What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (2023)

Baking cookies is pretty easy, but not so easy that it's impossible to mess them up. If that were the case, there would be no such thing as cookies that were too hard, too crumbly, too dark, or too flat. If any of these sound familiar, you might be making one (or more) of these common cookie mistakes or bad baking habits.

  • 01 of 11

    You Measured Your Flour Incorrectly

    What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (1)

    Measuring flour the wrong way is probably the biggest cookie-baking mistake out there. If you're measuring your flour by scooping your measuring cup into the bag of flour, you could be using as much as 30 percent extra flour in your dough. That's going to make your cookies dry and tough.

    The right way: Get yourself a digital scale that can be set to grams, and from now on, for every cup of flour a recipe calls for, weigh out 130 grams.

  • 02 of 11

    You Used the Wrong Kind of Flour

    What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (2)

    Most cookie recipes specify all-purpose flour, which is a medium-protein blend of hard and soft wheat flours. If you substitute bread flour, which is made from a different strain of wheat and is higher in protein, your cookies will be too hard. If you use cake or pastry flour, which are softer, your cookies will be fragile and crumbly. And if you use self-rising flour (which is a type of flour with the baking powder already mixed in), any number of things could go wrong.

    The right way:Usewhatever flour the recipe specifies, most likely all-purpose flour.

    (Video) 10 Most Common Cookie Baking Mistakes

  • 03 of 11

    You Overworked Your Dough

    Overworking can happen with all types of cookie dough, but especially rolled cookies, where you roll out the dough and then cut out the cookies with cutters. Flour contains gluten, a protein that gets tougher and harder the more you knead, roll and mix it. And rolling out cookie dough is fun, especially for kids. But too much rolling is a no-no. (And yes, rerolling the scraps will definitely make the rerolled cookies harder than the first ones, but you don't really have a choice).

    The right way: Roll or mix your dough as little, and as gently, as you can.

  • 04 of 11

    You Creamed Your Butter By Hand

    What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (4)

    Creaming your butter and sugar does more than simply combine the two ingredients. You're also incorporating air into the butter, which contributes lightness to the dough, and makes it easier for the baking powder to do its job. If all you do is stir, your dough won't be fluffy enough. Remember, the butter should be cool: If it's soft enough for you to stir it by hand, it's too soft.

    The right way: Cream your butter using astand mixer with the paddle attachment.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.

    (Video) Every Common Cookie Alteration, Substitution And Mistake (11 Recipes) | Ingredient Swap

  • 05 of 11

    Your Butter Came Straight From the Fridge

    What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (5)

    This relates to the issue of creaming, because cold butter is more difficult to cream. Thus, if your butter is too cold, your cookies will be denser, and they will likely not spread enough in the pan when you bake them. In general, you want your butter to be cool, but not cold.

    The right way: Let your butter sit out for 15 minutes (but not longer — see below) before creaming.

  • Your Butter Was Too Soft

    What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (6)

    If your butter is too soft, you'll have the same problem as when you tried to cream your butter by hand, namely, insufficient aeration. If it's too soft, instead of holding in the air, the butter will just sort of flop over onto itself, making your dough heavy instead of fluffy.

    The right way:Keep your butter for baking in the fridge. (But remember, you should keep a separate butter in a butter dish at room temperature for your toast.)

  • 07 of 11

    Your Baking Powder Was Stale

    What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (7)

    Baking powder is achemical leavening agentthat gives baked goods their rise, and while it does have a reasonably long shelf life, it isn't unlimited. After six months in the cupboard, baking powder will lose quite a bit of its potency. While not as critical in cookies as it is in cakes and quickbreads (and perhaps not even as critical a factor as creaming), it will still make a difference.

    The right way: Make sure your baking powder is no older than six months, and replace it if it is.

    (Video) The Biggest Mistakes Everyone Makes When Baking Cookies
  • 08 of 11

    Your Baking Pan Was Too Dark

    What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (8)

    Yes, this is really a thing. Dark colors absorb more heat than light ones, and the difference is significant enough to affect the cooking times for cookies. Unfortunately, most recipes don't specify a color of cookie sheet. But if your cookies are burning and you're using a dark cookie sheet, that's likely the culprit.

    The right way: Use light-colored cookie sheets (or reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees).

  • 09 of 11

    (Video) The Biggest Mistakes Everyone Makes With No-Bake Cookies

    You Overgreased Your Cookie Sheet

    What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (9)

    Cookies are supposed to spread when you bake them, as the butter and sugar melt. But sometimes they can spread so much that they practically merge into one giant cookie. This can happen for a lot of reasons, but assuming you followed the recipe in every other way, the most likely cause is greasing the cookie sheet too much, or in some cases, at all.

    The right way: Skip greasing and line your pan with parchment paper instead. Your cookies won't stick, but they won't spread excessively, either.

  • 10 of 11

    You Didn't Preheat Your Oven

    What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (10)

    Of course you know you're supposed to do this. It's the first instruction in any recipe. And it's not like you're skipping it intentionally. Like many mistakes, it's mostly a matter of forgetting to do it. And this is especially important with cookies because they might only bake for 10 or 12 minutes, so your oven really needs to be at the right temperature when they go in.

    The right way:Get in the habit of doing everything the recipe says, including preheating the oven.

  • 11 of 11

    You Opened The Oven Door Repeatedly

    What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes (11)

    You need to open the oven door to take the cookies out, obviously, but you don't want to be doing it every couple of minutes. Every time you do that, all the heat escapes and the oven temperature drops. This is not as bad for cookies as it is for cakes, but it's still bad. It can, for instance, prevent your cookies from spreading, or from browning.

    (Video) Mistakes Everyone Makes When Baking Biscuits

    The right way: No peeking! Use the window in the oven door to check for doneness (and clean it if you can't see through it).


What NOT To Do When Baking Cookies: 11 Common Mistakes? ›

This relates to the issue of creaming, because cold butter is more difficult to cream. Thus, if your butter is too cold, your cookies will be denser, and they will likely not spread enough in the pan when you bake them. In general, you want your butter to be cool, but not cold.

How did I mess up my cookies? ›

Mistakes included:
  1. Using baking powder instead of baking soda;
  2. Mixing all ingredients at the same time rather than following the step-by-step instructions;
  3. Adding extra eggs;
  4. Forgoing eggs altogether;
  5. Packing flour and using too much;
  6. Not using enough flour;
  7. Over-creaming the batter;
  8. Using too much butter;
May 23, 2020

Is it better to bake cookies with cold butter or softened butter? ›

This relates to the issue of creaming, because cold butter is more difficult to cream. Thus, if your butter is too cold, your cookies will be denser, and they will likely not spread enough in the pan when you bake them. In general, you want your butter to be cool, but not cold.

What are 3 common baking mistakes? ›

Common Baking Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)
  • Baking at the wrong temperature. ...
  • Not measuring ingredients. ...
  • Checking on your items too frequently. ...
  • Your ingredients are at the wrong temperature. ...
  • Your dough isn't rising. ...
  • Nothing is baking evenly. ...
  • Your dough or batter is too tough.

Can you overbeat cookie dough? ›

Unless you want extra-crispy cookies, avoid overmixing your dough. "Overmixing your dough will result in flatter, crispier cookies," Cowan said. If you overmix, you will end up aerating (adding air to) the dough, which causes the cookies to rise and then fall, leaving you with flat cookies.

What does extra butter do to cookies? ›

The extra butter in these cookies makes them super tender. If that sounds like your style, go ahead and preheat your oven to 375°F. Since butter is the key ingredient in this recipe, here are a few tips to using this sometimes slippery ingredient. It takes 30-45 minutes at room temperature to soften butter properly.

What makes cookies fluffy and not flat? ›

Room temperature butter is just the right consistency to incorporate air when it's creamed with sugar. These trapped air pockets result in risen, fluffy cookies. If the butter is any warmer, it won't incorporate enough air and your cookies will have less rise.

Is it best to block all cookies? ›

It's a good idea to decline third-party cookies. If you don't decline, the website could sell your browsing data to third parties. Sharing your personal information with third parties without giving you any control over it could also leave you vulnerable. For one thing, you don't get to choose the third parties.

Is it better to chill cookie dough before baking? ›

Chilling cookie dough controls spread.

Chilling cookie dough before baking solidifies the fat in the cookies. As the cookies bake, the fat in the chilled cookie dough takes longer to melt than room-temperature fat. And the longer the fat remains solid, the less cookies spread.

How long should you beat cookie dough? ›

"If you don't cream your butter and sugar long enough, your cookies won't be light and fluffy—they'll be flat," says Roman. She recommends beating those suckers for at least 3-5 minutes. The same goes for your eggs. Just beat it.

What is the best temperature to bake cookies? ›

350° is the standard temp for a cookie, and it's a great one. Your cookies will bake evenly and the outside will be done at the same time as the inside. Baking at 325° also results in an evenly baked cookie, but the slower cooking will help yield a chewier cookie.

Should eggs be room temp for cookies? ›

Room temperature eggs are good for baking because they blend more evenly in batters and help the dough rise more easily than cold eggs straight out of the fridge. Cold eggs, on the other hand, can result in lumpy batter, a stodgy texture, and require longer baking times — and no one wants that!

Which butter is best for baking cookies? ›

For baking purposes, the Test Kitchen recommends using unsalted butter so you can better control the amount of salt that goes into the recipe. Salted butter is best for serving at the table with bread or to flavor a dish, like mashed potatoes.

What is the golden rule in baking? ›

"My golden rule for baking is make it cold and bake it hot," she said.

What is the one big rule in baking? ›

Don't put something in the oven if it isn't preheated. Your food will most likely not bake properly. For instance, the bottoms may burn, but the inside may not be cooked at all. This is especially important for recipes with high temperatures and short baking times.

What not to do during baking? ›

11 Common Baking Mistakes That You Should Avoid
  1. You Forget To Add A Key Ingredient. ...
  2. You Don't Measure Your Ingredients. ...
  3. You Open The Oven Far Too Often. ...
  4. You Use The Ingredients At The Wrong Temperature. ...
  5. You Don't Sift Your Dry Ingredients. ...
  6. You Don't Know What Your Oven Needs. ...
  7. You Don't Read The Recipe.

What is the secret to a soft cookie? ›

Baking cookies quickly in a hot oven – at 375 degrees F as opposed to a lower temperature – will make for soft results. They'll bake fast instead of sitting and drying out in the oven's hot air. Ever so slightly underbaking your cookies will give you softer results than cooking them the full amount the recipe says.

Should you press down cookie dough? ›

And there are no baking police: If your recipe tells you to flatten your cookies before baking, you just go ahead and do that however you want. So long as they end up evenly flat, that is; squashing cookies haphazardly under your palm means they may bake and brown unevenly.

Is it better to mix cookie dough by hand or mixer? ›

It turns out that it really doesn't make much of a difference at all if you mix chocolate chip cookie dough by hand or with a beater.

What is the most important thing in cookies? ›

Butter. Butter is key for most cookies. Not only does it provide flavor, it's the main reason your cookies will spread. As the butter warms in the oven, the dough slackens and gradually spreads out over the baking sheet.

What makes cookies taste the best? ›

The best cookies have layers of texture. A slightly crisp outer shell that holds up to some heat with an inner core that's soft and chewy. Premium cookies taste great at room temperature, straight out of the fridge or slightly heated. Creating cookies in small batches is key.

What makes cookies rise better? ›

Baking Powder. The type of leavening you use in your cookies doesn't just help them rise while baking, it affects their texture and structure too. Baking soda in cookies yields a denser cookie with craggy tops, while baking powder causes cookies to rise higher during baking for a cakier texture.

Can you over mix butter and sugar for cookies? ›

Undermixed butter and sugar will look gritty and chunky. This can lead to dense cookies and cakes. It is possible to overmix the butter and sugar. If you overmix, however, the butter will separate out of the mixture and it will be grainy and soupy, so be sure to stop once your butter becomes light and fluffy.

How many sticks of butter makes 1 cup? ›

Two sticks of butter is 1 cup. Four sticks is one pound, and you'll see a lot of pound cake recipes call for four sticks, or a whole box of butter. Elsewhere in the country, butter is sold in 1/2 pound rectangular blocks. These blocks of butter have 16 tablespoons, or one cup.

Is it better to bake cookies with butter or margarine? ›

But when you're baking, butter triumphs over margarine every time. For cakes, cookies, and pastries, butter (unsalted, that is) provides richer flavor. (It begins as cream, after all, and margarine is made from vegetable oil.) Butter's high fat content is also what gives baked goods their texture.

Should I use baking soda or baking powder in cookies? ›

Baking soda is typically used for chewy cookies, while baking powder is generally used for light and airy cookies. Since baking powder is comprised of a number of ingredients (baking soda, cream of tartar, cornstarch, etc.), using it instead of pure baking soda will affect the taste of your cookies.

What can I add to cookies to make them moist? ›

Add Molasses or Honey Another way to add more moisture to your cookies is incorporate a tablespoon of molasses into a standard-sized cookie recipe. Don't use any more than a tablespoon, because it will make your cookies very sweet and runny. One tablespoon is just enough.

What can you add to sugar cookies to make them taste better? ›

Take plain sugar cookies up a notch with exciting mix-ins like chocolate chips, rainbow sprinkles, toasted chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit or M&M's. Add these after blending your butter and egg into the sugar cookie mix. This is our favorite hack for holiday Pillsbury cookie dough.

Is it good to clear cookies every once in a while? ›

If it's your personal device, it's a good idea to remove all cookies at least once a month to keep your device neat. Also, you should do this if you see a drop in browser performance or after visiting a shady website. This will make you re-enter multiple logins, but doing that for the sake of your privacy is worth it.

Does clearing cookies log you out? ›

Clearing cookies will log you out of all the websites that you are currently logged into on that computer or phone. You will have to log in again to use those sites.

Why you should disable cookies? ›

Cookies can slow your browser down.

By disabling cookies you will see fewer targeted ads. Without cookies, website owners, especially third-parties, won't be able to track your activity and count how many times you visit their sites or which sites or products you prefer.

Should refrigerated cookie dough be brought to room temperature before baking? ›

As a general rule of thumb, you should refrigerate cookie dough for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. More than that, and you won't see a noticeable difference in the final product. Once the dough has chilled, let it warm up at room temperature until it's just pliable (about 5 to 10 minutes).

What makes a cookie soft vs crispy? ›

Butter contributes milk solids and water to a cookie, both of which soften it. Brown sugar contributes molasses – again, a softener. Using lower-moisture sugar (granulated) and fat (vegetable shortening), plus a longer, slower bake than normal, produces light, crunchy cookies.

How do you know if batter is overmixed? ›

When you overmix cake batter, the gluten in the flour can form elastic gluten strands – resulting in a more dense, chewy texture. The white batter looks airier, while the red looks thick and dense. You Can Taste The Difference: The overmixed cupcakes were gummy.

Do I cover cookie dough when chilling? ›

Here's what our Test Kitchen recommends when quickly chilling cookie dough in the freezer: Place the cookie dough in the freezer for one-quarter of the recommended refrigerator time. The dough can be wrapped in plastic, scooped into balls for baking on a cookie sheet, or left in the mixing bowl, covered.

How far apart should cookie dough be? ›

For softer, chewier cookies, bake for the shorter amount of time indicated in the recipe. When placing dough on cookie sheet, allow sufficient space between cookies, usually 1-1/2 to 2 inches unless recipe directs otherwise.

What is the best flour to use for cookies? ›

All-purpose flour is best used for: cookies, muffins, bread, pie crusts, pancakes, biscuits, pizza dough, and pasta.

Do you bake cookies on top or bottom rack? ›

Cookies should be baked on the center oven rack for even heating and air circulation. As a best practice, is it recommended to rotate the cookie sheet or sheets roughly halfway, or shortly thereafter, through the baking time, if needed.

Do you flip cookies when baking? ›

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.

Should you beat eggs before adding to cookie dough? ›

After creaming together butter and sugar, the next ingredient in many cookie recipes is eggs. They should be added one at a time, each one thoroughly beaten in before the next is added, to allow the creamed butter/sugar mixture to most effectively retain its trapped air.

What happens if you add too many eggs to cookies? ›

If there isn't enough egg, your batter or dough may not be able to hold its structure or could end up overly dry or dense. On the other hand, if there is too much egg, your baked goods could lose their shape due to excess liquid, or have a rubbery (or even overly cakey) texture depending on the recipe.

What are the best eggs for cookies? ›

So what should you buy for baking and pastry? Stick with large chicken eggs, unless otherwise specified in your recipe; most U.S. baking and pastry recipes are designed to be made with large-sized chicken eggs.

What butter do professional bakers use? ›

Best American-Style Butter: Cabot

This slightly higher amount of water (compared to European-style butter) steams in the heat of the oven, puffing up flaky pie crusts, plush cakes, and crispy-edged cookies, making them light, fluffy, and tender.

Is it better to use melted or softened butter for cookies? ›

Chocolate chip cookies made with softened butter vs melted butter. In terms of flavor and texture, there's no difference. The cookies made with melted butter spread a tad more, but this difference is even less after the dough has been chilled (for a minimum of 1 hour).

Should I beat butter for cookies? ›

The longer you beat the butter and sugar, the lighter and more aerated the mixture becomes. In cookie recipes, a longer creaming time creates a cookie that is more cake-like. Less creaming creates less air, and the cookies will be flatter and chewier.

What are the 2 main ingredients in cookie dough that are risky to eat uncooked? ›

Uncooked flour and raw eggs can contain germs that can make you sick if you taste raw dough.

What can go wrong making dough? ›

The 7 Common Breadmaking Mistakes You're Probably Making
  • Failing to Weigh Your Ingredients Accurately. ...
  • Mistakenly Adding Salt DIRECTLY on top of Yeast. ...
  • Incorrectly Adding Too Much Liquid. ...
  • Not Covering Up Your Dough At All Stages of Breadmaking. ...
  • Inadequately Proofing Your Dough. ...
  • Failure to Create Steam in the Oven.
Jan 16, 2020

How do you make cookie dough even better? ›

Here's how you can improve premade cookie dough or dough from a mix.
  1. Add spice to your dough. ...
  2. Punch up the flavor of your cookies by adding extracts. ...
  3. Before baking, roll the dough in a garnish of your choice. ...
  4. Stir nuts right into the dough for an added crunch. ...
  5. Add in your favorite savory snacks, like chips or pretzels.
Aug 3, 2020

Does raw cookie dough have egg or flour? ›

How to safely eat raw cookie dough
  1. Use pasteurized eggs.
  2. Bake your flour until it reaches 165 Fahrenheit — a temperature that kills bacteria.
Oct 23, 2021

What happens if you don't heat treat flour? ›

Regular flour that has not been heat-treated can contain nasty bacteria like E. Coli. You've probably heard about it on the news or on the internet when batches of flour get recalled because they've been making people sick.

Why does raw cookie dough taste better? ›

While this hydration is taking place, the flour also breaks down into sugar, making the dough taste sweeter. After as little as half an hour, your dough transforms into a bowl of goodness with an additional kiss of sweetness.

How long should cookie dough rest? ›

Youngman says chilling the dough for at least one hour before baking is crucial. An overnight sleepover in the fridge is even better. But if you can't wait, shape your dough into balls and freeze them for 15 minutes before popping them into the oven. So yes, resting your cookie dough makes better cookies.

What is the best temperature for baking cookies? ›

Cookie temperatures fluctuate, with some recipes as low as 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and a few as high as 425 degrees Fahrenheit, but most recipes land on 375 or 350 to evenly bake the entirety of the cookie.

What does overworked dough look like? ›

Loaves made with over-kneaded dough often end up with a rock-hard crust and a dense, dry interior. Slices will be very crumbly, especially toward the middle.

What does overworked dough feel like? ›

The overworked dough will often feel tight and tough. This means that liquid molecules have been damaged and won't stretch properly, causing the bread to break and tear more easily. Conversely, a dough that is underworked will be harder to form into a ball shape.

What does Overproofed dough look like? ›

What to look for in an over proofed loaf. Similar to the signs of over proofed dough, an over proofed loaf will be very flat, without much rise or retention of shaping. Over proofing destroys the structural integrity of the bread, so loaves that have gone over are unable to hold their shape in the oven.

What happens if you add extra egg to cookies? ›

Too many egg yolks will add too much moisture, making your batch of cookies spongy and cake-like, so don't overdo it — sometimes moderation is the best approach when baking.

Should I squish my cookie dough? ›

And there are no baking police: If your recipe tells you to flatten your cookies before baking, you just go ahead and do that however you want. So long as they end up evenly flat, that is; squashing cookies haphazardly under your palm means they may bake and brown unevenly.


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