How to Make Chewy Cookies
Baking 101 on on May 1 2018 by Bob's Red Mill

How to Make Chewy Cookies

Sometimes, it seems that no matter what you do, even if you are using the exact same ingredients and the exact same methods, your cookies never turn out quite the same. You struggle constantly trying to figure out how to make chewy cookies, and it seems no matter what you do, the textures always wind up wildly different, and you are at a loss as to why. What this all boils down to, dear reader, is cookie chemistry. Cookie chemistry can be summed up by determining what your interactions are (or will be) with flour, salt, and granulated sugar, as well as your planned baking times and temperatures. Sometimes you can use the exact same recipe, yet vary the cooking technique or the preparation technique (such as using finely processed nuts and chocolate instead of chunky nuts and chocolate), and your cookies will not turn out the same. Again, this is largely due to chemistry. Cookie chemistry. Sounds fun, right? Additionally, even variations like the type of oven you use, the type of baking pans or cookie sheets you use, the type of sugar you use for your cookies, and even the weather and microclimate inside your kitchen can all affect your baking endeavors. That means even if you follow a recipe down to every jot and tittle, your results will likely be different than my results. Whether you love a chewy chocolate chip cookie or you prefer a peanut butter cookie recipe, following this guide will help you bake a chewier cookie no matter which variety you choose. With that said, here are some basic rules of the road you can follow to help give your cookies that chewy, delicious texture you're desperately seeking.

What’s in a Chewy Cookie?

Well, the long and short answer to chewy cookies is it’s all about the moisture content. Cookies that are dense and chewy incorporate more moisture into the batter. This can be achieved by making substitutions with ingredients, or even just changing the way you incorporate certain ingredients. Plus, your particular baking technique and your method of storing cookies can also play a role.

Substitute or Add Ingredients

Sometimes, depending on your recipe, you can add or sub out ingredients with good results. Who says baking cookies has to follow some rulebook anyway? Um, except the rules of science. But you can make subtle as well as some not-so-subtle variations in your recipe and achieve a desired result without sacrificing flavor or texture. Use Brown Sugar In most cookie recipes, some type of sweetener is required. Usually, it's sugar, and often it is white sugar. However, you can use brown sugar as well, since brown sugar contains more moisture. Try substituting brown sugar for white sugar on a one-to-one basis, or you can try subbing out most of your white granulated sugar for brown, but still leave a small percentage white. For instance, if you need 2 cups of sugar, you could use 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar instead. It's all about experimentation, so try it and see what happens. Keep in mind that brown sugar will also give your cookies a more caramelized color and deeper flavor, which is excellent. Add Molasses or Honey Another way to add more moisture to your cookies is incorporate a tablespoon of molasses into a standard-sized cookie recipe. Don't use any more than a tablespoon, because it will make your cookies very sweet and runny. One tablespoon is just enough. If you do not like the strong flavor of molasses, try honey instead. Replace Butter with Vegetable Shortening Because butter contains milk solids, fat, and water, using butter can cause steaming while baking, which can dry out your cookies. However, vegetable shortening is made up entirely of fat, so it doesn't have this problem. It also melts at higher temperatures, which gives your cookie batter more time to rise. This helps retain moisture and makes your cookies chewier. If you can't stand not having that butter flavor, you can try butter-flavored shortening, or you can try splitting the required amounts between butter and shortening. Always use a one-to-one ratio when replacing butter with shortening. Double Your Yolks Most cookie recipes call for at least one egg. You can try omitting the white of each egg, which tends to dry out when baked, and replacing it with an additional yolk Plus, egg yolks have more fat than egg whites, which helps to keep your cookies moist and chewy. Use Baking Powder You can try using baking powder instead of baking soda. This will keep your cookie from spreading as much because powder is more acidic. Remember that the thinner your cookies are, the less moisture they will have, which is why using baking powder can be helpful.

Try Different Baking Techniques

Another way to make your cookies chewy is to try different baking techniques and adjustments, and make sure you are using the right tools for baking as well as mixing your cookie batter. Adjust Your Oven Temps You can try turning the temperature down when baking. A lot of cookie recipes use 350°F as the preferred temperature, but if you lower it to 325°F, your cookies will cook a little slower and retain more moisture. Shorten Your Baking Time Another way to keep your cookies chewy and tender is to try baking them for less time. Especially if you’ve made them before and they came a little crunchy, you can shorten the time and see what happens. Try cooking them until the edges are golden, and the centers are still soft and not quite set. Use Proper Measuring Cups and Spoons This might seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to remember that there are different measuring utensils for both wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Though they might hold the same amount in volume, if you use the wrong measure for the wrong type of ingredient, you can mess up your ingredient ratios and wind up with cookies that aren't nearly as chewy or tasty as you intended. For instance, if you measure out milk or oil into a dry measuring cup, it won't give you the same amount as a liquid measuring cup will. This is because when you use a dry measuring cup, you are likely to spill if you fill it all the way to the top. This means that you aren’t using the full amount of liquid the recipe calls for, and it will affect your results. Rest the Dough A secret baker's trick is to rest your cookie dough in the fridge. You can rest it for at least an hour, which will evaporate some of the water and increase the sugar content, helping to keep your cookies chewy. The longer you allow your dough to rest in the fridge, the chewier your cookies will be. Some professionals even rest the dough for several days. Consider Your Cookie Sheets Another thing to think about is what type of cookie sheet you are using. Different styles and different colors can change your result. Additionally, if you use a baking sheet that has grease baked onto them, or pans that are dark in color, you will have crispier bottoms and middles that are not quite done. One smart tip is to decide what kind of baking sheet you want to use, and then only use that sheet to bake cookies. Don't use it to bake anything else. This will help ensure that it is ready to be used when the time comes, and it will cook your cookies perfectly. The cookie sheets that yield the best results typically have low or no sides and are lighter in color. You can also lay parchment paper on your your baking tray to help your cookies bake evenly and keep the bottoms from getting too brown, too fast. This will result in a chewier cookie that has a slightly crispy edge to it. Store Properly Allow your cookies to cool completely, then store them in an airtight container once they reach room temperature. If you leave them out too long, they will begin to dry out. It is definitely best to store them in an airtight container, whether that’s a Tupperware bowl, a cookie jar with a sealed lid, or a Ziploc bag. Just make sure they are fully cooled, because if they are still hot when you store them, they can fall apart.

Making Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of the most popular types of cookie is chocolate chip. Two ways that you can help make sure your chocolate chip cookies come out soft and chewy is to add a packet of cook and serve vanilla pudding mix to the batter, or add finely shredded chocolate instead of chunkier chocolate. The smaller chocolate particles will melt faster and create more moisture in your cookies. Soft chocolate chip cookies are highly prized, and if you master the art of making them, all of your friends and family will request them over the holidays! As you can see, learning how to make chewy cookies isn't difficult. It's all about cookie chemistry and being willing to experiment in the kitchen. Sometimes your experiments will fail, but that's okay, it's all part of the learning process. And when you find that perfect cookie recipe and cooking technique, you will make delicious, chewy cookies every time.

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22 Comments

  1. John Antista
    That article on a more chewy cookie was very helpful. I can't wait to try out the suggestions
    Reply
  2. Donandrea stemle
    I love the way you spoke to the reader and explained the processes and the chemistry. I took away so much valuable valuable information. I’ve been making cookies for years and I now have enough knowledge to incorporate the science behind the processes. Thank you so much!
    Reply
  3. Michele
    1. why do you add vinegar in yr chocolate chip cookie recipe? does this contribute to the softness?

    2. does adding cream cheese help to make softer cookies? if so, what is the recommended flour percentage?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Michele - Those are interesting questions. I'd guess that vinegar would be added to a cookie to react with baking soda, producing carbon dioxide and making the cookies rise. Cream cheese would likely result in a softer, more tender cookie.
      Reply
  4. Charisse Basilio
    Charisse Basilio
    Hello chef,wow ur suggestions are so amazing!!!!ii tried chocolate cookies the other day,but it was so runny and dry..it cme out very thin and crispy instead of chewy.so verry happy i stumbled in ur page.can i ask if whats the best flour to use?bread flour or all purpose flour only?or can i mix it???hope u can read my comment.thank u so much!!!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi - For a chewy cookie, try the suggestions above and use Artisan Bread Flour or a 50/50 mix of Artisan Bread Flour and All Purpose Flour. Enjoy!
      Reply
  5. Carlos
    The tips in baking cookies is awesome. Thanks a lot.
    Reply
  6. Hung
    Hello there, first, I want to express that these information are very valuable and I will definitely try them in the near future.
    Secondly I really want your advice, I hope that you could help me. The recipe I used call for 2 & 1/4 cup of flour with 1 & 1/4 cup of sugar but I don't like it very sweet so I only use 1/2 cup of sugar (half of it is brown sugar) and it didn't turn out chewy at all. So does the sugar content has big effect in the chewy-ness? If so what could I put in the batter so preserve the same sweetness but make it chewy? Also I saw on another website said that over mixing the batter is a no-go for chewy cookie as well, is it true?
    Reply
  7. Cynthia Hill
    These comments were very helpful for me. I plan on baking a lot of cookies with walnuts in them over the Holidays and these comment gave me a lot of wonderful options. Thank you
    Reply
  8. Robin Weintraub
    Hi!
    My mom graduated from UCLA in 1930 with a major in Chemistry. She needed a job and became a Home Economics teacher. She enjoyed her profession for over 30 years. At home, she was an incredible cook and baker. I didn’t realize until after her death that chemistry is at the heart of all cooking and baking! You certainly underscored that! Thank you so much! Sincerely, Robin Weintraub
    Reply
  9. Sonya
    Thank you for this very informative article. Time to invest in cookie sheets and butter flavored shortening.
    Reply
  10. Dianne
    FINALLY LOL - someone who actually gave me some hints on chewy cookies that actually makes sense. Thank you so much for giving me the tips AND explaining what you have suggested in a way ALL bakers can understand.
    Reply
  11. Judith Holleran
    I gained a lot of valuable information from this article. I do not bake a lot but have a passion for chocolate chip cookies, so the information in this article is timely for me. Thank you for sharing your tips and expertise.
    Reply
  12. Morgan Vierheller
    Morgan Vierheller
    Is coconut oil a suitable substitute for butter? I appreciate the level of detail in your narrative. I have been using your products with great success for many years; thank you.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Morgan, it depends on the recipe but yes - Coconut Oil can be used as a substitute for butter. Take care to notice how the butter is used in the recipe and mimic that with the coconut oil for best results. For example, if you're making a cookie that calls for melted butter, use melted coconut oil. If you're making a pie crust that calls for cold, cubed coconut oil, make sure to use solid, cold coconut oil. Happy baking!
      Reply
  13. Kris
    Please advise on adding pudding powder to the cookie dough. What size pudding package do you recommend adding to classic Tollhouse recipe using 10oz chips? Do you add to or replace equal amount of flour? Thank you.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Kris - Hm, that's not something we've tried in our Test Kitchen. I'd suggest going with a tested recipe - like this one: Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
      Reply
  14. Van Dyke Arlene
    Was wondering if lard could be used in place of shortening?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi! Yes, you can replace shortening with lard when baking. I'd recommend leaf lard when baking sweets as it has a more neutral flavor.
      Reply
  15. Susan Okamoto
    Susan Okamoto
    I think there's a difference between "soft" and "chewy." I don't particularly care for soft, cake-like cookies (Some of the commercial "soft & chewy" cookies are awful!), but I do like really chewy ones that would be way too much for toothless people to handle. They are a nice alternative to crunchy ones. Since the instructions here are aimed at a "soft and chewy" texture, I won't try them. Instructions for really chewy cookies (and brownies!) would be much appreciated.
    Reply
  16. Roger Sitterly
    Re adding vinegar to cookie dough to react with the baking soda is excellent. Instead of that, however, my grandmother added about a teaspoon of lemon juice - it's acidic and does the same thing as vinegar -- plus it added just the slightest bit of flavoring as well.
    Reply
  17. Lisie
    That was really helpful thank you so much ! I suspected the missing ingredient was mélasse, I tried it once and it made a great difference. Sadly mélasse is way harder to find in France, it's not something we use very much (I could use honey but I find that it leaves a taste in the cookies, and sadly the more tasteless the honey, the more likely it is to be of poor quality). I did find dates sirup though, do you think it could be like mélasse ?
    Reply

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