This Simple Addition Will Make Your Homemade Cookies Taste Sweeter

Cookies are the ultimate sweet treat, with sugar, flour, and butter among pantry essentials for any dessert enthusiast. But beyond these basic ingredients, another household staple may very well be the key to upgrading your next batch. (And no, it's not cayenne pepper).

Rather, a slew of professional chefs — and their tried-and-true recipes — suggest that a sprinkle of salt enhances the flavor of any cookie, balancing with the sugars inside the dough. Yes, salt is a common cookie ingredient, but it's most frequently integrated within cookie dough. To boost your next batch, consider dusting your cookies with even more salt after they've come out of the oven.

Per Insider, pastry chef Pippa Allen recommends sprinkling coarse salt over warm, fresh-baked cookies, which extracts the sweetness that's already there. If you're short on time, Allen states that you don't even need to make your cookie dough from scratch; simply add salt after baking pre-made dough, and you'll try a bite better than the box suggests.

Enhanced taste is clearly a byproduct of a late-recipe salt addition, but the reason it works so well isn't because of salt's flavor; rather, it's all because of chemistry.

Salt enhances the sweetness of sugar

Scientifically, salt intensifies the taste of sugar, as per PNAS. Salt acts as a sugar detector, complementing the caramelized sugars in cookies. Including salt as a last-ditch cookie topping allows for a quick, concentrated taste your tongue instantaneously detects, according to Cooks Illustrated. Salt gradually infuses cold food like chilled dough, so adding an extra sprinkle at the end enhances the flavors already inside the cookies, working your taste buds from all angles.

That's not to say salt should only be used post-dough. According to Fine Cooking, salt equally improves the cookie from the inside out. Salt strengthens proteins when added to a dough, creating that desired, chewy texture. Chef J. Kenji López-Alt states that cookies require more salt than you'd expect; he uses regular salt in making cookie dough and later presses sea salt into the baked product, via Serious Eats.

Both López-Alt and Allen recommend sprinkling coarse salt, though other recipes call for the addition of fine sea salt. Like sugar, which comes in powdered, dark brown, light brown, and granulated forms, salt takes the form of Kosher, table, and sea salt, among others — each of which has its unique purposes. It's up to you to decide which you want on your cookies, but you won't need more than a pinch to elevate your next baking venture from good to unforgettable.