10 Tips Cookie Bakers Need to Know

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Roman Samborskyi

Tricks to Bake Perfect Cookies Everytime

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We LOVE cookies! And, baking cookies is almost as much fun as eating them. Almost. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has ten tips that every cookie baker needs to know to make perfect, delicious cookies every time. Turn on your oven, and let’s get baking!

1. Organize

Clutter is your worst enemy. You can’t bake if the counter is a mess, the bottle of vanilla extract is hiding, and there’s no place to put the cooling rack. Clear your work area before you begin, and get out all the ingredients. Put each one away as you use it so you don’t forget what you’ve used. Rinse bowls and utensils as you go.

2. Read Carefully

Read the recipe through before you do anything. As you read, check your supply of staples (flour, sugar, butter) and watch for any unusual ingredients, steps, or equipment that might trip you up. For example, if the dough has to chill for 12 hours, you should know this before you start in case you need the cookies by noon today.

ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks

3. Fresh Ingredients

Insist on good, fresh ingredients. Spices lose their flavor over time; replace them if you’ve had them around since last December. Use fresh local eggs if you can find them. Unsalted (“sweet”) butter is preferable to salted; it tastes cleaner, sweeter, and fresher than salted butter—and often it is. Because salt acts as a preservative, salted butter can be warehoused longer than unsalted.

4. Room Temperature Butter

The butter must be at room temperature—not too cold, or your cookies will be too dense. If you forget to soften your butter ahead of time, cut the stick(s) into thin pats and place them on a room-temperature plate. Leave in a warm spot for 10 minutes or so until the butter yields gently to finger pressure. Not too soft, or it won’t hold up and make a greasy dough instead of a fluffy dough. Even if a recipe calls for softened butter, it doesn’t have to be squishy soft.


5. Properly Toast Nuts

When a recipe calls for toasted nuts, thoroughly cool them before adding them to the dough. (Incidentally, toasted nuts mean 8 to 10 minutes in a 350°F oven.) Adding hot nuts to a dough could melt the butter and drastically change the texture of your cookies, but probably not for the better.

6. Use High-Quality Baking Sheets

If you don’t already own them, buy yourself some good baking sheets. Thin, flimsy sheets don’t diffuse heat well or evenly and can result in scorched cookie bottoms. Tinned steel and anodized aluminum are two good material choices. Neither is inexpensive, but they’ll last. Look for them in gourmet kitchen shops. While you’re there, invest in a heavy-duty stainless steel cooling rack large enough to hold 2 to 3 dozen cookies. Letting your cookies cool directly on the hot pans can lead to over-browning on the bottoms and soggy cookies.

7. One at a Time, Please!

Generally speaking, bake only one sheet of cookies at a time on the center rack. Doing this allows for the most-even baking! Cookies may burn too quickly if they’re too high in the oven. 

8. Completely Cool Baking Sheets

If you own only one cookie sheet, let your sheet trays utterly cool to room temperature before baking another batch. This prevents the butter from melting out of the dough and puddling up on the sheet.

9. Cool on the Sheet

As a rule, let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes. This is just long enough to firm them slightly and make it easier to slide them off the sheet and onto a rack.

10. Properly Package 

And here’s a shipping tip! Most cookies ship well. For best results, however, choose a relatively firm or dense type of cookie. Wrap cookies individually in waxed paper and pack them snugly in a tin. Pack the tin inside a bigger box, cushioned on all sides, with additional waxed paper. And it never hurts to be nice to the postal clerk.

cowboy cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in a glass bowl

Cook Cookies With the Almanac

Enjoy this video demonstrating some cookie-baking tips—and get into the spirit!

Ready? Browse Our Delicious Cookie Recipes

Now, check out some delicious cookie recipes and enjoy trying out your baking skills!

About The Author

Ken Haedrich

Ken Haedrich is one of America’s leading baking authorities and a prolific writer—the author of 17 cookbooks and hundreds of magazine articles. Ken has received numerous accolades for his work and is the recipient of The Julia Child Cookbook Award. Read More from Ken Haedrich

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