Question of the Week: Why do my Cookies look like…?

In a poll taken a few weeks ago, my readers said they would most often make cookies over pies and cakes – by a landslide!  I think this is because cookies are easier to make and much quicker.  If you’ve made cookies before, you have most likely experienced one of these issues that are brought up in today’s question of the week: “Why do my cookies look like” …


Flat Cookies – these cookies have that “melt-out” look, flat and crispy:

Did you over-cream the butter?  When you cream butter and sugar for cookies, you do not want to over mix. Mix them together just until they are incorporated.   TIP: Once your ingredients are all measured, mixing the dough should take on longer than 2-3 minutes from beginning to end.

If your cookies use butter (which I hope they do) did you chill the dough before baking?  Chilling will allow the butter to set up.

Make sure your cookie sheets are cool before you place the dough on them. If the cookie sheets are hot, the dough will immediately start to melt and spread out before it gets a chance to begin baking in the oven.

Did you use margarine?  Margarine has a high water content which will cause the “spread” in cookies (too much moisture). Never use whipped margarine that comes in a tub.


Dry, stiff cookies – these cookies often are too high, they don’t “spread” as they should:

Did you measure ingredients correctly?  Too much flour will make the dough and resulting cookie too dry.

Did you use the correct leavening (baking soda/power)? Most cookie recipes call for baking soda.  Using baking powder could cause cookies to “rise”.

Did you use shortening instead of butter?  Shortening has a much higher melting point than butter so it does not have the “spread” that cookies with butter will have.


Too Crispy and Hard:

Did you over-bake?  If you want soft cookies, they should test slightly underdone when removed from the oven.  Remember, the tray is hot and cookies will continue to have “carry-over” baking even after removing from the oven.

Did you bake at the right temperature?  Most cookies bake at 350 degrees.  If your oven is too hot, the cookies will over bake. TIP: You can purchase an oven thermometer just to make sure your ovens temperature is accurate.


Too Doughy:

Did you bake long enough?  Test for doneness by placing a fingertip in the center of the cookie. TIP: Your finger should not sink and you should be able to feel if it is still doughy and under-done.


Mis-shapen Drop Cookies:

Often people ask me “how come your cookies are so uniform?”  Easy answer: I roll the dough into balls of the same size.  Another easy way to get uniform cookies is to use a cookie scoop.  That way, all your cookies will look professional.




About bakingway

Baker/Pastry Chef for over 25 years.

Posted on April 8, 2011, in Question of the Week. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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