15 Common Cookie Baking Mistakes You Might Be Making

Want to bake better cookies? Check out these common cookie baking mistakes before you bake another batch.

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1. Your cookies aren't baking evenly.

Ovens have hot spots and cold spots, causing some cookies on your pan to be undercooked while others are nearly burnt. To avoid this conundrum, rotate your pans halfway through baking so that they're evenly exposed to the different temperatures in your oven.

Your oven will also try to trick you and tell you it's reached your desired baking temperature, but that's not always true. Home ovens have been known to be off by 20 degrees or more. The solution? Buy an oven thermometer (try this $7 Amazon bestseller) to get an accurate read on your oven temperature and a flawless bake every time.

2. You use eggs straight from the fridge.

To achieve a fluffy, light-as-air texture, use room temperature eggs. Cold eggs prevent the dough from aerating properly, meaning you won't have those air pockets that help improve the texture of your cookies. If you're short on time, you can quickly bring cold eggs up to temperature by placing them in a bowl of warm water for several minutes.

3. You use the wrong kind of flour.

While most cookie recipes call for all-purpose flour, make sure you are using the type of flour specified in the recipe. Using the wrong kind of flour can drastically change the texture (and look) of your cookies. Learn how to make sure you're baking with the right flour.

4. You measure flour the wrong way.

Simply using the right type of flour isn't enough — it's just as important to make sure you're using the right amount as well. The ol' dip-and-scoop method could be packing way too much flour into your measuring cup. Instead, use the "spoon and level" method by spooning flour into a measuring cup and scraping off the excess with the flat side of a knife or straight edge.

5. You soften butter too much — or not enough.

Let's be honest: Not many people understand what constitutes "softened" butter. Often our impatience gets the best of us, and we resort to nuking the butter in a microwave until it's more liquid than soft. Butter that's too soft won't hold air, giving you a greasy, dense, and heavy dough. But if you've ever tried to cream cold butter, you know it's no fun either. The best way to get perfectly softened butter is to let it sit out at room temperature for about 15 to 30 minutes. The butter should slightly yield when pressed, but it shouldn't break, crack, or lose its shape.

6. You use stale baking powder or baking soda.

Baking powder and baking soda act as leavening agents in the baking process, helping to give baked goods their rise. Over time they become less and less potent, and using stale baking powder or soda will result in a dense product. A good rule of thumb is to switch out opened containers of baking powder or baking soda every six months.

7. You overwork the dough.

If you mix (or roll out) cookie dough too much, you'll add excess air to the dough, causing it to rise and then fall flat in the oven. Overmixing the dough can also lead to excess gluten development, resulting in dense cookies. Our best advice? Mix or roll your dough the minimum amount needed to achieve a uniform dough.

8. You skip chilling the dough.

If you crave cookies with a chewy center and a crispy edge (so, that's everyone), don't skip chilling the dough for up to 24 hours. The benefits are two-fold: 1)The chilling time allows the flavors to develop, and 2)The cold dough will bake up with that crisp outer layer that we all love.

9. Your baking pan is too dark.

If all you're seeing are cookies with burnt bottoms, a dark baking sheet may be the culprit. Dark baking sheets absorb more heat than light ones and, as a result, bake cookies faster. Reduce the baking time and oven temperature when using dark baking sheets. Try lowering the temperature by about 25 degrees, and the cooking time by around four minutes. Learn why using aluminum foil-lined baking sheets can have a similar effect.

10. You overgrease your cookie sheet.

Unless a recipe specifically calls for you to grease the cookie sheet, don't do it. A greased pan can cause cookies to overspread, resulting in hard, thin cookies and shapeless blobs. Instead of using grease, line your baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.

11. You overcrowd the cookie tray.

To avoid the dreadful cookie blob, arrange your cookies on the baking sheet at least 2-inches apart. Not only will this prevent your cookies from spreading into each other, but it will also promote even baking. You may have to use two pans, but it will be well worth it. Save yourself some baking heartbreak and resist the temptation to fit as many cookies as possible on one pan.

12. Baking on the wrong rack.

Using the top rack of the oven (or placing your oven rack too close to the top) will result in burnt cookies. To get the most even bake, use the middle rack. This is where the air circulates and heat sources are evenly distributed. If you have more than one pan baking at once, be sure to switch them halfway through.

13. You sneak too many peeks.

We know it's hard not to, but don't open the oven door when baking. Heat escapes every time the door is opened, so it's best to use the oven light and glance through the glass door to check on the progress of your cookies.

14. You don't give your cookies enough time to cool.

Your cookies are finished baking, and they smell incredible — don't let your hard work go to waste by immediately removing them from the pan. Allow them to set up on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

15. You eat the cookie dough.

To eat cookie dough or not to eat cookie dough — that is truly every baker's question. It's guaranteed to spark a debate in any kitchen, but I'm going to argue that you should save the cookie dough for your cookies. Yes, raw cookie dough contains raw eggs that can carry Salmonella, leading to foodborne illness and, well, you know the rest. But you'll also be shorting your batch, and why do that when there are many edible cookie recipes out there to enjoy without risk? Learn How to Make Raw Cookie Dough Safe to Eat (and 10 Treats to Try).


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