Sometimes cookie dough turns out too soft or runny. Runny cookie dough results in cookies that spread out…a LOT. Today I want to show you the best ways to thicken cookie dough if you are having this problem!
How thick should cookie dough be?
We need to start here: how thick should cookie dough be anyway?
The truth is, this depends entirely on the recipe you’re making.
Some cookie recipes WILL have a runnier dough than others. For example, some crinkle cookies use equal parts of flour, butter, and sugar. This results in a runnier dough, since most common cookies use MORE flour than the other ingredients.
What do I do if my cookie dough is too runny?
So if your cookie dough looks like it is on the runny or sticky side, the first thing I want you to do is not panic.
If you’re working from a recipe that has pictures, make sure to compare your dough to the pictures! If the pictures look runny as well, then you’re probably fine.
If you don’t have pictures to compare to, there is another thing you can do to test out if your cookie dough is too runny.
I recommend baking 1-2 cookies by themselves according to the directions and seeing if they turn out right. If they do, once again, you’re good to go! The recipe probably just uses a wetter, stickier dough.
More Cookie Tips:
Help! My dough looks like batter!
The time you should start to worry more is if your “dough” looks more like a batter. Batters are used for baked goods like muffins – but not for cookies. If your dough looks like batter, you probably have more of a problem.
If you find out that your dough IS in fact too batter-like (for example, if you KNOW it’s too runny because you accidentally messed up the wet ingredients) there are a few things you can do.
1. Add Flour
The most common fix for runny cookie dough is simply adding flour! I know this can seem daunting if you’re used to strictly following recipes. But it can really make quite a difference.
Here’s the thing: baking can really be an exact science. If something is just a bit off, it will affect the entirety of your cookies.
As far as flour goes, you can end up with just enough of a different amount of flour than the recipe to throw off your cookies. If you are measuring flour using measuring cups, the amount can actually vary quite a bit depending on how much you pack in the flour. (This is why I always include ingredient weights in my cookie recipes!)
This may very well be why your dough is too soft.
So here’s what to do: simply add extra flour to your dough in 1 tablespoon increments until the dough reaches the right consistency.
If you’re not sure what the right consistency is, you can again test cooking 1 or 2 cookies by themselves and see how they turn out.
2. Fix the Proportions
Now, let’s say that you know you added too much milk to your wet ingredients by accident.
While you can simply add flour in this situation, you can make your cookies even better by fixing the proportions of ingredients.
For example, if you added twice as much milk as called for, you can simply go back and add twice as much of everything else.
Of course, this will result in a lot more cookies than you originally planned on. But if it’s the choice between this and wasting the dough, I would go for it!
If you’re not sure how much extra liquid you added, this method won’t work as well as you’ll just be guessing.
Thickening Dough Without Flour
To start off here, let me be honest – using flour to thicken cookie dough is really the best method. However, if for whatever reason you’re desperate to not use flour, here are my best ideas.
3. Use Cornstarch
First of all, you can substitute corn starch for flour to use as a thickening agent. You’ll just need to use a 1:2 ratio. So whatever the amount of flour you would’ve added, use HALF as much cornstarch.
One added benefit to using cornstarch to thicken is that it can help make an extra chewy, soft cookie!
4. Add Heat
One other idea is to add heat. This is a much more risky method, but it can work. You can try putting your dough in the oven at the lowest setting and check it often. The main risk here is the dough starting to bake or getting dried out, which is why you should never leave it unattended.
5. Chill The Dough
This is slightly different from thickening, but along the same lines, so I thought I would mention it.
If your dough is just slightly too runny and you notice your cookies are spreading too much when you bake them, it may be that your dough simply needs to be chilled!
This method works best on cookie dough that is wet and sticky (not doughs that look too much like a batter).
Chilling dough causes the butter and overall consistency to harden and become more firm. When you bake cookies from a chilled dough, they will spread less. Generally you will need to chill dough for a few hours to really see a difference.
6. Make a New Batch
This goes without saying, but sometimes you just need to start over. It is painful, I know, especially when you’re wasting good ingredients.
But in the end sometimes it is more worth it to start over than to risk having cookies that don’t turn out as well.
In the end, it’s up to you to make that choice!
More Cookie Questions
Let’s end with a few more questions about cookie dough in general to help you troubleshoot as much as possible.
How do you make cookie dough more firm?
If your dough isn’t necessarily “runny” but just needs to be more firm, chilling is usually your best option! This will stiffen up the dough and make your cookies spread less when baking.
Can you add flour to already made cookie dough?
Yes! While this is not the ideal thing to do, it won’t make too much of a difference. In fact, this is one of the best ways to thicken runny cookie dough.
How thick should cookie dough be?
It depends on the recipe! Some doughs will be wetter than others depending on the ratio of wet and dry ingredients used. However, “runny” is usually not a word that should describe it.
What does adding cornstarch do to cookies?
It can make them thicker and chewier! For this reason, using cornstarch to thicken a runny dough is actually a pretty good idea. Just make sure to use the right ratio. You will only need half as much cornstarch as flour.
How do you thicken edible cookie dough?
If you’re making cookie dough to be eaten without being baked, the same methods apply. Usually a little more flour will do the tricky. Just add it slowly until your dough is the perfect consistency!
Thankfully if your cookie dough turns out too runny, there are a variety of methods you can use to fix it! The best and most common method is adding flour, but you can also try cornstarch, chilling the dough, or adding heat. Hopefully these 6 tips for thickening cookie dough were helpful to you.