Common cookie problems and how to avoid them

I’ve written about chocolate chip cookies before, and all the various things that can go wrong with them (you can go back and find the recipe here). But, how do you know what went wrong with your cookies? And how do change your recipe to avoid the mistake next time? If these are your questions, then hopefully this post is for you.

In the picture above there are six cookies. Five of them have a defect of sorts; the last one is beautifully baked. Let’s go through them and see what went wrong.

1. The dough contained too much sugar. This cookie is rock hard, too brown, and sticks to the baking sheet. The excess sugar has spoiled the texture, making it tough, and it has also caused the cookies to brown excessively.

2. The dough contained too much flour. This cookie did not spread out as desired, and is too dry. The excess flour caused too much gluten to form, preventing the cookie from spreading. It also dried out the dough, leaving the cookies dry and flavourless.

3. The cookies were baked for too long, or at too high a temperature. These cookies were made from good dough, but over baking left them too brown and too hard. If this is your problem, remove your cookies from the oven sooner, or get an oven thermometer to check that your oven temperatures are accurate.

4. The cookies were under baked. These cookies were also made from good dough, but under baking left them pale and slightly raw inside. Cookies should be baked until slightly golden, but not hard.

5. The dough had too much butter and/or the cookies were not chilled before baking. Warm cookie dough or excess butter will cause the cookies to spread too much, and bake quickly on the outsides but stay raw in the middle. Next time, chill your cookies in the fridge for 10 minutes before you bake them. If the problem persists, use less butter.

6. The cookie dough was perfect, and the cookies were baked beautifully. This cookie is slightly chewy, full of butter and chocolate flavour and beautifully golden brown.

Hopefully these explanations have set you on the right track, if you’ve been experience cookie woes. Remember, practice makes perfect. Everybody’s kitchen equipment and ingredients are slightly different, so it might take you a few tries to perfect your cookies even if you have a great recipe.

Here are a few parting tips for cookie making:

  • Leaving your cookie dough in the fridge overnight will make for more delicious cookies, plus the dough will be easier to work with the next day.
  • Watch your cookies very carefully while they are baking – you want to take them out at exactly the right moment, when they are golden but not hard.
  • If you like thinner, crisper cookies, reduce the amount of flour you use slightly.
  • Bake your cookies on baking parchment or on a silpat baking mat. This helps prevent sticking and burning.

Good luck friends, I wish you the best chocolate chip cookies Yuppiechef kitchen tools could make.

Written by BakeLoveNotWar

Diné is the genius behind Bake Love Not War. She is a software developer, web designer, food writer and of course a baker. Besides baked goods she also loves Earl Grey tea, a good book, sunsets, mountains, and Great Danes. View more articles by .

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  4. my cookies are grainy, a little dry, and slightly powdery after some time; can you pl help?

  5. Tom birt says:

    My late mom used to make what she called Middletown Cookies (she got the recipe from a lady who lived in Middletown Ohio). She gave me the recipe but when I cut the dough it is too dry and tends to break apart. When she made them I know it stayed together. Here’s her recipe, can you help me fix it?

    1/2 c shortening
    1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
    3/4 c granulated sugar
    1 beaten egg
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/2 c chopped nuts
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 c flour
    2 tsp baking powder

    Mix ingredients, form into a roll and chill overnighting. Mom used to use a paper towel roll lined with waxed paper.

    Slice thin (about 1/4″) and bake @425 for 8-10 minutes, making 4 dozen.

    She states that to make a double batch you double all the ingredients except the flour, using only 3-1/2 c flour.

    • Yuppiechef says:

      Hi Tom,

      We’ll pass the recipe on to our brilliant bakers and see if they pick up on anything.

      But in the mean time, if you haven’t done our free online baking course, The Art of Baking, ( Sarah explains a lot in there about the ratios required in baking recipes, so perhaps that could help you figure out what’s a miss in your mom’s cookie recipe :)

      We’ll let you know if we figure it out on our side!

  6. Min says:

    Hi, I followed the instructions given on the website but I couldn’t get the right texture of cookie dough! My dough is not as dry as it seems to be, it’s still quite creamy texture/form after I add in all my flour:( may I know what’s the problem? Is it because I me to beat the butter and sugar until the sugar is totally dissolved?

  7. asia says:

    Tom birt i think you add too much baking powder…only half teaspoon will be enough.

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