Which Oven Rack Should You Use To Bake Cookies?

Perhaps more than any other baked good, cookies seem to be able to evoke the simple joys of childhood — when an afterschool Oreo or freshly baked chocolate chip cookie dipped into a glass of ice-cold milk was the single best event of the day. Even as adults, the sweet snacks continue to evoke giddiness and delight, whether your cookie of choice is a soft red velvet cookie, a crispy old-fashioned butter cookie, or a layered chocolate sandwich cookie.

As indulgent as it can be to stop into our favorite local bakery to pick up an after-work cookie (or six), there's truly nothing like baking cookies at home. What could be better, after all, than nibbling raw cookie dough, taking in the sweet scent of the cookies as they bake, and getting to enjoy the still-warm treats just seconds out of the oven? Fortunately, most cookie recipes don't require professional baker levels of skill — just some good ingredients, patience, and a hot oven. And speaking of that last factor, baking temperature and time are probably two of the most critical factors to ensuring your cookies will turn out perfectly — as well as where you decide to place the rack inside that toasty oven.

Choose the oven's middle rack when baking cookies

If you regularly bake cookies but aren't quite sure which rack to slide your treats onto, let us answer that right now: It's the middle rack. Most ovens heat from the bottom, according to Taste of Home, therefore, any cookies placed on the bottom rack are apt to burn before they're cooked through, and any placed on the top rack will bake slowly and unevenly. The outlet recommends baking cookies on the oven's middle rack, whose temperature is a happy medium between too hot and too cool and is also the part of the oven with the most air circulation. The hot air circulating above, below, and around the cookies will help bake them evenly, ensuring a soft texture. 

But as anyone who has prepped dozens for a holiday cookie swap knows, usually only one sheet of cookies fits on an oven rack — especially if it's placed on the rack horizontally, as recommended by Taste of Home. So if you're juggling several batches, a workaround offered by the outlet is to place one sheet on the top rack and one on the middle rack, add two minutes to the cookies' bake time, and swap the sheets' positions halfway through. So now you know. When it's time to bake cookies, head straight for the happy medium of your oven's middle rack.