Panera kitchen sink cookies are sensationally soft and packed with pretzel pieces, chocolate chips, and chewy caramel. A beautiful balance of salty and sweet, these cookies are super easy and delicious.
Do you ever have those days when you fancy a little treat but can’t quite put your finger on it? Where you can’t make your mind up if you crave savory or sweet? Enter the Panera Kitchen sink cookies.
Made famous by Panera bread (with a helpful nudge from Tik Tok) these baked goodies offer a little bit of everything. They are packed with milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate, salty pretzel pieces, caramel, and chopped pecans. You can add more (if you can squeeze anything else in!) or omit the flavors you don’t fancy. Some versions even include potato chips and toffee too.
With just 15 minutes prep and a 12-minute bake time, you can whip these up as soon as those cookie cravings strike. They’re perfect for those days when you can’t decide or when your kids can’t agree on chocolate chip or salted caramel – with these, they can have both!
One of the many joys of Panera kitchen sink cookies is that no two cookies are the same. While I’ve used the same ingredients for the entire batch, how you stir and scoop the cookies determines the distribution. Sometimes you get a cookie with a little more crunch thanks to the pretzels, others are a little more chewy thanks to the caramel. Making it all the more tempting to taste test each one to find your favorite.
With this recipe, more is more is the theme so why stop once they’re baked? There’s still time to press on extra pretzels and pecans before sprinkling with flaky sea salt. Once you’ve tried these kitchen sink cookies and sampled the cookie that has it all you’ll never want to bake plain old chocolate chip again. Trust me!
WHY WE LOVE THIS PANERA KITCHEN SINK COOKIES
- Crowd-pleasing flavor – If anyone tries to tell you that you can’t please everyone. They haven’t tried these kitchen sink cookies. Whether your go-to is chocolate chip, you’re a cookie monster for caramel or sweet and salty is your thing, these cookies have a little of everything to please all palates.
- Sweet and Salty Treats- These are the best cookies to get that salty sweet perfect combination.
- Quick - With no chill time and just 15 minutes prep, these cookies are wonderfully quick to make. From bowl to baked in under 30 minutes they’re ideal for hangry children or last minute guests.
- Simple Ingredients – While the outcome is extraordinary, the ingredients are relatively low key. No fancy flavors or fussy techniques required. I could bet you have the majority of the dry ingredients in your pantry already.
- Freezer friendly – Not only are the Panera kitchen sink cookies freezer friendly, but the dough is too. This means you can bake up a batch any time of day or night. Midnight snack anyone?
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose Flour
- Baking soda
- Kosher salt
- Semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- Milk chocolate chips
- Chopped pecans
- Werther’s SOFT caramels
- Flaky Sea Salt (optional)
SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
- Caramel – For this kitchen sink cookie recipe, I used Werther’s brand SOFT caramels. Note, these are different from Werther’s hard candy or the Kraft caramels. Feel free to switch it up, but soft will be easier to chop up and are most likely to go chewy once baked.
- Salt – Feel free to skip the kosher salt in the cookie dough if you are going to top with flaky sea salt. Some people even find the pretzels bring enough salty flavor to the party so you can skip the additional salt entirely if you prefer.
- Chocolate – Again it is a personal preference whether you opt for chocolate chips or chunks. If you choose to buy a bar of chocolate and chop it up into chunks yourself, you’ll find the pieces melt better when the cookies bake. Chocolate chips require less prep, but they don’t go as gooey and melty as chunks will.
- Butter – do not substitute butter for margarine. Butter is made using cream, margarine is made from vegetable oil, which means butter will bring a creamier, richer flavor. The high-fat content of butter will also give your kitchen sink cookies a more favorable texture.
- Flour – Similar to my almond flour chocolate chip cookies, you can substitute the all-purpose flour for half-almond flour and half of your favorite gluten-free flour. My go-to is Bob's Red Mill Gluten free flour.
- Add-ins – You can add in anything to these Panera kitchen sink cookies (except the kitchen sink itself) – hence the name! Popular additions include M&M’s, oats, crushed potato chips, butterscotch chips, mini peanut butter chips or cups, raisins, dried cherries or toasted coconut to name a few ideas!
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Mixing bowl
- Baking sheets or cookie trays
- Parchment paper
- Electric Mixer
- Cookie scoop
- wire rack
HOW TO MAKE THIS PANERA BREAD KITCHEN SINK COOKIES RECIPE
These Panera kitchen sink cookies could not be more straightforward. Chuck all ingredients in one bowl, form a dough, scoop onto a cookie sheet, bake and enjoy! There are no rules about what you add in and no chill time, could it get any easier!?
- Preheat the oven to 350℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars together, with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and combine.
- Add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until just combined.
- Add in 1 cup each of the chocolate chunks, chips, pretzel bits, and pecans, saving the extra ½ cup to add after baking. Fold in by hand until combined.
- Scoop about 2 Tablespoons for each cookie, and place about 2” apart on the cookie sheet. PRO TIP: Rolling the cookie dough balls into smooth balls will help avoid the cookies spreading too much.
- Place ½ of the SOFT caramel on the top of the cookies, and cover with about 1 teaspoon of dough. PRO TIP: Press down on the dough balls to flatten them slightly. A more disc shape cookie will be perfectly crisp yet chewy, but if it’s too round your cookie will turn out a little more cakey.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. PRO TIP: For soft & chewy cookies take them out when the center still looks doughy, as they will finish baking on the hot cookie sheet and firm up as they cool. Tap the pan on counter to release the air in the hot cookies to avoid soft cookies.
- Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, press additional chunks, chips, pretzels, and pecans into the tops of the cookies. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt as a finishing touch.
- Let cool on pans for at least 5 minutes, this will help the cookies firm up. Transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool, then enjoy!
- Butter temperature – The butter should be room temperature, but still on the cooler side. If the butter is too warm, your cookies risk spreading too thin. For best results, remove from the refrigerator, cut into cubes and wait for 5-10 minutes before using.
- Chocolate chips – The original Panera kitchen sink cookies use both semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips but you can add whatever you like. I recommend you chop some of the chips, that way the pieces are different sizes and you can ensure chocolate pieces in every bite!
- Butter – Using good quality butter is key to a delicious, rich cookie. Store-brand butter contains more water which will make your cookies soggy and too soft.
- Make ahead – I experimented with making the dough a day ahead and then chilling it before baking the next day. I found it had no effect on the spread or texture of the cookie. If it is more convenient for you to make the dough ahead, do so. Otherwise, it is not necessary.
- Caramel topping – I also experimented with just pressing in the caramel on top and not adding the additional dough to cover it. I found that when the caramel melted, it was more likely to run off the cookie. Using extra dough as a “lid” contains the caramel as a sweet surprise.
- Round Cookies – I find the rustic edges and shape of these kitchen sink cookies are part of the appeal however I completely understand if you’d prefer them to be uniform. To make a perfectly round cookie, use a glass as soon as they’re out of the oven to shape the cookie edges.
- Store baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. They can be stored for up to a week.
- Panera kitchen sink cookies can also be stored in the freezer. For best results wrap the cookies individually then place in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 3 months.
- You can also freeze the cookie dough, ready to bake up a batch at any time. Scoop the dough into balls and add to a sheet pan in a single layer. Add to the freezer instead of the oven, then once frozen, place the dough balls in a freezer bag and store for up to 2 months.
- When ready to bake, place the frozen dough balls on a baking sheet and bake for around 1 minute longer than fresh dough.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why are they called kitchen sink cookies?
I totally get why the name of these cookies confuses kids. The name derives from the saying “everything but the kitchen sink” because these cookies are packed with mix-ins. Literally, anything works in this recipe – candy, nuts, caramel, chocolate and more! Some kitchen sink cookie recipes use pretzels for the salty factor, others use potato chips. Heck, throw in both if you feel like it!
What are some of the best mix-ins for kitchen sink cookies?
If you’re searching for inspiration for what to add to your cookies, open your pantry. If it tastes good, throw it in! Just kidding. Well, sort of.
Some of the tastiest additions to your kitchen sink cookies include:
- Milk Chocolate, Semi-sweet or white chocolate Chips
- Crushed Potato Chips
- Shredded or toasted coconut
- Dried fruit – raisins, cranberries, blueberries
Do these taste exactly like Panera kitchen sink cookies?
I might be biased, but I think they are better. Not only because they are homemade so you can control how soft and chewy they turn out based on your preference, but also because they contain chopped pecans. The traditional Panera kitchen sink cookies do not contain nuts but I think they are the perfect addition.
OTHER COOKIE RECIPES YOU MAY ENJOY
- Double chocolate pecan cookies
- Caramel apple cookies
- Triple chocolate cookies
- Cookies and cream cookie recipe
- 1 cup butter room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks divided
- 1 ½ cup milk chocolate chips divided
- 1 ½ cup coarsely crushed pretzels divided
- 1 ½ cup chopped pecans divided
- 1 cup Werther’s SOFT caramels cut in half
- Flaky sea salt optional
Preheat the oven to 350℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars together, with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and combine.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until just combined.
Add in 1 cup each of the chocolate chunks, chips, pretzels, and pecans, saving the extra ½ cup to add after baking. Fold in by hand until combined.
Scoop about 2 Tablespoons for each cookie, and place about 2” apart on the cookie sheet.
Place ½ of the SOFT caramel on the top of each cookie, and cover with about 1 teaspoon of dough.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned.
Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, press additional chunks, chips, pretzels, and pecans into the tops of the cookies. Let cool on pans for at least 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to completely cool.
Be sure your butter is room temperature but is on the cooler side. If the butter is too warm the cookies will spread significantly more. I found that removing the butter from the refrigerator, cutting it into pieces, waiting about 5-10 minutes, and then mixing the sugar in was enough time for it to soften.
Using good-quality butter is important in this recipe. The cookies in the first 3 batches were made with store-brand butter. Although this might have a good result in some recipes, these butters may contain more water than a more expensive name brand. The result, even with chilling the dough and adding cornstarch, was a cookie that looked like a puddle of dough. The more expensive butter produced a thicker cookie.