Find out fascinating facts and interesting tidbits about cookies and the ingredients found in them in our series “Inside the Dough.” Cookies come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. We’ve sampled them all to bring you the most popular cookie types every cookie lover must try.
If you are anything like us (and you’re reading cookie content, so you must be), then you know there is no such thing as too many cookies.
To celebrate the wonderful world of cookies, we’ve listed our favorite cookie types while also providing some interesting facts about what these delicious treats are made of, where they came from, and how they became so popular.
Chocolate chip cookies
What is the most popular type of cookie? It might just be this one. Ever the crowd-pleaser, the chocolate chip cookie is renowned for its balance of richness and sweetness. The traditional recipe for these cookies includes butter, eggs, chocolate chips, and brown sugar, but it can be tweaked to fit a variety of tastes and occasions.
The chocolate chip cookie is said to have been invented by accident in 1938. Ruth Wakefield, the owner of the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts, added in broken chocolate bar pieces to a batch of cookies in the hopes that the chocolate would melt. To her surprise, the bits stayed solid, and the iconic cookie was born.
Peanut butter cookies
Sweet, salty, and creamy, peanut butter cookies have been around since the early 1900s, during the time when George Washington Carver began advocating for peanut farming. The first documented mention of peanut butter cookies appears in his bulletin “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it For Human Consumption,” published in 1917.
The ingredient list for peanut butter cookies is simple: peanut butter, sugar, and an egg. The most notable feature of this cookie, though, might be its signature hashed, cross shape on top, created when the dough is pierced with a fork.
Oatmeal raisin cookies
Oatmeal raisin cookies are a divisive type of cookie. Many cookie eaters love them for their unique taste, chewy texture, and hints of cinnamon, while others count them less as a cookie and more as a healthy snack due to the inclusion of raisins and soluble fiber.
The traditional list of ingredients for oatmeal raisin cookies is flour, sugar, eggs, salt, spices, oatmeal dough, and raisins. They date back to 1896, when culinary pioneer Fannie Merritt Farmer featured a recipe for “oatmeal cookies” (no raisins) in her “Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.”
Composed of varying ratios of sugar, butter, and flour (depending on the recipe you follow), shortbread cookies offer a crunchy, crisp texture and a delightfully buttery flavor. Delicious on their own, these cookies are commonly enjoyed by adding a dusting of sugar, spread of jam, or layer of buttercream frosting on top.
Some records indicate that shortbread dates back to the 12th century, but the first recipe for it appeared in 1736. The Scottish are credited with inventing it, as well as defending it from being classified as a biscuit, which would have meant they would have had to pay a government tax on it.
A holiday staple, gingerbread cookies come in many forms, but the most iconic is the traditional man-shaped variety. Brown sugar and molasses meld with spices and ginger to create a unique flavor that we immediately associate with Christmastime.
The sugar cookie is beloved as much for its sweet, buttery taste as for its versatility. Made with sugar, flour, butter, eggs, vanilla, and a leavening ingredient (such as baking powder or soda), sugar cookies often provide a foundation for other add-ons, such as sprinkles, frosting, and fudge.
These popular type of cookies date back to the 1700s, when the Protestant settlers in the Nazareth Colony of Pennsylvania created theirs in the shape of their state’s symbol, a keystone.
Black and white cookies
Visually striking, black and white cookies are deceptively simple. With a foundation of vanilla-laden “cookies” (more on that below) topped with chocolate and vanilla frosting, black and white cookies keep things simple while still creating an exciting culinary experience.
These half-moon cookies, called Amerikaners in the German language, were made popular in Germany during WWII. Many people, however, don’t consider these “cookies.” Instead, they classify them as drop cakes, as they are made from a batter sort of like that of a cupcake.
With a distinctive crisp and flaky texture, butter cookies are rich and sweet. They also are easily flavored, leading to modern variations that include chocolate, vanilla, and coconut. They are especially popular around Christmastime and come in a variety of festive shapes, such as stars, trees, and reindeer.
These cookies, often called Danish biscuits, originated in Denmark. Most people, when they think of butter cookies, conjure up an image of the blue metal tin in which they traditionally come.
Soft, chewy, and packed with cinnamon, snickerdoodle cookies are made primarily of butter, sugar, salt, flour, and eggs. Bakers sometimes add other ingredients to the mix to give these cookies a different flavor and make them more fluffy. One of the most popular additions is cream of tartar.
Snickerdoodles have gone by many names through the years, including Crybaby Cookies, Jumbles, and Plunkets.
White chocolate macadamia nut cookies
With roasted macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips nestled in a soft sugar cookie, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies are salty, sweet, and one of a kind.
The ingredient that makes this type of cookie most unique is, of course, the macadamia. This high-fat, low-protein nut originated in Australia before making its way to Hawaii, which was the world’s largest producer of the macadamia for many years. Today, that distinction belongs to South Africa.
Taking a bite of a crunchy, oblong-shaped biscotti is basically like taking a bite of history. This sturdy cookie was created in the 14th century in Prato, Italy, a town in Tuscany, where almonds grew abundantly. Funnily enough, the unique texture of a biscotti was quite intentional.
Coming from the Medieval Latin word biscoctus, “biscotti”literally means “twice baked” or “twice cooked.” (Also funnily enough, biscotti are not called “biscotti” in Italy; there, they are referred to as “cantucci.”) As the name suggests, biscotti are baked twice, which draws out the moisture, resulting in a hard, dry cookie that resists mold — making them the go-to choice for 14th-century sea travelers.
Notable for their delightful snap, these thin, crunchy cookies have a taste that zings. These quaint cookies, made with either powdered ginger, ground ginger, or ginger zest, were said to originate in Europe and came to America with German, Dutch, and English settlers.
When you bite into one of these snappy little treats, you immediately know why they’re called gingersnaps. But it’s important to note that their name also has roots in the German or Middle Dutch word “snappen,” which means “to seize quickly.”
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Dolloped with that famous kiss of chocolate, peanut butter blossoms are considered the penicillin of cookies. In other words, they were created by accident.
The legend goes that a Freda Smith of Ohio intended to make a batch of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies but realized she was out of chocolate chips — so, she reached for the chocolate kisses. In 1957, she entered her mistake into the Pillsbury Bake-Off competition and got second place. And the rest, as they say, is history.
This French cookie (pronounced mac-ah-ron) is a light, cakey treat that usually comes with a tiny bit of crunch on the top from an incredibly thin crust. Though sometimes confused with macaroons, macarons (which actually trace their origins to Italy) feature almond meal as their primary ingredient.
Immediately recognizable by their bright colors that symbolize their delicious flavor (such as pink for strawberry or blue for blueberry), these tinted beauties are typically baked and then sandwiched around a thin layer of jam, fruit curd, ganache, or buttercream.
Like macarons, macaroons (pronounced mac-uh-roon) originated in Italy. However, unlike macarons, macaroons are not quite as extravagantly colored or wildly flavored.
The main ingredient in macaroons is shredded coconut, and they’re characterized by their craggy surface, chewy interior, and moist texture (when made correctly). Due to the fact that they do not contain flour, they are traditionally eaten around Passover, when Jews are forbidden from eating foods that contain leavening.
Butter Pecan Cookies
Soft, chewy, and doused in brown sugar sweetness, butter pecan cookies beautifully marry the flavors of rich butter, nutty pecan, and vanilla. While you don’t have to toast the pecans that are pushed into the top of these cookies, many bakers say that doing so enhances their flavor. They also say you can eat these with a scoop of ice cream, and who are we to say no to that?
These delicious morsels can be eaten year-round, but are quite popular around the holidays and at Christmas cookie exchanges.
These familiar cookies that pair dark cocoa with white confectioner’s sugar are a Christmastime must-have. Making these is a bit of a time investment, however, as you have to refrigerate the dough for several hours before baking them. But they’re totally worth the wait.
There’s little wonder why they’re called crinkle cookies. Before popping them in the oven, they are coated in confectioners’ sugar, and the unique look they achieve — enhanced by the sugar coating — makes them look crinkled and cracked.
Though far from a traditional cookie, these soft, round delights filled with cakey goodness warrant inclusion on this list.
Like macarons, whoopie pies are a sandwich cookie. Traditionally, they’re composed of a squishy chocolate cake round filled with vanilla cream, buttercream, or marshmallow fluff. Their silly name dates back to the early 20th century, when the term “whoopie” turned up a lot in popular culture (music, toys, and more). Given that these cookies became fashionable around the same time, the name stuck.
Chewy, soft, and oh so comforting, molasses cookies have an ingredient list that is pretty basic except for one item. (We’re not even gonna say it.)
Molasses cookies have been around for centuries and are considered an offshoot of the gingerbread cookie. They grew in popularity because back then molasses was one of the most widely used ingredients in cooking and baking. A popular variation of the molasses cookie is the Joe Frogger, which originated in Marblehead, Massachusetts, in the late 18th century and contains rum.
Perhaps a controversial inclusion on this list, fortune cookies straddle the cookie line. But we say they belong.
Made from flour, sugar, vanilla, and a dash of sesame seed oil, these crunchy, tasty cookies are best known for the slips of paper nestled inside them with fortunes and lucky numbers written on them. Though usually associated with Chinese food, fortune cookies likely originated in the 1870s in Japan, near the city of Kyoto.
With their unique shape and incredible range of fillings, hamantaschen stand out from the cookie crowd. The significance of these treats extends beyond their deliciousness, as they trace their roots to a key moment in Jewish history. Today, they are central to the feast of Purim, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the Jews’ deliverance from Haman, a figure in the Persian Empire who was plotting to kill them. Their triangular shape is meant to mimic that of the hat Haman wore.
The traditional recipe for hamantaschen includes eggs, sugar, oil, lemon juice, lemon rind, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, and poppy seed filling. However, they can be filled with any number of gooey, sweet options, including lekvar (apricot or prune butter), chocolate hazelnut spread, or different flavors of jellies, jams, and preserves.
Alternatively known as refrigerator cookies, icebox cookies began to appear in recipe books as a natural evolution of icebox cakes. Both recipes corresponded with the development of more efficient refrigeration in the 1920s.
As the name implies, these cookies are made by rolling dough into a log, chilling it in the refrigerator until firm, and then slicing it into the shapes of cookies to be baked. The ingredient list for icebox cookies includes flour, baking soda, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. They can then be spruced up with additional ingredients, such as walnuts or candied fruit.
The unique texture comes from the combination of baking soda and baking powder. Other ingredients include flour, salt, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and sour cream.
Few culinary innovations have had the impact of meringue. The first written mention of this strikingly beautiful dessert appears in an English manuscript from 1604, indicating that people have been enjoying this sweet, airy cookie since at least the early 17th century.
Meringue cookies are as simplistic as they are delicious, with ingredients traditionally limited to egg whites and powdered sugar. They also can contain a variety of optional add-ins, such as cream of tartar, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips.
Mexican wedding cookies
Crunchy cookies packed with nuts and dusted with powdered sugar, Mexican wedding cookies are buttery perfection. In addition to the butter, almonds, and powdered sugar, these cookies call for vanilla extract, flour, and sugar.
A staple of festivities for centuries, Mexican wedding cookies actually originated in medieval Arab baking. In fact, this cookie and its variations are known by many names around the world depending on where they are made (kourabiedes in Greece, Viennese crescents in Eastern Europe, Russian tea cakes in the U.S.).
Translated from Yiddish to mean “little twists,” rugelach is a filled, flaky pastry made of cream cheese dough. The most popular fillings include chocolate, cinnamon, and fruits, but savory rugelach is a thing too, featuring everything from garlic to ghost pepper.
While the origin of this cookie is not specifically mentioned in the Talmud, some trace it to the sacred text. With simple ingredients like flour, butter, cream cheese, sugar, salt, and sour cream, rugelach are croissant-like in shape and appearance, and are just as buttery and versatile as the French pastry.
Not to be confused with the popular SnoBalls made by Hostess, traditional snowball cookies are rich, buttery, and topped with powdered sugar. These round, bite-size delights are usually filled with nuts, giving them textural complexity despite having a simple ingredient list.
Snowball cookies sometimes are lumped in with Mexican wedding cookies, Greek butter cookies, and other similar baked treats, and they are differentiated only by small details. To make these cookies, all you need is flour, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, butter, salt, and chopped nuts (traditionally pecans).
There is a lot to love about Christmas, not the least of which is the array of cookie types that pop up every December. Spritz cookies are an often forgotten and underrated Christmas cookie, overflowing with flavor and festive spirit. With classic cookie components, including butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, salt, and flour, spritz cookies are a worthy addition to your spread of Christmas sweets.
When made in the traditional German way, which originated in the 16th century, the soft dough is squirted or pushed through a press to create intricate designs. Today, you can find a variety of flavors, including Christmas classics like lemon and almond.
A jam-filled indulgence, thumbprint cookies are classic Christmas shortbread cookies that look as amazing as they taste. While it is unclear who created these cookies, there is no question as to where the name originated: These cookies are made by creating small dough balls and then pressing the center with your thumb to make the perfect pocket for jam.
The recipe for thumbprint cookies includes butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, salt, egg yolk, flour, and whatever flavor jam you wish to sit in the center of your cookies.
There’s just something about breakfast cereal and cookies that goes together. When it comes to creative combinations, cornflake cookies stand out as one of the tastiest and most iconic. While it seems nearly every family has a different take on the cornflake cookie, including baked and no-bake options, the common version has a pretty standard list of ingredients: sugar, butter, shortening flour, baking soda, vanilla, and, of course, cornflakes.
Popularized when the classic breakfast cereal became a staple in many American households — just after the turn of the 20th century — cornflake cookies are an easy treat to craft. In addition to the basic ingredients, many people sprinkle in extra crunch via nuts or even kettle chips.
More Popular Cookie Types
After the 30 listed above, you’ve still got a whole world of cookies to explore. Here are 20 more of our favorites.
Birthday Cake Cookies
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Flourless Fudge Cookies
Italian Lemon Drop Cookies (Anginetti)
Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Red Velvet Cookies
Cookie Types Recipes
Now you’ve learned the 50 most popular cookie types, try whipping up a few batches to share with your loved ones. Whether they’re fans of the classic chocolate chip cookie or prefer snickerdoodles, there’s a cookie type for every pallet. Try some of our favorite cookie recipes today!