When it comes to baking homemade cookies, knowing a few tips and tricks will make you one smart cookie! If you’ve caught the baking bug, read on for our top 10 secrets for baking better cookies.
1. Always chill your dough
It’s tempting to skip chilling your dough, especially if you’re pressed for time. Avoiding this step, however, can lead to a mess.
Chilling your dough before baking helps solidify the butter, which means your cookies keep their shape. All cookies expand a little in the oven as the butter in the recipe melts, but if the butter is already warm, it won’t hold the other ingredients together.
Another perk of chilling your dough is that it lets all the flavors of the ingredients infuse together before baking.
2. Trim your cookies
If your cookies need a super straight edge, trim them with a sharp knife as soon as they come out of the oven. Your cookies will still be warm and soft at this stage, so they’re easy to cut down. You need to work fast, though, as they’ll cool and harden pretty quickly.
3. Aim for smooth edges
Cookie cutters can become blunt over time, which means they may not cut as sharp as they used to. This can leave slightly raggedy edges. You can either pat these edges down before baking or you can use a small handheld cheese grater! The graters that look a little like chisels work best. Just carefully “sand” down any rough edges with your grater and you’re ready to decorate!
4. Invest in good cookie trays
If your cookies are unevenly baked with raw middles and over-baked bottoms, the problem may be your baking tray. Try an insulated cookie sheet or even double your trays when baking. You can also find perforated baking sheets that help circulate heat up into the cookie instead of concentrating the heat on the base of each. Shop around and test what works for you and your oven.
5. Don’t over-bake them
A lot of people don’t know how to tell if their cookies are done. Some people simply bake until the edges are brown, but if you want pale, even-toned cookies, this may not work.
Here’s the trick to tell if they’re done: All you need to do is gently poke one of the cookies while it’s in the oven. If the cookie springs back, then they’re ready. If a dent stays the surface, then leave them for a minute before checking again.
6: Avoid parchment paper
Some bakers have no problem using parchment paper, but it can crinkle up due to the heat inside your oven. This can cause your cookies (especially lighter ones like sugar cookies) to bake uneven in shape or not sitting flat. Instead, try using silicone baking sheets.
7. Use room-temperature eggs
Cold eggs fresh from the fridge can be a little temperamental when it comes to incorporating all your ingredients. At room temperature, the whites and yolks combine much better together and with the rest of your recipe.
8. Don’t over mix
Over mixing your cookie dough can lead to some serious spreading when it comes to baking. Dough that has been overworked can turn out misshapen or puffy. This is because over mixing activates the gluten in the flour. Instead, mix your dough on a low speed and keep an eye on how long you’re mixing.
9. Try not to use a microwave
A lot of cookie recipes call for softened butter, which then needs to be chilled after mixed in with all the other ingredient. Always remember to leave butter out to soften at room temperature instead of nuking it in a microwave. You want soft butter — not melted butter, which can really mess up the texture of your cookie dough.
10. Measure your ingredients right
Not only should you pay attention to your recipe, but you should never pack all your ingredients into cups. This can lead to a denser dough and tough cookies. We recommend using recipes that require weighing ingredients rather than measuring by volume, as you get much more accurate measurements.