In making over 26 cookie recipes for Cookie Project (I say “over” because I’m not sharing the duds), I used the same trusted tools again and again. Below, I spell them all out for you and I share whether each item is a must-have or a nice-to-have. You may be surprised by how few must-haves are on the list. I’ll also share what to look for if you are going to purchase these tools.
While in some cases I promote specific brands, aside from a small commission I make from Amazon, this post is not sponsored – these are simply my favorite tools. I’ll point out when brand doesn’t matter and when it is helpful to buy a tool in a store rather than online.
Status: Must have. You’ll definitely need a cookie sheet to bake cookies on. A cooling rack is also a must-have. Depending on the type of cookie you are making, lack of air circulation during cooling can cause the bottoms to become soggy.
What to look for: I’ve found that heavier, darker cookie sheets bake better cookies and also hold up better. Half-sheets are a great size and, although runny batter doesn’t come up very often in cookie baking, it’s handy to have a cookie sheet with a lip around the edge so you can use it for other tasks like candy-making. If you have the storage and counter space for it, I recommend a large one. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter which cooling rack you have as long as you have one.
Status: Nice to have. If you don’t use a Silpat, you can bake directly on the cookie sheet (this makes for more cleanup work) or you can use parchment paper. If you typically use parchment paper, a Silpat will save you money in the long run because you won’t have to keep buying more paper.
What to look for: This may be obvious, but make sure that the Silpat has the same dimensions as your cookie sheet. Some silicone mats come with circles printed on them that can help you space cookies – those are a nice bonus feature.
Status: Nice to have. Even though I use Silpats, I find myself reaching for my roll of parchment paper all of the time. In some cases, it’s because the Silpats are dirty and it’s easier to just throw some parchment paper onto cookie sheets. But, I also use parchment when storing cookies, putting a little parchment paper between each layer to protect them.
What to look for: It really doesn’t matter which brand of parchment paper you buy. I often buy the natural kind because I like the way the brown looks.
Status: Must have. My recipes are all written using measuring cups. There’s no way around it, you’ll need a set.
What to look for: Any set of measuring cups will do, however I’ve never found a set that I like more than this one. I love the shape – each measuring cup easily pours into my mixing bowl, and the cups come in so many more sizes than most sets (like 1 1/2 cups and 2 cups), which is very convenient.
Status: Must have. You will not be able to make my recipes without a set of measuring spoons.
What to look for: I like sets of measuring spoons that have many spoons. This set has more options than I’ve ever seen.
Status: Must have. Liquid measurements should always be done in a liquid measuring cup.
What to look for: Make sure that the numbers are easy to read. I like these OXO cups because you see the measurements in two places, the traditional side location as well as looking down into the cup.
Status: Nice to have. You need bowls, but they don’t have to be special mixing bowls. You can mix in a pot or even a soup terrine if that’s what you have on hand.
What to look for: I have a whole section of my kitchen devoted to mixing bowls. The ones I turn to most often are the ones that are microwave- and dishwasher-safe. Also, look for bowls that are stackable so they don’t take up so much space.
TigerChef TC-20559 Ice Cream Scoop Disher, Stainless Steel Scoop, NSF Certified, Assorted Colors (Pack of 9)
Status: Nice to have. You don’t need dishers/scoops in this many sizes, but I would suggest having small (about a teaspoon), medium (about a tablespoon), and large (about two tablespoons) scoops. Using scoops is the best way that I’ve found to make cookies that are uniformly sized.
What to look for: I suggest buying these in person rather than online. Look for a scoop that feels comfortable in your hand and is nice and easy to squeeze. You’ll be using this tool a lot.
Joseph Joseph 20085 Adjustable Rolling Pin Removable Rings Beech Wood Classic for Baking Dough Pizza Pie Cookies, Multicolored
Status: Nice to have. You don’t actually need a rolling pin; many people roll cookie dough with wine bottles. However, it is so much easier to work with an actual rolling pin.
What to look for: One thing that I noticed again and again during my cookie project was that size matters. When you want to roll out a big piece of dough, a short rolling pin will make the job take much longer. I learned that I don’t care about handles – I tend to just put my whole weight into the rolling pin and the handles weren’t really necessary. This Joseph Joseph rolling pin is my favorite rolling pin. The rings on the end let you roll dough to specific sizes so you don’t have to guess if the dough is 1/4″ thick – I love this feature. The pin isn’t perfect – I’d like it to be even longer and to have even more ring size choices, but it’s the best that I’ve found. I’ve only used wooden rolling pins so I can’t comment on the fancy-schmancy marble ones.
Status: Nice to have. The surface that you roll out cookie dough on plays a big part in how easy the experience will be for you. If you have butcher block counters or a nice big cutting board to roll on, you’re golden. But, if your counter is smooth and shiny, when you throw flour down on it and then put the dough on the flour, the flour will slide around and the dough is likely to stick to the counter. If you put down a pastry cloth (these are really inexpensive, by the way), the flour will get absorbed into the pastry cloth a little and create a nice non-stick surface to roll the dough on. Pastry cloths always come with rolling pin covers, but I’ve only found the pin covers useful for the stickiest of doughs.
What to look for: Go cheap on this purchase. It really doesn’t matter.
Status: Nice to have. I lived for years without this tool, but now that I have one, I use it all of the time (in fact, I have two). I scrape the gunk off of my counter with it, divide dough into sections with it, and use it to transfer hot cookies onto a cooling rack. If you don’t have one, I’m sure you have something else in your house that you can use for these tasks.
What to look for: Like the dishers, I’d head to a store and pick one that seems sturdy and feels nice in your hand. They are all about the same.
Status: Nice to have. Before I had one, I used a spatula to get the last little bits of dough out of a bowl, but this tool does the job so much better – it’s the perfect shape for getting into the bowl.
What to look for: These come in a variety of shapes. I like the ones with one straight edge and one rounded edge.
Status: Nice to have. This is a great tool to have around for cutting pizza, but it also comes in handy for cutting rolled out cookie dough into rectangles, diamonds, squares, and triangles. If you don’t have one, you could use a bench scraper or a knife.
What to look for: You can price shop on this one. You might also consider looking at pastry wheels. These are the same thing essentially, but have a pattern in them to make the edges more interesting. It’s like using craft scissors instead of regular scissors.
Status: Nice to have. A pastry brush is useful for brushing egg whites, yolks, or heavy whipping cream onto cookies for shine. If you don’t have one, you could use a regular clean paint brush or even your finger.
What to look for: I like the brushes with silicone bristles. I find that they work really well and they are easier to clean.
Status: Nice to have. Some of my recipes call for mixing with a wooden spoon. Wooden spoons have some heft to them and do well for tasks like mixing chocolate chips into batter. If you don’t have one, no biggie – you can use a spatula or even a large soup spoon.
What to look for: For cookie making, I prefer wooden spoons with large surface areas to the skinny ones.
Status: Nice to have. You can never have too many silicone spatulas. I reach for mine constantly to stir and scrape and they are particularly nice to use when working with ingredients cooking in a saucepan – they won’t scratch the pan and they are heat resistant. If you don’t have one, you can always find something else to mix with.
What to look for: Silicone spatulas are not all the same. Some are harder while others are more floppy. I prefer the harder kind and I like the ones that have a large surface area and a little curve to them. These spatulas from Cake Boss are the ones that I reach for the most often.
Status: Nice to have: I always suggest using a whisk to mix up your dry ingredients in a recipe. But, if you don’t have one, you can use a fork to do the same thing; it will just take you a bit longer.
What to look for: I find metal whisks work much better than silicone ones. Other than that, find one that is comfortable in your hand. I keep a small whisk around for little jobs like whisking one egg white, but you can easily get by with a single mid-sized whisk.
Status: Nice to have. I have a huge cookie cutter collection. Cookie cutters are really just for fun – allowing you to make cookies in all kinds of shapes. If you don’t have them, you can always use drinking glasses to cut out cookies.
What to look for: If you are going to buy just a single cookie cutter set, I suggest this one. It’s the one I reach for most often and the tiny circle cutter in the middle comes in really handy for making doughnut like cookies (or actual donuts) with a hole in the middle. While this set is not of that style, I would recommend coated metal cookie cutters. The more common plain metal cookie cutters can rust really easily.
Status: Must have. You absolutely must have a sieve or a sifter. I am not a huge proponent of sifting – I don’t like doing it so I only do it when I absolutely have to. If you see the instruction to sift in my recipes, you know that there is a good reason. Most often, I sift when a recipe calls for cocoa powder because the cocoa powder can get clumpy and you don’t want to see that in your cookies.
What to look for: I prefer sieves to sifters. I think they are easier to use and they let you sift more ingredients at once.
Status: Nice to have. You don’t need a stand mixer (you could use a hand-held electric mixer or your own strength), but it will make your life so much easier if you bake regularly.
What to look for: I currently use this Breville mixer, but I’ve also used Kitchen Aid mixers. I like them both. Don’t skimp on an off-brand for this purchase. A stand mixer will become the workhorse of your kitchen.
Status: Must have, unless you have VERY good knife skills. Many recipes will call for finely chopped nuts or seeds. If you rock with a knife, you don’t need a food processor, but otherwise you’ll need one of these.
What to look for: This small food processor is the only one that I own and I’ve found that it’s all that I have needed. If you plan to use your food processor for cooking as well as baking, I’d look into the larger, fancier models.
Status: Nice to have. Some recipes, like my dog biscuits (yes, I made cookies for the dogs, too) call for blending ingredients together into a liquid. If you don’t have a blender, you could do this in a really good food processor.
What to look for: Blenders vary wildly in price and capabilities. We broke down and purchased a Vitamix several years ago and haven’t looked back. It is quite expensive, but it can easily turn most anything into a liquid whereas our old cheapy blender could barely crush ice. If we are talking strictly cookie-making, any blender will do. However, as a general rule, I’d suggest purchasing the best blender that you can afford.
Status: Nice to have. You may be wondering why this is even on the list. I learned a little trick early on in Cookie Project that if you place a coffee filter filled with a little baking soda in an airtight container with crispy cookies, it will help to keep them crispy. It seems to work well.
What to look for: You don’t need anything special here. Any coffee filter will do.
WH-BO5 Multifunction Digital Kitchen Scale GEM 0.1 X 5000 GRAM Capacity, Electronic Food Scale - 11 lb
Status: Must have. There are some ingredients that are impossible to measure in a measuring cup. For example, unless you are using chocolate chips or you are buying chocolate in pre-weighed blocks, you’ll need a scale to know how much chocolate to add to your recipe. In many cases, I also give nut measurements in ounces because, depending on how finely you chop them, you could fit wildly different amounts into a cup. Once you have a kitchen scale, you’ll find that you use it for all kinds of little tasks – even knowing how much postage to put on your mail.
What to look for: Make sure that your scale has both ounces and grams and that it has a tare button (to zero out the weight of your bowl). Most every scale will have these features and you don’t need anything fancier than that to make cookies.
- The First Chocolate Cookie
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- Cranberry Pillow Cookies Stuffed with Maple Cream Cheese
- White Chocolate and Fresh Mint Brown Butter Cookies
- Italian Polenta Cookies with Goat Cheese and Rosemary
- Homemade Peanut Butter Oat Dog Biscuits
- Copycat Pirouette Cookies (Nutella-filled Cigar Cookies)
- Dark Chocolate Absinthe Crinkle Cookies
- The Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie Baking Tip You’ll Want to Try Today
- Saffron Pistachio Lace Cookies
- Eggnog Latte Biscotti
- SunButter Clouds
- Kugel Cookies
- Streusel-Topped Thumbprint Cookies
- Two Must Try Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies – Soft and Crispy
- Banana Bread Cookies with Hazelnuts and Dulce de Leche
- Cherry Vanilla Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies
- Sparkle Cookies (Arnhem Cookies)
- Chocolate Gingerbread Pretzel Cookies
- Mini Cherry Turnover Cookies
- Peppernut Snowmen Cookies
- Roasted Chestnut Cookies with Cocoa and Caramel
- Nuts in a Blanket
- Lemon Poppy Seed Sandwich Cookies
- No Bake Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies
- EASY 3 Ingredient Brazilian Coconut Clusters