Why are my cookies burnt on the bottom? 9 reasons and how to fix them

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You take your cookies out of the oven, only to find that your beloved chocolate chip or sugar or snickerdoodle creations are burnt on the bottom!

Now you’re here, frantically looking up why your cookies are burnt on the bottom because you’re intent on figuring out what went wrong and how to make it right next time.

If you need some tips on what to do with your current cookies, check out this guide on what to do with burnt cookies if you don’t have time to make some more.

But let’s talk about how you got into this situation and how you can make sure you don’t deal with it again.

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Why did your cookies burn on the bottom?

It could be any one of these 9 things.

The most likely culprit of your burnt cookie bottoms are either baking them too long, not using the correct baking paper, or baking them at too high of a temperature.

Let’s dive into each one so you can narrow it down.

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1. You baked them for too long

The most obvious answer is that your cookies burned on the bottom because you baked them for too long. Maybe the recipe called for 10 minutes, but you accidentally left them in for 15.

Equally, you could just have been following a recipe that was incorrect or obviously not suited to your type of oven.

The best way to avoid this is to keep a close eye on your cookies (don’t walk away during baking) and take them out as soon as the edges start to go golden.

woman icing cookies
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Cookies will continue to bake on the sheet when you take them out of the oven because the baking sheet is still warm, so if you take them out just as they start to look golden on the edges, they’ll finish on the baking sheet.

If you take the cookies out when they look done in the oven, they’ll end up overbaked because they’ll continue baking for a couple of minutes beyond that.

Seriously, try it.

You always need to let cookies rest on the sheet after baking, at which point you’ll find them firm up. If you leave them in the oven until they’re firm, typically you’ll end up with a burnt cookie.

2. Your oven was too hot

Double check the temperature you baked your cookies at.

Was it actually hotter than what was listed on the recipe and you didn’t notice?

mom and daughter putting cookies in oven
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Baking your cookies at too high of a temperature is an easy way to burn the bottoms of your cookies.

Try turning it down 10 degrees the next time and baking it for the same amount of time to see what happens.

3. Your oven is not calibrated correctly

Here’s a really important thing to know: especially if you have a cheaper oven, it’s entirely possible that the heating within it isn’t consistent or isn’t actually what it says on the dial.

You might think you baked your cookies at 350F, but it’s possible that your oven was actually 370F without you knowing.

woman opening oven
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There are oven thermometers you can get that will help you figure out what your oven is actually baking at.

There also may be parts of your oven that bake hotter than others.

Try moving around your cookie sheet to a different place the next time (maybe right or left or in the middle if it wasn’t there before) to see if it changes the problem you have with your cookies burning on the bottom.

4. You used aluminum foil

You should never use aluminum foil to bake cookies on if you want an even bake.

Aluminum foil is going to reflect heat, which is great when we use it on top of our foods to avoid them cooking on top while the middle cooks, but what happens when you put it under your cookies?

aluminum foil
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It is essentially going to make the bottoms of your cookies even hotter than they should be as they’re baking, and it’s very easy to end up with burnt cookie bottoms this way.

You should use a silicone baking mat or baking paper (not wax paper – never use wax paper in the oven). These things are going to help evenly distribute that heat and not funnel it so much into the bottoms of your cookies.

5. You baked them on a dark cookie sheet

It might seem strange, but dark cookie sheets will bake your cookies differently than a light cookie sheet.

It’s generally recommended to use a light cookie sheet rather than a dark one because of the heat that the dark cookie sheet holds (science is cool!)

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A darker cookie sheet is going to heat up the bottoms of your cookies more than a light one, so if you’re having problems with your cookies burning on the bottom, check out the color of the cookie sheet you’re using.

6. You didn’t use baking paper or parchment paper

Did you bake your cookies directly on the baking sheet without using baking paper? This could be a culprit of your burnt cookie bottoms.

Even if your cookie sheet is non-stick, often cooking directly on the cookie sheet will make the bottoms cook faster than they would if you used parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

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This isn’t always a bad thing. You might end up with delicious cookies that you enjoy, but you may need to do other things like adjust the baking time or temperature.

Don’t just book directly on the cookie sheet if you’re having problems with burning your cookies. Adding something in between the cookies and the baking sheet may be just what you need to solve the problem.

7. Your cookie sheet was too close to the heating element

If the heating element in your oven is on the bottom, it might be that you put the cookie sheet on too low a rack.

Typically you want to bake your cookies on a middle rack in your oven, but if you’re having problems with burnt bottoms, go ahead and move the rack up a bit or move it to a higher rack.

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The further the cookies are away from the heating element, the less the chance they will burn.

You may want to adjust the baking time to add a minute or two for the rest of the cookie to bake, but it might just save the bottoms.

8. You didn’t use a buffer between the cookie sheet and the heat

Not everyone needs to do this, but some people find that if they can’t figure out their burnt cookie bottom problem, the best thing to do is actually add another buffer between the heating element and the cookie sheet.

The easiest thing to add is another cookie sheet, so essentially you put a cookie sheet (empty) on your bottom oven rack, then you put your real cookie sheet on the rack above that.

You should still use some parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on your real cookie sheet, but you can just leave the “buffer” one completely empty.

9. You added too much sugar

Let’s go back to your cookie recipe. Sugar, included in almost all cookie recipes, is an essential ingredient.

But what happens if you add too much?

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Adding more sugar than the recipe calls for may lead to burnt cookies, as the sugar will caramelize too much and that leads to crispy and potentially burnt cookies.

Hey! Want more expert cookie baking hacks? Check these out!

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