Everything You Need to Know About Cookies

Cookies are a treat that can be as fancy or as simple as you want. Here’s everything you need to make your next batch.
By Food & Wine Editors
December 03, 2020

In the wide world of desserts, cookies are perhaps the friendliest and most versatile treat. They can be as simple as shortbread, an elemental combination of flour, sugar, and butter, or as time-intensive and beautiful as these Brown-Butter-Cardamom Spitzbuben, each one featuring a jewel-like cutout of jam. They can be studded with chocolate chips or used to sandwich lemon curd, dulce de leche, or minty white chocolate. You can roll them out and cut them out or just dollop them onto a sheet pan. Perhaps your childhood included a cookie of particular significance to you. Maybe, like Food & Wine associate features editor Nina Friend, your family cookie recipe is so good it spurred the creation of a small business.  

No matter which cookies you favor, now’s the time to get baking. Crucially for 2020, cookies are portable and easy to share while maintaining a social distance, and endlessly adaptable to suit various tastes and dietary restrictions. You can also wrap them up and put them in the mail, and (carefully) deliver them to friends and neighbors less messily than a pie or cake. If your household is small, you can freeze them to ensure holiday baked-goods abundance will stretch into the new year. 

Since cookies are what we all need right now, we’ve put together a treasure trove of cookie knowledge, whether it's finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie for your textural needs, figuring out how to roll out dough without getting flour everywhere, hunting down the most aesthetically pleasing cookies, or finding out which cookies to mail order to the folks you might not be able to see during this pandemic holiday season. Go forth and cookie.

The Best, Least Messy Way to Roll Out Cookie Dough

Credit: Getty Images

Baking guru Dorie Greenspan knows that if you roll out cookie dough repeatedly and keep flouring the surface, the dough can get tough. But if you roll cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper, it means that you can eliminate the flour mess and preserrve the delicate crumb. Read More.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe for Every Occasion

Credit: © Emily Farris

Having a great chocolate chip cookie recipe up your sleeve is excellent. What’s even better is having several, so you can take your pick depending on what mood you’re in and what kind of texture and flavor you want to achieve. Read More.

How to Freeze Cookie Dough

Credit: The Picture Pantry / Adobe Stock

Cookies are such a joyful, comforting treat, and we’re all for big batches if that means getting to savor them just a little while longer. However, there are also times when you might not want to enjoy them all at once—and that’s ok! Maybe you want to prepare a batch in advance; maybe you’re baking for one, and trying to finish three to four dozen cookies before they go stale seems like an (understandably) daunting task. That’s where your freezer comes in. Read More.

Baking Tips I Learned from Ina Garten

Credit: NBCUniversal / Getty Images / Greg DuPree

If you're already set with your own tried-and-true holiday cookie recipes, consider perusing some of Ina Garten's best cookie-making tips to make sure they come out perfectly. Read More.

How to Ship Cookies and Avoid Heartbreak

Credit: Getty Images

In a holiday season when face-to-face cookie swaps are inadvisable, to say the least, making cookies to send to friends and family is one of the cheerier pursuits you can engage in. But you've gotta make sure they arrive intact and in time. Read More.

Professional Bakers Give Their Best Cookie Tips

Credit: Antonis Achilleos

This year, while swaps may be on hold or look different, cookies are still welcome at any holiday table (or, a holiday bed, which is acceptable in 2020). We asked bakers for their best holiday cookie tips including how to freeze them, work with gluten-free flours, celebrate Hanukkah with cookies, and more. Read More.

These Are Hands-Down the Most Beautiful Cookies You Can Possibly Bake

Credit: Con Poulos / John Kernick / Andria Lo / Michael Piazza

Whether you're baking for the holidays, for family and friends, or for the photo, sometimes you need cookies that don't just taste amazing, but look amazing, too. This lovingly assembled assortment is for you. Read More.

40 Mail-Order Cookies That Deliver Straight to Your Door

Credit: Kate Previte / Levain Bakery

Understandably, cookie demand is at an all-time high right now, for both baking and ordering online. Fortunately for us, hundreds of great bakeries and cookie purveyors are selling their treats online nationwide. We rounded up the biggest cookie retailers, as well as plenty of our favorites across the country. Read More.

15 Great Gifts for Cookie Lovers

Credit: Amazon / Williams Sonoma

SablésThumbprintsChocolate Chip. Cookies are always a delight and come the holiday season, they’re just as fun to gift as they are to eat. In this roundup, we’ve included all kinds of cookie-adjacent presents, from cookie cutters and stamps to already-made cookies (for those who prefer instant gratification). Read More.

9 Cookie Cutters You Need for Baking This Season

Credit: Williams Sonoma / Amazon

Whether it’s baking with kids or adding an elegant touch to a holiday dessert spread, cookie cutters can make all the difference. Even the most practiced bakers and dessert artists use stamps and cutters to perfect their creations, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same. Flex your best piping skills or let some of these cutters and stamps do the outlining for you. Read More.

I Hate Christmas But I Love These Cookies

Credit: Adobe Stock

There's a particular alkaline edge to the season if you're a person who is attuned to this sort of thing: the fissures that form from the pressure of the holly-jolly crushing up against the reality of the day. My mother was stressed, so I was stressed, (and I assume her own mother had stressed her out), and while I'm sure that actual good and light and love was happening around me, there's a thick layer of dust that settled on my brain's pleasure center, and just one thing could blow it away: the arrival of my grandmother's cookies. Read More.

Feature Illustration: Jenna Brillhart