Cooking 101: Ultimate Cookie Dough Base

I love making cookies. Have a I told they’re my favorite? Cookies come in an almost endless variety of flavors and make great vehicles for experimentation. This recipe is my base dough for 90% of all of the cookies I make. It’s a basic brown sugar cookie dough that can be used for everything from a traditional chocolate chip cookie to the weirder stuff like a bacon cookie (more on that later). I had some real qualms about sharing this recipe because its basically the back bone of this blog (the name is COOKIES and Salt, afterall). But I am nothing if not generous, so here ya go. Your welcome AMERICA!

The Base: Brown Sugar/Butter Cookie Dough, makes about 4 dozen cookies

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of softened butter (I let mine sit out at room temperature for at least a few hours, though most of the time I let it soften overnight. You want it soft, squishy, but not liquid. Melted, liquid butter will give you a wet batter and a thin cookie. Too hard butter and you wont be able to properly cream your butter and sugars. This recipe will give you a chewy  cookie that is soft on the inside with crisp edges.)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar firmly packed
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Unbleached All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I use kosher, but table salt works too)


  • Rubber Spatula to scrape sides of your bowl
  • Whisk
  • 9” x 13” Baking sheets
  • Silicon baking liners or Parchment paper- I use the silicone liners for convenience. Parchment will give you a slightly crispier cookie because the paper is thinner and gives your cookie more direct contact with heat of your sheet pan. Either works the same at keeping your cookies from sticking.
  • Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (what I use) or an electronic hand held mixer. If you have neither, you can still use a wooden spoon and some elbow grease.
  • Cooling rack (or a bunch of paper towels if your so inclined) for cooling

The Process:

1) Preheat your oven to 375. Line your baking sheets with either parchment or the silicone liners.

3) Combine your dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together thoroughly. If you are adding spices add them to the mix. Make sure everything is evenly distributed because no one wants a lump of baking soda sitting in their cookie (this is a thing that actually happened to me)

Creaming the butters and sugars together until they are pale and fluffy

2) Cream the butter and sugar together (a.k.a mix it) for a 5-7 minutes. Start on low to keep sugar from flying then hike up the speed on your mixer (or your arms) to medium (about a 4 or 5 on a kitchen aid). VIP: Its crucial to cream the butter and sugar for a minimum of 5 minutes. I do this for all cookie recipes unless the recipe tells me otherwise. It allows you to incorporate a lot of air into your cookie to give you both volume and tenderness to your cookie’s texture. Its also really important to do this just to make sure everything is really mixed before you add the flour. The more you mix at the flour stage, the more the gluten develops, and the tougher your cookie becomes. So heed my advice and CREAM YOUR BUTTER AND SUGAR FOR AT LEAST 5 MINUTES, OR ELSE I WILL HAUNT YOUR DREAMS!!!!!

4) Once the butter and sugar have been adequately creamed, stop mixing and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the eggs one at time on low speed. Then add your extract. Turn the mixer up briefly back to medium speed for about 10-15 seconds to finish incorporating your wet ingredients. I repeat: You want your flavoring components adequately mixed before you add the flour.

4) Add your dry ingredients in two parts.  With your mixer on the lowest speed, add the first half of the dry ingredients to your batter until just combined. This will take about 10-15 seconds MAX. You do not want to over mix the flour. It’s the one time in your life you do not want to be a tough cookie.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the second half of the flour and repeat the process. Its ok if there are a few wisps of flour here and there. Better to undermix at this stage than over mix.

5) Add your filling i.e. Your chocolate chips or oatmeal or whatever. Same principal-Start slow to barely combine and turn up to low medium (2 or 4 on the Kitchen Aid) until just incorporated, no more than 10-15 seconds. Scrape Down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

I use a 1″ ice cream scoop to scoop out my cookies

6) Scoop walnut sized balls of dough out onto the pans with at least 1” space in between them to account for the dough spreading (I can fit 12 dough balls on a 9”x13” sheet pan and 5-6 on a half sheet).

7) Place the pan in the oven and cook for 9-12 minutes turning the pans half way through cooking. If you have two sheet pans going on two racks, switch up the sheet pans on different racks too). Take the cookie out when it is golden brown. If the cookie looks underdone (i.e. pale, overly wobbly when you press on it), then pop it back in the oven in two minute increments until done.

8) When done, take the cookies out of the oven and let them rest on the pan for 2 minutes. This allows the cookie to set so you can transfer it to a cooling rack or a paper towel to finish cooling for another 5-10 minutes. For a crisper cookie, leave the cookie on the hot pan for 5 minutes before taking it off the pan to cool. The longer it stays on the pan, the more it will continue to cook, and the crispier it will get.

9) Store cookies in a Ziploc bag or airtight container. C and S Tip: To keep cookies from drying out, cover the cookies with a layer of torn up bread slices. Change the bread slices out everyday. Your cookies will stay fresh this way for up to 3 days. Some people use apples for this too, but I find apples just make your cookies taste like apples. Bread won’t alter the flavor. You can also freeze the cookie dough or baked cookies for up to a month.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. None of my posts are sponsored, which is dumb.

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