The Essential Cookie Ingredients To Keep in Your Pantry at All Times

A well-stocked pantry lets you bake a batch when the mood strikes.

Stand Mixer and Baking Ingredients
Photo: Jennifer R. Davick

Baking a batch of mouthwatering cookies doesn't have to be hard, especially after reading our tips for baking cookies. Over the years, you've probably gathered all the tools you need to whip up a recipe, but do you have all the ingredients? If you regularly stock your pantry with these ingredients, you're almost guaranteed to have what you need for a typical cookie recipe.

It's easy to keep on hand the ingredients for a simple recipe like these 5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies. You may have to run out to the store, however, for more involved recipes using ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, mints, or candies, so consider keeping those extras on hand if you have a favorite flavor. Otherwise, fill your grocery cart with the ingredients we've listed here and you'll be ready to fire up your oven and bake a batch of cookies anytime the hankering for a sweet treat strikes.

Dry Cookie Ingredients

Baking Soda and Baking Powder

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, a single-acting alkaline ingredient used as a leavening agent. It is mixed with dry ingredients. Once wet ingredients are added—especially acidic ones—it reacts and releases carbon dioxide to create light, airy baked goods.

Baking powder is a blend of baking soda and tartaric acid. It is a double-acting leavening agent that first reacts when combined with wet ingredients and then a second time with the heat of the oven. Check package expiration dates as both ingredients lose efficacy over time.


This fine powdery starch is made from finely ground corn kernels and is used primarily as a thickening agent. It is often added to flour to lighten its texture, and it lasts indefinitely sealed in a cool, dry place.

Cream of Tartar

This refined byproduct of winemaking is used to stabilize whipped egg whites and also acts as a leavening agent. It lasts indefinitely.


All-purpose white flour is commonly used for cookies as wheat gluten gives baked goods structure. The wheat germ in whole-wheat flour goes rancid quickly, so the flour is best kept sealed in a zip-top bag and chilled.


Old-fashioned oats are made from rolling whole oat kernels or groats. The quick-cooking variety is made from flattening oat groat bits. Most recipes will state which variety to use. Avoid instant oats in cookies as they will affect cooking time and texture.


Whole spices last twice as long as ground, so buy spices whole and grind them as needed. Sealed in a cool, dark place, whole spices last 2 to 3 years, while ground spices begin to lose their potency within a year or two. The most commonly used cookie spices are cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.


Granulated sugar is all-purpose and used in an array of cooking methods. Superfine or castor sugar is pulverized granulated sugar that readily dissolves in liquid. Powdered sugar has been ground to a fine powder to dissolve almost instantly and is used for frostings and dusting cookies and brownies. Brown sugar is granulated sugar combined with molasses that comes in more delicately flavored light or intensely flavored dark varieties.

Wet Cookie Ingredients for the Pantry

Canned Milk

Evaporated milk is canned, concentrated milk from which 60% of the water has been removed through heating and evaporation. It can be used as is in recipes or reconstituted with water as a substitute for fresh milk. Sweetened condensed milk is a shelf-stable canned cow's milk-and-sugar blend that has been reduced to a thick, syrupy-sweet mixture and is often used in desserts. Unused portions of canned milk should be refrigerated.


Many cookie recipes call for standard vegetable oil. Vegetable, canola, and corn oil are good bets for baking and have a high smoke point and neutral flavor. Avocado and coconut oils also have high smoke points, but they impart a distinctive flavor and major hit to your wallet. Other options to try include peanut oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil.


Solid shortening is 100% vegetable fat with no water content. It gives tenderness to baked goods but lacks butter-rich flavor.


Corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, molasses, or sorghum syrup all impart sweetness to recipes. Store at room temperature, and they will nearly last forever.

Wet Cookie Ingredients for the Fridge


Butter contains 80% milkfat and comes unsalted, salted, and whipped. Most recipes call for unsalted butter. Avoid whipped butter, which has too much air incorporated to get an accurate measure for baking.

Cream and Half-and-Half

Whipping cream (30% to 36% butterfat) and heavy cream (36% to 40% butterfat) are the skimmed creams that rise to the top of milk. Both can be whipped and mixed into batters. As the name "half-and-half" suggests, this is half cream and half milk. It is also used to add richness to batters. In a pinch, it can be made by mixing equal parts milk and cream.


Use very fresh, large grade-A brown or white hen eggs unless a recipe calls for a different size. Eggs act as a leavener when their moisture evaporates during baking. The fat in the yolks helps emulsify batter and adds richness to baked cookies. Egg whites help stabilize the dough and provide structure.

Milk and Buttermilk

Fresh whole or reduced-fat (2%) cow's milk works best for cookies, with no noticeable difference in results. Originally, buttermilk was made with the liquid drained from churned butter. Today, it gets its thick, tangy flavor from added cultures. Its acidity reacts with leavening agents in some recipes to create light, tender cookies.

Have everything you need? Check out our Best Loved Cookie and Bar Recipes. Your cookies will be a hit at the next bake sale.

Extra Dry Ingredients

Do you have a favorite recipe for peanut butter cookies? Maybe you just love the smell of gooey chocolate chips? Or perhaps you're known to bake a batch of pumpkin spice cookies for the holidays? Consider stocking dry ingredients that you will use on a regular basis (these ingredients can go stale, so only purchase ingredients you plan to use before the shelf life expires):

  • Candies: caramels, colored sprinkles, M&Ms, peppermints
  • Canned fruits: apples, cherries, peaches, pears, pumpkin
  • Chips: chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips
  • Dried fruits: apples, apricots, coconut flakes, cranberries, mango, raisins
  • Nuts: almonds, peanuts, pecans, or walnuts
  • Spreads: almond butter, Biscoff, Nutella, peanut butter
Was this page helpful?
Related Articles