The Absolute Best Ways To Instantly Improve Store-Bought Cookie Dough

When it comes to baking cookies at home, we all know that you can't beat making them from scratch. Whether it's classic chocolate chip cookies or something more unique like chewy chocolate gingersnap cookies, homemade cookies are noticeably better than ones made with store-bought dough. However, we don't always have the time or the ingredients to make cookies from scratch whenever we have a craving — and, if you have a sweet tooth, that craving for warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies may come often.

Luckily, there are shortcuts out there that we can use to make store-bought cookie dough taste less, well, store-bought, and more exciting. Specifically, by adding just one extra ingredient, you can take your store-bought cookie dough to the next level. From adding a small amount of brown sugar to adding a drop of almond extract, we've got a whole host of ideas for the next time you need to use up that store-bought cookie dough in your fridge.

Add candy pieces to sugar cookies

A good sugar cookie recipe will yield cookies that are delicious in their simplicity, without the need for any additions or extra flavoring. But, with a store-bought batch of cookie dough, it may be hard to predict the quality of the cookies; they may taste like they're missing something or just be generally less satisfying than a homemade batch. This is why having a package of store-bought sugar cookie dough is the perfect opportunity to add in some candy pieces to make the sugar cookies more exciting.

Of course, M&Ms are always a good choice when adding candy to cookies, but feel free to get creative with your choices. Maybe you have a Twix bar or a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups lying around — chop those up into small pieces and mix them into the sugar cookie dough. Or, you can add something like gummy bears. If you go the gummy bear route, bake the sugar cookies until they're almost fully done (with about two minutes left to go), then press in a gummy bear (or two or three) into each cookie and finish — the gummy bears don't need more than the final few minutes to melt.

Add brown sugar to chocolate chip cookies

The biggest problem with store-bought cookie dough is that it doesn't taste quite as fresh as its homemade counterpart. To make the dough taste just a little bit fresher, we can add a fresh ingredient: brown sugar. Mix in a few teaspoons of brown sugar into the dough — and be sure it is distributed evenly — before baking to see a major difference. The extra brown sugar will up the sweetness factor while ensuring the cookies are moist. Additionally, it can lead to a chewier texture overall.

To take it to the next level, you can add both brown sugar and melted butter to give the dough a boost. For this route, you'll melt the butter, then add the brown sugar to the melted butter before adding the entire mixture to the store-bought dough. The butter will add in more richness, further upgrading the chewier, more moist cookie that the brown sugar addition yields.

Add cayenne pepper to double chocolate chip cookies

If you're someone who likes a spicy-sweet combination, you need to try out this store-bought cookie dough upgrade: Adding cayenne pepper to double chocolate cookies. Cayenne pepper and chocolate go hand in hand — in fact, chili peppers — including cayenne — show up on our list of spices you should be pairing with chocolate. The most well-known example of the combination is probably the Mexican mocha, which takes everything you love about a traditional mocha and ups the ante on the spiciness, making for the perfect combination of heat and sweetness. The combination of chocolate and cayenne is so prominent that you may have also heard of adding cayenne to hot chocolate or to chocolate ganache.

With this in mind, if you're going to add cayenne pepper to cookies, the best type of cookie to do this with is easily double chocolate chip cookies so that the flavor combination of chocolate and cayenne is front and center. A little bit of cayenne pepper goes a long way — for a batch of cookies, start with just ½ teaspoon — or even ¼ if you just want a subtle kick without too much heat. If you're someone who has a high heat tolerance, you can up the amount to ¾ or (if you're certain) 1 teaspoon — just tread cautiously. Add the cayenne amount to the premade double chocolate chip cookie dough and mix thoroughly before baking.

Add almond extract to peanut butter cookies

When it comes to any flavor of store-bought cookie dough, adding an extract — such as vanilla extract — can help add extra flavor to the premade dough. And when it comes to peanut butter cookies, adding almond extract is the way to go. The almond extract will ensure that the cookies are full of strong nutty flavor, which will go a long way in helping store-bought peanut butter cookie dough that may not be the highest quality.

Just like with the cayenne pepper, a little extract goes a long way. All you need is ½ teaspoon of almond extract to add to the premade dough. Mix the almond extract thoroughly and evenly into the dough before baking (using the package's instructions). Thanks to the extract, when the cookies come out of the oven, they'll be enriched with a strong nutty flavor that is so delicious and prominent that the cookies may just taste completely homemade.

Add espresso powder to chocolate chip cookies

When making chocolate chip cookies from store-bought dough, we want them to taste as delicious as possible. And as convenient as store-bought dough is, it just can't yield super fresh-tasting cooking. One easy — and unexpected — way to enhance the flavor of premade dough? Adding espresso powder.

Espresso powder actually accentuates the flavor of chocolate, making for a more flavorful cookie overall. Most importantly, the taste of espresso won't be overpowering — it won't taste like a coffee-flavored cookie, but rather a chocolate chip cookie with mocha-like undertones. You'll need between 1 and 3 tablespoons of espresso powder, depending on how strong you'd like the mocha notes to be; if you love the taste of coffee in desserts, feel free to go for the full 3 tablespoons. But just adding 1 will do the job of amplifying the existing flavors. If you don't have espresso powder, you can use finely ground coffee, to get the same results.

Add course salt to any cookie type

There's a reason that there are so many salted dessert recipes out there, such as our salted caramel chocolate thumbprint cookies (or, really, anything with salted caramel). Salt works as a flavor enhancer, so, adding it to cookies will help accentuate the existing sweetness, as well as the other existing flavors of any cookie type. If it's a chocolate chip cookie, the salt can enhance the chocolatey goodness; if it's a sugar cookie, the salt can help bring out the butteriness. Plus, it will, of course, bring in the saltiness that anyone who loves a salty-sweet combination may be craving.

Unlike the other additions on this list, you won't be mixing the salt directly into the dough. Instead, sprinkle coarse salt onto the top of the dough before putting the cookies in the oven. Just make sure not to go overboard — keep it to just a pinch of salt per cookie so it doesn't become too salty and ruin the batch of cookies entirely.