A trusty, well-loved cookie recipe is the ace up a baker’s sleeve. “Old faithful” recipes can be whipped up in a cinch for last-minute gifts or get-togethers, school bake sales, or when you’re in the mood for something sweet (because why wouldn't you be the one to enjoy the fruits of your labor?)
Luckily, cookies are an incredibly versatile dessert, which means bakers everywhere are bound to be able to find a perfect “signature” for any taste or diet. Several common flavors dominate the world of all things cookie, including chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter. But what about types of cookies?
“Types” of cookies aren’t organized by flavor; they’re organized according to the dough's consistency and preparation style. Each popular flavor we mentioned earlier has a cookie “type” with which it’s most commonly associated. Oatmeal raisin cookies are drops; sugar cookies are rolled, and so on.
Becoming well-versed in common flavors and types of cookies can inspire uniquely delicious flavor combinations like crispy rolled chocolate chip cookies a la Chips Ahoy or irresistible oatmeal raisin dessert bars.
Whether you’re in the market for that one recipe that will be requested by family and friends for years to come or you’re interested in changing up your normal routine, we’ve compiled the most common cookie types (and some delicious recipes for you to try) to keep all your cookie needs covered.
Commonly associated with chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, dropped cookies might be the most well-known cookie technique. The dough for drop cookies is normally very soft and impossible to manipulate by hand without getting half of the batch permanently stuck to your fingers. Dropped cookies are, you guessed it, dropped straight onto the pan from a spoon or spatula. As the cookies bake, they spread and flatten into a more traditional cookie shape.
Drop cookies bake to be pillowy-soft with a delicate chew and irresistible sweet flavor. Most drop cookies need a few minutes out of the oven to harden on the sheet pan before being transferred to a cooling rack (RIP to every smushed cookie we tried to move prematurely).
Our favorite drop cookie recipes include:
Molded or shaped cookies refer to a thick, easily-manipulated dough shaped by hand before baking in the oven. Typically, this dough does not need to be refrigerated and can be shaped straight from the mixing bowl. The most common type of molded cookie shape is a ball, but other shapes include wreaths, crescents, canes, and logs.
Common flavors of molded cookies include peanut butter, snickerdoodle, almond crescents, thumbprint cookies, and biscotti. Here are some of our favorite molded cookies we’ve tried over the years:
A staple of the holiday season, rolled cookies refer to cookies cut from dough that was chilled, firmed, and rolled flat. The fats in cookie dough—most commonly butter or shortening—are responsible for a cookie’s spread while baking. By chilling the dough prior to cutting out shapes, the fats remain cold and locked in place. This allows festively cut cookies to bake thoroughly without spreading into indistinguishable blobs (still delicious, but significantly less Insta-worthy).
This cookie preparation does require a little extra time for chilling, but the picture-worthy shapes and designs that can be made from the rolled dough are well worth the wait. Our favorite rolled cookies include:
Similar to rolled but not quite, refrigerator cookies are made from dough molded into a log, cylinder, or block while soft and then chilled until stiff. The log, cylinder, or block can be taken out of the refrigerator or freezer, sliced, and baked at a moment’s notice. These cookies are also called icebox or sliced cookies. This dough is the most similar to what you might buy in the store, but with the extra love and pizzazz that only homemade can offer.
Refrigerator cookies are a great way to avoid the hassle of rolling out chilled dough on a floured working surface. The chilled dough is mess-free and, if evenly-molded prior to going in the fridge, it also makes getting uniformity across the entire batch a breeze. The most common forms of rolled cookies are pinwheels, sandwich cookies, and biscotti, though virtually any flavor could be utilized with this convenient technique.
Skip the flouring, rolling, and all that extra clean-up with these delicious rolled cookie recipes:
Perfect for making multiple batches at once and a great introduction for young bakers-to-be, bar cookies are made by spreading the dough evenly in a shallow baking pan, baking as one big sheet, and slicing into single-serving bars or squares once cooled. Some dessert bars require pre-baking a crust prior to adding the other layers to prevent a soggy, unholdable bottom.
Having a bar cookie recipe on-deck is essential for busy, on-the-go bakers, parents of kiddos bouncing from one fundraiser to the next, and those regularly involved in large potlucks or community food drives. These cookies are easy to mix, easier to bake, and of course, the easiest to eat.
Try this effortless cookie technique with one of these mouthwatering creations:
Light as air and buttery-soft, pressed cookies require a few extra tools to master this delicate technique. The soft dough is “pressed” through a cookie press or cookie gun or piped onto a baking sheet with the help of a pastry bag and decorative tip. Ornate flowers, wreaths, stars, trees, and other decorative shapes are commonly associated with these elaborate, airy cookies.
One of the most popular types of pressed cookies is a spritz, short for the German word Spritzgebäck, which literally translates to “squirt pastries.” Questionable vernacular aside, the name aptly describes the process of making these delicious pastries: the soft dough is squeezed through the metal molds of a cookie press, landing on the baking sheet as a perfectly shaped squirt (or dollop, if you’d like to use literally any other word).
A cookie gun might seem a bit finicky at first, but after a few batches, you’re sure to be a Spectacular Spritzer in no time. This might be one of the trickier cookie techniques on the list, but these easy-to-follow recipes help keep the cooking process sweeter than stressful:
While it can be argued that no-bake cookies aren’t technically “cookies” in the true sense of the word, millions of taste buds everywhere beg to differ. No-bake cookies are appropriately named; these decadent treats don’t require any baking in the oven, and most are able to set up at room temperature without additional chilling or freezing.
The most recognizable type of no-bake cookie is a rich concoction of peanut butter, oats, and cocoa powder. We Midwesterners fondly associate these cookies with county fairs, bake sales, and school lunches, but these lumpy dollops of deliciousness are only one of many no-bake treats that can be made by kitchen pros and novices alike.
Whether you plan on sticking with the classics or branching out into new flavor territories, these no-bake recipes are quick, simple, and 100% irresistible (good thing they’re so easy to make)!