Why Don’t My Cookies Spread?

Why Don’t My Cookies Spread?

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Some individuals favor crisp flat cookies, while others prefer tall, thick, cakey, and textured cookies. I, for one, like a large, huge cookie. To me, the ideal cookie is a round, flat, traditional chocolate chip cookie that resembles the ones Cookie Monster eats on the show. Yum.

Of course, perfecting a cookie isn’t always simple. You can stumble across a recipe, do your best to follow it, and end up with a cookie that looks nothing like the one in the recipe. Sometimes your cookies will be overly flat, and other times they may not flatten at all.

There are several reasons why cookies may not spread. The quantity of dry ingredients, temperature, and leavening agent all have a role in how much your cookies spread.

My name is Angie, and I’ve been baking cookies for almost 10 years. You name it: sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, thin cookies, thick cookies. In this post, I’ll go through the reasons why your cookies don’t spread and how you may fix them.

Lets get into it!

Why Don’t My Cookies Spread?

Before we go into the causes, let’s speak about the chemistry of cookies. Baking is, after all, a science.

Five Components

A traditional cookie has five primary ingredients: sugar, oil, gluten, emulsifier, and leavening agent. Typically, a cookie recipe begins by combining sugar and fat to generate an aerated foundation that will ensure the cookies are wet and spread out.

The flour is next added to provide our cookies structure, as well as a leavening agent (baking soda or baking powder) to cause our cookies to expand in volume. All of this is then bonded together using an emulsifier and some liquid; in many situations, this is when the eggs are added.

The moist components all add to the spreading of your cookie, while the dry elements keep it together.

5 Reasons Cookies Don’t Spread and How to Fix It

1. Too Much Flour

The most typical cause of your cookies not spreading is because you used too much flour. Adding more dry ingredients than the recipe asks for might result in a stiff dough. The excessive quantity of flour absorbs moisture and fat in the dough, reducing its capacity to spread.

This often occurs when measuring cups are used improperly. When it comes to describing quantities in recipes, words like heaping, rounded, and scant may make a big impact.

If your cookie dough has to be kneaded or rolled out, you’ll need to use flour to keep it from sticking. In this situation, adding too much flour may also contribute to your cookie not spreading.


Converting cup measurements to metric measurements has spared me from making several of these readily preventable errors. You can never go wrong with knowing the actual weight of a component rather than the volume.The simplest option is to use metric recipes. Changing from imperial to metric

Another tip I’ve learned is to set aside 10% of your dry ingredients and gradually bring them in at the end of the procedure. This way, you’ll be able to see how your dough evolves and have more control over its texture.

2. Dough Too Cold

Many cookie recipes call for chilling the dough before forming it into dough balls. This is due to the fact that your dough must firm before it can be formed.

Depending on the kind of cookie, the chilling period might range from 30 minutes to overnight. The cookie dough may also be frozen for up to three months. The cookie dough will take longer to bake due to its low temperature and even lower interior temperature.


Sometimes a tall cookie with a little undercooked middle is precisely what you’re looking for. Sometimes you want your cookie to stretch out a little more. If this is the case, defrost your frozen cookie dough in the refrigerator before transferring it to a baking sheet.

If you’ve kept your cookie dough in the fridge for longer than the recipe calls for, just leave it out for 10 minutes before baking to bring it back to room temperature. Alternatively, you may bake your cookies for a few minutes longer in the oven.

3. Cold Butter

Another reason your dough may be too chilly is if you used cold butter. You must, once again, pay close attention to every aspect in your recipe. I know your mouth is watering and you don’t want to wait another second for these cookies, but this is one of those occasions when patience is required.

When you use cold butter in your cookie dough, the milk component in the butter evaporates and generates steam, giving the finished cookie a more textured and taller appearance. Softened butter, on the other hand, melts more rapidly in the oven, causing the cookie to spread.


If you used cold butter to your cookie dough but afterwards learned you should have used softened butter, let it out at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes.

This will allow your butter to reach the same temperature as your dough. Just remember to mix everything together to ensure that everything is properly combined before rolling the dough into balls.

4. Oven Temperature

Most recipes, whether for cookies, cakes, or brownies, ask for a preheated oven. Preheating your oven guarantees that the temperature remains constant and does not vary.

Most cookie recipes ask for a 375°F oven temperature. If your oven isn’t hot enough, the fats in your dough may not melt, resulting in a cookie that doesn’t spread.


The remedy is simple; just ensure that your oven is set to the proper temperature! Most ovens have a thermometer or a screen that displays the internal temperature, if not a light that signals when it has finished preheating.

That may be sufficient, but I strongly advise you to get an oven thermometer and place it in the inner corner of your oven to ensure the temperature is precise.

5. Leavening Agent

Some cookie recipes call for baking soda, some for baking powder, and still others for both. Whatever the situation may be, there are a few basic things to keep in mind when adding your leavening agent.

First, check sure it isn’t out of date. Obviously, your leavening agent must be within its expiry date in order to function properly. Expired leavening agent would have lost its leavening effectiveness, making it incapable of assisting your cookie to expand and spread.

The quantity of leavening agent used is also important. Too little leavening means not enough leavening; too much leavening causes your cookie to rise too rapidly and deflate before it comes out of the oven.


Check the expiration date of your leavening agent to ensure it is not expired before putting it in. You should also ensure that you are following the recipe correctly, that you are using the correct quantity of baking soda or powder.


If you’re wondering why your cookies don’t spread, you may also be interested in the following answers. I’ll respond to them below.

Why are my cookies spreading out so much?

If you use too much of the wet ingredients, the cookies will be excessively spread out. This is because fats, whether butter or shortening, dissolve when heated.

Do cookies flatten while baking?

If the ratios are accurate, your cookies should flatten to the proper flatness during baking.

How to fix cookies that spread too much?

If your cookies are spreading too much, add extra flour to the mixture gradually to absorb some of the moisture. You may also refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes since cold dough takes longer to spread in the oven.

Final Thoughts

I know we all desire cookies that are both delicious and visually appealing. When you simply can’t seem to get it perfect, it might be discouraging.

I hope you found this essay informative. Try these methods the next time you make cookies to produce a properly spread cookie. If you’re a perfectionist, it may take a few attempts to alter the recipes to your satisfaction, but I’m certain they’ll still be tasty even if they don’t look ideal.

Do you want your cookies to be flatter or taller? How do you go about doing it? Share your cookie-making tips in the comments section.

About Angie


How do you fix cookies that don’t spread?

Measure the flour correctly.

The cookies will spread if there isn’t enough flour to retain the melted fat. Spoon and level your flour, or better yet, weigh it. If your cookies continue to spread, add an additional 2 tablespoons of flour to the cookie mixture.

How do I get my cookies to spread more?

How to Get a Good Spread on Warm Dough. To ensure a nice spread during baking, consider using warm cookie dough rather than refrigerating it.
Dough that has been refrigerated.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Make use of new baking powder.
Use the appropriate baking sheet.
Use a Scoop and avoid overcrowding.
Avoid overmixing.
Pour in more liquid.

Why did my cookies stay square?

You did not use the appropriate quantity of flour.

If you use too much flour, your cookies will be cakey. If you use too little flour, the cookies may not have enough structure to hold up in the oven, resulting in flat cookies.

What makes cookies spread a lot?

Sugar and fat excess

Measuring is essential in baking. Excess sugar or fat in your cookie will cause it to spread when baking. If your first batch of cookies spreads, try adding a few tablespoons of flour to the remaining dough to help thicken it.

What happens if you overmix cookie dough?

7. The dough is overworked. If you over-mix (or lay out) cookie dough, it will absorb too much air, causing it to rise and then fall flat in the oven. Excess gluten development may also arise from overmixing the dough, resulting in thick cookies.

Should you chill cookie dough before baking?

The spread of cookie dough is controlled by chilling it.

The fat in the cookies is solidified by chilling the dough before baking. The fat in the refrigerated cookie dough takes longer to melt than room-temperature fat while the cookies bake. Furthermore, the longer the fat stays solid, the less the biscuits spread.

Does parchment paper keep cookies from spreading?

Spreading is aided by greased cookie sheets. Giving your cookies something to stick to, so to speak, such as an ungreased baking sheet or one coated with parchment or Silpat, might help them spread more slowly. A greased baking sheet just helps hot, melting cookie dough to spread wider.

What ingredient controls how much a cookie will spread?

Sugar does as well. Cookies with a lot of sugar tend to spread more than those with less sugar. And using coarse sugar will cause your cookies to spread more. Spread may be reduced by using granulated sugar, superfine sugar, or confectioners sugar.

How do you make cookies fluffy instead of flat?

When creamed with sugar, room temperature butter has precisely the proper consistency to incorporate air. Because of the trapped air pockets, the cookies rise and become fluffy. If the butter is too heated, it will not incorporate enough air, causing your cookies to rise less.

Does baking soda make cookies spread?

Baking soda also has another significant function in cookies: it promotes spreading by increasing the pH of the mixture, which delays protein coagulation. This allows the dough to set before the eggs set, resulting in a more uniformly cooked cookie.

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