For a few years, I lived within 10 minutes of not one, but two Panera Bread locations.
Sadly, that is no longer the case, and I have to admit that their kitchen sink cookies are the thing I miss the most.
Perfectly soft, chewy, and absolutely loaded with chocolate, toffee, and crunchy pretzels, you will need to order two!
But for those of us stuck without a Panera, this copycat recipe is the next best thing.
Keep things original with the tried-and-true add-ins and sea salt, or mix them up with whatever you can think of. Either way, you won’t be sorry.
Panera Bread’s Kitchen Sink Cookies
The idea behind kitchen sink cookies is to have an amazing cookie base that is thick and chewy. The only logical way to make it even better is with add-ins.
And this recipe calls for everything but the kitchen sink!
Panera went the safe route with chocolate chips, pretzels, toffee bits, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
That’s not to say safe is boring! It’s a pretty perfect cookie.
I think sea salt over a chocolate chip cookie adds something special. Maldon has to be the king but any flaky sea salt will work.
The crunchy pretzels and sticky toffee bits are so good, and if you’re looking to up your chocolate chip cookie game, this recipe is for you.
Let’s look at what goes into these babies and how you can guarantee they come out soft, chewy, and totally irresistible.
Tips for Making Great Cookies
It might seem like an odd extra step, but using the combination of brown and white sugar is actually scientific. And who doesn’t love cookie science?
- Most cookies with just white sugar will spread out more and be thinner and crispier on the edges. This isn’t the case with sugar cookies but is true of cookies with baking soda, like most chocolate chip cookies.
- Adding in the brown sugar will ensure you are left with a thick cookie that is soft and chewy.
- To achieve that thick, puffy cookie we all love, don’t skip the creaming stage! It’s so important to cream your butter and sugar to a light fluffy texture. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a tasty but flat and sad looking cookie.
- If you like the crunch you get from toffee bits, try holding some back from the dough and sprinkling them over your freshly baked cookies. They’ll melt just enough to stick but won’t lose their texture.
- When baking, don’t overcrowd your tray. These are pretty big cookies that need room to spread. Keep your dough in the fridge if you need to bake in batches.
- The great thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. The cookie is pretty perfect as far as the cookie goes. Still, you can always use your favorite vegan cookie recipe and incorporate vegan-friendly add-ins, such as chopped nuts, dried fruits, and dark chocolate chunks.
Can I Freeze the Cookie Dough?
This dough will freeze great before you add anything to it. Be sure to wrap and date your dough, and thaw completely before mixing in your add-ins and baking.
If you’re looking for something faster and want to freeze these already portioned for baking, hold back the pretzels.
Finish your dough as instructed, but leave out the chopped pretzels before portioning, wrapping, and freezing.
The pretzels will soften as they thaw and will lose their crunch. Instead, pull your portioned dough and add your chopped pretzels to the top.
They will bake right into the top of your cookie and stay perfectly crunchy.
If you want to bake from frozen, be sure to sprinkle with sea salt and bake for an extra five minutes. They will need around 18-22 minutes, depending on their size.
What Can I Add to These Cookies?
This is where the name really comes into play.
Panera has this recipe down, and you will not be disappointed!
But what if you only have Reese’s Pieces? Or you’re not a caramel lover?
Time to get creative!
If you want something a little different, why not try one of these awesome combinations:
- White chocolate chips with dried cranberries and toasted pecans
- Toasted coconut with chopped raspberries and pistachios
- Orange zest with dark chocolate and chopped walnuts
- M&Ms with mini-marshmallows and graham cracker chunks
- Salty potato chips with butterscotch chips and chocolate chunks
- Rum-soaked raisins with dried mango and toasted coconut
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. These cookies will work with any crazy combination you can think of!
Pulling these out of the oven when they’re still a little soft in the center is the key to that great texture. Be sure to give them time to cool, so they set up just right. But I won’t tell if you dive right in!
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