The Perfect Cookie Base

The Perfect Cookie Base is one cookie dough recipe that you can use to make TONS of cookie recipes! Crisp, buttery edges with soft centers, this cookie dough is the perfect canvas to get creative with your add-ins. Chocolate chips, chopped candy, sprinkles, and nuts this foolproof cookie recipe is so adaptable!

Basic Cookie Dough baked with M&Ms added in

One Cookie Dough = Endless Possibilities!

I feel like I’m over here solving the world’s problems one cookie at a time. I have created the actual ONLY cookie dough recipe that you will ever need. Let me explain…

This cookie recipe will give you buttery, crisp edges with thick, soft centers. The texture is sturdy enough to stand up to pretty much anything you want to mix into the dough, while still being soft and tender. Basically it’s magic.

You can keep it simple and make these into chocolate chip cookies, or you can chop up your favorite candy bar and mix that right into the dough too! Or even keep it simple and roll them in cinnamon sugar for an easy twist on a snickerdoodle.

The Perfect Cookie Base Cookies with different versions on a cookie tray

How Do You Make Perfect Cookies?

The recipe for these cookies is pretty basic, with just a few tweaks to allow it to work as a base for lots of adaptations. The beauty of these cookies, like I said before, is they hold up to just about any type of mix-in, while still being soft and tender. I have found that sometimes cookies with lots of mix-ins can get a little dry and hard. This happens because you need a thicker dough to encompass what is added in, and an easy way to make a dough thicker is to add more flour. This can work in very small amounts, but too much flour will give you a dry, hard cookie.

The perfect amounts of flour, sugar, and cornstarch stabilize the dough, while still keeping it tender and gooey!

Why Do You Add Cornstarch?

Cornstarch is a secret ingredient that you see in some cookie recipes that helps add to the thickness of the dough without having to add too much flour. Ot stabilizes the dough and keeps it thick, while adding a soft, slightly melty texture.

You can definitely overdo it with cornstarch if you add too much and it will give your cookies a strange, chalky texture. So stick to the recipe and know that 1 tablespoon is all you need!

Bowls of mix-ins for cookies

What Can You Add Into This Cookie Dough?

Ok, this is the fun part! Now is the time to get creative! You can keep these simple, because this recipe makes a delicious chocolate chip cookie…BUT let’s push it to its limits. Here are a few ideas of yummy add-ins. Mix and match flavors to make your own unique cookie. AND this is a great way to get the kids involved in the baking too! Everyone will love their own custom flavor!

  • Chips: chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter…or any combination of them all!
  • M&Ms are an easy add-in. And with all the fun flavors of M&Ms out now, the sky is the limit!
  • Peanut Butter Cups. Use regular sized cups and chop them up or minis. You could even swirl in 1/2 cup of peanut butter to the dough if you want!
  • Pretzels or potato chips. A salty/sweet combo would be delicious!
  • Candy Bars…really you could chop up just about any kind! Beware if you use a candy bar with a lot of caramel it will ooze out and could burn while baking, so I like to freeze caramel candies before adding to the dough, to help minimize this!
  • Sprinkles…because don’t sprinkles always make everything more fun?!
  • Crushed Cookies like Oreos, Circus Cookies, or Nutter Butters! Turn these into a Cookies and Cream dream with crushed Oreos and white chocolate chips!
  • Cereal. I mean why not? Add in Golden Grahams, milk chocolate and marshmallow bits for a s’mores cookie…or Fruity Pebbles and white chocolate chips for a creamy, fruity party cookie!

Can You Freeze The Perfect Cookie Base?

Yes! You can freeze the dough unbaked OR you can freeze the cookies after they’ve been baked!

To freeze the dough:

  1. Portion out the dough with a cookie scoop.
  2. Place all the dough onto a baking sheet.
  3. Freeze the portioned dough for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the tray from the freezer and transfer the dough into a large zip-top bag to freeze for up to 30 days.
  5. Bake according to recipe instructions, but add 2 minutes to the bake time. No need to thaw!

To freeze baked cookies:

  1. Allow the cookies to cool completely.
  2. Place the cookies in a large zip-top bag in a single layer, or a large airtight container stacked, with parchment or wax paper in between the layers.
  3. Freeze for up to 30 days.
  4. Thaw at room temperature. Microwave each cookie for 10 seconds to get it warm and gooey.
Stack of Cookies made with the perfect cookie base recipe

Enjoy and get creative!

Looking For More Cookie Recipes? Here Are A Few Of My Favorites:

This recipe was originally published in 2013. The photos and recipe tips have been updated in 2020. The original recipe remains the same!




The Perfect Cookie Base

  • Prep Time Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time Cook Time: 9 minutes
  • Total Time Total Time: 19 minutes
  • Yield Yield: 24 cookies 1x
  • Category Category: Cookies
  • Method Method: Baking
  • Cuisine Cuisine: Dessert


The perfect cookie base recipe that you can use time and time again!



  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups your favorite candy or chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper, set aside
  2. In medium bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. And add in egg and vanilla and mix for 1 minute until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and add in flour mixture until dough just comes together.
  6. Stir in candy until evenly incorporated.
  7. Using a medium (2- tablespoon) cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet 2- inches apart.
  8. Bake for 8-9 minutes until edges are golden. Make sure not to over-bake.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, and then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.


When adapting this recipe feel free to swap out vanilla extract for another flavor for an extra twist!

Nutrition Information:

1 cookie
16.7 g
130.4 mg
10.1 g
25.9 g
2.4 g
23 mg

Keywords: Cookies, Cookie Recipe, Base Cookie, Cookies and Cups, Cookie Dough

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Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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December 18, 2021 1:41 pm

I made this recipe. The dough tasted very good and I haven’t tried the actual cookies yet, but they melted down way too much. The recipe says to add flour until just combined, but that implies adding less than the flour mixture makes. Maybe change the wording of that step for future reference?

December 23, 2021 9:35 am
Reply to  Bee

My advice for you is to freeze them for 15-30 minutes before you bake them. I’ve made this recipe about 10 times they always come out perfect they’re a family favorite.

September 1, 2021 8:47 pm

I made these, subbing margarine for butter, and ground chia seeds+water for the egg… turned out amazing!! Taste and texture like real cookies! Ty for the great recipe!

Linda Teppler
July 25, 2021 9:54 pm

Fantastic recipe! I used 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat. I used blackberries instead of candy and a whole tablespoon of bourbon vanilla. What luxury!

July 15, 2021 11:27 pm

I love this recipe! I used mini M&Ms for mix-ins.
I liked how the dough was not too sticky which can be annoying with drip cookies. I made small, 2” diameter cookies, that only needed about 7 mins to bake. The favor of the dough was great, I used the whole T of vanilla and it was yummy, I sampled quite a few fresh out the oven.

Poonam Patel
June 9, 2021 3:14 pm

can i stuff these cookies? marshmallows? or frozen cookie butter blobs?

May 30, 2021 7:03 am

This was my first time baking chocolate chip cookies. I must say I was very impress. The taste was very very delicious (but I took out 5% brown sugar and 5% sugar because I prefer it to not be too sweet). The cookies didn’t flat our or stayed like a ball as some described but it was just perfect.

Mary C Masulis
March 14, 2021 6:12 pm

Turned out perfect! I followed the directions exactly. My add in was a combination of crushed keto coconut cluster (costco) and chocolate chips. I will save and make again! Thanks!

December 17, 2020 11:35 am

This was so good! I highly recommend putting in some cinnamon and before cooking rolling the dough around in some cinnamon sugar! Loved it thanks so much for this recipe.

December 28, 2020 7:12 pm
Reply to  Lila

Hi Lila! I did that exact same thing to make some snickerdoodles, and were delicious!

December 16, 2020 2:54 pm

How could I adapt the basic cookie dough recipe to a sweet potato cookie
Recipe ?

December 10, 2020 1:47 pm

Worked so well! The recipe gave these amazing chewy cookies. I made a double recipe, split them in 4 and made cranberry white chocolate, cookienutty, caramal m&ms and chocolate chip almond.

Evie W
November 23, 2020 8:16 pm

Hi Shelly,
I just tried this delicious cookie recipe!! I swapped out 2 tbls of cocoa for 2tbls of the flour. I added into the flour (as one reviewer mentioned) my walnuts, Heath bar bits, chocolate chip, butterscotch chips!!! OMG sooo awesome!! Thanks again!! Looking forward to try more of your recipes

Carol Mottin
November 13, 2020 9:50 am

If you add finely ground or crushed walnuts to this or any cookie mix…it will always stay puffy and be delicious! I usually add at least one cup mixed into the flour.

Tracey Davis
October 25, 2020 12:59 pm

Thank you for the recipe. Much appreciated!

Heather Jones
September 18, 2020 10:04 am

I made these this morning and they spread all over the pan. I even chilled the dough first. ☹️ They were flat, flat, flat!

Raven horne
December 1, 2020 12:39 am
Reply to  Heather Jones

That’s how mine came out☹️ I looked it up and it said it was either to little flour OR the butter was to warm or even melted…. either way they were still good! Will definitely have to try this again and fix the butter problem.

Grandma Mossie
January 27, 2021 8:59 pm
Reply to  Heather Jones

Usually if they spread it’s too much fat to flour ratio….Add a tbsp or two of flour in between batches if that happens

Shelley H
August 30, 2020 10:43 pm

My cookies didn’t melt down, they almost stayed in a ball! Help! What did I do wrong?

Shelley H
August 31, 2020 11:40 am
Reply to  Shelly

I was thinking the same thing. Going to try weighing it this time! Thanks!

December 7, 2020 12:30 pm
Reply to  Shelley H

You are beating to much air in your dough. When you beat your butter and sugar. Don’t beat as long

Laura G
December 17, 2020 6:34 pm
Reply to  Shelley H

Mine just did that , big lump raw on middle

Shelly Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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