Why You Should Ignore Recipe Times When Baking Cookies

At first glance, cookies might sound like one of the easiest baked goods you can take on, and they are if you aren't picky. But as soon as you decide to aim for cookies that are perfectly soft and chewy or thin and crispy, the process immediately becomes trickier. While the cookie dough itself really determines the final state of the cookies that come out of the oven, the oven presents its own unique challenge too.

Most ovens differ from one another and tend to run hotter or cooler than the temperature displayed. There might even be hot or cold spots within the oven (via Stress Baking). That's why many cookbooks actually have a note or section on how to properly calibrate your oven to get the best results possible.

What you might not realize, however, is that when it comes to baking cookies — homemade or store-bought — you can really throw all of that out the window.

Go with your gut when you're baking cookies

While homemade cookie dough might need more careful tweaking to get the exact result you want, store-bought dough is incredibly low maintenance to bake at home. The packages always list an oven temperature and a suggested window of time to let the cookies bake, but you actually don't have to follow those time directions. That's even true for homemade cookies, according to Sally's Baking Addiction.

As Sally's Baking Addiction explains, there's no need to go by the amount of time the cookies have been in the oven since the temperature can vary so much between ovens. So, the time it takes for the oven used in the recipe to cook the cookies might be shorter or longer than the oven you have at home. Don't worry about keeping a timer. How do you know when cookies are done? Use the oven light to watch over the cookies instead. This way you can see how brown or done the cookies look without letting the hot air out of the oven to check them every few minutes. When they look exactly how you want them to, feel free to go ahead and pull them out of the oven and enjoy. Most cookies will slightly brown and have set edges when they're ready to come out — just remember that they continue to bake for a few minutes out of the oven.