5 Cookie Baking Tips to Improve Your Next Batch

Let me help you perfect your cookies! With a video tutorial and in-depth descriptions, these cookie baking tips will help improve your next batch.

cake batter chocolate chip cookies

It goes without saying that cookies rule all. And cake batter chocolate chip cookies, you take 1st prize in my eyes.

Since launching my website in 2011 and publishing Sally’s Cookie Addiction cookbook years later, I’ve witnessed the undeniable allure of these treats. Cookies are the most popular category on this website, as well as my most requested dessert. I have over 200 cookie recipes published! They’re relatively easy and approachable– most don’t require special equipment or complicated ingredients, either. They’re also an easy treat to eat, share, store, ship, freeze, and make ahead. Not only this, cookies are portable, perfect for gifting, and can be made in large batches for bake sales, parties, etc. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t appreciate a fresh-baked homemade cookie. Have you?

Let me help you perfect your cookies. The following 5 cookie baking tips guarantee a better batch. No more wasted time or ingredients!

5 Cookie Baking Tips

Let’s dive into these cookie baking tips a little further.

1. Chill the Cookie Dough

If there’s one thing you learn from this post, it’s this: chill your cookie dough if a recipe calls for it. Chilling cookie dough in the refrigerator firms it up, which decreases the possibility of over-spreading. It not only ensures a thicker, more solid cookie but an enhanced flavor as well. In these soft chocolate chip cookies, for example, it helps develop a heightened buttery, caramel-y flavor. Cold cookie dough is also easier to handle and shape. After chilling, let your cookie dough sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes (or more, depending how long the dough has chilled) before rolling into balls and baking. Sometimes after refrigeration, cookie dough can be too hard to roll/handle.

  • If a recipe calls for chilling the cookie dough, don’t skip that step.
  • If a recipe yields super sticky cookie dough, chill it before rolling and baking.

You can also chill the cookie dough after you roll it into individual balls. However, some cookie doughs are too sticky right after you mix the ingredients together. So it’s helpful to chill it first (perhaps for just 1 hour), roll into balls, then continue chilling for the amount of time the recipe requires.

Don’t Have Time? Here are my No Chill Cookie Recipes


2. Prevent Excess Spreading

Did your cookie dough turn into greasy puddles? I’ve been there too. Here are a few ways to prevent that from happening again:

  • Chill your cookie dough. See tip #1 above.
  • Use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Coating your baking sheet with nonstick spray or butter creates an overly greasy foundation which leads to excess spread. Instead, I recommend lining your baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. I prefer to use the mats– they grip onto the bottom of your cookie dough, preventing the cookies from spreading too much. These mats also promote even browning. They can get greasy overtime, so make sure you wash the mats and wipe them clean between cookie batches. (By the way, here’s how I clean silicone baking mats.)
  • Never place cookie dough balls onto a hot baking sheet. When baking in batches, let the baking sheets cool to room temperature first.
  • Butter may have been too warm. See tip #3 next.
  • Under-measuring the flour. Less flour means there’s less to absorb all the wet ingredients in your cookie dough. Spoon and level that flour or, better yet, weigh your flour.
  • Don’t over-mix the cookie dough. Cream the butter and sugar for only as long as you need to– a recipe usually specifies the amount of time. Don’t begin beating then leave the room with the mixer running. Whipping too much air into the dough will cause your cookies to collapse as they bake. I guarantee that.

This tip is so important that I wrote a separate post about it: 10 Guaranteed Tips to Prevent Your Cookies from Spreading

What if cookies AREN’T spreading? Cookies that resist spreading can also be a problem. When cookies aren’t spreading, it means that there’s too much dry ingredient (flour) soaking up all the liquid. Make sure you are properly measuring your flour. When measuring flour, use the spoon & level method. Do not scoop the flour out of the container/bag. Doing so leaves you with excess flour in the cookie dough. If you’re in the middle of baking a batch and the cookies still aren’t spreading, remove them from the oven, and use a spoon to slightly flatten them out before returning them to the oven. You can also take your big bowl of cookie dough and microwave it for 10-15 seconds to slightly warm it up before scooping/rolling/baking. Warm cookie dough spreads more. (This is what I do when I notice my cookies aren’t spreading!)


3. Temperature is King

This mainly refers to oven temperature, butter temperature, and egg temperature. Cold cookie dough helps too! See tip #1.

  • Oven temperature: Unless you have a regularly calibrated oven, your oven’s temperature could be inaccurate. When you set your oven to 350°F, it might not really be 350°F inside. It could be 325°F or 375°F. While this might not seem like a big deal, it poses a huge problem for your cookies such as over-browning, excess spread, underbaking in the centers, and/or uneven baking. Purchase an oven thermometer and place it in the center of your oven. While inexpensive, they’re irreplaceable in a baker’s kitchen. Place it in your oven so you always know the actual temperature.
  • Butter and egg temperature: If a cookie recipe calls for room temperature eggs, butter, or any dairy ingredients, make sure you take the time to bring these ingredients to room temperature. Recipes don’t just do that for fun– room temperature ingredients emulsify much easier into batter, which creates a uniform texture. Think of cold, hard butter. It’s impossible to cream cold butter into a soft consistency necessary for cookie dough. Same goes for eggs– they add more volume to the dough when they’re at room temperature. Something to note: room temperature butter is actually cool to the touch, not warm. When you press it, your finger will make a slight indent. To get that perfect consistency and temperature, remove butter from the refrigerator 1 hour prior to beginning.

So yes, temperature is imperative. There’s legitimate science involved!

  1. Short on time? Soften butter to room temperature quickly with this trick!
  2. Further Reading: Here’s What Room Temperature Butter Really Means
  3. Further Reading: Why Room Temperature Makes a Difference

4. Specified Baking Time? Who Cares.

I’m admitting something to you– I never look at recipe times when I bake cookies. Instead, I look at the cookies themselves. This is primarily because all ovens are different and maybe your oven is a convection oven, while the recipe writer’s is a conventional oven. (I bake with conventional. General rule– if you use a convection oven, reduce the oven temperature by 25°F.)

Always go with your instincts. Cookies are done when the edges are set and lightly browned. The top centers can look slightly underbaked if you want a softer cookie. For a crispier cookie, bake the batch a little longer until the centers appear “set.” But always keep in mind that cookies continue to cook for a couple minutes as they cool on the baking sheet.


5. One Batch at a Time

If you’re able and time allows it, I recommend baking 1 batch of cookies at a time on the center rack. Why? You get the best possible results when the oven only concentrates on 1 single batch. If you absolutely need to bake more than one batch at a time for an event, holiday baking, etc– rotate the baking sheets from the top rack to bottom rack once halfway through the baking process. Ovens have hot spots!

cake batter chocolate chip cookie dough

When it comes to baking cookies, it pays off to be a perfectionist!

How to Freeze Cookie Dough

I have an in-depth guide for you: How to Freeze Cookie Dough

85 Comments

  1. Hi Sally!

    I absolutely love your recipes and have been baking my way through them, much to the delight of my coworkers. One snag I do seem to run into often is that my cookie dough always ends up rather hard – even before chilling. I always weigh my ingredients, and wait until my butter is cool and easily indented, but I often have to muscle my way through the post-chilling section to get my cookies together and on the tray. We never made cookies with butter growing up (a margarine only family, lol), so I’m not sure if this is just what happens in butter based recipes or if I’m doing something wrong. I’ll keep on experimenting, but if you have any insights, it’s a problem I haven’t been able to google an answer for yet.

    Thanks for all the hard work you do!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jennifer, Depending on the recipe most cookie dough is very thick – especially if made with softened vs melted butter. It’s perfectly normal for the cookie dough to be hard and difficult to scoop after chilling! Take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow to slightly soften at room temperature for 10 minutes before scooping. I hope this helps!

  2. Hi. Any tips for a gas oven ? I’m definitely buying an oven thermometer.
    And is the top or bottom rack better with gas for cookies ?

    Thank you. My baking is so great with your recipes and tips !!

    1. Hi Mary! I recommend the bottom rack for cookies. I actually just found an article you may find helpful when baking with your gas oven. Has lots of great information: https://www.thekitchn.com/5-important-things-to-know-about-baking-in-a-gas-oven-226270

  3. Carol Matheson says:

    What kind of sprinkles do I use for the cookie dough. You state that nonpariels are not a good choice for the cookie dough but good for top of cookie. I am not sure what to use. I am making this funfetti cookies.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Carol! Yes, any sprinkles are great, but we recommend avoiding nonpareils (the little balls) as they tend to bleed their color in cookie dough and cake batter. Stick to sprinkles that are shaped more like a dash (a short little line).

  4. Hi Sally. For the iced oatmeal cookies how can I get them to spread a little more. I followed the recipe exactly and they taste amazing but they were a little round to dip into the icing. I piped it on instead. I would like to make them as pictured. Any advice?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Al, Thank you so much for trying the oatmeal cookies recipe. I wonder if the oats were ground up too much? If so, they will soak up too much butter and the cookies won’t spread as much. That’s an easy fix for next time. I also recommend removing 2-3 Tablespoons of oats from the recipe. They’ll definitely spread out nicely. If you are in the middle of baking them you can try slightly flattening the balls of dough before you place them in the oven if they need help spreading a bit more!

  5. Bridget Buford says:

    I have been following these tips for years with great success. However since I have moved I am finding that my cookies are not cooking the same. My first batch seems perfect maybe a little undone and the remaining batches seem to get very dark just on the bottom. I like a light brown color on the bottom. I have tried one tray at a time and I always rotate half way through the time. I am wondering if I should try the convection setting but it sounds like you don’t recommend that. Any ideas?

  6. Deborah Mclellan says:

    Sally
    I am new to your site. I have a question regarding the Chocolate Turtle cookies. I have a request to make extra large chocolate turtle cookies. How long do I need to bake the cookie and at what temperature would I need to bake them? Thank you for your time.

    1. Hi Deborah, welcome! I’d love to help. The bake time depends on how large the cookies are. You may need to extend the bake time past 15 minutes if the dough balls are large enough. Once the edges are set, the cookies are done. Let them cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheets since they’ll be so large.

  7. How is the best way to use cocoa powder in a cookie recipe. Do you need to add more butter or milk

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cameron, Cocoa powder is a distinct ingredient and it’s unfortunately not as simple as just swapping it for flour, etc. If you don’t want to experiment with it it would be best to find a cookie recipe that is written for it (inside out cookies, and peppermint mocha cookies are two personal favorites but we have many!)

  8. I’m new to baking and have just got an plain otg oven. When the recipes I see calls for a set temperature I’m not sure if those were for baking in an otg or otg with convection mode. So how to do I decide my set temperature?

    Also with regards to the function nob, I understand that for preheating it has to be done in toaster mode (both top and bottom rod heating up); but for baking cookies I’m not sure whether to use the cake mode (only bottom rod heating up) or to use the toaster mode.

    Please let me know!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dhivya, All of the recipes on this site are written for conventional settings. Convection ovens are fantastic for cooking and roasting. If you have the choice, we recommend conventional settings when baking cakes, breads, etc. The flow of air from convection heat can cause baked goods to rise and bake unevenly and it also pulls moisture out of the oven. If you do use convection settings for baking, lower your temperature by 25 degrees F and keep in mind that things may still take less time to bake.
      We do not have an OTG oven to test so I’m unsure of the best function settings to use for preheating.

  9. Pamela Andrews says:

    I love my stone bakeware and I have several pieces. You never mention using stone. I love it’s even heating and soft browning on the bottom of my cookies, pies and cakes/breads, but I’m noticing it takes longer for my cookies to cool enough to remove them from the baking sheet. Do you recommend anything to help?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Pamela! We don’t have much experience with baking cookies on stone bakeware so can’t offer advice. Would love to hear if you find a solution!

  10. Hi , great tips! Do you have to shape the cookie or can you just use a cookie/ice cream scoop?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenny, cookie scoops work wonderfully!

  11. Hi. I’ve been baking your Chewy Chocolate chip cookies for a year now. Unfortunately, my oven broke so I bought a new one (it’s a countertop electric oven by the way). I’m using top and bottom heat without fan in 325 degrees as per your recipe, with an oven thermometer by the way. But I noticed my cookies now becomes flat once it is done. Should I bake it to higher temperature like plus 25 degrees or something?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Denise! If your oven is the correct temperature, we wouldn’t adjust that. Here’s some tips to keep cookies from spreading that may be helpful!

  12. Susie Hunter says:

    Do you have any recommendations for baking your recipes, especially your chewy chocolate chip cookies, at high altitude (6000+ feet)??

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Susie, wish we could help, but have no experience baking at high altitude. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  13. Hi Sally,
    I have a quick question about baking and cookie sheets. What do you think is the best sheet to use? I have always used light aluminum sheets with four sides and my cookies always turn out great. However, I recently purchased one of those larger flat baking sheets that only have a lip on one side while the other sides are flat and it seems when I bake cookies they turn out undercooked, flatter than usual, and not brown at all. Is there a reason that with the larger flat baking pan my cookies don’t bake right? I prefer to use that one because I can bake more cookies at once, so I would like to find a solution, just haven’t yet! Would love if you could help.

  14. Hi! I was wondering how I might adjust this for higher altitudes? I live in grand junction co and am really wanting these to turn out for a special celebration.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lyndee! I wish we could help, but have no experience baking at high altitude. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  15. Hi sally could you please tell me what are the protein contents with the all purpose and bread flours you use are? Different brands of all purpose flours have ranges from 10% to 11.7% which significantly affect cookie spread and I was just wondering what you use in your recipes. Thanks in advance

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elaine, whenever possible, we like to bake with King Arthur brand flours (not sponsored, just genuine fans!). Their unbleached all-purpose flour has 11.7% protein content and their unbleached bread flour has 12.7% protein content.

  16. Thank you Sally that’s super useful. Really appreciate your quick reply

  17. I have a question about sifting. I read an old post of yours that says you generally sift your dry ingredients. Do you sift after you have the ingredients measured out? Is sifting recommended?
    I try to follow your recipes exactly. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sharyn, If a recipe calls for “1 cup of flour, sifted” — measure the flour, then sift it. If a recipe calls for “1 cup of sifted flour” — sift the flour then measure. It all depends where the word “sifted” is in the ingredient wording. If “sifted” is before the ingredient name, sift before measuring. If “sifted” is after the ingredient name, sift after measuring.

      1. Thank you! I assume that if the recipe doesn’t mention “sifted” at all, it doesn’t need to be done. I appreciate your response!

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