The Only Way I Roll Out Cookies as a Pro Baker

The Only Way I Roll Out Cookies as a Pro Baker

In Baking Hows, Whys, and WTFs, food editor Shilpa Uskokovic will answer your burning baking questions and share her tips and tricks for flawless sweets. Today: What’s the best way to roll out cookie dough?

Last December my coworker Meryl Rothstein messaged me about gingerbread cookies: Could she make the dough in advance, even if the recipe didn’t say so? The answer was. “yes, most definitely,” accompanied by my unsolicited advice to roll the cookie dough out after mixing, and before chilling. To which Meryl said: “Wow, great idea. You should write about this, you know.” So here I am.

It took this conversation with Meryl to realize just how many recipes for cutout cookies instruct you to chill the dough, then roll out portions on a floured surface. I’ve often found this messy and inconvenient. Pre-rolled or sheeted dough is common practice in most professional kitchens. Here’s why so many pastry chefs and bakers favor this technique.

It’s easier to roll. Freshly mixed cookie dough is more pliant, rolling into thin sheets with far less effort than a chilled block of dough. It takes less elbow grease and there’s little to no risk of jagged, cracked edges.

It saves you time. Why make a room-temperature dough and chill it, only to bring it back to room temperature, roll it out, then chill again before cutting and baking? Make it make sense. (You can’t. It doesn’t.) Sheeting your dough is much more logical and efficient. You roll out just-mixed dough, chill, cut, bake, done.

It saves space in your fridge. If you’re baking a lot of cookies, sheeting your dough can be an efficient use of space. Instead of towering bricks of dough in your fridge, a rimmed baking pan can hold 6–10 dough sheets and slip into a narrow horizontal gap in your fridge.

Your cookies will be more tender. Rolling cookie dough between parchment eliminates the need to dust the dough with flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. The more flour introduced, the higher the chances of tough, dry cookies. Sheeted dough promises tender, buttery cookies, just the way they’re meant to be.

Here’s how to roll out cookies like a pro

Get two sheets of parchment paper that fit your rimmed baking sheet. My go-to is a half-sheet size for both the parchment and the baking sheet—just make sure it fits in your fridge.

Place your dough on the bottom sheet of parchment. For recipes that yield more than a dozen cookies, you’ll likely have to work in batches of two or more.

Cover the dough with the second sheet of parchment. Rock your rolling pin back and forth over the parchment to flatten the dough.

Roll out the dough, turning the whole package frequently for even thickness. If the parchment bunches up in the dough—this can happen if the dough is very soft—tug it out and smooth it with the rolling pin.

Sheeting your dough is much more logical and efficient. You roll out just-mixed dough, chill, cut, bake, done.

Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Thu Buser

Once the dough is rolled to your desired thickness (generally between ⅛–¼” thick), transfer the dough package to a rimmed baking sheet. Stick in the fridge and repeat the parchment-rolling process with any remaining cookie dough. Chill for at least an hour and up to 5 days. (If you’re chilling for longer than an hour, wrap the baking sheet tightly in plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying out.)

When you’re ready to bake, flip the dough package so the parchment paper that was on the bottom is now on top; peel it away and discard (or reuse it for baking the cookies). Stamp out your cookies while the dough is still very cold. Use a small offset spatula to dislodge the cookies from the paper, then transfer them to a baking sheet. Bake right away—no need to chill again.

Stop, drop, and roll:

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