Here are my top 10 cookie baking tips and tricks to make sure you bake perfect cookies every time! Cookies are the ultimate treat any time of day, whether it's after school or a midnight snack!
1. Read the recipe before beginning and use the right ingredients.
There are various different ways to make cookies. Some cookies call for baking right away while other recipes require you to chill the dough, sometimes for up to 72 hours! Some recipes call for cold ingredients, others call for melted or room temperature ingredients. Some recipes want you to barely combine the ingredients while others want you to mix for a couple of minutes.
These are ALL key aspects of a recipe. If you just start baking the recipe you might skip something or you might be heartbroken to know your cookies won't actually be ready for 3 days, i.e. requiring 72 hours to chill.
You also want to make sure you use the listed ingredients, using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour can totally alter the texture, look, and taste of your cookie.
Upgrade your chocolate chips to real chocolate as opposed to chocolate chips. I like to use chocolate callets, discs, or chocolate bars chopped into chunks. And make sure to use real vanilla extract as opposed to imitation vanilla.
On my recipe pages at the top, you will find a button that says Jump to Recipe, this will take you directly to the recipe card with ingredient quantities and instructions, BUT in the post, there are step-by-step photos along with more tips and tricks to make the recipe.
2. Room Temperature Ingredients
Taking the extra couple of minutes to prepare your ingredients is another crucial aspect to successfully baking cookies.
Room temperature ingredients emulsify into other ingredients much more smoothly and successfully. Often recipes call for creaming the room temperature butter and sugars together for the base of cookies, dissolving the sugar into the butter, which also creates volume and incorporates air into the batter.
You guessed it, the eggs also need to be at room temperature. To quickly make your eggs room temperature you can place them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes before cracking.
It is also highly suggested that you weigh your ingredients with a scale as opposed to using a measuring cup. What one person scoops into a cup of flour versus what another person scoops can be totally different, but 125 grams is always 125 grams. I use this OXO Kitchen Scale.
3. Be careful when you mix
While some recipes call for you to cream the butter and sugar into the batter some recipes you shouldn't mix too much because it creates too much air into the cookies, causing them to fall flat when baking. Keep in mind too warm or too cold butter will not cream properly. When you are creaming the butter and sugar together I suggest mixing at low-medium speed so you don't add too much air.
Over-mixing the dough, once the flour is added, can overdevelop the gluten which can cause tough cookies. You want to just mix until the flour is combined, over-mixing will overwork the dough.
In most cases, I would err on the side of under-mixing than over-mixing when it comes to cookies.
4. Use a cookie scoop.
When baking cookies you want even-sized dough balls so that each of your cookies bakes as evenly as possible. Using a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop helps create consistent-sized cookie dough balls.
I use this medium cookie scoop for most cookies.
5. Chill the Dough.
When a recipe calls for the cookie dough to chill do not skip it! This is crucial for the cookie dough to firm up, which makes it easier to handle and less likely to spread too much while baking. The time also allows all of the flavors to meld together, think about how soup tastes better after it has time to sit together.
Some cookie doughs need to be chilled so it isn't too sticky to scoop into balls, in that case, chill the dough in the bowl before scooping. Once chilled the dough might need to sit for 10-15 minutes to warm up and scoop easier.
If the dough is not too sticky then I suggest scooping the dough balls before chilling. It speeds up the chilling process and also chilled cookie dough can be harder to scoop. Scoop the balls onto a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet and use plastic wrap to tightly cover it so the cookies do not dry out.
6. Baking the cookies
You want to preheat your oven properly to ensure when the cookies go in the oven the heat bakes them properly. Many home ovens are not properly calibrated, meaning the oven temperature says it's heated to 350F but in reality, the temperature is actually different; some run hot, some run cold. So you might be thinking your cookies are baking at 350F but are actually baking at 375F. This can drastically affect the cookie and can ruin the bake.
This is the oven thermometer I use to see what my oven is actually heated to.
Also, don't trust the recipe cooking times when it comes to cookies. Since cookies generally have a fairly short baking time, the swings in temperature from each oven to oven vary drastically. I suggest that you set your timer to check the cookies a few minutes before the recipe calls for.
Also, I highly suggest using silicone baking mats to bake the cookies. It prevents the cookies from sticking to the pan as well as a more even cooking surface. You can use parchment paper if you don't have a Silpat.
If your cookies aren't spreading too much bang them on the counter a few minutes before the end of the bake time to encourage them to spread.
7. Bake one tray at a time
Another thing that can affect the temperature that the cookies bake at is how full the oven is. If you have one tray baking at a time the hot air circulation will be much better, creating a more even baking environment.
When you bake multiple trays of cookies in the oven you run the risk of having some cookies bake more than others, as each oven has hot spots. When I bake multiple trays of cookies I rotate the pans onto different racks halfway through the bake time.
When you are baking multiple batches of cookies make sure to never put cookie dough on a warm or hot baking tray. This will melt the cookie dough quicker and encourage too much spreading.
8. Cool the cookies
When you take the cookies out of the oven they will continue to cook on the baking sheet for a few minutes, so always keep that in mind. Softer cookies are done when they are slightly golden brown and the edges look set, the center can still look underdone as it will finish baking on the tray. If you prefer a crispier/ crunchier cookie then bake the cookies until the center looks set as well.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then carefully transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. If you transfer the cookies too quickly you risk them breaking.
9. Shape the cookies after baking
When the cookie dough balls bake they often spread into a circular shape but not a "perfect" circular shape. If you want to create more perfect looking cookies then once the cookies come out of the oven, while they are still hot on the baking tray take a circle-shaped cookie cutter or coffee mug flipped upside down and place it around the cookie then swirl it for a couple of rounds to move the cookie into that perfect cookie shape. The cookie cutters encourage the cookie to stay in that perfect circle shape.
You can also use a spoon to gently push the cookies into the circle shape.
10. Store the cookies in an air-tight container with a piece of bread
When your cookies are completely cool store them in an airtight container or tin. To keep them soft and moist for days on end place a piece of bread in the container. The cookies will absorb the moisture from the bread, keeping the cookies from drying out.
You can also place a slice of bread into your brown sugar container if your brown sugar has gone hard, the sugar will absorb the moisture from the bread just like the cookies do.
Bonus Tip: My Favorite Cookie Baking Tools & Some Ingredients
Now that you have all of my cookie baking tips. Here are some of the tools I use as a cookie baker are:
- OXO Kitchen Scale
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer 6 Quart
- Cordless Hand Mixer
- Half Sheet Pan
- Silpat Liners
- Medium Cookie Scoop, Large Cookie Scoop and 1 Tablespoon Scoop
- Oven Thermometer
Some of the ingredients I use to create delicious, high-quality cookies are:
- Callebaut Milk Chocolate Callets, Callebaut Chocolate Callets, Callebaut White Chocolate Callets
- Espresso Powder
- Guittard Dutch Cocoa Powder or Bensdorp Dutch Cocoa Powder
- Fleur De Sel or Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
- Microplane Zester
Now that you are well versed in the cookie baking world check out these cookie recipes:
- M&M Cookies
- Maple Pecan Cookies
- White Chocolate Cookies
- Triple Chocolate Cookies
- Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Mexican Wedding Cookies
- Amaretti Cookies
- Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies
- All Cookie Recipes Here
Check out my cheesecake baking tips.