Before I dive right into it, let me start by saying I hardly ever refrigerate my cookie dough. Yes, if you come over to my house for a party, the cookies you have will have once been refrigerated dough. But if I’m feeling lazy (which is most of the time) or just baking for me (which is also most of the time), I can hardly wait long enough to refrigerate the dough or sometimes to bake the cookies at all.
However, that being said, all of my proudest cookie moments have come from dough that has been set in the refrigerator. Using unrefrigerated dough is kind of like using warm butter. It makes the dough really easy to mix and to work with, but when it comes down to baking, the unrefrigerated dough can expand too rapidly, leaving you with saucer plates instead of fluffy cookies. Refrigerating your dough also gives the gluten in your flour time to rest (if you’re using standard flour, that is) and prevents your cookies from becoming tough and overly chewy.