Tips for Making Soft, Moist Cookies Every Time
Tired of your cookies coming out crispy on the bottom and gooey or uncooked on top? Maybe they've completely flattened out and turned browner than you liked. Try these tips to get soft, warm, and moist cookies every time. Using the correct ingredients is key among others.
Ingredients and Utensils
Knowing how your ingredients are going to react when mixed together is the key to making perfect soft cookies. Different ingredients carry different results and knowing these results will help ensure you are preparing the best possible cookies. This knowledge is the fundamental corner stone for creating soft cookies.
Butter and Shortening:
Adding butter instead of shortening will result in thinner cookies, however butter is essential in certain types of cookies such as shortbread.
Shortening and margarine are stable and will help your cookies keep their original unbaked shape. Using cold butter and fats will also help keep the shape. Melting the butter or keeping it at room temperature will result in flatter cookies.
It is important to read the recipe and recognize what type of butter/shortening the recipe is asking for. Soft, melted, cold, and room temperature all have different meanings and the temperature of the butter will make a difference in your end result.
Sugars like fats liquefy in the oven. White sugar will make your cookies crispier while brown sugar contains more moisture and will result in a soft chewy cookie. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes call for both sugars. Lowering the amount of sugar or substituting some of the white sugar for brown sugar will result in softer lighter cookies.
If you are having troubles with your cookies not retaining their shape, try lowering the amounts of sugar or baking soda.
Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Flour:
Make sure these ingredients are top notch and at their freshest. Using ingredients that are not fresh or past their use by date will result in sub-par cookies. Measure these ingredients and mix them in the order that the recipe calls for. Always mix baking powder/soda into the flour and other dry ingredients to ensure they are being mixed throughout the dough.
It is also very important to use the correct flour when baking cookies. If a recipe calls for all-purpose that is what you have to use. Just because the recipe calls for a flour that is all-purpose does not mean you can substitute any type of flour and get the same results. It is very important to follow what the recipe says when working with flour.
Not only is the type of flour important, but measuring the flour correctly is equally as important. Too much flour and you will have hard cookies. Always scoop flour out with a spoon and put it into a measuring cup leveling off with a butter knife. Using your measuring cup as a scoop will result in too much flour. You never want to pack flour.
Measuring Cups and Spoons:
This may seem common knowledge, but I know I always forgot when I first started baking cookies many years ago. I still have to remind myself some days even now, so I think it's important to mention here.
There are separate cups for measuring dry and wet ingredients. They may hold the same volume, however they are used differently and the likelihood of wrong measurements due to using the wrong cup is very high.
Using a dry measuring cup to measure milk for example is not going to give you the same cup of milk that measuring into a liquid measuring cup will give you. On average you will end up with less liquid if you measure in a measuring cup meant for dry ingredients. Why? It's simple, you are less likely to fill a dry measuring cup to the top (so you don't spill), which you would need to do to get that full one cup of milk.
My not so Secret Ingredient:
When making cookies, especially chocolate chip I add a packet of vanilla instant cook and serve jello mix. This extra ingredient helps to keep my cookies soft, moist, and chewy every time. I don't make a batch of homemade cookies without some flavor of instant cook and serve jello mix. Vanilla, chocolate, and cheesecake are my go to flavors.
After adding and mixing all the ingredients the dough should be easily pliable. Having a dry and crumbly cookie dough will result in uneven baking and dry cookies. On the other hand having a dough that is too sticky will result in your cookies flattening out and turning crispy during baking.
A pliable dough will retain it's shape while baking, as well as keep the cookies soft, chewy, and moist during baking. When the dough has the right texture and moisture you know you have mixed the ingredients the way they need to be.
I like to mix my dough just until everything is combined and the dough comes together. As with other baked goods, over mixed cookie dough runs the risk of creating dry, crumbly, hard, and/or crispy cookies.
How your cookies turn out not only depends on the ingredients, but also on the type of baking sheet you chose to use. Different cookie sheets will result in different end products of your cookies. For example baking sheets with left over or baked on grease, or darker pans will result in crispy bottoms and undone middles.
Personally I have a different baking sheet for my cookies than I do for making other meals. Having separate cookie sheets used only for cookies ensures that my pans are ready to make perfect cookies every time.
- Insulated Cookie Sheets:
Insulated baking pans slow baking and will usually yield a lighter and softer cookie. Baking cookies made with butter is not a good idea for these pans as it will result in the butter melting faster than the dough can set and bake.
- Non-stick Cookie Sheets:
Non-stick pans let you skip the greasing step, however cookies baked on these sheets do not spread as much and will result in cake-like cookies. This means depending on the type of cookie you are making, they can stay puffed up if you don't flatten them slightly yourself. The texture will also be lighter and fluffier similar to that of cake rather than your typical cookie.
- The Best Cookie Sheets:
The best type of baking sheets are those that are light in color and have very low to no sides. Adding parchment paper to your cookie sheets will result in a more over all even baking of your cookies, as well as keep the bottoms from browning too fast.
Calphalon Non-stick Bakeware:
My all time favorite bakeware to use for cookies are my 3 Calphalon non-stick toffee colored cookie sheets. I've owned these pans for over 5 years and I would not trade them for anything! They still work as great as the first day I received them. I love the toffee color as it adds a pop of color to my kitchen, but it is still light enough that the color does not effect the end results of my cookies.
I love the non-stick feature, as well as the one "high" side that is great for gripping. These pans have a built in handle of sorts which is great as it allows for the rest of the sides to be almost non-existent. My pans have not darkened, become warped, or collected grease which makes me feel like I'm using a brand new pan every time. I have never had a single cookie stick to these pans, and I am looking forward to the next 5 years of cookie making with these perfect baking sheets.
Fresh Oatmeal Cookies
Keeping Cookies Fresh:
You've made the perfect cookies, but after baking and a few days have past, they are slowly becoming hard and crumbly. These are a few of the tricks I use to store my cookies when I know I want them to last for a few days, weeks, and even months.
Different cookie types will require different storing methods, so it's best to store each type of cookie in their own container or zip lock bag. However, all cookies will benefit greatly from cooling completely before being stored in any way. Storing warm cookies will make them soggy and you will end up with a pile of cookies that are hard to separate.
- Soft cookies should also be kept in air tight containers. Cookie jars and other containers that allow air in will make the cookies turn hard. If you don't have an air tight container, adding a slice of bread will help keep the cookies soft. The bread will turn hard while your cookies stay soft and chewy. When the bread becomes completely stale remove it and add a new slice.
- If you are layering cookies add wax paper between the layers to keep the cookies from sticking to each other. Adding a top layer of wax paper also helps to keep the top layer fresh. Wax paper will also allow for multiple flavor profiles to be stored in the same container without transferring flavors to the surrounding cookies (The exception would be any cookies made with peppermint or other strong scent that can be transferred through air alone).
- Store cookies such as Biscotti, or other hard cookies in cookie jars or containers with an easily removable lid. The little air that flows through keeps these cookies crispy and just like the day you made them.
- Do not store them with soft cookies, they will lose their crispness. Hard cookies should be stored in metal tins to keep their crispy texture.
If you need to store your cookies for longer than a week or two putting them in freezer safe containers or zip lock bags will preserve your cookies for up to six months. I recommend wrapping the cookies in a freezer safe plastic or freezer paper before storing. The extra wrapping will keep the cookies from getting freezer burn and absorbing any freezer smells from other foods.
Enjoy soft and chewy cookies every time with these simple and easy tips.