Tips for Making Soft, Moist Cookies Every Time

Updated on March 26, 2018
Shesabutterfly profile image

Cholee is a stay at home mom who enjoys creating family and budget friendly recipes from scratch.

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 other factors.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies | Source

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 end product. 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 to keep the original 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:

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 softer and more 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 cook and serve Jell-o brand pudding 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 pudding mix. Vanilla, chocolate, and cheesecake are my go to flavors.

The Dough

After adding and mixing all the ingredients together the dough should be easily pliable. Having a dry and crumbly 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 in the way they need to be to produce the best quality cookie.

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 end products.

Cookie Sheets

How your cookies turn out not only depends on the ingredients, but also on the type of baking sheet you chose to use. Different styles and colors of cookie sheets will result in different end products. 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 baking 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 baking sheets will result in a more over all even baking of your cookies, as well as keep the bottoms from browning too fast.

Absolutely love my Calphalon bakeware!
Absolutely love my Calphalon bakeware! | Source

Calphalon Non-stick Bakeware:

My all time favorite bakeware to use for cookies are my 2 Calphalon non-stick toffee colored cookie sheets. I've owned these pans for over 5 years and I would not trade them for anything! I actually have two sets, four pans total and I use every single one of them. 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 baking with these perfect sheets.

Fresh Oatmeal Cookies

Source

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 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:

  • Soft cookies should 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 them 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).

Hard Cookies:

  • 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.

Who's ready to bake cookies:

What are your favorite cookies to make?

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Questions & Answers

  • I sometimes cheat and use store-bought cookie mixes. Do you know if adding pudding would work to make cookies chewier?

    I have frequently used pudding with store-bought cookie mixes. I personally think it does help make them softer/chewier.

    You could also use Betty Crocker super moist cake mix instead of cookie mixes. Her cake mixes already contain pudding in them and make great cakey and chewy cookies.

  • What size pudding mix do you use when making cookies?

    I generally use the larger 5oz package for recipes over a dozen. I've used the smaller 3.4oz package in larger recipes and it seems to work as well, but I prefer the larger size as the cookies seem just a tad softer.

    For smaller recipes I've tried the smaller boxes and that seems to be a good amount. I don't make many recipes under a dozen though, so I usually end up using the larger box (I don't usually keep the smaller size on hand) and it hasn't changed the texture of my cookies.

  • I make an oatmeal cookie that is great for breakfast, very filling. However, they get hard within a week. Proportions are: oatmeal - 1:flour - 1: brown sugar - .46: butter - .61 : shortening - .18. how can I adjust the recipe to get a more moist version?

    I would up the oatmeal so it is 1 more than the flour and bring the brown sugar to 1 so it is equal with the flour. So it would look something like this...

    2.5 cups oatmeal

    1.5 cups flour

    1.5 cups brown sugar (or you could try 1 cup brown sugar and half a cup of granulated sugar)

    The extra brown sugar will help make the cookie softer and more chewy. You could also add a packet of instant jell-o pudding mix without having to change the recipe you are currently using.

    I would also pay attention to how you are storing them. To get the most life out of them keep them in an air tight container with a slice of bread.

  • What can I add to my chocolate chip cookie dough to make them soft and chewy? My husband didn't like the batch that I made because they were hard. I would like to be able to salvage the rest of the dough.

    Without the actual recipe, I'm not going to be able to give specifics, but I can give some ideas on why the cookies might have come out hard.

    Are they crumbly as well? The problem could be not enough butter. If they are flat the dough likely needs more flour (or you could have added to much butter). However, too much flour can also make them tough. Flour really needs to be measured precisely for the best end product.

    If your cookies look good, you likely baked them too long or at too high of a temperature.

    It's also possible that the dough was over mixed. Over mixed dough is not salvageable in my experience.

    You could try storing them in an airtight container with a slice of bread and see if they soften up at all after a day.

© 2012 Cholee Clay

Comments

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    • BethanyHalbert profile image

      Bethany Halbert 

      4 months ago from West Virginia, USA

      Oh my goodness! Now I just want to make cookies. Thanks for the cookie sheet recommendation! The fact that they haven't warped or stained in so long makes me think they would be a good option for next time I'm in the market for some.

      It's amazing how much the different ingredients impact things... I love making chocolate chip cookies, and it took me years of tweaking until I found the recipe I like the most. Growing up we never added baking powder, but I realized I really liked the chewiness it added to the cookie.

      Happy baking!

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      4 months ago from Wisconsin

      Yes I am referring to the pudding mix :) I use Jell-o brand, but any brand of pudding mix will work.

    • profile image

      Darlene 

      4 months ago

      When you said you use cook'n'serve jello, did you mean Jello cook"n'serve pudding mix?

    • Entourage_007 profile image

      Stuart 

      8 months ago from Santa Barbara, CA

      Great baking tips. Thanks for the helpful ideas for the holidays. Now following

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      10 months ago from Wisconsin

      Hi Lisa, I’m afraid without looking at the actual recipe I can’t tell you how to substitute or change the recipe. I would suggest finding a recipe for soft or chewy cookies and make that for your children. I’m assuming the recipe you made is something like a biscotti cookie. If that is the case, a jello packet would probably not be enough to make them softer. I also would not add any shortening or fat to that recipe. Baking cookies is a special type of science, and without knowing how the ingredients are going to react to each other I cannot give specifics, sorry. You would be better off finding a different recipe than trying to tweak the current one you have, considering you are wanting to make to a completely different kind of cookie.

    • profile image

      Lisa 

      11 months ago

      Hi Cholee, Thanks for a great article. I found a cookie recipe that doesn't call for butter, margarine, shortening at all. I was happy with the type of cookie I got as it was a fantastic dunking cookie. However, my kids would prefer that the cookie be more moist. Will the jello help with that? Should I add shortening and if so how much?

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      11 months ago from Wisconsin

      Hi Romi!

      I only use one packet of jello. I tend to use cook and serve, but I have used instant as well and have not noticed a difference in texture or baking.

      I fixed the wording in the article, so I hope this brings better clarification for others. I can see how my previous comment can be confusing. Hope this helps!

    • profile image

      Romi madia 

      11 months ago

      I'm confused, do you use both types of jello pudding in the cookies at the same time?

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      16 months ago from Wisconsin

      Hi Dixie!

      I actually use both instant and cook and serve. Cook and serve can be found in the same aisle as the instant. It will say cook and serve I believe in blue lettering, right below the bold red Jell-o label. I think the cook and serve boxes are also slightly bigger than the instant boxes.

    • Dixiexflowers profile image

      Dixiexflowers 

      16 months ago

      I appreciate all the tips. Haven't thought of using pudding mix in cookies. I'm not familair with instant pudding cook and serve jello mix. I've used instant pudding mix in cakes but not cook and serve. Can you tell me where to find the mix that you use mentioned? Thanks.

    • gerimcclym profile image

      Geri McClymont 

      20 months ago

      Thank you for the great tips for baking cookies. I had not thought about substituting more brown sugar for white sugar for moister cookies...will certainly apply that next time I bake cookies! Thanks for a very helpful article.

    • profile image

      Mamibell 

      5 years ago

      I'll try to make a better cookies with your excellent and useful tips. Thank you!!

    • SINewsome profile image

      Sophie Newsome 

      5 years ago from New York

      Nice tips. I'll have to give them a try

    • profile image

      Matt 

      5 years ago

      Could you provide a quick recipe using these tips for, say, a couple dozen cookies?

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Hope some of these tips will help you out tammyswallow. I still remember the first time I tried to bake cookies lol.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you for sharing your secrets with us. My cookies don't turn out right even when I buy the ready made dough. LOL.. This is wonderful and helpful!

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks for stopping by Simone Smith! I love using margarine, keeps the cookies from flattening and all around turns out a better cookie then using butter.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Aha- I had forgotten about the butter vs. margarine/shortening thing! I KNEW there was some reasons why my cookies weren't so fluffy ever since I left my parents house! I never buy margarine... guess I'll have to change that!

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks adrienne2!:) Hope they work great for you too.

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 

      6 years ago from Atlanta

      Hi Shesa! Reading your tips on cookies was useful! I voted up and useful.

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks Stephanie and thebookmom!:)

    • thebookmom profile image

      thebookmom 

      6 years ago from Nebraska

      Great hub! Really practical helpful information written in an easy to read and use format. Awesome!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Now this is my kind of hub. I love your advice. One tip I picked up from an in-law was putting a piece of bread in a sealed container with the cookies.

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks everybody! Robin the jello works wonders I never make cookies without it:)

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 

      6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      COOKIES! Now you made me hungry! Excellent hub :)

    • profile image

      marellen 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the baking tips. Very informative hub.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Terrific advice. Now that there's all-natural shortening available (the usual Crisco stuff has either trans or interesterified fats), that first piece of advice is great. I've used instant pudding mix to make cupcakes more moist; had never thought of putting them in chocolate chip cookies!

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      I rarely read articles about cookies with content that is new, but you have changed all of that! I learned a bunch of new cookie baking tips from this Hub! I'm definitely going to have to try the vanilla jello next time! Danke!

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