini blooming versions of the classic linzer tart. They boast the same mouthwatering combination of buttery hazelnuts and fruity jam, just in a smaller package.
These cookies are dead simple to make but they taste special. And you can make the dough well in advance and freeze it. Even the baked cookies freeze well. Nothing better than a prep-ahead recipe.
"These have become such a staple in my house that I make them weekly," says Giada. "The toasted quinoa is irresistibly crunchy and, well, chocolate! Need I say more?"
Anyone who loves biscotti will obsess over this recipe for crunchy Italian biscuits. Laced with fragrant saffron and rich with bittersweet chocolate, the flavor profile of this sweet treat is truly elegant. And it's even better dipped into a cup of coffee.
Christina Tosi's family is awfully fond of celebrating the holidays with annoying decorative knick-knacks, making it look like a holiday just threw up in our kitchen. They like their cookies to celebrate the holidays, too — that's how they came up with their winter "holiday" cookie, a cornflake-marshmallow cookie with crushed candy canes in it.
Coconut fans, this cookie is for you. Sharma loves these tasty treats with a cup of hot, sweetened, milky black tea. Goan bolinhas are crunchy and crisp, sweet and full of that coconut aroma so many people love.
Nut lovers, prepare to push peanut butter cookies aside. Made with Biscoff cookie butter spread, warm vanilla, crunchy walnuts and chocolate, these Linzer cookies are a wonderful treat for the holiday season. Proceed with caution: These buttery cookies are so delicious, you may just keep baking them all year round.
Crunchy, chewy, buttery, salty and sweet, these addictive treats satisfy every last corner of your palate.
These golden, rich, buttery cookies have the sweet contrast of chocolate chips. The Tilas change up the original recipe here by browning the butter to give it an added level of rich, nutty flavor, then topping it with a little garnish of salt.
These cookies are a holiday twist on traditional Taiwanese pineapple cakes (one of Taiwan's most famous and beloved pastries). Pineapple cakes are actually a popular souvenir in Taiwan. They've got a crumbly shortbread-like crust on the outside and pineapple filling on the inside. Wong used a Christmas tree cookie cutter for the holiday season, but any sturdy shape will do as these cookies are enjoyed year-round.
Vegan and/or gluten-free cookie recipes
These cookies fall closer to the cake side of the spectrum than the cookie side, which we adore — especially when contrasted by salty, crunchy pretzels. The sweetness from the coconut sugar and maple, earthiness from the tahini and salty pretzels create the most magical combination that will keep you coming back for more.
If you don't tell people these cookies are gluten-free and vegan, they'll never know. They're rich, cakey, gooey and oozing with chocolate. Topped with flecks of sea salt, you'll be drooling by the time they're out of the oven.
On a gluten-free diet and craving something sweet? These are the treats you've been waiting for! Fruity banana, creamy peanut butter and rich dark chocolate will satisfy your sweet tooth without any flour.
If you ask Justin Chapple, the best peanut butter cookies are a little chewy and almost raw in the middle. When he set out to create his own recipe, that's what he had in mind — and he succeeded. But after making these half a dozen times, he realized he wanted something more. So he poked around the pantry and found some dried cherries. Just like that, chocolate peanut butter cups met peanut butter and jelly.
These insanely delicious salty-sweet crunchy nuggets of chocolate chip heaven will satisfy any inner-cookie monster, vegan or not.
Sure, oatmeal raisin cookies are more well-known, but we'll take chocolate over dried fruit any day! This recipe can easily be made vegan and is a great way to use up any oats sitting in the pantry when you've already filled the grocery list with cookie season baking ingredients.