Filed Under: Baking Science | Cookies | How To

3 Biggest Reasons Your Cookies Flop

Recipe By Tessa Arias
October 28th, 2019

3 Biggest Reasons Your Cookies Flop and don’t turn out anything like the picture on Pinterest or from the magazine. If you’ve struggled to perfect your cookies or get consistent results, read this post from start to finish and pin it to save!

Today I’m revealing the secrets behind baking perfect cookies. You’ll learn why the 3 biggest reasons your cookies flop, fail, or don’t turn out quite right. If you’ve ever had cookies unintentionally turn out totally flat, cakey, greasy, underbaked, or cookies that never spread at all, just keep reading!

Author Tessa Arias baking cookies in her kitchen and laughing

As a professionally trained chef and cookbook author, I know a LOT about cookies. I published my Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies back in 2013 and it’s been featured in People, Time, and NPR! So I’ve compiled some of my best tips just below that will answer the most common questions and frustrations I see.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Cookie Customization Guide


The most important temperature behind beautiful bakery-quality cookies is that of your butter.

If you’ve ever had cookies spread into flat puddles while baking, or deflate after cooling, listen up!

When you go to cream your butter and sugar when making cookies, the butter should be at a COOL room temperature. To be precise, it should be 67°F. Just take a look at what happens when your butter is warm:

Flat cookie made with warm butter vs. thicker cookie made with cool butter

Learn more about baking THICK cookies here.

The second most important temperature is that of your oven.

Make sure your oven temperature is accurate. Did you know many home ovens can be off by over 20°F? An oven thermometer is the best and easiest way to tell how accurate your oven actually is.

Look at what a big difference temperature can make:
OVEN 101 - You NEED to know this stuff! My oven always runs cold and yours probably isn't accurate either.

When baking, always allow your oven to preheat for an extra 10 minutes to ensure it’s up to temperature. Always bake in the middle rack.

Bake just one batch at a time for perfect even cooking. If it’s a hot day, pop the remaining cookie dough in the fridge as each batch bakes to prevent flat cookies.

Learn more about hidden oven secrets here!


One of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your baking FOREVER is to learn how to measure your flour correctly.

This is shockingly easy to get wrong. Why?

Because flour compacts easily, you can wind up accidentally adding 20% more flour to your dough if you don’t measure it the professional way. Take a look at what that does to your cookies:

Image of a perfect cookie with flour measured correctly vs. an image of a thick, hard, and dense cookie with too much flour

The best and simplest way to measure your flour, and all your baking ingredients really, is to use a digital kitchen scale.

The second best way is to use the spoon-and-level method:

  1. Fluff up your flour.
  2. Spoon the flour into your measuring cup until you have a tall mound.
  3. Scrape the excess flour back into the container until it’s level with the cup.

To learn how professionals measure flour for perfect results, click here!


The equipment you use has a surprisingly big affect on how your cookies will turn out.

It’s not always about having the most expensive equipment, but the right equipment.

When it comes to cookies, the most important piece to pay attention to is your BAKING PANS! Take a look at the picture below. Each cookie was baked from the same exact batch of dough, just on a different baking sheet:

Side-by-side testing to find the best baking pans! Including nonstick vs. aluminum, and which pans specifically you should NEVER use!

See what a difference just your baking pan makes?!

What’s the best baking pan for cookies?

Unlined aluminum half sheet pans. I prefer the NordicWare brand.

Whatever you do, NEVER bake cookies on a dark colored baking pan. That’s the fastest way to burn those bottoms.

Learn more about the best (and worst) baking pans here!

In Conclusion!

Okay, those are my top 3 reasons your cookies flop! I hope you found this helpful. Got more cookie baking tips? Comment below.

If you want to see all of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes in one place, just click here.

Exciting News: I’m writing a cookbook!

….and it’s all about COOKIES! It’ll be available summer 2020. Pre order here!

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

Leave a Comment & Rating

Add a Review or Question

*Please select a rating to complete your comment.

  1. #
    Jennifer — October 28, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Any tips for how best to work with recipes that call for the butter to be melted. Your pumpkin chocolate chip recipe for example. Best ways to melt? Is it okay to mix it in immediately or should it cool off a bit (when microwaving)?

    • #
      Tessa — October 29, 2019 at 8:14 am

      You can add sugar into hot butter but just not eggs! Let it cool before adding the eggs 🙂

  2. #
    Anna Paulina — August 22, 2020 at 10:25 pm

    Hi, I’m from Mexico and I hope my English is enough good for you to understand. I sell cookies and when I’m
    baking them, I roll them with a scoop hopping they could expand but they don’t! The cookie is made at the same place where the piece of dough is! Like a little sphere! I hope you can answer my comment. I really admire you!

  3. #
    JOGAM — September 9, 2020 at 8:39 am

    I am Korean. I hope you can understand what I’
    My cookies don’t always spread. I hope my cookies have a pretty crack, but they don’t always spread.
    So I press the cookie.
    I always bake at 330’F-. And always use the digital mirror and bake cookies on the Defron sheet.
    Is the sheet the problem? If I buy a silicon sheet, can I make cookies that spread?

    • #
      JOGAM — September 9, 2020 at 8:41 am

      I am Korean. I hope you can understand what I say
      My cookies don’t always spread. I hope my cookies have a pretty crack, but they don’t always spread.
      So I press the cookie.
      I always bake at 330’F-. And always use the digital mirror and bake cookies on the Defron sheet.
      Is the sheet the problem? If I buy a silicon sheet, can I make cookies that spread?

Join the Handle the Heat Community

Cookie Customization Chart
Do you want a more delicious life?
Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!
As Seen On....
NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed