How to fix dry cookies

How to Fix Dry Cookies: My Top Tips for Softening Cookies

There are few things nicer than a freshly baked cookie – the smell, the gooeyness, the warmth. They are so much better than store-bought and go perfectly with a glass of milk, a cup of tea, or your coffee. Once you find and practice your favorite recipe, whipping up a batch of these delights is as easy as going to the store to buy them.

However, when you are on the journey to find your perfect recipe match, things can turn dry and very quickly. Luckily, my guide to dry cookies will look at how to prevent this from happening and how to fix it if it does. It’s all about keeping the cookie magic alive! 

No type of cookie calls for crumbly dough that doesn’t come together. If you’re looking at a bowl of breadcrumbs or a collection of cracks, it is likely that your dough is too dry. Don’t worry, every relationship has its bumps in the road. How you deal with these is more important! 

Let’s find out how to fix dry cookies!

Why Do Cookies Dry Out? 

Cookie dough can be a bit temperamental. Thankfully, however, there are a few common (and easy to make!) mistakes that result in dry dough. 

  1. Too much dry ingredients e.g. too much flour 
  2. Not enough liquid – e.g. you skimped on the water or milk 
  3. Not enough fat – fat acts as a lubricant in cookie dough so it is essential to get the measurements just right. It’s also important to use to correct type of butter
  4. The dough is over-handled – too much handling or kneading of the dough will activate the gluten too much, leading to a tough cookie
  5. Overbaking – leaving cookies in the oven for too long will overbake them and lead to a hard, dried-out cookie  

Prevention Is Better Than Cure 

As you will see from the below article, it is much easier to fix dry cookies before they are baked, rather than after. When aiming for a delectable dough, slowly does it. Carefully add in your ingredients according to your recipe, all the while keeping an eye on the dough itself. Consider adding in the ingredients in smaller portions, rather than dumping them in all at once. 

Get to know your dough! As you move through the recipe, regularly stop and ask yourself (or your dough) how things are going. Are you seeing the start of a dry mixture? Have you completely scraped all the fat off the sides of the bowl? Is your electric mixer helping or hindering you at this point? Constantly assessing and reflecting will not only help with creating a perfect cookie but it will also help you sharpen your baking skills. 

How To Fix Dry Cookie Dough

So you’ve done your best, you thought you and your dough had a good working relationship but sadly not. Communication broke down somewhere along the way and you’re on the path to a doughy divorce. All is not lost! With my simple tips for fixing dry dough, you’ll be on your way to your honeymoon in no time.

How to fix dry cookie dough
  1. Add liquid – if your liquid ratio is out of whack, slowly add in some more liquid to bring it back together. If you have already added the correct amount of eggs, I suggest adding a splash of water rather than more eggs.
  2. Add more fat – as fat binds the recipe together, adding a bit more melted butter or vegetable oil can help.
  3. Consider mixing with your hands or a spoon, rather than an appliance – sometimes getting up close and personal with your dough can prevent overworking. If you are using your stand mixer or KitchenAid, check out my guide for the best attachment for cookies.
  4. Give it a rest – we all need some time out now and then, and the dough is no different. Flour contains gluten which is activated when handled. This is good for bread, but bad for cookies. If you have overworked it, leave it to sit, covered, at room temperature for about an hour to let the gluten settle.
  5. Start off on the right foot – relationships are a balancing act and require the correct combination of ingredients to work. When measuring, do so accurately. If weighing with a scale, weigh your wet ingredients as well as your dry. If using cups, ensure they are leveled off and brown sugar is packed in and lumps are broken down. I suggest using digital scales as they are more accurate.

Check out my absolute favorite cookie recipe ever. Perfectly rise, crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, and incredibly moist.

How To Fix Cookie Dough With Too Much Flour

Adding too much flour is such a common error. Too much flour can creep in via a number of avenues; you add too much to the recipe from the beginning, there is an excess on your hands as you mix the dough or there is too much on your counter when you roll out your dough. Flour is a particular risk when making cookie dough designed for rolling and cutting out. For tips on how to do this right, check out my article on using cookie cutters

If adding more fat or liquid hasn’t worked or your dough is already kneaded and cracking, the next best thing is to make more dough. Hate to break it to you, but making a second batch of dough and combining it with the first batch is a pretty good way of sorting out your problem, as disheartening as it may be to have to start again! When making the second batch, try to estimate how much extra flour you added to the first, and take that away from the amount in the second batch. Combine both batches, let them rest, and continue with the recipe. 

Help! My Cookie Dough Dried Out In Fridge

This one is so frustrating! You’ve created the perfect cookie dough and put it in the fridge to rest. However, after your time apart, everything is not as it seems. Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder, but in this case, absence has made the dough go drier. 

To avoid this, cover your dough with plastic wrap to keep the cold fridge air out. This will ensure the cold air circulating in the fridge won’t get in and ruin the beautiful thing you had together.

cookie dough dried out in fridge

How To Fix Dry Cookies After Baking

So you’ve made the perfect dough, it survived the fridge and your relationship with your cookies is going great. Your next challenge as a duo is the baking process. This will be a tough challenge as it is incredibly easy to spend too much time in the oven and cause a lot of other problems to your cookies, like too much spreading

When baking, it is also wise to know the actual temperature of your oven. Depending on age, make and model, the interior temperature might not be exactly what the little dial or screen says. An internal oven thermometer will give you a better idea of the actual temperature you are working with. 

Cookies should be baked only until the edges start to go golden. They should come out still soft to the touch. If you bake them until they are hard, they will continue to harden once you take them out. If you chip a tooth on your cookies, it will be hard to rekindle your love for them. 

If you have overbaked them, consider storing them in an airtight container with a slice of bread or apple. The moisture from the bread or apple can help to soften them. You could also pop them in the microwave with a cup of water for 30-second intervals until they have softened sufficiently. Unfortunately, fixes for your cookies at this stage are hard to find, it might just be easier to go your separate ways. 

How to fix dry cookies after baking

What Can I Do With Dry Cookies?

Not ready to give up just yet? Want to fight for this love? If you are at the stage where you have baked your cookies and they are too dry to eat with any love or enjoyment, your best bet is to change up your relationship. 

All is not lost with dry cookies, they make a great base for a cheesecake, are delicious crushed and sprinkled over ice cream, cream, or hot chocolate, can be a tasty addition to a homemade chocolate bar, or can be crushed finely and used as a garnish on dessert plates or cakes.

So there you have it, my definitive guide on how to fix dry cookies. With a bit of preparation and some clever hacks, dry dough can be a thing of the past. 

Remember, try not to add too much flour, or too little liquid, and be really careful not to overwork the dough. If the end result is still hard and dry, consider reusing the cookies in another recipe – the perfect excuse to keep baking!

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