Use our expert tips and methods to master every aspect of baking cookies, from handling the dough to properly storing the final product. For more cookie tips, pick up a copy of our Holiday Cookies 2018 special issue!
1. Don’t overmix your dough. When creaming your butter and sugar, you’ll want to spend 2 to 3 minutes beating it into fluffy, airy goodness. But as soon as you add in the flour, you should keep the mixing to a minimum. Every extra second spent beating your cookie dough at this point will activate more gluten, creating denser cookies. So, keep this mixing step short and sweet and stir in your mix-ins by hand so that you don’t overwork the dough.
2. Refrigerate/freeze rolled out dough before cutting out shapes. We often say in our recipes to chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out in order to improve the flavor. This tip is also meant to help you transition from chilling to rolling out to cutting. So that your dough is easy to cut but not too soft, roll out your dough to the desired thickness and then refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes before cutting into shapes.
3. And refrigerate/freeze dough after cutting out shapes. The dough will soften if left out while you cut shapes, causing it to spread more during baking. Crisp, well-defined cookie shapes come from a final shock of cold, optimally 15 to 30 minutes in the freezer or refrigerator. Keep your dough scraps chilling in rolled out disks between cutting as well. Even for molasses, crinkle, or chocolate chip cookies, a final rest in the fridge before popping into the oven will create perfectly puffy, chewy cookies.
4. Bake one cookie batch at a time. If you’re not in a rush or running late to a cookie swap party, take the extra time to bake one sheet of cookies at a time. Baking multiple batches of cookies on alternating oven racks often leads to unevenly baked cookies. For flawless, uniform cookies, bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack, rotating halfway through the bake time.
5. Store soft cookies separate from crisp ones. When storing your cookies (tins and airtight containers are your best bet), make sure to keep your crunchy cookies in a separate container from your chewy cookies or the moisture will soften up the crisp ones.