How to Bake Picture-Perfect Cookies

Here are 5 simple tricks for making your homemade cookies look their best!

How to bake perfectly pretty cookies on

What takes ordinary homemade cookies from good to WOW?

What gets you over a thousand likes on a cookie photo on Instagram?

Just a few extra minutes and five easy tricks can make all the difference. Keep reading to see how I make the prettiest, most picture-perfect homemade cookies.

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To give you an idea of what a little cookie finessing can do, take a look at this photo:

How to bake perfectly pretty cookies on

What’s the difference between the cookies on the left and the ones on the right? They’re both made from the same batch of cookie dough, and yes, they all look scrumptious. But the ones on the left? They’re ready for their close-up.

How to bake perfectly pretty cookies on

Step 1: Prepare cookie dough

For best results— and fewer surprises— stick to the recipe as written. Most of my cookie blunders happen when I try to play around with ingredients and ratios. I’ll admit that a few of my favorite cookie creations were the result of experimenting, so I’m definitely not discouraging that altogether. But if you’re in charge of cookies for a potluck, or are hoping to impress others with your baking prowess, it’s probably best to save the experimenting for another day.

Looking for cookie recipes? Check out my cookie archives. Also, the cookies shown in this post are my tried-and-true brown butter chocolate chip cookies. They’re my favorite go-to for all occasions.

How to bake perfectly pretty cookies on

Step 2: Use a scoop

For uniform cookies, I always use a scoop. My favorite are OXO brand and they come in small, medium, and large. I use the medium scoop for everyday cookies and the large scoop for more impressive bakery-style cookies.

How to bake perfectly pretty cookies on

Step 3: Roll the dough

Rolling the balls of dough before baking will encourage the cookies to keep a round shape. I never miss this step!

How to bake perfectly pretty cookies on

Step 4: Save some mix-ins for the top

This step is every food photographer’s secret weapon for beautiful cookies. Don’t let the cookie dough swallow up and hide all of the fun mix-ins you’ve added, like chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, or nuts. Reserve 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the mix-ins called for in the recipe to stick into the cookie dough mounds before baking. Odd numbers always look nice, but aim for between 3-5 mix-ins per cookie depending on the mix-in and cookie size.

How to bake perfectly pretty cookies on

Step 5: Reshape cookies while they’re hot

And this step is my favorite! It blew my mind when I first figured it out. When cookies come out of the oven they are hot and very malleable. If your cookies come out a little misshapen, all you have to do is use the flat edge of a spatula to press them back into a perfect circle. Just be sure to do this right away as they set up very quickly once they begin to cool.

How to bake perfectly pretty cookies on

Optional: Add a final flourish!

A final sprinkle of coarse salt (I love flaked salt for this) or sanding/sparkling sugar goes a long way to setting your cookies apart from the rest. It’s a small optional step, but can make a big impact.

And that’s it! Picture-perfect cookies every time.

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