Common cookie problems and how to avoid them

They say baking is an art, but what it really is, is a science. With art you can learn a certain amount of skill but what you really need is talent. Baking is a world of measurements, so when the results don’t turn out quite as you had hoped, don’t be discouraged. Identify the problem, tweak the recipe and try again. To help you in your baking endeavours here are some common cookie problems and how best to avoid them.


In the picture above are six cookies. Five of them have a defect of sorts; the last one is beautifully baked. Either identify your problem biscuit by the picture or by the points below and figure out how to bake it better next time.

Problem #1: Flat, rock hard cookies

If your cookies look like the first one in the above picture, it’s probably because the dough contained too much sugar leaving your biscuit overly crunchy (as in don’t feed them to grandpa) and dark brown. They probably also got stuck to the baking sheet. Ease up on the sugar in the recipe.

Problem #2: Dry and stiff cookies

Did your biscuits not spread out as desired and taste dry and crumbly? You probably have too much flour in the recipe. The excess flour caused too much gluten to form, preventing the cookie from softening and spreading.

Problem #3: Dark and crispy cookies

If your cookies came out resembling the third one in the biscuit line up of shame, it’s likely that they were made from good dough, but either baked for too long or at too high a temperature. So, they probably came out of the oven too brown and too hard. Try removing your cookies from the oven sooner, or perhaps invest in an oven thermometer to check that your oven temperatures are accurate.


Problem #4: Pale and soft cookies

These biscuits aren’t hard to identify from the batch. They were probably baked from a good consistency dough but ended up a bit under baked and raw on the inside. Either the oven temperature is too low or they were taken out too soon. When baking always keep an eye on your cookies and take them out when they’re golden.

Problem #5: Crispy on the outside, raw on the inside

If your cookies look like biscuit number 5, then you’re most likely looking at too much butter in your biscuit dough. That, or the dough wasn’t cool enough before baking. Warm cookie dough or excess butter will cause the cookies to spread too much, baking quickly on the outside but remaining 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.

Problem #6: No problem at all

This cookie is slightly chewy, full of butter and chocolate flavour and beautifully golden brown. It baked perfectly.

Hopefully these explanations have set you on the right track if you’ve been experiencing some 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.


Tips for perfect cookie baking

  • 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 Demarle Silpat Baking Mat. This helps prevent sticking and burning.

What are your most common cookie problems and how have you best avoided them?

Written by Sigrid Kenmuir

Hi, I'm Sigrid (or as I'm known in these parts, Siri). Within these walls, I spend my time learning about our products and writing about them, and a few other things. When I'm not here, I'd like to spend my time reading books, cooking and spending time with friends - in reality, I'm a new mom to a little boy. View more articles by .


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

  2. 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!

  3. 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?

  4. asia says:

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

  5. juanita says:

    Hi … do you have a nice recipe for plain, vanilla cookies ? I wanted to make a batch for my dear granny who isn’t really fond of the choc chip or peanut butter choc chip that I usually make cz they’re “so sweet”

    Thanks !!!

  6. Sabz says:

    My cookies come out soft but not the softness I want. I remember once eating cookies that were extremely soft it just melts in your mouth. Is there a good recipe or tip for this?

  7. Nili says:

    Hey I tried following an eggless cookie recipe but tried experimenting by adding extra sugar and condensed milk which wasn’t the part of the recipe I was able the manage with the temperature but still the burnt the bottom of my cookie and gave me unbaked cookie from middle!
    Can u just find what could be wrong ?
    Can condensed milk burn the cookies

    • Jade Lenferna says:

      Hi Nili. Sugars caramelize very quickly and can burn easily, so what probably happened is that the condensed milk and extra sugar cooked before the rest of the ingredients were able to cook, causing burning on the bottom and raw cookie on the inside. It’s great that you are having fun and experimenting in the kitchen. Keep it up.

  8. Glen Thornton says:

    My cookies look like there’s too much dough but I followed the recipe

    • Jade Lenferna says:

      Hi Glen, sometimes it may look like you have too much dough, but if you have followed the recipe, then the end result should be perfect. If you are still not comfortable, then I may suggest slightly reducing the amount of flour used. Happy baking.

  9. lavlii says:

    I make eggless chocolate chip cookies, but since the magic of egg isn’t there, my cookies turn out hard and crunchy. How canI keep My cookies soft after baking?
    Also I don’t like to use egg replacements like Ener.
    Would tsp or so of milk help?

    • Caroline McLagan says:

      Hi there,

      We have heard that unsweetened apple sauce is a great option. It should keep the cookie soft. Use a 1/4 cup for each egg.

      Happy baking!

  10. zaki says:

    Hello, I used to overbaked my cookies even the recipe told to bake the cookies between 10-12 minutes. The reason I did that because I found my cookies look like undercook. End up, my cookies are too hard. What should i do?

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