11 Reasons Your Cookies May Suck

funfetti cookie no icicing

Food scientists David Joachim and Andrew Schloss recently wrote an article that explained the functions each ingredient plays in a cookie recipe. They talked about fats, sugars, aeration, and gluten and how all of those things work together to make a great, or not-so-great cookie recipe. Their tips were extremely helpful and insightful. For example, did you know that brown sugar encourages cookies to be puffier while white sugar causes cookies to spread thinner? Pretty cool, eh? I thought so.

So, to help you out, I created a table that explains all of the possible problems with your cookies with solutions to help you get to the right place. I took lead from Fine Cooking but made my own edits accordingly.

Here’s Why Your Cookies Might Suck & How to Fix Them

The Problem Why This Happens How to Fix it Next Time
Co­­­okies are too flat and thin You have too much butter or too much sugar
  1. Reduce the amount of butter you use by 10% or replace with shortening.
  2. For sugar, replace half of the white sugar with light brown sugar.
Cookies are too thick There is too much flour or not enough sugar
  1. Reduce the amount of flour by 15% or increase butter by 10%
  2. Add more white sugar by replacing half of brown sugar with white sugar (White sugar will help thin out your cookies, while brown sugar makes them puffier)
Cookies are too puffy
  • There is too little sugar or flour
  • The wrong kind of fat was used
  • Too much baking powder
  • Dough is too cold
  1. Increase your sugar by 10%, or substitute white sugar for brown sugar
  2. Increase flour by 15%
  3. Replace shortening for butter (butter contributes to flatter cookies)
  4. Eliminate baking powder
  5. Make sure dough is room temperature
Dough doesn’t stick together Not enough gluten In this case, you need a different kind of flour. Unbleached all-purpose flour works excellently for cookies. You can also substitute in 5% bread flour. (It might affect the taste though)
Texture is too chewy
  • Not enough fat or sugar
  • Too much gluten
  1. Increase butter or sugar by 10%. For sugar, you can replace brown with white (white makes cookies less chewy)
  2. Use cake or pastry flour
  3. Mix butter or shortening, flour, and sugar before adding the egg
  4. Mix dough for less time (over mixing can mess up the texture of the cookie)
Texture is too brittle and crisp Too much of just about everything Reduce the flour by 15%, reduce butter by 10%, or reduce the amount sugar used in the recipe. You can also substitute light brown sugar for half the white sugar.
Texture is too soft Not enough flour Increase flour by 15%
Texture is too dense Too much flour or not enough baking powder Reduce flour by 15% or add a pinch more baking powder. NOTE: Check your baking powder expiration date.
Color is too light Not enough sugar Increase sugar by 10% or add corn syrup
Color is too dark Too much sugar, not enough baking soda Reduce sugar by 10%
Flavorless Not enough salt, sugar, butter, or spices (including vanilla)
  1. Increase salt by 5%
  2. Increase sugar by 10%
  3. Replace all or half of shortening with butter instead
  4. Increase spices or vanilla by 5%

I’ve also created a Pinterest version so you can pin it now and read through it later if you like or print it out and hang it on your fridge for the next time you bake cookies.

Why Your Cookies Suck and How to Fix Them


Hope this helps you out a bit! I know it helped me.

Happy Baking,

Baby Chick

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