If you’re like me, you’re baking a lot of cookies these days but own a limited number of cookie sheets. And if you tend to get impatient during the holiday baking frenzy (me again!), you may be tempted to load more batches onto the sheets before they’ve fully cooled. But this isn’t a shortcut that I recommend.
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In the test kitchen, we conducted an experiment to find out the degree to which placing dough on a hot or warm cookie sheet would impact the cookies’ spread.
We made the dough for our Chewy Sugar Cookies and baked three batches. We then arranged the first batch on a room-temperature cookie sheet (72 degrees), the second on a sheet that we let cool for 5 minutes (110 degrees), and the third on a hot sheet (172 degrees) that we did not allow to cool at all after removing the previous batch.
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Why Cookie Sheets Need to Cool Between Batches
Cookies baked on the warm sheet spread more than those started on the cool sheet; while not ideal, the cookies did not run into each other. But the cookies baked on the hot sheet spread so much that the cookies fused together.
HOT SHEET: Cookies fuse together
WARM SHEET: Cookies spread too much
COOL SHEET: Cookies spread just enough
For the best results, let your cookie sheet cool completely before reusing it. If time is tight, you can get away with letting it cool for as little as 5 minutes. To expedite cooling, you can also rinse a warm—but not hot or the metal may buckle—cookie sheet under cold tap water until it is no longer hot. Dry it with a kitchen towel before proceeding.
The bottom line: Never reuse a sheet straight from the oven, as its high heat will cause the dough to spread and the cookies to fuse together.