Why are my cookies flat?

+35 votes
asked Mar 3, 2018 in Food & Drink by Chavell (1,110 points)
edited Jun 2, 2019
The last two batches of cookies I made (oatmeal and gingersnaps) were duds. Both cookies come out looking either flat or thin. This is something I have never experienced before and I wonder if anyone can help me identify the cause of this problem. I found a recent cookies recipe online with several people commenting they used it and their cookies were better than ever. So why did mine come our flat and thin? Anyone with an idea about why this happens?

3 Answers

+21 votes
answered Jun 3, 2019 by richelle (860 points)
edited Aug 3, 2019

Here is a compilation of all the possible causes of flat cookies:

  1. You might have used too much sugar or fat.
  2. You might have used all the butter.
  3. The temperature of your oven was perhaps quite low.
  4. Maybe you used a soft dough.
  5. Maybe your dough wasn't chilled properly.
  6. Perhaps you greased your pans too much.
  7. Maybe you placed your dough on warm baking pans.
  8. Maybe your margarine was low-fat.
  9. Maybe the baking powder wasn't enough.
  10. Maybe you added excess egg.
  11. Maybe your flour was a high-protein flour.

Make sure you run a careful check on the material you used.

You can solve this problem using several tips:

  1. Keep your dough refrigerated: Leave it to chill for some hours, or all through the night before you start baking. This is one single most important tip to make sure your dough does not come out with the wrong shape. This will often prevent the melting of the butter in the oven before the starch sets. This will also make the flavor better. If you don't have patience, put the balls of dough into your pan, then leave it in the freezer until your dough becomes firm and cool.
  2. Keep your oven preheated: You don't have to be impatient here, make sure your oven is completely preheated. For the same reason mentioned in Point 1 about melting butter. Also, make sure you have an accurate oven temperature. This applies to all your baking. Get a cheap thermometer for your oven.
  3. Keep your pans cooled: Keep baking sheets in cold water for about two minutes between batches. Never make the mistake of putting your cookie on a warm sheet. Again, always remember how quick butter melts and how quick cookies spread.
  4. Follow the recipe correctly: Weigh on measure all ingredients accurately. Be careful not to add too much butter, which often happens when you use the guide on the wrapper. For precise accuracy, always use a scale for all your measurements. One cup of butter weighs 8 oz/ 22g. Most recipes use much eggs, but make sure the quantity of eggs will not affect the liquid content of your cookies. Always resist the temptation to add some more flour.
+3 votes
answered May 14, 2019 by Leigh (810 points)
edited Jul 15, 2019
Search for the expiration date on the baking powder container. Using expired baking soda or baking powder can give you the wrong results.
commented Apr 7, 2015 by Nataly (620 points)
That's it. Now I know why are my cookies flat.
0 votes
answered Jul 30, 2018 by Iyonna (1,060 points)
edited Jan 13, 2019
The cookie will always be flat if the butter has already melted before you started. Even when the recipe says softened butter, which means you should whip it with eggs and sugar, make sure it is not weepy at all. A good example should be something like the Play Dough: which can be easily bent, but can't bleed towards the foil or run all over your hands.
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