Why Do Cookies Burn On The Bottom? Here are 7 Reasons!

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I love the delicious smell of fresh cookies in the oven… wait, do you smell something burning?

I grab the cookie sheet from the oven and place it on the countertop. The tops of the cookies look delicious! They’re a perfect golden brown and evenly baked. I look at the bottom of the cookies and, uh-oh, they’re burnt!

It happens to the best of us. Here is why this happens when baking cookies and how to prevent burned cookies.

 7 Reasons Why Your Cookies Are Burning

burnt cookies

There are several reasons why your cookies burn on the bottom. It has nothing to do with your baking abilities and everything to do with your oven and cookie sheet.

  1. You could be using the wrong-colored sheet: Dark cookie sheets absorb more heat.
  2. You may be greasing your cookie sheet: Using a non-stick spray or buttering your cookie sheet can cause your cookies to over brown.
  3. You may not be using parchment paper: Using parchment paper prevents your cookies from burning and sticking.
  4. Your oven rack may not be in the right position: Your oven rack position should be in the center of your oven.
  5. You may be putting more than one cookie sheet in your oven: Putting more than one cookie sheet in your oven can cause poor heat circulation.
  6. Your cookies’ bake time may slightly vary from what’s instructed: Your cookies may be ready to come out of the oven before the estimated time.
  7. Your temperature readings may be off: Your oven temperature may be hotter than what it states.

 How To Avoid Burning Your Cookies

 Use a Light-Colored Cookie Sheet

piping cookies light colored cookie sheet

Dark baking sheets are useful for making food crispy, foods such as frozen French fries or potato wedges. Dark cookie sheets absorb extra heat, causing your cookies to burn on the bottom.

Glass pans aren’t recommended for cookies as they also cause them to over brown.

Using a completely flat, rimless cookie sheet allows heat to circulate to the cookies and promotes even baking.

Instead, use a light grey or dull aluminum baking sheet. Silicone baking pans are also a good choice because they cook the bottoms at the same rate as they do the tops. Shiny, thin cookie sheets tend to work the best and bake cookies evenly.

SEE ALSO: Can Silicone Go In The Oven?

 Do Not Butter or Grease Your Cookie Sheet

Cookies have enough fat in them to prevent them from sticking to your pan. When you add butter or grease to the pan, the bottoms of the cookies sizzle in that extra grease and it causes them to burn. In short, ungreased cookie sheets are usually the way to go!

If a recipe calls for a greased cookie sheet, spread a thin coat of shortening on the bottom and sides of the pan. Shortening spreads less than butter and melts at a higher temperature, which reduces the chance of your cookies burning.

 Use Parchment Lined Cookie Sheets

cookie dough on parchment paper

Using parchment paper to bake cookies not only makes cleanup super easy but also ensures that your cookies are cooked perfectly every time.

Parchment paper is oil-resistant, which means your cookies won’t be sizzling and possibly burning in their grease.

It also prevents the heat of your metal pan from scorching the bottom of your cookies. Not only that, but it keeps your cookies from sticking to the pan and falling apart!

Most brands of parchment paper can withstand heat up to 425 degrees. If your recipe calls for a temperature above this, you should skip the parchment paper to avoid any unwanted flames in your oven.

 Make Sure Your Oven Rack Is Positioned Correctly

Your oven rack should be positioned in the center of your oven. This allows for optimal heat circulation.

If your oven rack is positioned too high, you could burn the top of your cookies.

If your oven rack is positioned too low, you could burn the bottom of your cookies.

 Only Use One Baking Sheet At A Time

putting cookies in the oven single sheet

Using more than one baking sheet at a time can restrict airflow. In most ovens, the heating element is located at the bottom of the oven.

If you have a pan on the top rack, the cookies will likely be undercooked; if you have a pan on the bottom rack, the cookies will likely burn. It is best to have one baking sheet in the oven at a time.

If you need to make a large batch of cookies fast, it is possible to have two pans in the oven at once. This is only possible if you are keeping a close eye on the cookies and rotating them halfway through.

 Set Your Timer Early

If you have tried all of the tips listed above and still end up with burnt cookies, you may need to set your timer a few minutes early.

All ovens are different, and the cookie recipe you are using wasn’t developed in your oven, so your cookies may be finished baking before the time listed on the instructions.

 Make Sure Your Temperature Readings Are Accurate

Your oven may be getting hotter than the desired temperature. You can place an oven thermometer on the center rack and set your oven to 350 degrees. Let your oven preheat for 20 minutes, and then get a temperature reading.

If the temperature is slightly higher than 350 degrees, your temperature readings are off, and you may need to adjust your temperature while baking. If the recipe instructs you to bake at 425 degrees, try baking at 400 degrees.

You could also sacrifice a few cookies. Place one cookie in the oven at a time; one at 375 degrees, one at 400 degrees, and one at 425 degrees. See which cookie bakes to your liking and bake at that temperature from now on.

 Final Thoughts

Accidents happen; everybody will make a batch of burnt cookies at least once in their life.

Always remember to use a light-colored baking sheet, never grease your pan (unless instructed), use parchment paper, use the center rack, only use one baking sheet, set your timer early, and/or check your oven temperature.

Using these tips will minimize your chances of ending up with a batch of cookies with burnt bottoms.

Written By Justin Micheal

Justin is not just the creator but also an author and editor for KitchenSanity. He does the majority of the cooking at home with his wife. His friends and family look forward to eating his delicious creations, which often leads to many questions about how they can replicate his meals at home. In his writing, he shares his passion and knowledge as a home chef from his kitchen to yours.