The 23 Types of Cookies Every Baker Should Master

From chocolate chip to biscotti

types of cookies: chocolate chip cookies, french macarons, and caramel-stuffed gingerbread crinkle cookies, side by side
Amy Neunsinger/Magnolia Table/Sally's Baking Recipes/Liz Andrew/Erin McDowell

Maybe you’re in full Julie & Julia mode, working your way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Maybe you simply love dessert. Wherever you fall on the culinary spectrum, one thing’s for sure: You can bake an incredible cookie—even if you think you can’t. Most come together without too much of a fuss and bake in minutes (note that we said “most”...looking at you, macarons). That’s why we’re challenging you to try your hand at what we’ve deemed the 23 essential types of cookies every sweet-lover should master. Conquer these, and you’ll be every bit the connoisseur as that blue guy from Sesame Street.

P.S.: If you’re wondering what the most popular type of cookie in the U.S. is, it’s none other than classic chocolate chip. As for the most popular store-bought cookie worldwide, Oreos wear the crown.

37 Healthy Cookie Recipes That Will Actually Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

1. Black and White Cookies

Depending on who you talk to, these aren’t cookies at all but “drop cakes,” given their fluffy texture and fine crumb. (But, considering the word “cookie” actually comes from “koekje,” a Dutch word meaning “little cake,” we still say it deserves a spot on this list.) The black and white cookie is a cake-like vanilla or chocolate base, half iced with white frosting and half with chocolate. It’s an iconic treat to try in New York City (sources say it was invented upstate in Utica in the early 20th century), but if you’re not headed there anytime soon, you can easily whip up a batch at home.

2. Butter Cookies

Also known as sablés, these unleavened cookies are crisp and—you guessed it—buttery. They reportedly date back to 1670 when they were invented in Sablé-sur-Sarthe, France. It’s simple, elegant and lends well to flavor-boosting additions, like chopped nuts, citrus zest or, as Sally’s Baking Recipes demonstrates, a partial dunk in melted chocolate.

3. Cake Mix Cookies

High-brow these aren’t, but delicious they are. Boxed cake mix yields many of the dry ingredients you need for a chewy-bordering-on-pillowy cookie. It’s a great cookie for beginners—and for making use of any chopped candy you have in your pantry (mix-ins work well here).

4. Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bless Ruth Wakefield, inventor of the chocolate chip cookie. It first appeared in her 1938 cookbook, Tried and True, and has spawned such an obsession that just about everyone has their own riff on the recipe. And while we love 'em miniature, caramel-stuffed or supersized in a skillet, we're suckers for the classic.

5. Crinkle Cookies

This holiday staple was created by Minnesota's Helen Fredell in the early 1950s. While crinkle cookies are best known for their chocolate base, you can find riffs in just about any flavor imaginable. There’s just one constant: Those balls of dough need to be rolled in confectioners’ sugar just before baking, so that as they bake, they spread out and “crinkle,” revealing the chewy cookie beneath a powdery exterior.

6. Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread folk have been around for hundreds of years (back in the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I had a royal gingerbread maker on staff, according to Time), and they don’t have to be confined to the holiday season. If all the frosting and decorating feels too tedious for you, try making a lattice weave from the dough, then using cookie cutters to cut out your dough. The end result is every bit as impressive—and less messy.

7. Gingersnaps

Just as some people have strong opinions on whether brownies should be cakey or fudgy, gingersnap lovers get pretty divided over whether the cookie is at its best when it's chewy or crisp. We like ours pillowy (see the recipe for soft molasses cookies below), but if you prefer more of a crunch (hey, “snap” is in the name, right?!), we've got you covered, too.

8. Icebox Cookies

You may know these as slice-and-bake cookies or refrigerator cookies, but the concept is the same: You prepare a dough, roll it into a log, tightly wrap it in parchment paper and refrigerate it for at least two hours to let the flavors meld. From there, you can store it in the freezer for up to three months, or until you’re ready to bake. Feel free to experiment with all kinds of flavors and mix-ins; we’ll get you started with our go-to lemon variety.

9. Macarons

This delicate French sandwich cookie features a crisp exterior that gives way to a chewy, airy, almost-cakelike interior. And achieving that texture is, well, work. It requires precise measurements—including plenty of sifting and piping—but the end result is worth it.

10. Macaroons

Often confused with macarons (by name alone), these cookies couldn’t be more different. Sure, this cookie also contains egg whites and sugar, but a macaroon is much denser, made largely of shredded coconut. They require a fraction of the cook time (and patience), and are more of a kid-friendly project, should you want to get the whole fam involved.

11. Meringue Cookies

Light, airy and 35 calories a pop (at least for Gimme Some Oven’s recipe), these little cookies won’t weigh you down. The key to preventing them from cracking is letting them cool in the oven before taking them out.

12. Mexican Wedding Cookies

Some people know these sweet, buttery cookies as snowball cookies, due to their liberal coating of confectioners’ sugar. Unlike crinkles, these cookies don’t spread, and you want to underbake them, so they’re very lightly golden and have a “melt-in-your-mouth type of consistency” when you bite into them, says Norma Salazar, Pastry & Baking Arts Instructor-Chef at the Institute of Culinary Education.

13. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Experts concur that the divisive oatmeal raisin cookie was invented in 1896 by Fannie Merritt Farmer. With its generous helping of old-fashioned oats and raisins, these cookies feel almost virtuous (keyword: almost). Just don’t skimp on the cinnamon, and veer on the side of overbaking, so your treats stay chewy, not rock hard.

14. Peanut Butter Cookies

It’s an unforgettable flavor profile, and just about the easiest cookie to make. Seriously: All you need to make the basic kind is sugar, egg and, well, peanut butter. Of course, there are plenty of fancier riffs to chew on, if you feel so inclined.

15. Peanut Butter Blossoms

You could broaden this category to “Kiss cookies” if you’re not into peanut butter (or have an allergy), but peanut butter blossoms are the quintessential bake-and-pop-an-unwrapped-Hershey’s-Kiss-on-top treat.

16. Sandwich Cookies

Consider this your excuse to run wild, baking your favorite cookies, slathering half with frosting and pairing 'em to make little dessert sandwiches. However, if you want to nosh beyond your comfort zone, try a miniature twist on a childhood staple: chocolate sandwich cookies with crème frosting.

17. Shortbread Cookies

Similar in flavor and texture to butter cookies, shortbread is an old-school Scottish treat that combines sugar, butter and flour. Named for both shortening and its crumbly texture (“short” meaning the opposite of long and stretchy), shortbread is free of leavening—even baking powder or soda. It has a nice snap, making it great for dunking in coffee. You don’t need to top yours with dried, edible flowers, but you’ve got to admit, it makes these simple sweets look pretty impressive.

18. Snickerdoodles

It's speculated that these cookies hail from late 1800s New England and are of German or Dutch origin. Snickerdoodles are known for their cinnamon-y crust, but purists know that’s not all that separates this treat from a classic sugar cookie: Classic snickerdoodles also include a little cream of tartar, which gives them a slightly tangy flavor.

19. Spritz Cookies

Spritz cookies are a lot like sugar cookies (more on those in a sec), only they’re often “spritzed” out of a cookie press to form fun, decorative shapes. The dough is pretty simple—butter, flour, sugar, egg, salt and vanilla—but you can jazz it up with sprinkles or food coloring.

20. Sugar Cookies

We're eternally indebted to the German Protestant settlers of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, who crafted this iconic cookie in the mid 1700s. Nowadays, you could settle for refrigerated dough from the grocery store, but after seeing just how easy it is to make sugar cookies from scratch…why would you? Frosting the top is optional, yet highly encouraged.

21. Thumbprint Cookies

At the intersection of easy and impressive is this little cookie. It takes minutes to stir together the batter, and all you need is a bit of store-bought jam and your thumb to create an eye-catching dessert. Bonus points if you make yours heart-shaped.

22. Biscotti

Haters will call them biscuits, but these twice-baked almond delights from Italy are cookies in our book. Biscotti dates back to ancient Rome, when they were commonly consumed by soldiers due to how durable and travel-friendly they are. Biscotti can be studded with nuts (like hazelnuts and pistachios), chocolate or dried fruit. Serve yours with coffee, espresso or sweet dessert wine.

23. No-Bake Cookies

Dessert without turning on the oven? Pinch us. There are endless types of no-bake cookies out there, which are refrigerated or frozen to completion instead of baked. They often include nut butter or oats for binding; some are sort of closer to granola bites. The only requirement is that they're egg- and flour-free, since they won't be heated.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...

taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...