Baking Tips

21 Tiny Tips for Better Cookies

Turn a good cookie into the best cookie.

Published Nov. 2, 2023.

Warm from the oven or frozen on the outside of a scoop of ice cream, a cookie is a welcome treat year-round. 

However, as easy as cookies are to eat, recipes for them can be surprisingly fickle. And if you’ve baked anything, you know cookies are one of the easiest baked goods to burn. Ever.

We’ve been there. But after 30 years of developing cookie recipes, we’ve “foolproofed” the process. And with holiday parties and cookie swaps right around the corner, what better time to share some of our tiny tips for better cookies?

Whether you have a lot of cookies to bake or are forging out into the world of cookies for the first time, here is a nonexhaustive list of tips to make your next batch the best batch.

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  • To make chocolate cookies more moist, use cocoa powders with higher fat content. The optimal percentage is 20%—that means that you should seek out a product with at least 1 gram of fat per 5-gram serving.
  • The type of sugar you use matters. Chewy versus crispy cookies are made before they hit the oven. Brown sugar, which is more hygroscopic (able to absorb and hold on to water from its surroundings) than white granulated sugar, yields softer, chewier results. White granulated sugar yields thin and crispy cookies.
  • You can control the internal consistency of the final cookies by changing up the size of your cookies. Gooey cookie lovers, go big. Crispy, cooked-through cookie enthusiasts, go small.
Watch Cook's Illustrated Editor in Chief Dan Souza demonstrate how cookie size determines texture.
  • Freeze dough balls in individual portions so that you can bake off a few at your convenience.
Cook's Country TV's Ashley Moore shows you how to keep a stash of cookies for on-demand baking.
  • It’s easiest to work with thin, lacy cookies such as tuile and florentines while they’re warm. If the cookies cool down and become too brittle to work with, they can be briefly returned to the oven to warm up and soften.
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  • Cool your cookie sheet between batches to prevent the dreaded cookie blob. If you don’t have the patience to let it cool completely, at least restrain yourself until it’s cool enough to touch. (If you reuse it straight from the oven, its high heat will cause the dough to spread and the cookies to fuse together.)
  • Chase Brightwell, an associate editor on the ATK Reviews team, recommends using a portion scoop to ensure even-size cookies every time. 
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  • Cookies often spread as they bake. Stagger your cookie dough balls on the sheet so that they don’t run together and bake into a giant amorphous blob.
  • Invest in an oven thermometer. Did you know that ovens can vary by 50 degrees higher or lower than the desired temperature? Use an oven thermometer to get the most accurate reading.
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  • Cookies fresh out of the oven are fragile, especially while warm. If you’ve baked them on parchment paper, ATK Reviews’ Executive Editor Lisa McManus recommends using the parchment paper to pull the whole batch of cookies straight onto the the cooling rack. It's faster than moving them one by one, and you'll get them off of the hot baking sheet as soon as possible.
  • Perhaps this goes without saying, but if you’re baking cookies, it helps to have a kitchen timer. Cookies can go from gooey to burnt in less than 2 minutes. 
  • Place cookies in a storage container with a slice of sandwich bread to keep them from staling too quickly.
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  • Another way to stave off staling, and our choice when gifting cooking: Layer tortillas (!) in between cookies in a tin. Now everything fits neatly into a round cookie tin.
  • When storing cookies, layer sheets of parchment paper in between each one to keep them from sticking together.

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