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13 Secret Ingredients for Irresistible Cookies

These unexpected foods make these treats even more delicious.

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close up of a white whipped or sour cream on white background

Sour cream

Sour cream helped propel these Frosted Cashew Cookies to win an award at a county fair. Topped with delicious browned butter frosting, these cookies are a staple for Christmas and a treat in a lunch box.

Get the recipe for Frosted Cashew Cookies.

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peanut butter background, top view

Peanut butter

These sweet little Fudge Puddles are perfect for an on-the-go treat. As if fudge isn’t delectable enough, the peanut butter in the dough complements the chocolate and makes these cookies extra rich and delicious.

Get the recipe for Fudge Puddles.

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A group of dried cranberries. pattern

Dried cranberries

Perfect for fall, these Iced Pumpkin Cookies combine the traditional—brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg—with flavors that are more unexpected. Dried cranberries add a sweet, chewy contrast, while the walnuts and granola provide some crunch.

Get the recipe for Iced Pumpkin Cookies.

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Corn-flakes background and texture. Top view. cornflake cereal box for morning breakfast.


Looking for a cookie that you can sink your teeth into? The Spruce Eats’ Ranger Cookies are packed with oats and coconut. Store-bought cornflakes provide plenty of crunch.

Get the recipe for Ranger Cookies. Then check out the best Christmas cookie from every state.

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Healthy Honey Graham Crackers on a Plate
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Graham crackers

If you need some treats to delight and keep your favorite little kids busy, look no further than these Fire Truck Cookies. Graham crackers form the base of these no-bake cookies. Top them with frosting, then let little hands use black licorice, red gumdrops, and Oreos to create their own rescue vehicles.

Get the recipe for Fire Truck Cookies.

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coffee bean background Arabica coffee roasted


Cheesecake and coffee sound like a perfect combination. For these Mocha Cheesecake Bars, brewed coffee paired with bittersweet chocolate, cream cheese, and sour cream makes for an easy-yet-rich treat. Want to make them even more decadent? Sprinkle the bars with chocolate-covered coffee beans.

Get the recipe for Mocha Cheesecake Bars.

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Closeup of lots of sesame seeds for background

Sesame seeds

Cookies for breakfast? It’s OK if it’s one of these healthy Take-Along Breakfast Cookies. Made with whole-wheat flour, oats, wheat germ, and raisins, these cookies provide a nice punch of protein to start the day. Sesame seeds sprinkled on top give them a delicate crunch and a nutty aroma.

Get the recipe for Take-Along Breakfast Cookies.

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Unhealthy White Mini Marshmallows in a Bowl
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These Whoopie Cookies look like they take a lot of time in the kitchen, but they just take about 30 minutes to prepare. Start with a box of devil’s food cake mix and shape the dough into balls. While they bake, whip together some cream cheese and marshmallow creme. Once the cookies are cool, sandwich the tasty filling in the middle and enjoy. Check out these San Nicolas cookies from the Philippines.

Get the recipe for Whoopie Cookies.

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Light green fresh zucchini stacked in a heap shot from above
Shcherbakova Natalia/Shutterstock


A recipe that calls for peanut butter may not seem like the healthiest option. But these Peanut Butter Drops have a secret: The recipe calls for sneaking some shredded zucchini into the batter. The veggie helps keep the cookies soft, moist, and lower in calories than many other treats.

Get the recipe for Peanut Butter Drops.

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A Pile of Gourmet Butterscotch Baking Chips
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Butterscotch chips

Forgot you needed to bring a plate of treats? Here’s a quick cookie recipe to help you out. Start with a package of yellow cake mix and combine it with oats, butter, and an egg. The scrumptious part? Mix in some butterscotch chips or M & M’s and be out the door within 20 minutes.

Get the recipe for Cookies in a Jiffy.

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Background of condensed milk in a bowl, close-up
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Sweetened condensed milk

Sometimes you need a cookie that’s going to appeal more to adults. Look no further than these Quick Coconut Macaroons. Made with just five ingredients, the cookies get their sweetness from shredded coconut and condensed milk. The best part? You can make them in under a half hour.

Get the recipe for Quick Coconut Macaroons.

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close up texture of cream cheese like ricotta, food background

Ricotta cheese

Ricotta cheese is synonymous with Italian food. While most people think of ricotta in savory dishes like lasagna, the creamy cheese is also what makes the filling of cannolis so delicious. Fortunately, you can savor the taste of ricotta in cookies as well. Using the cheese helps make these Italian Christmas Cookies moist and delectable. You’ll want to keep a whole batch for yourself.

Get the recipe for Italian Christmas Cookies.

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Beautiful texture of fresh cherry fruits. Prunus avium. Red fruity background. Pile of sweet ripe cherries full of vitamins, antioxidants and a delicious juice. Tasty and healthy vegetarian dessert.

Cherry preserves

If you’re looking for a cookie to dunk in your tea, why not whip up some Cranberry Swirl Biscotti? These cookies blend sweetness with the tartness of cranberries and the secret ingredient: Cherry preserves. You can also package up a batch, adorn them with a bow, and give them as a gift.

Get the recipe for Cranberry Swirl Biscotti.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest