Something that many people will eventually come to learn is that baking is a precise balance of measurements. It is not the easiest hobby to get into but if you want to have some delicious, home-baked cookies, the only way that you are going to get them the way you want them is to bake them.
With that being said, if you have never baked cookies from scratch before, then there’s a good chance that you are going to run into some issues getting the cookie dough just right.
There are a number of things that can go wrong when creating the dough. The dough can be too runny or it can end up being so thick that you can’t stir it all together.
The cookie dough might crumble and fall apart or the dough might not be the right shape when you put it into the oven. One of the most common problems that people have with their cookie dough is that it ends up being too sticky.
Typical cookie dough should not be that sticky, although sometimes it can be slightly sticky depending on the work environment you are in. If you notice that your cookie dough is trying to stick to the cookie molds you have or if the dough is so sticky that it will not cut or roll into any shapes, you may be at a loss as to how to fix your cookies.
In order to understand how to fix the problem, you are first going to have to determine what the root of the problem is. From there, once you know what is causing your cookie dough to act the way it is, you can then begin moving to fix the issue.
Once you have a good understanding of what was going on, you can also take the measures necessary to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
This all starts with one thing: understanding what went wrong to make the cookie dough sticky.
What Causes Sticky Cookie Dough?
Sticky cookie dough is often caused by one thing and that is the temperature of the dough. Cookie dough that is trying to stick to everything, not wanting to form any shapes, or even tearing when you do manage to get it into a mold is cookie dough that is too hot to work with if you want your cookies to turn out well.
Cookie dough that is particularly heavy in either butter and/or egg is extremely prone to this problem as both butter and eggs need to be kept in a cold environment if you want them to work well with the rest of the ingredients in the cookie dough.
Whether your dough is simply far too warm or your dough has a lot of egg or butter in it, it will become increasingly sticky to the point where you cannot really even work with it.
Depending on the type of dough you are working with, this can even end up happening if you handle the dough in your hands for too long. The heat from your body can begin to transfer into the dough, heating it up in an attempt to reach your body temperature.
For more sensitive doughs (such as egg- or butter-heavy doughs), this type of contact can cause the dough to become sticky and difficult to work with.
This is something that you will need to keep in mind if you prefer to have a lot of egg and/or butter in your recipes. Thankfully, it is also a common problem that has an incredibly easy solution, although it can be a bit more time-consuming in the moment to try and fix the problem.
Fixing Sticky Cookie Dough
If the problem is that the cookie dough is sticky because it is too hot, then it would be understandable that the solution to this problem is to cool the cookie dough down.
This solution can be applied while you are planning to bake the cookies, although you should factor in the time it takes to cool the dough down into the amount of time it will take to prepare the cookies overall, especially if you are working on a timed schedule.
Typically, you will want to keep the dough in the fridge for a little bit to ensure that it cools down enough that you can handle and shape the dough without fear of it becoming overly sticky even if it has a considerable amount of butter or egg in it.
In fact, if the dough has a lot of butter in it, then you are in luck as butter doesn’t need a lot of time to solidify in the fridge, meaning that you can return to baking the cookies relatively quickly.
If you want to make the dough a little bit easier to handle, then you can roll the dough between some sheets of parchment paper before chilling. This can allow you to get a better grip on the amount of dough that you will need so that you won’t have to struggle with the overly sticky dough when it comes time to take the dough out of the fridge.
If you cannot spare the time to leave the dough in the fridge for a long period of time or if you need to make the cookies by a particular deadline, then there is one last option that you can consider once you have left the dough in the fridge for as long as you can allow.
As a last resort, you can add a very fine dusting of flour to the outside of the dough to make it easier for you to handle. This is a somewhat short-term solution until you put the cookie dough into the mold or the baking sheet that it needs to go on but for many people, this fine dusting of flour is enough in conjunction with cooling the dough down.
If you are trying to get the sticky dough into a mold, then you should dust both the mold and the dough to get the best results and ensure that the dough doesn’t stick or tear when you are trying to get it into place.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.