Biggest Baking Mistakes People Make With Cookies and How to Avoid Them

USA News


By not chilling your dough, you could be messing with the texture of your cookies.

chilled cookie dough

The dough should be popped in the fridge before baking.

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“Cookie dough likes to rest a bit so all the ingredients have time to mingle, so letting it chill in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking allows for this to happen,” Cowan explained. “Be sure to plastic wrap it tightly to keep the dough from drying out.”

Chilling the dough is a necessary step in the baking routine, she said, and it’s how you create crunchy cookies with gooey insides.

“Putting cold dough in the hot oven creates that crisp outer layer that makes biting into the cookie so delightful,” she added.   

Overcrowding your pan can lead to some wonky cookies.

cookie sheet gingerbread

Give cookies lots of room to spread.

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It’s important not to overcrowd the pan with cookie dough or place the dough balls too close together.

This can cause the cookies to spread into one another, creating bizarrely shaped cookies. But also, Cowan said, “overcrowding a baking sheet will result in flatter cookies as they are sharing the heat with too many” other cookies. 

Invest in a second baking sheet if you’re guilty of cramming two dozen cookies onto a single tray.

When it comes to butter temperature, listen to your recipe unless you want to experiment with your dough.

sticks of butter baking

Pay attention to the type of cookies you’re making.

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Common baking knowledge seems to dictate that you should always use room-temperature butter, but Cowan said there’s no “wrong” butter temperature.

“Different temperatures of butter just produce different types of cookies,” she told Insider. “There are a lot of recipes out there that specifically call for melted butter and other recipes want the butter to be room temperature.”

The only rule here is to pay attention to whatever butter temperature your specific recipe calls for, whether it’s cold, room temperature, or softened. 

Incorporating ingredients into the dough in the wrong order can entirely throw off your cookies.

cookie dough

Follow the steps of the recipe closely.

AP/Larry Crowe


It’s not just enough to mix the dough for the correct amount of time — the order that you incorporate ingredients into the dough matters.

Many home chefs are guilty of throwing all the cookie ingredients into a bowl at once, but Cowan said you should always mix wet ingredients first and then slowly incorporate the dry ingredients.

“I recommend mixing the wet ingredients together just until there are small chunks of butter remaining,” Cowan told Insider.

Then she slowly incorporates the dry ingredients into the dough in three parts.

“With each addition of dry ingredients, mix the dough just until all of the flour has been fully incorporated,” she added.  

Using stale baking powder or soda might make your cookies fall flat.

baking soda teaspoon baking powder

Baking soda and baking powder don’t last forever.

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Using expired or stale baking soda or baking powder is a really common mistake because so many amateur chefs forget that these ingredients have expiration dates. 

Cowan told Insider that an unopened container of baking powder or soda is good for about two years, but opened cans should be switched out every six months.

“Baking powder and soda are the agents that lead the chemical reaction of the baking process. When they are stale, they are less potent, which causes your cookies to not bake properly and end up way too dense,” she said. 

If you’re using dark-colored baking sheets, don’t forget to adjust your baking time.

chocolate cookies cookie sheet

Sometimes the sheets you use require you to adjust the bake time of your cookies.

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Using darker-colored baking sheets isn’t a mistake, per se, but it can be if you don’t adjust your baking time accordingly.

“Darker baking sheets will make your cookies bake faster,” Cowan told Insider. “So you will just need to make small adjustments to your temperature and baking time.”

She added, “If using dark baking sheets, I would recommend decreasing your temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit and your bake time by four minutes. You can always add a minute or two until they are baked to your liking, but start with less.”

You might burn your cookies if you grease your baking sheet with butter.

baking cookies chocolate chip cookies

Try using parchment paper.

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Most pastry chefs, including Cowan, line their baking sheets with parchment paper when they bake cookies. 

If you don’t have parchment paper, she said, try using cooking spray. 

“Using butter to grease your cookie sheet can cause the bottoms of your cookies to burn,” she said. 

 

 

Opening the oven door too many times will make it harder for your cookies to bake.

baking putting cookies in oven

Keep the oven closed.


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Even though it’s tempting, you should avoid checking on your cookies by opening the oven door. 

“Opening the oven door allows the heat to escape, which can affect how your cookies bake. If you want to check on your cookies while they bake, try to stick with using the oven light,” she told Insider.



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