8 Clever Hacks That Will Upgrade Store-Bought Cookie Dough

There is nothing quite like the aroma of freshly baked cookies wafting through the kitchen air. Whether you prefer chewy chocolate chip, crispy sugar cookies, or nutty peanut butter, the process of making homemade cookies can be a fun and simple activity for beginner or well-seasoned bakers. Thanks in part to store-bought cookie dough which originated in the 1950s (via Dodo Cookie Dough). The beauty of using premade dough from the store is that it's as easy as cutting or breaking and baking. However, you still have the ability to tailor the results to your personal tastes without starting from scratch. 

Store-bought cookie dough can be a quick and convenient baking option for satisfying a sweet tooth. One of the best things about baking with already-made dough is the ability to customize the taste using a selection of your own ingredients. With a few simple techniques, you can take your basic cookies to the next level and really create something magnificently delicious. Here are eight clever hacks that will upgrade your store-bought cookie dough. 

1. Unlock flavor by adding spices

Adding spices to your store-bought cookie dough is a simple and easy way to give it a unique twist. Depending on the type you choose, you can create a wide range of flavors that will elevate your cookies from basic to extraordinary. To add spices, simply blend your favorite ones in with the raw dough per your palette preferences. Begin with a small amount of spice at a time and add more to taste until you achieve the desired level of flavor. You can also experiment with a range of spice combinations to create your own blend of flavors. Cloves, cardamom, and allspice are considerable options, but the most popular may be cinnamon.

Cinnamon is a common ingredient to use in cookie recipes because it adds a warm, sweet flavor and aroma to the finished product. It is often used in conjunction with other sweet spices, such as nutmeg and ginger. Together, they create a flavor profile not often found in store-bought cookie varieties. When added, cinnamon can also help balance out the sweetness of the sugar and other ingredients in cookie dough, giving the batch a more well-rounded flavor. Cinnamon is also believed to have a number of health benefits per The Root, including containing antioxidants and having anti-inflammatory properties. 

2. Enhance the recipe with extract

There are many reasons why you might want to add extract to cookie dough. The addition of extracts can enhance the overall flavor of the finished product, but they can also help mask the artificial flavors that are sometimes present in pre-packaged dough. Extracts are concentrated flavors that are derived from the oils found in various foods such as fruits, spices, and plants according to McCormick. They are a convenient way to add intense flavor to baked goods quickly without an extensive amount of effort. And they are particularly useful for cookies because they do not increase the moisture consistency in the dough.

Some common extracts that are used in cookies include vanilla, almond, lemon, and peppermint. These extracts add a depth of flavor and aroma that plain dough might not have all on its own. In addition to amping up the taste, extracts could also be used to create unique and interesting flavor profiles. For example, you can add a few drops of lavender extract to a batch of chocolate chip or sugar cookies for a floral twist or a little peppermint extract for a zing. But remember, because extracts are highly concentrated, a little goes a long way. 

3. Include a few salty snacks

Have you ever wanted to have a snack that blended the best of both worlds? Combining potato chips, or even pretzels, and pre-packaged dough may sound like an unusual combination, but it can actually be quite delicious. Either component will add a unique crunch and savory flavor for a tasty sweet and salty result

Before you begin rolling out the dough balls and preheating the oven, use a knife or food processor to break down the ingredients. Use different types of pretzels like the traditional thin varieties, rods, or bite-sized ones. Press large chunks into the dough to make sure they stick in place during baking. Or, top each cookie with some crushed-up pretzel bits for an added touch of saltiness. 

When it comes to incorporating potato chips, consider what flavor will pair with the dough you're using. You can use regular or flavored potato chips depending on your personal preferences. When baking with chips, you can sprinkle some over the finished cookies, blend them directly, or coat the entire ball of dough before baking. The chips will crisp and remain crunchy giving the cookie a nice outside crust. 

4. Go mad with marshmallows

If you are looking to add some fun and flair to your cookie game, then look no further than marshmallows. The fluffy treat is a simple yet unexpected way to elevate store-bought cookie dough. You can fold in mini marshmallows, giving the cookies a soft, pillowy texture. If all you have in the pantry is large marshmallows, try cutting them into smaller chunks before mixing them in, or press one in the center of the cookie. The marshmallows will melt during the baking process creating pockets of sweetness or a tasty glob of goodness.   

You can also try toasting the marshmallows before mixing them in. This will introduce a deeper, more caramelized flavor. Hot coals or a small fire are best for roasting marshmallows points out Campfire. Once finished, be sure the toasted marshmallows cool completely before combining them with the cold ingredients. Then, mix them into the dough and bake per the package's directions.

5. Create cookies that are deliciously nutty

Use nuts to add a crunchy texture and rich flavor to your cookies. This simple addition elevates basic dough to give it a more homemade appeal. Not only do they add a satisfying chomp to the end result but many types contain healthy fats and nutrients (via Mayo Clinic). Since the ingredient creates a heavier mixture, you may want to chop the nuts before mixing them with the dough so they blend in better. Then, simply fold the bits of nuts into the dough or add them as a garnish to add texture.

The hardest part may be choosing which type of nut you want to try first! Many varieties pair wonderfully with cookies. According to Betty Crocker, these include macadamia, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, and cashews. Plus, the diverse variety of nuts available means you can choose the perfect ones to complement the taste of your cookie. Classic combinations can include chocolate and pecans or white chocolate and macadamia nuts. Some bakers prefer toasting them beforehand to bring out even more flavors and dimension in the final cookie.

6. Melt into something sweet

Melt chocolate to drizzle over the top of each cookie to add a rich, decadent flavor and a beautiful finish. There are many different types of chocolate, each with its own unique flavor and characteristics. You can use semisweet, white, dark, or milk chocolate varieties. Just which one to choose depends on your palette. Milk chocolate is sweeter than semisweet. Dark chocolate is a more intense chocolatey flavor and white chocolate, even though it doesn't actually contain any cocoa, is a creamy contrast to the richer varieties. Try adding milk chocolate with an oatmeal cookie or dark chocolate with peanut butter-flavored dough for the perfect pairing. 

When melting, it's important to temper the chocolate with a heat source that won't break the candy and leave it with a foul aftertaste as per Ghirardelli. There are a few methods that you can use including a double boiler, microwave, or saucepan over minimal heat. No matter which method of melting you select, make sure you constantly stir the melting chocolate to avoid burning it. Drizzle some over the top of the cookie or dip them right into the mixture. You can also sprinkle other ingredients such as nuts, coconut flakes, or sea salt over the chocolate before it hardens.

7. Get your daily dose of fruit

For this next baking hack, get inspired by nature and add dried fruit to your pre-made dough. This can add a chewy texture and a subtle burst of sweetness to each bite. There are plenty of choices of dried fruits to include from raisins, cranberries, oranges, apricots, and cherries. Plus, according to Fad Free Nutrition, certain types of dried fruits are good sources of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Mix and match several varieties into your cookies for custom flavors and a boost to your health.

When adding these naturally sweet ingredients, it's important to chop them into small pieces first. If the pieces are too big, it can make the cookies difficult to bite into and chew. Some bakers also like to soften the pieces of dried fruit in liquids such as orange juice, before adding it to recipes (via Simply Healthy Vegan).

8. Fold in healthy oats or granola

Folding in granola is a simple way to add a healthy crunch to pre-made dough. Granola is commonly made from nuts, seeds, and oats. It doesn't have to be broken up into smaller pieces as it can be combined with the dough as is. There are several varieties of granola to choose from. Classic granola can pretty much go with any cookie type, while ones with distinct flavorings pair best with specific varieties. For example, coconut and maple pair well with butter-based or sugar cookies and almond adds a nice contrast to a chocolate-based dough. 

Oats are a type of whole grain with subtle flavors that are rich in nutrients and iron (via Harvard). They add a hearty flavor and a completely different texture to the mixture. There are several kinds you can consider using including old-fashioned rolled and steel-cut oats. Pulse the oats in a food processor or blender before adding them to the dough for the best results. The smaller bits will be more evenly distributed, resulting in minimal adjustments needed to the baking time.