Should cookie dough be cooled before baking?

If you are preparing a tank of edible cookie dough without intending to cook any, feel free to grab a spoon and dig in as soon as you turn off your blender. But if you hope to produce batches of best chocolate chip cookies never (or another biscuit variety), there’s a step you shouldn’t skip before dropping dough balls onto a cookie sheet.

You must first let your dough spend some time in the refrigerator. There are a few main reasons why this is important, which involve the shape, texture, and even the flavor of your cookies.

As Taste of Home Reports, cooling the cookie dough gives the butter a chance to harden, which means it will take longer to melt once in the oven. This way, your dough balls will spread out more slowly, producing compact, chewy cookies. Otherwise, you’ll end up with thin cookies with lots of surface area and less density than you’d like. (And if you cut cookie dough into specific shapes, foregoing refrigeration can result in unidentifiable pancake-like drips.)

“In terms of texture, chilled cookie dough produces a more evenly golden brown cookie with a crispier edge and chewier center,” Caitlin Haught Brown, food stylist and recipe developer, says

This beautiful golden brown color occurs in part because refrigeration allows the flour to break down and your wet and dry ingredients to mix more completely. This process, according to Food & Winealso produces more developed and decadent flavors.

As for how long it takes to cool your dough, it depends on how much time you have. Leaving it in the fridge overnight is ideal, but an hour or even 30 minutes should also suffice. If you are in a hurry, Food & Wine recommends bypassing the fridge and sticking your pre-formed cookie dough balls straight into the freezer for a good 15 minutes before pastry shop.

[h/t Food & Wine]