The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What's wrong with my cookies?!

boredhumor's picture

What's wrong with my cookies?!

The last few times I've made chocolate chip or sugar cookies, they turn out flat and crispy, not at all puffy or soft, and sometimes they're all brown and burnt on the edges and white in the middle. I don't mind a little crispy, and I definitley don't want a cakey chocolate chip cookie, but I do want a cookie, not a cracker! They still tasted good, but they're all flat and icky. What's wrong with them?! The only things I can think of are too much butter or too little flour.


Sugar cookies

3 cups powdered sugar

2 cups butter

3 tsp vanilla

5 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cream of tartar

Cream sugar and butter. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture. Blend thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough and cut out shapes. Bake 7-8 mins or until edges get color.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 and 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 pkg (12oz) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda; blend into wet ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 7-10 min.


JIP's picture

As far as chocolate chip cookies go I have been very successful with the recipe that is in the Cooks Illustrated baking book.  They have 2 or 3 different variations for differing textures this one is as the name says the thick and chewey version.  I especialy like the larger size (1/4 cup as opposed to 1 tsp.) I also like the technique of splitting the ball to give the final cookie a better texture.

 Well I tried to cut-and-paste the recipe and it did not work so here is the link...


Also here is a picture of some I have made with this recipe.

cyndu's picture

My wife, generally regarded in our parts as the queen of cookies, says that she thinks it is the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies that is the problem. She doesn't make those particular kind of chocolate chip cookies precisely because they never turn out right (i.e. they turn out like your description.)

She was glad to read this post, because she is going to try the recipe that JIP just provided. But she doesn't have a lot of confidence in any recepie that doesn't contain either some oatmeal, or some ground (high-speed blended) oatmeal.

Good luck.

dstroy's picture

I dont think it's the recipe in terms of having to have oatmeal! - Add oatmeal to chocolate chip cookies and you have a different cookie.

Personally, my favorite of all the chocolate chip recipes has always been the super basic one they list on the back of the Nestle Chocolate Chip packages, but I too occasionally have had the flat cookies. I have heard, however, that it was because my butter was TOO soft. When you overmix the batter or the butter is oversoftened, it ends up loosing it's umph and getting flat like that. 

cyndu's picture

Different cookie? Yes. Of course, choice of cookie recipe is the first key to cookies that everyone raves about. Some recipes are just too hard to get right, others are just not that good to start with.

That was our take, anyway. 

MaryinHammondsport's picture

In comparing the original recipe in this thread and the Cook's Illustrated one, the first thing that strikes me is the baking temperature. The original asks for 375 and CI asks for 325.

You might want to try a lower temperature and see if that makes a difference.


pmccool's picture

The other difference between the two recipes is that the Cook's Illustrated version has 3/4 cup of butter, versus the 1 cup of butter in the poster's version.  That's enough additional fat to make the cookies flatten out and crisp.


hullaf's picture

In general, white sugar yields crispy cookies while brown sugar absorbs moisture from the air causing the baked cookies to turn soft as they sit. Also flour choice makes a difference -- AP flour or bread flour high in protein will absorb liquid and get a drier + crisper cookie, while cake or pastry flour or low protein flour will have a more tender result. (This applies to bread too!) And, the kind of fat you use will determine if the cookie spreads out as it bakes. Butter melts easily -- thus the dough will spread on the cookie sheet making a flat, thin, crispy cookie. Then shortening has less water and will not melt as quickly, so dough holds its shape better and spread less. You may have to experiment with a combination of all these ingredients to get that cookie you want, whether crispy or chewy. Some of this information I had gotten from a Martha Stewart article in a newspaper long ago and it still applies to all those CCC (chocolate chip cookie) recipes I keep on trying. The NYT had a great article on CCC recipes a bit ago and the consequent articles in response were also informative. One thing that it emphasized was to refrigerate the cookie dough 24-36 hours, to absorb the flour and "set" the dough. You might try that too, good luck.   Anet 

cordel's picture

Thank you so much for the explanation.  I much prefer crispy cookies, and will use those hints to crisp up some of my chewy ones, that I don't like.


audra36274's picture

of all the bigg-ies! I love that book. I have it down on the counter with all my other favorite cook books that I use weekly. I like fat and chewy, and my friend likes crisp, and we are both satisfied from one book. I think you will like it. As with most of King Arthurs things it is a winner.


cordel's picture

Thanks, Audra, I will have a look at it.

bakergal29's picture


that's a lot of info. Do you have a recipe that you've found for getting chewy chocolate chip cookies? I see brown sugar is what I want, and cake or pastry flour. But do you have a recipe?

I like 'em chewy!

boredhumor's picture

Thanks so much! I wasn't expecting so many comments. They really help, though!

JIP's picture

Well i think the beauty of the Cook's Illustrated one is the process they go through to get a good recipe.  If you have the book they give a great explanation of the many different recipes they tried to get the best chewey cookie they could come up with.  I don't know if the experimentation part is total hooey but their recipe does make a good cookie.

nwtcampcook's picture

Hope I am not to late to add my 2 cents worth here. I make mega batches of cookies here in the Drilling Camp every second day. It is my experience that if you let your butter/margarine get too soft before mixing up your dough you will get chocolate chip crackers. especially true when using margarine and trying to salvage a dough by throwing it into the fridge to firm it up is futile as well - the damage is already done. I have made a few batches just like that.

JIP's picture

That might be your experience with a particular recipe but if you notice in the Cook's Illustrated one I posted they tell you to melt the butter before using it and I get extremely soft and chewey cookies everytime I make it. 

John_D's picture

Absolutly the Cook's Illustrated recipe is the one to use. Melt the butter, Use 1 whole egg and 1 yolk.

Another trick I have seen is to use Crisco instead of butter.  The real issue is the water in the butter causing the cookie to flatten out, but who really likes Crisco?

There was an interesting article in the NYT that has some interesting concepts as well:



2+      c.      all-purpose flour
½       t       baking soda
½       t       salt
1½      sticks  Butter (melted)
½       c       granulated sugar
1       c       packed brown sugar
2       t       vanilla extract
2               Eggs (1 whole, 1 yolk)
1       12oz    (bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Mix butter,
granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in large mixer bowl.  Add
eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat
in flour mixture.  Stir in morsels and nuts.  Bake on ungreased cookie
sheets for 15-18 min. @ 325°F.

The "+" of of the flour is 1 level tablespoon extra.  Also sometimes I reduce the chips to 10 oz.  The extras are saved for the kids CC waffles.


JIP's picture

That one is a little different from the one I use I posted a link to it earlier.