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How to Read and Follow a Cookie Recipe

A cookie recipe is a list of ingredients and a set of instructions that describes how to make a particular type of cookie.

By following a recipe carefully, you can bake delicious homemade cookies.

Getting Ready to Bake Cookies

  • Read the recipe all the way through before getting started. This way you will know that you have all the ingredients and know what to expect.

  • Plan ahead, checking for steps you need to take before you prepare cookies. For instance, many recipes call for butter to be at room temperature. Set out butter on the counter overnight or at least 3-4 hours ahead of time so it is at its optimum consistency for mixing.

  • Gather ingredients, mixing tools, measuring cups, and measuring spoons within reach. Some recipe steps must be performed quickly so you want everything to be accessible.

The Yield

Look at the recipe yield so you know how many cookies you will make. You may choose to half the recipe (to make fewer) or double it (to make more.)

The Ingredients

A standard recipe lists ingredients in the order they are used. Some ingredients are listed as optional, in which case you can choose to eliminate them or include them in your cookies.

To measure ingredients accurately use measuring utensils, such as cup and spoon measures, rather than cups and spoons you use for eating.

Measuring Ingredients

Use separate utensils for dry ingredients and liquid ingredients. Dry ingredient measures (both cups and spoons) are plastic or metal with flat top surfaces. This allows you to fill the cup or spoon in excess and use a knife or spatula to level off the extra to get an exact dry measure. (Get more details about how to measure dry ingredients.)

Liquid ingredient measuring cups are glass or plastic. They have amount indicators listed along the side of the cup and a pouring spout with which to dispense liquid ingredients. To measure liquid ingredients, set the measuring cup on the counter or a flat surface. Fill the cup measure with the liquid ingredient to the appropriate level, allowing it to settle to ensure proper measurement. Then add the liquid to your mixture.

The Directions

  • Recipe directions list the steps to take to mix the cookie dough. Directions are listed in the order you are to take them. Make sure you follow the order carefully. For instance, many recipes direct you to preheat the oven before you mix ingredients. This allows you time to mix the dough while the oven reaches the appropriate baking temperature.

  • Be familiar with baking terms so you can follow recipe instructions accurately.

  • Mix ingredients together according to recipe directions. Cookie recipes often call for dry ingredients to be mixed together and set aside. Then, when liquid ingredients are mixed together, the two are combined.

Baking the Cookies

In the oven. A cookie recipe lists a baking time in a range, such as “10-12 minutes.” The span allows for variances in ingredients and ovens. Begin checking your cookies at the shortest baking time. Recipes often provide an indicator as to when cookies are considered “done,” such as “edges are golden brown.”

After baking. Follow the recipe directions for what to do with the cookies once you remove them from the oven. Some cookies need to set on the baking sheet before they are transferred to a wire cooling rack. Other cookies need to be sliced right away.  

Personalize Your Cookie Recipes

Write notes on your recipe to remind yourself about what you learned for the next time you make a cookie recipe. As you keep track over the years over what you've learned in the kitchen, you will develop all kinds of tips and tricks.


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