Here's The Biggest Mistake You're Making When Baking Cookies

The Delish team has made (and eaten) more than our fair share of chocolate chip cookie recipes. Keto, air fryer, brown butter, vegan, even slow cooker; you name it, we've done it. But as much as we love riffing on the beloved flavor combo, sometimes there's nothing better than the original.

Our senior food editor and resident baking expert Makinze Gore has cracked the code for the ultimate classic chocolate chip cookie. After a whopping 17 rounds of testing, she created a cookie with a soft, fudgy center and delightfully crispy edges. It has everything you want in a small, chocolatey package.

There are a few elements of this recipe that distinguish it from the store-bought stuff. But one step that really takes these cookies to the next level requires nothing but patience (and serious restraint): chilling the dough over night.

chocolate chip cookies

We know, we know. When you're craving a warm, gooey cookie, the last thing you want to do is wait for it. But trust us: letting the dough hang out in the fridge a full 24 hours makes a major difference for the texture, flavor, and appearance of your finished cookie.

"It bakes more evenly, it tastes better, it helps make the cookie fudgier," says Gore. "It's worth it, I promise."

You can keep the dough in the fridge for a minimum of four hours if you're feeling especially impatient. But according to Gore, the longer the better.

The reason behind this method comes down to science. The longer the dough chills, the more the moisture is absorbed by the sugar and evaporated into the air. By the time you bake, the sweet, buttery flavor is more concentrated than when you first mixed it together.

"Four hours is obviously enough time to let it chill," Gore says. "But to get more flavor out of your dough, 24 is great."

The fridge also improves the cookie's texture and appearance. Our recipe starts with melted butter, which means chilling the dough is essential so that the fat can resolidify.

"The butter retains its integrity better [and] doesn’t melt straight away when you put the cookies in the oven," says Delish food director Rob Seixas. This means instead of ending up with a wide and flat cookie, your finished treats will be taller and have that soft, slightly chewy center you know and love.

Another perk, according to Seixas, is that your cookies will reach the optimal level of golden brown and crispy. "Resting and chilling leads to better caramelization," he says.

Beyond just having a more concentrated flavor, the slightly dried out dough means there's a higher ratio of sugar—AKA more caramelized goodness on the cookie's exterior.

Still unsure if chilling the dough is worth it? Check out the finished results for yourself (and learn a few more tips) in the video below:

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