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The Secrets to Baking Soft Cookies

While a lot of people may not mind cookies that are crunchy, many people prefer those that are soft and chewy. The problem is that most recipes aren’t designed to make soft cookies. However, there are ways that most cookie recipes can be converted in order to produce cookies that are soft, moist, and chewy.

The importance of the sugar

One of the biggest causes of crunchy cookies is the sugar that is used. Specifically, white granulated sugar is particularly low in moisture. Even if there is a large amount of liquid in the recipe, the sugar is still initially dry. To produce softer cookies, it stands to reason that one of the steps would involve using moister sugar. It is surprising how easy this is. For the sugar a cookie recipe calls for, use moist brown sugar. This includes recipes that call for both brown sugar and granulated sugar. Replacing the granulated sugar with brown sugar results in softer cookies.

Incidentally, if you have brown sugar that has become hard and dry, don’t throw it away. Put it in an air-tight container, add a slice of fresh bread, and seal the container. In a day or two, the brown sugar should again be soft and moist, and the bread can be removed or replaced with another slice of fresh bread.

Butter and soft cookies

Butter adds a lot of great flavor to cookies. This is so true that many people who are serious about making great-tasting cookies refuse to use margarine, even if the recipe calls for it. They use real butter. The problem is that many recipes mention ‘softened’ butter. There is a huge difference between softened butter and melted butter, yet quite a few people will melt the butter for the cookies. This results in cookies that flatten out more and are more prone to being crunchy.

The butter should be cool and unmelted, just soft enough that it can be blended into the other ingredients. Think of ‘softened butter’ as being soft as in not frozen. In fact, after the dough has been mixed, it is a good idea to refrigerate it for 15 minutes to a half-hour before spooning out the cookies and baking them.

Baking the cookies

The faster the bottoms of the cookies cook, the crunchier they tend to be. Knowing this simple fact makes it easier to adjust the baking. Shiny cookie sheets don’t cook the bottoms of the cookies as fast as dark-colored cookie sheets. For the best results of all, though, cover the cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake the cookies on the parchment paper. The bottoms of the cookies won’t cook as fast. As added benefits, the cookies are usually easier to remove from the cookie sheet and there is less of a mess when the cookie sheets are washed when parchment paper is used. If you didn’t know, parchment paper is a thick waxed paper that is used for baking.

These are just three ways to help ensure that the cookies will turn out soft, moist, and chewy. Of course, the opposite is also true. If you want crunchy cookies, use granulated sugar instead of brown sugar, melt the butter, and bake the cookies on a dark-colored cookie sheet. Otherwise, using the above will most likely result in softer cookies.

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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16 Comments

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    • I use a timer. Also, I’ve been known to turn the oven down a little bit.

      I’ve heard of using pudding in a cookie recipe, but not gelatin. That would probably work for meat-eaters (which I am), but since gelatin is made from bones and tendons of animals, I imagine that vegetarians and vegans might throw a fit if they knew what they were eating. LOL

      • I use a timer as well….but still have trouble. I think I’ll just stick to low carb cookies…those don’t burn as easily for me lol.

        I’ve never heard of using pudding in a cookie recipe (cake recipe yes though)….but yes the recipe I use is low carb but not vegan/vegetarian friendly. They could probably use something that acts like gelatin though.

  1. I saved your article. I retired a few months ago and, since my wife is disabled, I’ve taken over a good portion of the cooking duties. I want to try and expand into baking. Although since we are both diabetics, I probably shouldn’t do a lot of it.

    • Well, the sugar isn’t really good for you, but you could substitute stevia. The cookies just wouldn’t be quite as soft as they could be. :)) Incidentally, I use whole wheat flour for baking and that would be better for you than white flour.

    • I used to struggle with making soft cookies and everything I baked was more like the consistency of crumbly concrete. My eldest sister made wonderfully soft cookies, though. Her peanut butter cookies were especially good. I finally asked her what her secret was and why mine didn’t turn out as good as hers. That was when I learned about the stuff I wrote about.

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