Your cookies are burned on the bottom, and you’re left looking up “why do my cookies burn on the bottom?” and wondering how to prevent burned cookies.
Don’t worry, you’re not the first baker to experience this dilemma.
In this post, I’ll show you how to bake cookies without burning the bottom, as well as help explain why your cookies are burning so you can make sure to fix your oven settings, equipment, or technique.
In short, your cookies may have burned on the bottom because your oven temperature readings are off, your cookie sheet is too dark, your cookies were baked on a lower rack, the heat was too high, or you baked the cookies right on the sheet without any parchment paper.
We’ll go into each of these in detail, as well as what to do about it, so you no longer have to wonder why the bottoms of your cookies are burning!
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1. Your oven is set too high
The most obvious reasons for your cookies burning on the bottom is that the oven is just set too high.
Even if the recipe gives you a certain temperature, try lowering it about 25F for the next batch to see what the results are.
You don’t want to lower it too much, but ovens all cook differently and the person who wrote the recipe might have an oven that functions a bit differently than yours, so don’t be afraid to adjust the cookie recipes you come across by lowering the temperature.
2. You baked the cookies for too long
It can be deceiving to try and figure out when cookies are done, because often people expect to see them in the oven look as finished as they do once they’ve cooled.
This is wrong!
Try taking your cookies out a few minutes before the recipe calls for, and letting them cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Again, based on the recipe you’re using, the person who write it might have an oven that bakes differently than yours and what takes them 12 minutes only takes your oven 8-9.
A few minutes can have a huge impact when it comes to cookies.
Take the cookies out just as they start to turn slightly golden or look “set” – they will come together and harden more as they cool.
3. Your oven temperature is off
It’s completely possible that your cookies are burning on the bottom because you think you’re baking your cookies at 350F, but actually it’s running at 400F.
Get an oven thermometer to check that the temperature in your oven is the same as what you think you’re setting it to.
This is especially true with cheaper ovens or starter ovens.
This can help you figure out if you need to lower the temperature you set your oven to because it’s performing at a higher temperature without you knowing due to your oven being off.
4. Your cookie sheet is too dark
Believe it or not, the shade of your cookie sheet can have an impact on your cookies!
Dark cookie sheets retain heat, and seeing as how the bottoms of your cookies touch your baking sheet, they’re going to be the part of your cookie that suffers (ie, burns!) if you use a dark cookie sheet.
Try switching to a lighter color or shade cookie sheet for your next batch, as this won’t hold as much heat and can help the bottoms not burn as easily.
5. Your cookie sheet is too close to the heating element in your oven
Where are you putting your cookie sheet in your oven?
It’s recommended to bake cookies using the middle rack, but some people have more success putting them on the top rack if you’re finding that the bottoms are burning and your heating element is on the bottom of your oven.
I know, for me, that I can absentmindedly put cookies on the lower rack of the oven if I have something on the middle rack or higher rack and am trying to save time and get them done at the same time.
It often ends in disaster!
6. You didn’t use parchment paper or baking paper
Instead of placing the cookies directly on your baking sheet, there are a few ways to help them bake more easily and protect the bottoms of the cookies from burning.
One option is to use parchment paper, also called baking paper, which is both moisture and heat resistant and used by plenty of bakers to help you protect the bottoms of the cookies (this also helps with clean up).
Another option, and the one I use, is to use a silicone mat like this one which can be reused forever and has the same effect as parchment paper in helping you have an even bake and not crisp up the cookie bottoms too much.
7. You didn’t use a buffer under the baking sheet
While this isn’t a must-do for all bakers, people who have problems with the bottoms of their cookies burning have found that it can help to put your cookie sheet on the regular rack, and then put an empty cookie sheet on a lower rack.
This helps act as a buffer between your cookies and the heating element of the oven, and can be enough to make sure everything bakes up perfectly and doesn’t get burned.