How to Make Picture-Perfect Cookies

by Jennifer on February 7, 2013

in Drop Cookies, The Basics

How to Make Picture-Perfect Cookies by Not Your Momma's Cookie

Would you believe that these two cookies are from the same dough? It’s true!

We all want cookies that are tasty. That’s a given. But, wouldn’t it be nice to make beautiful, bakery-worthy cookies too? It’s easier than you think! I’ll show you a couple of tricks that will transform any cookie into a thing of beauty. (I used this cookie dough recipe)

1. Consider various colors/textures. 

You can add almost anything to a drop cookie base. I started with the same dough for these cookies and divided it into two, separate bowls:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (2)

In one bowl, I mixed in white chocolate chips:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (3)

Not too exciting, right? In the other, I added white chocolate chips AND chopped apricots and pecans:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (4)

Already, this cookie is going to be more colorful and interesting. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

2. Use a cookie scoop for uniform cookies

How to Make Perfect Cookies (5)

Cookie scoops are the bomb. Having uniformly shaped cookies not only makes them more attractive, it also ensures that they cook evenly.

For my “ugly” cookies, I used the ‘ol two spoon scoop method:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (6)

What a pain! And, it was difficult to make sure that my cookies were the correct size.

For the “pretty” cookies, I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup (the recipe called for 1/4 cup, and none of my cookie scoops are that big!)

How to Make Perfect Cookies (9)

Even if you don’t have a cookie scoop, a small measuring cup works too!

3. Use parchment paper/Silpat/etc. 

I’m a parchment paper addict. It helps your cookies cook more evenly. Use it!

4. Do not flatten! (unless the recipe says so)

For some reason, a lot of people flatten their cookies before baking. Maybe they’re worried that they will have a weird, towering cookie? That’s not going to happen. Flat cookies are not as pretty as tall cookies, so don’t flatten! (I flattened the “ugly” cookies before baking)

5. The jagged-dough ball method

It sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? Trust me – you’ll want to memorize this trick!

Start with a dough ball of the correct size according to your recipe:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (10)

Now, take the dough ball and begin to tear it into two separate balls:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (11)

This is mid-tear.

You will end up with two smaller pieces of dough with jagged edges on one side:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (13)

Now, gently smush them together, the jagged side up:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (15)

This adds wonderful texture and dimension to your cookies.

So, here are my cookies right before going into the oven:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (17)

Very different already! Tall and majestic on the left, sad and flat on the right. I put them in together for the same amount of time, and here’s the result:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (21)

Wowza! Look at the height difference too:

How to Make Perfect Cookies (20)

Now, go make some perfect looking cookies pronto!

Leave a Comment

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel February 7, 2013 at 10:11 am

OMG, I LOVE the tip about ripping the dough ball in half–works every time, right?! I used to be a cookie flattener. Granted, I also consistently had flat, sad, weirdo cookies that nobody wanted haha. Actually, I used the term “cookie” loosely since it was more like a wonky flying saucer. Great tips, girl!


2 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 11:58 am

I used to be a cookie flattener too – there is just something so tempting about those dough balls that makes you want to do it! 🙂


3 susie February 7, 2013 at 11:14 am

well I just got home from a workout and an egg white omelet. I’d eat either or both of those cookies right now! I do love dried apricots and white chocolate in my cookies!!!! They are visually way more interesting!


4 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 11:50 am

They are pretty tasty cookies 🙂 The base is my favorite for mixing in lots of different, yummy things!


5 Michelle @ MakeMeCake.Me February 7, 2013 at 11:34 am

I’ve never seen the tearing the cookie dough ball in half trick and I love it! Great post Jennifer!


6 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 11:49 am

I found that trick many years ago online – it makes a huge difference! 🙂


7 Sue {munchkin munchies} February 7, 2013 at 11:39 am

Wow, what a difference! I especially love your “jagged dough” idea! They look fantastic!


8 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 11:48 am

Thanks, Sue! 🙂


9 Janine - February 7, 2013 at 11:53 am

The difference is amazing! I wish I would have known about the jagged dough method before making my funfetti cookies. Remembering this for next cookie baking adventure for sure!


10 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 11:56 am

Thanks, Janine! It does make a huge difference 🙂


11 Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts February 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm

I never flatten my cookies – but living at altitude, that just happens 🙁 Depends on the dough, some are great and stay fluffy. Others, no matter what I do they flatten! So frustrating, I am a super thick and chewy cookie kind of girl. But I love the breaking the dough in half tip – it also gives you lots of chocolate (of mix ins) on the top!


12 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I had no idea that a higher altitude could result in flat cookies – what a bummer 🙁 I hope the jagged cookie dough method helps at least!


13 Mike @ Semi Sweet February 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Holy cow! These are awesome tips!!! I never even heard of the jagged dough method. And, boy, what a difference! I pinned this post! Thanks for sharing!!


14 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Thanks, Mike! It definitely revolutionized my cookies! 🙂


15 Melissa {Simply Sweets by Honeybee} February 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I LOVE this tip! I’m always looking for ways to improve my baking & love when people openly share their knowledge. Beautiful cookies!


16 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Thanks, Melissa! 🙂


17 Laura February 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Wow, interesting! Thanks so much for sharing this! 🙂


18 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm

You’re welcome, Laura! 🙂


19 Samantha February 7, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Wow!! What an amazing difference! I’ve heard this before, but never seen the side by side comparison!
Beautiful pictures and great tip!


20 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Thanks so much, Samantha! 🙂


21 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious February 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Great tutorial! And that height difference is amazing!


22 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Thanks, Chung-Ah! It’s a little trick that goes a long way 🙂


23 SraLujan February 7, 2013 at 3:33 pm

My cookies are generally pretty beautiful, if I do say so myself, but that “jagged dough” trick? That looks like it would take them to the next level of beautiful. Thanks for the tip! I’m trying it out soon.


24 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm

You’re welcome! 🙂


25 Lillian February 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm

If you want to avoid the flat disc cookies, make sure that your dough and cookie sheet go in the oven COLD.

I even roll the dough into small balls using a tablespoon measure and freeze them, then when the oven is hot, I put them on the tray and bake for a short time. (Tiny cookies are awesome because you can eat more of them) 😉


26 Marlyn February 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm

That’s the best tip I’ve seen in a while, thanks so much.


27 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Aww, thanks so much, Marlyn! I’m such a huge fan of your awesome video tutorials 🙂


28 Paula February 7, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Great post! I never heard of the divided/united cookie dough ball trick before. Must give it a try.


29 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Thanks so much, Paula! It is one of my favorite, little tricks 🙂


30 Patricia @ ButterYum February 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm

What a great comparison to show side by side. 🙂


31 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm

I know – I never thought the difference would be so dramatic! It was a fun, little experiment 🙂


32 Lizy B February 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Love it!!!


33 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Thanks, Elizabeth! 🙂


34 Agos February 7, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Great tips! I’ve used the jagged method before, but it works best with cold dough and I usually don’t have time to refrigerate it D: So my cookies turn out ugly and flat, but still delicious hehe.
By the way, don’t regular ice cream scoops hold 1/4 cup?


35 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Delicious is the most important trait for a cookie, by far! 🙂

That’s true – I think many ice cream scoops are about 1/4 cup, I just wanted a more precise measurement!


36 The Partiologist February 7, 2013 at 7:08 pm

I love this idea – I never pick the cookie that’s flat – I always want one that is thick and chewy! Delicious!


37 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Thanks so much, Kim! 🙂


38 The Bearfoot Baker February 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm

I have never done a side by side experiment like this before and the results are incredible! Thanks so much for sharing with us!!


39 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Awww, thanks Lisa! It was actually a lot of fun to do an “experiment” – I definitely see more in my future! 🙂


40 Radhika February 7, 2013 at 7:19 pm

I love both your cookies Jennifer 🙂 Ugly or beautiful they all are delicious looking.


41 Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Awww – thank you, Radhika! I will enjoy any cookie – flat or not!


42 Lene/Not Your Everyday Cookie February 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Great blog post!! I am one of the cookie flatteners! I have no idea where or why I learned that…maybe I should blame my mom (she’s easy to blame it on!).

I also never thought about the jagged cookie pieces! I think I need to make some cookies soon to test this out!
Thanks for sharing!


43 Jennifer February 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I used to be a flattener too! I guess it is the same instinct that causes people to flatten burgers or sandwiches while cooking…it is bad, but you still want to do it! 😉


44 Beth @ The First Year Blog February 7, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Jennifer, you are my favorite person! I saw someone share this post on facebook, and I think I practically looked at all your posts! I love what you’re posting about, and as cheesy as it is to say, you inspire me to keep blogging!
I am excited to keep looking around! Oh, and I liked you on facebook via my personal page and my blog’s page!
Beth @ The First Year Blog


45 Jennifer February 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Aww, Beth, thank you so much! I adore comments like these 🙂 I’ve started following your blog so I can keep up with your posts!


46 Jocelyn @BruCrew Life February 7, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Thick and chewy cookies with lots of texture is how I like my cookies too! Love the tearing in half trick! I need to remember that one!!


47 Jennifer February 9, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Thanks so much, Jocelyn! It is such a great trick 🙂


48 jake February 8, 2013 at 6:07 am

great idea! i want to make some of these now,maybe add dried papaya


49 Jennifer February 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Papaya sounds wonderful! 🙂


50 Lora February 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm

This post has great info but I can’t get past the white chocolate, apricot add ins. I loe that combo.


51 Jennifer February 8, 2013 at 10:00 pm

They were totally delicious, Lora! 🙂


52 Amanda February 8, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Hi Jennifer – does using the jagged-dough ball method change the texture of the cookie? Or just how it looks? Thanks.

(PS – I kinda would eat either cookie – they both look great!)


53 Jennifer February 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Hi Amanda! It changes the “mouth feel” of the cookie slightly – you get more crunchy/chewy contrast because of the the way the jagged edges bake. The internal texture isn’t greatly affected, but you get a much thicker cookie! 🙂


54 GourmetGetaways February 9, 2013 at 6:49 pm

What a great cookie baking lesson, I am now a convert and will use this method from now on 🙂


55 Jennifer February 11, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Awesome – so glad to help! 🙂


56 Ellen Christian February 9, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Awesome tutorial. Thank you so much!


57 Jennifer February 11, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Thank you, Ellen! I hope it is helpful 🙂


58 Sarah February 9, 2013 at 8:37 pm

This post changed my life. For sure. 🙂 Thanks.


59 Jennifer February 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm

So glad to help, Sarah! 🙂


60 Dede February 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Thanks for making this so easy to understand and DO! I will try these tips next time I bake.


61 Jennifer February 11, 2013 at 8:43 pm

You’re welcome, Dede – I hope it helps! 🙂


62 Myranda February 23, 2013 at 1:03 am

WOW!!! I don’t make drop cookies very much, but you can bet that I am looking forward to trying this!!! Thanks!


63 Giuliana February 27, 2013 at 12:36 am

I can’t believed how AMAZING cookies these turned to be. The title of the post was so inviting that I couldn’t resist give it a try and were just like you said “picture perfect” and so delicious too, Thanks!!!!


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