We all have strongly held opinions about cookies—but this is a rule everyone should follow.
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Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland

Searching for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe is like trying to find the best slice of pizza in New York City—everyone has an opinion, and with so many different preferences and options, one person's favorite may not even make another expert's list. 

And, just as with pizza, there is a lot of debate on what makes a great batch of chocolate chip cookies. Countless publications, recipe developers, and home bakers claim to have cracked the code, offering up their recipe for chocolate chip cookies as the definitive best, but the formula for the "perfect" chocolate chip cookie is completely subjective. Your ideal cookies may be thin and crispy, while others prefer a soft-baked mound of dough. There are good cases to be made for using chocolate chips, wide couverture chocolate discs, or hand-chopped slabs of chocolate. And you can argue the merits of using cake flour versus all-purpose, butter or shortening, or white or brown sugar all day.

But there's one rule that works for just about every chocolate chip cookie dough recipe, and it's the answer to a common cookie baking question: Does resting your cookie dough make better cookies? The short answer is: Yes. Resting your dough in the refrigerator will almost always yield better results.

But why? Chilling your cookie dough in the refrigerator after mixing it allows the flour to hydrate and gives the other ingredients time to blend, resulting in a richer, more well-rounded flavor profile. There's another benefit to this trick: Resting your cookie dough before baking also helps the cookies hold their shape in the oven, leading to more browning and caramelization of the dough itself and keeping the cookies from spreading out too thin. Food & Wine associate food editor Kelsey Youngman explains that the science behind this technique is the same as when you refrigerate or freeze a pie crust before baking it. "When it goes into the oven, the butter doesn't completely melt right away," she says. Youngman says chilling the dough for at least one hour before baking is crucial. An overnight sleepover in the fridge is even better. But if you can't wait, shape your dough into balls and freeze them for 15 minutes before popping them into the oven.

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Credit: © Matt Armendariz

So yes, resting your cookie dough makes better cookies. Understanding specific foundational baking techniques like these will give you more consistent results, so you can create the best sheet tray of cookies every time. And while we won't declare a single cookie recipe the best ever, we can definitely make a case for our Brown-Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies or these Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies and we have a few other chef suggestions for upgrading your everyday cookie to the best it can be.