Let’s Talk Cookies
At the heart and soul of my baking career, I’m a cookie aficionado. I have 250 cookie recipes on my website, plus a cookbook with 75 cookie recipes (a small handful from the site are published in that book), plus about 15 cookie recipes published in my 1st cookbook. I also publish a 2 week Christmas cookie countdown each year called Sally’s Cookie Palooza. Testing all of these recipes, plus making them for my general enjoyment and family, I’ve made tens of thousands of batches of cookies. And that’s no exaggeration.
With all of this practice (including recipe fails!), I’ve learned which tools are the BEST for baking cookies. I don’t know about you, but I do not like overloading my kitchen with unnecessary gadgets, so this list includes the absolute essentials– the tools a baker truly needs to help guarantee cookie success.
Like a successful batch of cake batter chocolate chip cookies…
Before we get there, let’s review my top 5 cookie baking tips:
- Chill the cookie dough. If the cookie dough is particularly sticky, wet, or greasy– chilling is in its best interest. And yours! Chilling cookie dough helps prevent spreading. The colder the dough, the less the cookies are likely to over-spread into greasy puddles.
- Prevent excess spreading. See #2 in this post. As well as page 11 in Sally’s Cookie Addiction for 7 additional tips to prevent excess cookie spreading.
- Temperature is king. Unless you have a regularly calibrated oven, your oven’s temperature is probably inaccurate. Get an oven thermometer. They’re cheap and will save you a million headaches. Likewise, make sure your ingredients are the same temperature. Here’s why. Want to bring your butter to room temperature quickly? Here’s my trick.
- Ditch the specified baking time. I never look at recipe times when I bake cookies. I look at the cookies themselves. The cookies are done when the edges are set and lightly browned.
- One batch at a time. You get the best possible results when the oven only concentrates on that 1 batch. If you need to bake more than one batch at a time, rotate the baking sheets from the top rack to bottom rack a couple times through the baking process to encourage even browning.
10 Favorite Cookie Baking Tools
1) Quality Baking Sheets
First and foremost, a set of quality cookie sheets are a MUST. Did you know the color and material of your cookie sheets greatly impacts the way your cookies turn out? Dark metal sheets can easily over-bake cookies and thin flimsy cookie sheets could result in burnt cookie bottoms. I’ve tested many brands and my favorite is easily USA Pan half sheet baking pan. They’re a wonderful size for baking a dozen cookies, have an edge so they can be used for other recipes like pouring out toffee, caramel corn, and sheet cakes. I suggest owning a few of them.
*Remember, hot baking sheets are never a good idea. Never place cookie dough on a hot baking sheet. It’s best to own a few extra cookie sheets so you always have a room temperature sheet on hand or let the baking sheet cool down before placing dough on it.
2) Silicone Baking Mats
Baking mats are my favorite cookie-baking tool. Coating your baking sheet with nonstick spray or butter creates an overly greasy foundation which causes the cookies to over-spread. I always recommend a silicone baking mat (11×16 inch size to fit your USA Pan cookie sheets) because they grip onto the bottom of your cookies, preventing the cookies from spreading too much. These mats also promote even browning. They’re reusable, dishwasher friendly, and perfect for roasting veggies, meats, fish, potatoes, etc.
3) Cookie Scoops
Here are the cookie scoops I use and love. I use the large size for cupcake/muffin and pancake batter, ice cream, meatballs, and the prettiest mashed potato scoops. I use the medium size for cookies– particularly textured oatmeal cookies and sticky coconut macaroons. And I use the small size for truffles, tiny cookies, and as a melon baller. Cookie scoops are extremely handy.
4) Cooling Racks
I always allow my baked cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets once I remove them from the oven. However, I immediately transfer them to a cooling rack after that. Why? The bottoms of the cookies need some air in order to cool so that we avoid soggy bottoms. I own a few of these cooling racks. They’re inexpensive, get the job done, and have lasted me years.
5) Stand Mixer
A stand mixer is an obvious must if you bake cookies on the regular. I really like the 4.5 quart size for most baking recipes. You can certainly get away with a hand mixer instead (here’s the hand mixer I own and love), but a stand mixer makes the job easier and is extra versatile since you can use varying attachments with it. When I’m working with an enormous amount of dough/batter or making something that requires several minutes of mixing (old-fashioned fudge, marshmallows, bread dough etc) a stand mixer is key.
6) Quality Measuring Cups
I love this set of measuring cups because of the soft easy-grip handles and stainless steel (great quality). I also love this set for the same reasons and the fact that there’s a 1/8 cup measuring cup. (Which is rare in sets. 1/8 cup = 2 Tablespoons, a measurement used quite often. Very convenient!) For more accurate measuring, definitely pick up a food scale. This OXO brand is my favorite. A gram is always a gram. An ounce is always an ounce. A cup is NOT always a cup and therefore weighing is the most accurate way to measure.
7) Rolling Pin
A must-have for shaped cookies. Rolling pins vary in price, but mine is inexpensive and has lasted years through my constant use. I highly recommend it.
8) Sturdy Cookie Cutters
You may love all the whimsically adorable shapes and sizes, but make sure you’re buying quality cookie cutters. By that I mean cookie cutters that are strong, sturdy, and have sharp edges to give you a clean cut. My must-haves include a set of round cutters (used most recently here, here, and here) as well as mostly anything from Ann Clark’s collection. Wilton brand is fantastic as well. Love these Mickey Mouse shapes and I also love this set of cookie cutters for not only cookie baking, but for pie crust shapes/designs as well.
9) Rubber Spatulas
Nothing beats spatulas, especially if they are well-made and heavy duty. I own plenty, but my favorites and most-used are these silicone spatulas and these Williams Sonoma spatulas. From stirring and mixing, to scraping the sides of bowls, spreading frosting, cooking, etc. I use them for everything, everyday. And spatulas with cute sayings are always fun too!
10) Cookie Carrier
Traveling with your cookies? I’m sure you are! Whether your batch is for a party, bake sale, friends, family, or toting along to work– you need a case that will safely transport your cookies. I love this cupcake carrier. I use it for cookies (and cupcakes, of course). When I use it for cookies, I flip the tray and simply pile the cookies inside. I like this cupcake and cookie carrier too– it’s larger and stores more cookies and baked goods.
Now let’s bake some cookies!
Q: What are your favorite cookie baking tools?
Further reading for cookie baking: