Nothing is more disappointing then pulling your cookies—made exactly identical to the recipe—out of the oven and seeing a sheet of flat, crunchy cookies. The timer goes off and my jaw drops. What did I do wrong?

After years of results that just aren't up to par, I took one for all of us unsatisfied bakers out there and went straight to the expert: my mom. Turns out there is so much that recipes don't tell us. But not to worry. I am about to expose all the secrets to perfecting any cookie, so get out your paper and pens, kids, because class is in session.

Freshness Matters—Seriously

tea, beer
Daniela Childers

There are definitely things in life you can take shortcuts on, but if you are looking to bake some high-quality cookies, the freshness of your ingredients is crucial. Making sure your ingredients are fresh goes beyond ensuring they aren't expired. Take brown sugar for example. After a package of brown sugar has been opened for a few weeks, it's going to form hard chunks of sugar, which makes baking with it not ideal. 

All in all, be mindful of how old your ingredients are. Just because it's not expired doesn't mean it's good. When in doubt, just go for something new and fresh. You'll thank me later. 

The Margarine/Butter Combo

milk, cheese, butter, dairy product, sweet, dairy, margarine
Caty Schnack

Chances are whatever recipe your following calls for either a certain amount of margarine or butter. What you may not know is that a combination of the two actually creates the perfect consistency.

Since margarine is softer and melts faster than butter, it's much easier to mix into any batter without leaving behind the chunks that butter often does. On the other hand, butter gives the cookies a nice texture and more flavor. Combine butter and margarine and you get the best of both world.

#SpoonTip: Take the sticks of butter and margarine out of the fridge to soften a half hour before you begin baking. It makes the cookies' texture better than melting them in the microwave.

Bring on the Baking Soda

candy, chocolate, sweet
Jocelyn Hsu

Most recipes call for about two teaspoons of baking soda, but I'm here to tell you no matter the amount the recipe says, you need more. You should by no means just start dumping spoonfuls of baking soda into the bowl, but more baking soda tends to be better than less.

When you increase the amount of baking soda, the cookies become rounder and fluffier. Instead of baking outwards and making large, flat cookies, they rise, becoming small and plump. So just add an extra pinch or two of baking soda and all your flat cookie frets can be cast aside.  

Stir the Batter (To an Extent)

cream, sweet, milk, dairy product
Agnes Chen

You don't have to be an expert baker to know that yes, you need to mix the ingredients. Stirring the batter is obviously an important part in baking, but too much stirring can actually take a toll on the quality of your cookies.

Once all the ingredients are mixed together, stop stirring. The batter thins out, which will drastically change the cookies' consistency. So while you don't want chunky, unmixed cookie dough, you definitely don't want dough that isn't quite solid.

Do Not Over-Bake

cookie, sweet, chocolate, cake, goody, pastry, oatmeal
Zoe Holland

I beg of you. Do not serve burnt or over-baked cookies. Ever. You should always bake the cookies for the minimum amount of time the recipe calls for, because every oven is different and you don't want to take the risk of burning the cookies. If after the minimum amount of time the cookies are still doughy, add one minute at a time.

A good way to tell if the cookies are done is whether or not the tops of the cookies are browning.  Once the tops are a little brown, that's when you should take the cookies out of the oven. Most of the time that means the outsides will be done but not crunchy and the insides will be oh so gooey and good.

Now that you're equipped with all the tips and secrets all those cookie companies have been hiding, you can make those picture-perfect cookies you've been dreaming of. Say goodbye to crunchy, flat, unsatisfying treats and hello to fluffy, chewy, perfection that will blow your friends and family away.