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It Happens to the Best of Us … Common Cookie Baking Mistakes & How to Fix Them

Updated October 13, 2020
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Everyone makes mistakes, even experienced cookie bakers like you. Don't worry, we got baking in the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens to find out how to fix flat cookies, burnt cookies and other travesties in the future.

Why Are My Cookies Flat?

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Mistake: When cookies turn out flat, the bad guy is often butter that is too soft or even melted. This makes cookies spread. The other culprit is too little flour—don't hold back and make sure you master measuring. Finally, cookies will also flatten if placed and baked on hot cookie sheets. Keep it cool to start with.

How to Fix it: If too-soft butter was the culprit, try refrigerating cookie dough for 1 to 2 hours before baking. If too-little flour was the issue, try adding an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour to the dough. Then, bake a test cookie. If neither were the mistake, it was probably a too-hot pan that caused the spreading. Cool your cookie sheet before baking another batch.

How to Avoid it: Allow your butter to come to room temperature—then cut it into pieces. The perfect temp should take about 30 minutes. Make sure you’re using the most accurate measuring method and the correct measuring tools. Cool your cookie sheet in between batches—allow the sheet to sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes, then run under cold water and dry—this will cool the sheet without it warping.

How Come My Cookies Baked Together?

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The Mistake: When cookies bake together, it’s because they were too close. Just like us, cookies need a little breathing room—otherwise, they have a meltdown!

How to Fix it: Make a snack of your cookie clump or break it into pieces and use it as a topper for your ice cream sundae!

How to Avoid it: Give your cookies space...about 2 inches apart. You should be able to fit a dozen cookies onto a sheet. Remember to let your cookie sheets cool in between batches or your dough will spread.

Why Did My Cookies Burn?

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The Mistake: Let's get to the bottom of burnt cookies! A few things can cause your cookies to burn: a dark-colored cookie sheet could cause it or if the temperature is at full tilt. And, sometimes it’s just the simplest answer: cookies were baked too long.

How to Fix it: The good news is, you only bake one sheet at a time, so your recipe isn't ruined because of one burned batch. The bad news is, burnt cookies just aren't the same as the real things, so throw them out and start again!

How to Avoid it: Use a shiny, silver-colored aluminum cookie sheet, which will reflect heat. Timing is everything too. Remember to set a timer as the cookies enter the oven. It’s also a good idea to use an oven thermometer to check your oven’s temperature. A piece of advice, oven temperature gauges can be 25 to 50 degrees off.

Why Did My Cookies Bake Unevenly?

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The Mistake: If your tray of cookies bakes up unevenly—with some cookies tough and overdone and others too soft and raw—it’s probably because the cookie dough balls you started with were too varied in size.

How to Fix it: As long as the cookies are not tooth-breakingly hard or raw, you can still enjoy them. You could remove the cookies that are done and keep the others cooking for a few minutes more.

How to Avoid it: Luckily, this is an easy one. Use a spring-loaded cookie scoop or tablespoon measure your cookies to the T. Cookies will get done at the same time, and you won’t wind up with a tray of cookies that’s simultaneously overdone and underdone. Get the inside scoop on cookie shaping.

Why Did my Cookies Stick to the Sheet?

The Mistake: Cookies stick to the sheet when they’ve been left to cool for too long.

How to Fix it: When this happens, put the cookies back in the oven to soften enough that they release from the pan. Simple! This should happen quickly, in 1 to 2 minutes. Remember, you're warming them up again, not baking them!

How to Avoid it: Pay as much attention to your cooling process, as you do to your baking process. Most recipes advise leaving cookies on the sheet for 1 to 2 minutes, after being removed from the oven. This allows cookies to set and makes them easier to move. Next, place cookies on a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

Now that you know what not to do, learn what to do. With tips from the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens, you’ll be baking perfect homemade cookies in no time.