7 Steps to Making Cookies

Whether you're a novice baker or a bake sale pro, follow these seven steps to achieve cookie perfection, every time.

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Everything You Need to Know

Here’s a bite-size rundown of how to make a cookie. Use this as your 1-2-3 as you get ready to make your own — the standard ingredient ratio (by weight) is 1 part sugar, 2 parts fat, 3 parts flour. 

Sift Dry Ingredients

Sift dry ingredients like flour, leaveners (baking powder or baking soda) and cocoa powder (but not sugar) to combine and aerate them, making for fluffier cookies. Put them in a fine-mesh strainer over a piece of parchment paper, shake the strainer until everything's on the paper, then when it's time to add, pick up the paper and let the ingredients slide out into the mixing bowl. If sifting is not called for, whisk the dry ingredients for 30 seconds to combine. 

Cream Butter and Sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together. This creates air pockets that expand in the oven, making the dough tender. Butter beats up fluffiest at room temperature — it should hold a fingerprint with some resistance.

Beat in Eggs

Beat eggs into the creamed butter and sugar, one at a time, to add moisture to the air pockets and flavor to the dough. They’ll incorporate best at room temperature; place them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to warm them up quickly. Now is also the time to add the vanilla extract or sometimes milk, if the recipe calls for it. 

Add Dry Ingredients to Wet

Add the dry ingredients in a few batches, folding gently. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to keep everything incorporating evenly. Use a light touch — overworking the flour makes for tough results. 

Fold in Chips or Nuts

Fold the heavy ingredients, like chocolate and nuts, into the batter to keep it light and tender. Sprinkle the mix-ins on top, then take a large flexible spatula and slice it into the center of the batter. Draw the spatula through the batter, folding the batter from the bottom of the bowl over the top. Keep going just until everything is incorporated.

Shape Cookies

Each cookie recipe has its own shaping instructions. Drop cookies are simplest: Scoop dough with a spoon or a small ice-cream scoop and space the dough evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Other shaping techniques include making a chilled log of dough and slicing it, rolling and cutting, and piping or using a cookie press.

Bake and Cool

Bake for the shortest time suggested in the recipe, then check one cookie from the middle of the baking sheet and one from the edge for doneness. Rotate the baking sheets to help cookies cook evenly. Remember, the cookies will keep cooking once removed from the oven. Let them cool completely on a rack before decorating, and store them in an airtight container.