There are two types of people in this world: crunchy cookie people and chewy cookie people. To all those who love chewy cookies, this is the article for you! I have tons of tips and tricks to help make your cookies perfectly chewy, even keeping them chewy for days after they bake.
Chewy cookie lovers rejoice! All cookies can be (and should be) chewy.
What Makes Cookies Chewy?
Cookie chemistry is a tricky science to master. The way that the sugar and fat interact with the flour and eggs is something you need to think about in addition to how everything will mix together. Then there is the baking time and temperature which also has a huge effect on the texture of a cookie.
However, if you are looking for a chewy cookie, you are essentially looking for one important thing: moisture. You want a cookie that has more moisture inside, making it soft and chewy rather than crisp and brittle.
Cookies that have a higher moisture content are going to be chewier no matter what so the trick is to figure out how to add moisture to the cookies while still getting a cookie that holds its shape when baked, is fully cooked, and tastes delicious. It can be quite the challenge!
Luckily, I’m here to help and have many, moisture boosting cookie tricks.
One of the biggest factors in baking perfect, chewy cookies is to assess the baking time. You do not want the cookies to bake for too long or they will dry out in the oven. All the moisture in the cookie will heat and evaporate, leaving you with a crisp, very brown cookie- not what you want!
However, you also want to ensure that your cookies are baked long enough to be safe to eat. Most cookie batters contain raw eggs and in order for the eggs to be considered “safe” to consume, they need to reach 160 degrees F.
The first way to determine how long to bake your cookies is to simply read the recipe. Then, check the cookies a little sooner than the recommended time. If the recipe recommends baking the cookies for 10 minutes, then check them after 8 minutes.
When a chewy cookie is fully baked, it will be golden brown around the edges and the center will still be soft. It is a good thing for a cookie to have a soft center but, once again, you do not want it to be raw.
Not only would this not be considered safe to eat, but the cookie will also fall apart as it is still essentially just dough.
When the center of the cookie looks soft but is no longer shiny, that is when you should remove the cookies from the oven. A soft, dull center shows that the batter in the middle of the cookie is baking and is likely safe to consume. It doesn’t take long for a cookie to reach 160 degrees in a hot oven!
Cookies will also continue to bake once you take them out of the oven, especially if left on the hot sheet pan to cool. The residual heat from the pan will bake the cookies more and give them a nice firm base.
The key take away here should be that your cookies will be chewy when the edges begin to brown, the center is soft but not shiny and the cookie has been baking for about the time listed in your recipe. Baking time will vary between each cookie recipe and also will depend on your personal oven.
It can be trial and error for sure! Be sure to write down how long you baked your chewy cookies for on your recipe so you remember it!
The type of sugar that you use in your recipe will have a huge impact on how chewy your cookies are. Why? Moisture! Brown sugar is much more moist than white sugar and it also retains its moisture when it bakes.
Think about how each sugar feels when you measure it- brown sugar packs down into the measuring cup, is firm and slightly wet feeling.
White sugar is dry and grainy, pouring quickly into a measuring cup. The brown sugar definitely has more moisture and is exactly what you want in a chewy cookie!
In addition to choosing to use brown sugar rather than white sugar to make a chewy cookie, you actually want to use less sugar. When baked or heated, sugar will melt and that can cause the cookie to spread.
If the cookie spreads too thin, it will bake quickly and get crispy. Not what a chewy cookie lover wants!
If you are trying to make your own chewy cookie recipe, replace the white sugar with about 75% the quantity of brown sugar. So, if your cookie recipe asked for 1 cup white sugar, only use ¾ cup packed brown sugar.
The cookies will be plenty sweet, spread less and be chewier thanks to the moisture in the brown sugar.
Butter vs. Shortening
You may be surprised to learn that baking cookies with butter will not produce a chewy cookie. Many people find this hard to believe since butter seems to always be the fat of choice.
Butter may have a much richer taste, making your cookies more delicious, but it also has more moisture than shortening. Butter is typically 80% fat and 20% water while shortening is 100% fat.
You actually don’t want that little bit of water when you are trying to achieve a chewy cookie. That water evaporates and causes more gluten formation, making those cookies crispy when baked long enough.
So stick with the shortening and save the butter for another recipe!
The type of flour that you use will have an effect on your cookie texture. Most cookie recipes call for all-purpose flour which usually works wonderfully. Yet all purpose flour contains a moderate amount of gluten which leads to a tougher, stronger cookie texture.
This is great for structural purposes but now to ideal if you want a chewy cookie. If you are able to reduce the amount of gluten in the recipe, the cookies will be more tender and therefore chewy.
One way to lower the gluten content in your cookie recipe while still keeping the structure that gluten provides is to use half all purpose flour and half cake flour.
Cake flour has much less gluten and will give you a chewier cookie. Since you are only replacing half of the quantity of the flour, your cookies will still keep their shape and not spread.
Another option is to use cornstarch in your recipe. Adding about ½ teaspoon of cornstarch for every 1 cup of flour will prevent the gluten in the flour from developing fully.
Cornstarch will also help prevent the cookies from spreading too much, making them nice and thick, keeping the center soft and chewy.
Cool the Dough
One tried and true way to make your cookies chewier is to cool the dough for at least 30 minutes after mixing. When the dough is given time to chill in the fridge, it will not only develop more flavor as he ingredients mingle together, but it will also help the center of the cookies stay soft when baking.
You can chill the dough right in the mixing bowl and scoop it right before you bake or you can scoop the soft dough into balls, chill them on a sheet tray and then bake. Either cooking option works well!
Chewy Cookies vs. Cakey Cookies
A chewy cookie is much different than a cakey cookie. While both are soft, one will be very moist while the other can be quite dry.
You likely want to make sure that you bake the chewier, more moist version rather than the drier option. Just because you like soft cookies doesn’t mean you want on that is more similar in texture to a cake!
There are a few things that can make your cookies cakey rather than chewy. One reason is the type of leavener you use. Recipes that call for baking powder will be more cakey as the baking powder will cause the cookies to puff up in the oven quickly, drying hem out much faster.
Opt for a cookie recipe that utilizes baking soda instead which will give a slower leavening power.
If cookies have too much flour, they will also come out more cakes and crumbly. When you measure your flour, be sure to make each scoop of flour completely level rather than piling it up. It is always a good idea to measure the flour into a separate bowl before adding it to the cookie batter to ensure you do not add too much by accident!
Too many eggs in a recipe can also lead to cakey cookies. Eggs bind the ingredients together and do help add moisture which is essential for a chewy cookie. But adding too many eggs can make for a gummy, dense and cakey cookie.
Stick to the quantity of eggs your cookie recipe asks for- this is one ingredient you do not want to play around with too much!
Make Little Changes
While I have given you many ways to help make chewy cookies, it is important to remember that making too many changes to a recipe can lead to a cookie catastrophe. On the other hand, a few little changes can lead you to the perfect chewy cookie that you have been dreaming of!
My suggestion is to find a cookie recipe that you really like and then assess it using this chewy cookie guide. Beginning with a good recipe will save you a lot of time and trial and error!
Does the recipe use brown sugar or white? Does it have all-purpose flour or cake flour? Are the cookies completely perfect except they seem to cook just a little too long? Answer these questions and then make a small change and try the recipe again.
Swap the sugar for brown sugar or add that teaspoon of cornstarch to the flour mixture to prevent gluten from forming. See how your subtle change makes your cookie even chewier and then, if it still isn’t chewy enough change something else!
Baby step your way to the perfect, chewy cookie!
Keep Your Cookies Chewy
After you have baked an amazing batch of chewy cookies, be sure to wrap them well, storing them in an airtight container or on a plate covered in plastic wrap. Cookies that are exposed to the air for too long will dry out and you know what that means- they will get crunchy!
You can also place a piece of white bread in the container with the cookies to add some moisture. The cookies will absorb the moisture from the bread and this will help keep them soft and chewy.
You now have a lot of insight into chewy cookies, why they are chewy and how to make your cookies even chewier. Chewy cookies are amazing and a recent poll showed that 65% of people in the US preferred chewy cookies over crunchy! The majority has spoken and the chewy cookie has prevailed.
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.