Improperly Cooked Cookies

Why do some cookies make burn on the bottom and look undercooked on the top?

Why do some cookies make burn on the bottom and look undercooked on the top?

A number of factors can lead to overbrowned or unevenly browned cookies and if one (or worse, more than one) of these factors is at play in your oven, the results can be disappointing. The possible culprits are the pan (it should be sturdy, rimmed, and not dark-coated), the oven (monitor its temperature with an oven thermometer and if you find that it isn’t maintaining the correct temperature, call a repair service), the positioning of the oven racks (the closer to the bottom, the browner the bottoms of your cookies will be relative to the tops), and whether or not you rotate the pans midway through baking (do so). For evenly baked cookies, we recommend the Wear-Ever Half-Size Heavy-Duty Sheet Pan by Vollrath. The test kitchen’s favorite oven thermometer, made by Cooper-Atkins, sells for $6, a small price to pay for accuracy. Here in the test kitchen, we develop cookie recipes with the oven racks set to specific positions, so when you use our recipes, adjust the racks as directed. When baking two sheets at a time, at the same time you rotate the pans 180 degrees, also swap them, moving the one on the upper rack to the lower rack and vice versa. If recipes from other sources don’t specify an oven position, try a test pan with just a few cookies on the middle rack before gambling with a whole batch of dough.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  Many factors can turn good cookies bad. Ensure even cooking by using heavy-gauge, uncoated pans lined with parchment paper. Adjust the oven racks and rotate the pans in accordance with the recipe, and be sure that your oven thermostat is accurate by monitoring it with an oven thermometer.


This is the same cookie in both photos. In this photo, the rack was too low in the oven...

UNEVEN AND OVER-BROWNED BOTTOM the flimsy baking sheet wasn't rotated halfway through baking.

This is a members' feature.