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We Tried a Bunch of Cookie-Baking Hacks, and Here’s What Actually Worked

Created September 17, 2018
Frosted Cookies
We tested out popular Pinterest baking tips and hacks with our famous refrigerated cookie dough to see what’s worth your time—and what you can skip. Get ready to bake your best cookies ever!

At Pillsbury, we’re always in pursuit of the perfect cookie-baking methods, so we decided to test out some popular tips with our refrigerated cookie dough! From how to prep your baking sheet to the best time to frost your baked cookies, we’re answering all your sugar cookie questions.

Hack #1: Chill your cookie dough before baking to make it easier to work with and to control spread.

How does it work?
Cookies can spread when baked and lose their shape. To fix this, let your cookie dough rest in the refrigerator for an hour before you roll it out and cut out shapes.

Our result:
We didn’t see a huge difference between chilled dough and room-temperature dough after baking. However, it was much easier to work with the chilled dough vs. room temperature dough when prepping the cookies for the oven. This is super helpful when cutting out cookies into different shapes! If your dough starts to get sticky, pop it back in the fridge to chill for a bit then keep working.

Hack #2: Let cookies cool on a rack vs. on the cooking sheet.

How does it work?
If left on the pan, cookies will continue to bake while cooling, often leading to burning or tougher, crunchy cookies.

Our results:
While there was no visual difference between the cookies that were removed and placed to cool on a rack and those that were left on the pan, there was a difference in taste and texture. Cookies left to cool on the cooking sheet were indeed crunchier and not as pleasant to eat.

Hack #3: Frost cookies once they are fully cooled.

Frosted Cookies

How does it work?
If you ice cookies that are too hot, the frosting will melt and become too runny. You can avoid this by waiting until your cookies are fully cooled before frosting them.

Our results:
Yes, it matters! This is a step you should never skip. In the photo above, the cookie on the left is a cookie that was fully cooled before frosting, while the cookie on the right was frosted minutes after removing it from the oven. You can see the frosting on the still-warm cookie became melty and hard to spread.

Hack #4: Parchment paper vs. cooking spray vs. non-stick baking sheet: what’s the best way to prepare your cookie sheet?

Baked cookies

There’s a bit of debate about which tried and true baking method is the best with cookie dough. So, why not try all three?

How does it work?
Using cooking spray, parchment paper or a non-stick baking sheet, the objective is to prevent cookies from sticking to the cooking sheet and causing a mess.

Our results:
We tried baking sugar cookies with cooking spray (column 1), on parchment paper (column 2) and plain non-stick baking sheet (column 3) to show the difference between the bottoms of the cookies.

We discovered that the cookies with cooking spray tend to get more brown on the bottom, adding to the crunch, than the ones on parchment paper or simple non-stick baking sheet. All three methods, however, allowed the cookies to come off of the pan easily! Our preferred method? Parchment paper because the cookies baked up perfectly and no clean-up is necessary.

Note: Results can vary based on the type of cookie you are baking due to the levels of butter/fats in the cookies. These results are only based off of our experience with our cookie dough! But chances are, if your cookies have butter in them, they should release easily from a non-stick baking sheet that has not been sprayed with cooking spray or one lined with parchment paper.

Hack #5: Leave 1 to 2 inches of space in between your dough before baking.

Baked cookies

How does it work?
It’s important to leave 1 to 2 inches of space in between your cookie dough so that when the dough rises and spreads, the cookies don’t run together.

Our results:
We learned spacing is VERY important. In the above photo, each cookie was spaced by ½-inch. If you don’t allow for the recommended 1 to 2 inches of space between cookies, they will to spread and run together, and you’ll end up with a big cookie blob. And while we aren’t opposed to giant desserts, this particular super cookie was not very fun to break apart! Impatient? Make sure you have multiple baking sheets handy so you can give the cookies the space they need to bake perfectly.

We’ve got even more cookie recipes for you to browse.