If you’re cooking a slow cooking roast or turkey in the oven, preheating won’t make much of a difference. But when you’re baking (cookies, cakes, biscuits, bread, and more), preheating is a necessary step that you should not avoid. Professional chefs recommend preheating an oven for several reasons including the flavor and texture of the dish.

Starting your baked goods in a cold oven affects cook time and temperature, which will lead to less than favorable results. Baking is all about the chemistry of the ingredients as they unite and then cook. Baking soda, baking powder, and yeast, for example, need the initial high temperature of a preheated oven to ensure the dough rises properly.

Preheating keeps the cooking time within the recipe’s specifications. A cold start in the oven lengthens the cooking time. If you pull the food out of the oven per a cook time that assumes the oven was preheated, your dish may be underdone. A cold start may also impact texture, and there’s nothing worse than a dry, hard cookie or biscuit. To ensure your baked goods brown to perfection and have the airy, light, and flaky consistency that you desire, be sure not to skip the preheat step!

How to Preheat Your Oven

You’ve decided to bake some cookies. Yum!

Before you get started, you need to preheat your oven. Even before you start collecting ingredients from the cupboard, turn on the oven. This will ensure the oven is fully preheated by the time you’re ready to put the dish in the oven. These simple steps will get you started with preheating your oven:

  1. Check the temperature stated on the recipe. You don’t want the oven to preheat to 425 degrees if the recipe calls for a preheated oven of 325 degrees.
  2. Turn on your oven and set the controls to the preheat temperature listed on your recipe.
  3. Listen for your oven’s “I’m Ready!” cue. Most ovens will alert you once the temperature reaches the oven setting: Some ovens will beep, others have a temperature indicator, others will have a light that will go on. Some models, like old gas ovens, do not have these indicators. Instead, the gas will shut off. Alice Medrich recommends listening at the oven’s door for the silence that indicates that the gas has shut off.
  4. Use timers and thermometers. A timer prevent you from forgetting that something is in the oven! You may also want to use a thermometer to ensure the cooking temperature is precise.

Be sure that your cooking or baking pursuits turn out well, don’t forget to preheat the oven!