If you have been cooking for any number of years, you probably have a few recipes that are like old friends you count on when you’re tired and frazzled. They never leave you hanging.

This simple cookie is one I turn to when I need a guaranteed win. I make them if I have to dash off a big batch of cookies after work for book club or if I need a pick-me-up treat after a long workweek.

How easy are they to make? A child taught this recipe to me. When I was in school, Katy Brickson Juneau moved to my hometown and we became fast friends. She introduced me to the cookies because she and her siblings would make them after school. They called the recipe Cookie Brittle.

The dough comes together in one bowl. You add the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt and whisk until its fluffy. Then, you dump the flour in and use a fork or your fingers, mixing until you get crumbly dough that comes together when you press it with your fingers.

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That crumbled dough is dumped onto a 9-by-13-inch, rimmed sheet pan and then pressed it into a thin layer — edge to edge. Katy and her crew would sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the dough, press them in and run the whole thing in the oven, and we’d have cookies in about half an hour — start to finish.

To me, they are like a poor man’s shortbread cookie with a wonderfully buttery finish. I love them because there is no rolling, no chilling, no cookie cutters.

You can be fancy and measure and score the slab to slice out 24 perfect cookies or stretch that and go for 48 bite-size sweets. Or you can cut the slab into bigger pieces and then break them up into irregular chunks.

I have made slight tweaks to the recipe over the years. The buttery dough is so simple that it is almost a blank canvas for flavor play. I’ve subbed in almond and coconut extract.

Sometimes, I press in the dough and then section it off, making various kinds of cookies in one pan, drawing on whatever is in my pantry: chocolate chips in one part, butterscotch in another and pecan pieces or pistachios in a third.

Around Christmastime, I like to add peppermint extract to the dough and then press a mixture of crushed peppermint candies and chocolate chips in before baking.

Another favorite winter-flavor combo is to make the cookies with butterscotch chips in place of the chocolate and replace the extract with a shot of rum — could not do that as a kid. (Find both variations at the end of the recipe.)

Easy Sheet Pan Cookies

This one-bowl dough is pressed into a sheet pan and then topped with chocolate chips.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or wrap tightly in a layer of plastic wrap followed by foil, and freeze for up to 3 months.

(Find butterscotch-rum and peppermint variations at the end of the recipe.)


  • Neutral oil or cooking spray, for greasing
  • 16 tablespoons (226 grams/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups (240 grams/12 ounces) chocolate chips

Step 1

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch, rimmed baking sheet with oil.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Beat on low speed to combine, then increase to medium-high. Beat until fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Step 2

Add the flour and, using your hands or a fork, mix just until butter mixture is combined with the flour. The dough should be crumbly and form clumps if pressed between fingers.

Step 3

Scatter the dough evenly across the greased baking sheet. Using your hands, press the dough into an even layer, covering the baking sheet edge to edge. It may seem as if you will not have enough dough, but keep working it. If the dough starts to stick to your fingers, generously flour them or lightly dust the surface of the dough with the flour.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the dough, and then press them into the surface of the dough, avoiding big clumps of chocolate.

Step 4

Bake for 18 minutes, or until the edges just start to turn golden brown. If you underbake, the cookies will be softer; overbake and the cookies will be brittle and crumble.

Step 5

Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes. Then, with the tip of a thin, sharp paring knife, score the slab to form 24 squares. (Try scoring 3 rows of 4 squares and then cutting those in half and then half again.)

Let the cookies cool completely before removing the cookies from the sheet pan.


Butterscotch-Rum: Substitute 2 teaspoons dark rum for vanilla extract and use 2 cups (240 grams/12 ounces) butterscotch chips in place of the chocolate.

Peppermint: Add 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract alongside the vanilla extract. Crush about 16 hard peppermint candies, such as Starlight mints, to create about 1/2 cup crushed candy. Once the dough is pressed into the baking sheet, sprinkle about 2 cups (240 grams/12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips evenly across the dough, followed by 1/4 cup finely crushed candies; press both into the surface of the dough. Bake as directed above. Immediately after removing the baked cookies from the oven, while piping hot, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup candy evenly across the top; do not press in. Let cool on a wire rack for 8 to 10 minutes before scoring.

Nutrition Information

(Based on one 1- by 1 1/2-inch cookie)

Calories: 96; Total Fat: 5 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 10 mg; Sodium: 6 mg; Carbohydrates: 12 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 7 g; Protein: 1 g.

Recipes from recipes editor Ann Maloney.

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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