Cookies Problems and Solutions: Why are My Cookies Flat?

Sometimes baking cookie recipes can present problems, but we have solutions to the most commonly asked questions. If you have additional questions, please post them in our Forum, and we will be happy to answer them. 

Dough too sticky to roll Dough is not thoroughly chilled or too little flour. Cover and chill dough.
Dough is too dry Too much flour Dribble in vegetable oil until the dough reaches desired consistency.
Dough cracks when rolling Dough is too cold Cover dough and let sit at room temperature to warm slightly.
Cookies crumble and are dry and hard Over mixing the dough, over baking, dry fruit/coconut, too much water or a lack of fat. Excessive salt can also cause your cookies to be hard. Stop mixing when the dough is just mixed. Do not overdo it.
Soak dry fruit in water a few minutes to absorb some moisture so it won't take it from the recipe.
Measure salt using measuring spoons. Level top.
Cookies stick to baking pan Cookie sheets not prepared according to the recipe; Cookies are still hot from the oven Use parchment paper to line pans. Or, lightly grease pan before using. (Note: cookies spread more on greased sheets so parchment paper is preferred.)
Let the cookies cool on the pans for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks.
Cookies break when removed from baking sheets Cookies are still hot from the oven. Let the cookies cool on the pans for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks
Cookies bake unevenly Dough was not rolled or portioned to a consistent thickness or size. Spring-release ice cream scoops are handy for forming drop cookies efficiently. They're available in a variety of sizes at kitchenware or restaurant supply stores.
Interior brown spots or spots Develop in small cookies — cooking begins below the surface spots and causes some areas to overbake. Lower oven temperature by 25 degrees F.
Cookies are oily Type of fat used.
Cookie dough was not chilled before baking
Too much fat.
Do not substitute shortening, stick butter or margarine for vegetable oil.
Margarine is softer and more oily than butter. Shortening is the best to use in this case.
Not enough flour.
Cookies fall apart Used diet or whipped spreads. The products are full of air and water. Use stick butter or shortening.
Cookies too puffy All shortening makes cookies puff. Use all butter or half shortening and half butter or all butter.
Bring the dough to room temperature before baking.
Cookies too flat; they spread and thin out while baking Dough was not properly chilled.
Pans were greased too much.
Dough was placed on warm baking sheets
Used a low-fat margarine.
Butter makes cookies spread if the dough is too soft before baking.

Use shortening instead of butter. Butter melts faster than solid shortening, cookies will spread more if made with butter. Even half butter/half shortening will melt more slowly than butter-only, so cookies made that way still spread less than if made with all-butter.
Use cake flour instead of all-purpose, it has more moisture and will therefore puff more (cookies will be softer and paler, though). Additionally, add in 1 to 2 tablespoons flour can sometimes cause cookies to puff more.

Acidic doughs and batters (such as those made with baking powder, which has acids and does not neutralize other acids in the cookie dough recipe) set faster, but do not brown as well (cookies will be puffier).Use baking powder (1 teaspoon per cup of flour) instead of baking soda; the resulting dough will set faster, be puffier, but do not brown as well.

Use parchment paper to line your cookies sheets with for less cookie spread.

Make smaller cookies, they’ll puff better.

Chill dough, form cookies and then chill on pans before baking.

Use bread flour for drier, crispier cookies (they will be darker, too). Bread flour absorbs more liquid from the recipe than any other type of flour. All-purpose flour can also make a crispy cookie, which will be more tender than a cookie made entirely with bread flour.

Cookies not chewy All white sugar makes cookies crispier.

Remove the cookies a few minutes before they are done, while their centers are still soft and not quite cooked through. The edges should be slightly golden but the middle will still look slightly raw.
Use 2 egg yolks instead of one whole egg, this will add some extra moistness to the cookies thus helping to be a bit more on the chewy side.

Using some high protein flour (such as bread flour) can make the dough hold together better, and can make a chewier cookie – but too much can make the cookies flatter and crisper – experimentation is needed.

1/2 brown and 1/2 white sugar will make for more chewiness. Use dark brown sugar (more molasses) instead of light brown sugar. It attracts more moisture from the air, and will make a chewier result.

Use baking powder (1 teaspoon per cup of flour) instead of baking soda; the resulting dough will make a chewier cookie (it will spread less, since it’s more acid).

Cookies aren't crispy Type of fat used.
Brown sugar makes cookies chewier.
Bake cookies a few minutes longer than suggested and immediately remove them to wire racks to cool.
Make with all butter.

Replace the egg called for in the recipe with milk for a crispier cookie.

Use more white sugar than brown to give more crispiness.

A less acidic batter spreads more and cookies will be crispier. Substitute 1/2 teaspoon baking soda per cup of flour for the baking powder called for in the recipe. The cookies will also brown better.

Use a little bit more liquid in the batter; that will help cookies to spread more, and thus be thinner and crispier.

Substitute 1 tablespoon of corn syrup for 1 tablespoon of the sugar called for in the recipe; it will make the cookies crispier and browner.


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