The Midwest's Best Cookie Recipes
Indulge in mouthwatering cookie recipes from Midwest bloggers and restaurants, Midwest Living readers, and our own test kitchen.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
These easy, nostalgic-tasting cookies are a favorite of Stephanie Simmons, the Wisconsin blogger behind Blue Bowl Recipes and author of the cookbook, The One-Bowl Baker. Use your favorite preserves—Stephanie likes raspberry.
Related: Peanut Butter Dessert Recipes
Salty Caramel and Pecan Oatmeal Cookies
These cookies come with a friendly warning: Chewy caramel, toasted pecans and a flurry of sea salt will make you popular. Very popular. A product called caramel bits gives these cookies great flavor and chewy texture. Some supermarkets carry them, and they're widely available online. (Search for Kraft Caramel Bits.) Take care to follow recipe directions when baking: caramel bits melt quickly.
Related: Easy Drop Cookies
These soft, vanilla-scented cookies—a Jewish deli and bakery staple—are delicious, and easier to frost than you might think. This recipe comes from Larder in Cleveland.
Lemon Sugar Cookies
The light lemon flavor gives these sparkling sugar cookies a little special twist. Judy Kiburz Harrison's recipe won best-in-class at the Iowa State Fair.
Related: Behind the Scenes at the Iowa State Fair Cookie Competition
Jumbo Chocolate-Cherry-Oat Cookies
Sometimes it's fun to have cookies the size of your face—these are 5 inches in diameter! For smaller cookies that are still impressive, use a 1/3-cup measure to portion the dough for 15 or 16 cookies.
In the Middle East, cardamom often flavors coffee. Here, that duo teams up with cloves and chocolate shards in a bakehouse-style cookie with cozy chai vibes. (Trust us: The extra step of melting chocolate, spreading it out and breaking it into shards, rather than use chips, is worth it for a totally elevated cookie.)
Related: Try Chocolate Chai Tea
Peanut Butter Temptations
Calling all peanut butter fans! These cookies offer double-the-PB compared to the classic peanut blossom cookie with a chocolate kiss on top. And they couldn't be easier.
Mindy Segal's Classic Shortbread
In Mindy Segal's book, Cookie Love, the chef-owner of Mindy's Bakery in Chicago shows how mastering a classic like shortbread can unlock the baking genius in you. Make a basic four-ingredient shortbread—then try these variations.
Caramel Apple Cookies
Chopped apple, pecans, apple juice, apple pie spice and more combine for a hearty, delicious cookie. The frosting and nuts add just the right touch of sweetness and crunch on top.
Related: Our Favorite Fall Cookie Recipes
Peanut Better Blossoms
In her book Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland, Shauna Sever ramped up the nuttiness and opted for a creamy ganache filling in her take on this Midwest favorite.
Related: Try Shauna Sever's Cracker Toffee
Slip yourself one of these insanely rich morsels, which fall somewhere between a truffle and a cookie, on those gray afternoons when only chocolate will do.
Related: The Chocolate Cookie You Need for the Dark Days of Winter
Blue-Ribbon Ranger Cookies
Ranger cookies are made with rolled oats and cereal. Judy Kiburz Harrison won best-in-class at the Iowa State Fair for her version, which adds Beer Nuts for a peanutty twist.
Cocoa and Brown Butter Shortbread Bites
Browned butter infuses irresistible nuttiness into these four-ingredient cookies without sullying their essential simplicity or sandy texture. Dip them in satiny chocolate for effortless glamor.
Related: Decadent Chocolate Desserts
Gramma's Sugar Cookies
Shauna Sever grew up thinking this beloved recipe was special to her family with its unique additions of vegetable oil, confectioners' sugar and cream of tartar. So you can imagine her bewilderment when she found this exact recipe in a vintage Illinois state cookbook. This recipe is in her book Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland as well.
Mindy Segal's Chocolate Chip Cookies
These to-die-for cookies use special chocolate and two kinds of salt, and they call for an overnight chill—and you can absolutely taste the difference. Because of the expense and time involved, we don't recommend them for any old weekend, but they are incredible for a homemade food gift or other special occasion. The recipe comes from Chicago chef Mindy Segal's cookbook Cookie Love.
Related: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies I've Ever Eaten. Period.
In all our years of testing, we've rarely found a cookie recipe as crazy-simple as this reliable crowd-pleaser. These cookies taste great au naturel—but dipping the bottoms in chocolate adds easy decadence (and looks eye-catching on a cookie tray).
At Sister Pie in Detroit, they make these buttery, buttercream- or ganache-filled sandwich cookies from scraps of dough leftover from making pies. You can do the same, storing them in the freezer until you have enough. Or just make a fresh batch of pastry—it's worth it! The recipe comes from cafe owner Lisa Ludwinski's debut cookbook, Sister Pie.
Lindsay's Chocolate Cafe Chocolate Chip Cookies
This cookie, from the former Lindsay's Chocolate Cafe and Coffee House in O'Fallon, Missouri, wowed us with its flavor-packed lineup of ingredients. "These are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had! " says one of our website reviewers. "These are wonderful with a glass of cold milk while the cookie is still warm!"
Related: 6 Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
S'More Cookies, Please
Cinnamon, brown sugar, oats and finely crushed grahams shape this moist cookie made even more irresistible with a thumbprint filling of marshmallow creme and an upside-down milk chocolate candy.
Related: Fun and Creative S'mores Recipes
Miss Rosa Lee's Oatmeal Cookies
Nothing fancy here; this is the perfectly chewy lunchbox classic, pebbled with walnuts and plump raisins. A combination of vegetable oil and butter ensures a chewy texture and rich flavor. This recipe comes from Patty Pinner's cookbook Sweets.
Orange-Ginger Cookie Sandwiches
A round cookie cutter with scalloped edges makes a nice shape for these cookies, but bell, tree or star cutters would also be good choices for the holidays.
Related: Christmas Cookie Recipes to Treasure
Fantasy Chocolate-Caramel Delights
"I love caramel, nuts and chocolate," says the Mandan, North Dakota, reader who sent this recipe to a Midwest Living cookie contest. Fantasy Chocolate-Caramel Delights were one of the highest-rated cookies in the contest.
Chocolatey Shortbread Bites
Because this recipe makes so many cookies, you might want to freeze some dough for future use. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week. Or freeze in a freezer container for up to 6 months; thaw in refrigerator before use.
Sandbakkels means "sand tarts" because the cookies (which, flipped over, can double as tiny shells to hold cream and fruit) have such a fine, crisp texture. Find them in Shauna Sever's book Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland.
Double Chocolate-Cherry Cookies
Carol Schneider of Wausau, Wisconsin, brought home a blue ribbon when she entered these cookies at the Wisconsin State Fair. The recipe combines white and semisweet chocolate with dried cherries and walnuts.
The secret to perfect lebkuchen is in the resting phase after glazing. An apple wedge in the storage container provides moisture that softens the cookies. This German classic is from Shauna Sever's book Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland.
Hazelnut-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
We loaded these crisp and chewy chocolate chip cookies with white and chocolate chips along with toasted hazelnuts.
Linda Roberts of Rapid City, South Dakota, tops her buttery cream cheese, coconut-coated cookie with fruit jam.
Awesome Chocolate-Peanut Blowout Cookies
What makes these cookies so awesome? "Special ingredients," says the Marion, Ohio, reader who contributed the recipe, which includes chocolate and peanut butter. "I like them because they're decadent yet so easy to make."
Triple-Flavored Big-Batch Cookies
Chocolate chips, peanut butter and oatmeal pack these easy drop cookies from a Door County, Wisconsin, bed-and-breakfast. Because this recipe makes so many cookies, you might want to freeze some dough for future use.
Orange and chocolate: a cookie match that tempts everyone to take seconds. This recipe comes from Jill Drury in Milwaukee, who loved to bake cookies with her grandmother. "For the longest time I couldn't decide which cookie I liked best, until one day Grandma had me mix my favorite flavors: chocolate and orange," she says.
Related: Favorite Family Holiday Recipes
Lemon Hazelnut Sea Salt Cookies
Many cookies call for just citrus zest, but these soft gems use a lot of juice, too, so they've got the same tart kick as lemon bars. They're a perfect match for hot tea. The recipe comes from The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook (University of Minnesota Press, $29.95).
Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside: This spice cookie has it all. It's a state fair prizewinning recipe from Catherine Blackwood of Columbus, Ohio.
Dried cherries make oatmeal cookies even more memorable in this recipe from American Spoon Foods, which has locations throughout Michigan. We like the cookies' crisp edges and chewy centers.
Marjorie's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Marjorie Johnson of Robbinsdale, Minnesota, won one of her 2,500 state fair ribbons with this recipe. It's also part of her cookbook, The Road to Blue Ribbon Baking.
Apricot and Orange Blossom Kolacky
This tender pastry cookie, a cousin to Jewish rugelach, has Polish origins. In her book Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland, Shauna Sever's apricot filling nods to Hungary.
Honey-Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Chicago chef Myk Banas created these utterly delicious and subtly sophisticated cookies.
Related: Recipes That Are Sweet on Honey
Opal's Walnut Shortbread Cookies
Patrick Groth, owner-chef of Incredibly Delicious bakery in Springfield, Illinois, uses his grandmother's recipe for these cookies. "Use the best walnuts you have and fresh butter," he advises.
Polvorones are Mexico's crispy, airy answer to shortbread (you may know them as Mexican wedding cookies). Midwest food writer Shauna Sever coats them in cinnamon sugar for a churro-like effect.
Chocolate Nut Revels
A luscious chocolate and pecan mixture swirls throughout these festive cookies.
Peanut Butter Munchies
A Hanover, Kansas, reader sent the recipe for these chocolate cookies with peanut butter centers to a Midwest Living cookie contest. A judge described them as "regally rich chocolate with a peanut butter kick."
The recipe for these sweet and spicy cookies comes from the Warren family in Stanley, Kansas. The gingersnaps are a favorite at family gatherings.
Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies
These cookies from the Inn at Cedar Falls in Logan, Ohio, make a colorful treat anytime of year.
Our Own Dream Cookies
It's not easy satisfying everyone, but this cookie from the Midwest Living Test Kitchen tries to meet the challenge! It's packed with oatmeal, chocolate, peanut butter and nuts.