So you want to bake the perfect cookie?
These cookie baking tips are going to take you through the baking process to make sure you know everything you need to know about creating that wonderfully perfect, golden, and delicious cookie.
As opposed to our troubleshooting guide which teaches you how to fix cookies, this guide is all about how to not run into any problems in your cookie baking.
We’ll talk about the right baking equipment, how to make the type of cookies you are hoping for (fluffy, chewy, moist, etc), how long to chill your cookie dough, how to store your cookies with success, and more.
Now, baking cookies is definitely more of a science than an art, because individual ingredients and baking techniques have the potential to hugely impact your bake.
The “winging it” method doesn’t work that well in cookie baking, unless you’re prepared for more than a couple of baking fails.
You don’t have to use every single tip to have success, but make sure to read on to learn the basics and know the absolute must-dos and the absolute do-nots (baking cookies on wax paper, we’re looking at you!)
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1. How to Make Fluffy Cookies
One of the most popular and most beloved cookie types are fluffy, or puffy, cookies.
Many people prefer a fluffy cookie to a flat cookie and what their cookie to have a bit of structure to it.
Fluffy cookies have a few key components, like chilled dough, a bit of extra flour, baking powder instead of baking soda, and the cookie dough balls rolled into cylinders rather than dough balls.
For more tips on puffy cookies, check out our full guide to making fluffy cookies.
Must-Have Baking Tools (seriously)
- Silicone baking mats – I use this brand and my cookies slide right off without burning!
- a cookie scoop – get this one. It makes the perfect rounded cookies every time!
- silicone spatula – try this set. It’s the best way to get the most out of your dough and batters
- rolling pin guides – I use this one. Genius way to roll your dough out evenly!
2. How to Make Moist Cookies
Let’s face it, no one likes a dry cookie.
From chocolate chip cookies to shortbread cookies, we all want a little bit of that melt-in-your-mouth moistness, rather than a mouth full of flour.
Moist cookies require a few different techniques, like using less flour, increasing the amount of brown sugar or molasses, and adding ingredients like cream cheese or instant pudding mix to capture that moistness.
For more tips on making sure your cookies are moist, check out our guide on making moist cookies here.
3. How to Make Chewy Cookies
Some people find that the polar opposite to a cakey cookie or puffy cookie is that classic, chewy cookie.
They’re often a bit flatter, dense, and just really have that chewy structure to sink your teeth into rather than feeling like a cookie full of air.
You can change a cookie recipe to be even chewier than normal by using brown sugar instead of regular sugar, not chilling the dough, and banging the freshly baked cookie sheet on the counter right after you take it out of the oven to make the cookies collapse a bit and become more dense and chewy.
For more tips on making those perfect chewy cookies, check out our chewy cookie guide here.
4. How to Make Soft Cookies
Soft cookies are almost universally loved (though some people do prefer a crisp cookie, in which case, don’t follow these tips!).
The softness in a cookie that makes them pillowy and velvety and not crunchy or crispy usually comes from ingredients like cornstarch, instant pudding mix, and not overbaking the dough.
Overbaking the cookies is a surefire way to make sure you end up with hard cookies, which you can try to soften afterwards using our cookie troubleshooting guide, but isn’t ideal.
To make sure you end up with soft cookies straight out of the oven, check out our tips on making soft cookies here.
5. Best Cookies for Cookie Cutters
Not all cookie doughs are good for cut-out cookies, or cookie doughs that you use with cookie cutters.
If you use a dough like a chocolate chip cookie dough, you’re not going to be able to roll it out and it’s just going to be a sticky mess that is not at all dry enough to use cookie cutters with.
You want to use a specific dough for cut-out cookies, like cut-out sugar cookie dough, cut-out chocolate cookie dough, or even something like shortbread that is easier to cut out.
For a full list of the best cookies for cookie cutters, check out which cookie doughs to use with cookie cutters here.
6. Best Baking Tools for the Best Cookies
There is plenty of technique that goes along with baking perfect cookies, but sometimes, there’s nothing like an awesome baking tool to help you get that perfect bake.
We recommend every baker make sure you have both a silicone mat and a light-colored baking sheet (it helps your cookies not to burn), as well as a silicone spatula.
And of course, the most popular baking tool of all time, a KitchenAid mixer that mixes cookie dough with ease and means you don’t have to stand there with a hand mixer the whole time.
Check out our full guide to the best baking tools here.
7. Can You Bake Cookies on Aluminum Foil?
Is aluminum foil a safe way to bake cookies?
The answer is yes: you can bake cookies on alumnium foil, but you shouldn’t as it could cause your cookies to burn on the bottom.
A better bet is a silicone baking mat or even a greased baking sheet is better than aluminum foil.
Learn more about using aluminum foil to bake cookies here.
8. Can You Bake Cookies on Wax Paper?
Is wax paper a safe way to bake cookies?
The answer is no: you should never bake cookies on wax paper, as wax paper can start a fire in the oven and melt.
You can bake cookies on parchment paper/baking paper, as well as silicone mats and even just plain, greased, baking sheets.
Learn more about the problems with baking cookies on wax paper here.
9. How Long to Chill Cookie Dough
Want to know how long to chill your cookie dough?
Chilling cookie dough is a popular part of many cookie recipes, as it helps the butter solidify and not melt as fast in the oven (leading to puffier cookies).
The shortest amount of time you should chill your cookie dough for reasonable results is 1 hour, but you can leave your cookie dough overnight, up to 24 hours, for best results.
For more information on how long to chill cookie dough, we’ve got a full guide here.
10. Can You Freeze Cookie Dough?
If you make cookie dough, but don’t want to bake all of the cookies at once (maybe you want to do some portion control or maybe you’re just pre-mixing for Christmas cookies), you can totally freeze cookie dough!
There are different techniques to freeze it, including freezing the dough all in one ball in a Freezer safe Ziploc bag as well as freezing individual cookie dough balls.
We talk about which technique is best and how to freeze cookie dough in our guide to freezing cookie dough here.
11. How to Bake Frozen Cookie Dough
When baking frozen cookie dough, you’re going to want to either adjust the temperature or the bake time to make sure that you still end up with great cookies.
The other option is to thaw the cookie dough before baking, and bake as normal.
For a full list of the different times and temperature increases or decreases for your frozen cookie dough, check out our guide to baking frozen cookie dough here.
12. How Long Does Cookie Dough Last?
Cookie dough lasts a different amount of time depending on where it’s stored, and many bakers want to know the lengths to make sure they’re using their cookie dough up appropriately.
At room temperature, cookie dough only lasts for a couple of hours before you shouldn’t use it anymore due to the eggs in the dough.
In the fridge, cookie dough can usually last for 5-7 days, and in the freezer, cookie dough can last for up to 6 months!
For more information on this topic, check out our guide on how long cookie dough lasts and how to tell if you shouldn’t bake it anymore.
13. How Long to Bake Cookies
Your cookie recipe should tell you exactly how long to bake your cookies, but what if you’ve lost the recipe or are trying to do it from memory?
Most cookies require a bake time of about 8-11 minutes, with different times being possible for different ovens that will bake hotter or cooler than others (or which are out of whack when it comes to their temperature readings!).
However, some cookies, like shortbread, do require a much longer baking time.
Check out our full guide on how long to bake cookies for, researched from the top 10 cookies of each kind on the internet and taking an average from their bake times.
14. How Long Do Cookies Last?
Once you bake them, cookies don’t last forever (sadly), but they can last longer depending on how they’re stored (more on that next).
In this guide, we talk about how long cookies last in the fridge, in the freezer, and at room temperature and how long you should plan on having to eat those cookies and get them in your stomach.
15. How to Store Cookies
Learning the best way to store cookies is a really great way to extend the deliciousness and shelflife of your cookies.
Most cookies are best stored at room temperature in an airtight container, and there are different options for making the cookies softer or harder after baking like putting a piece of bread in the container to lead to softer cookies (seriously).
But you can also store cookies in the freezer, as well as using metal tins (with cookies separated by greaseproof paper) and storing in the fridge if you’re making something like cream cheese cookies or using a frosting with raw eggs.
Read more on the best way to store cookies to make sure that you’re finishing up the baking process with success and not letting your cookies go past their best too early.