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The Secret to Moist, Chewy Cookie Dough

I've mentioned before that baking is not my strong suit. I get intimidated by flour and if you add too much of this you could completely ruin it and have to start over. Sometimes it feels like the recipes are too technical and in most cases if you don't follow it absolutely exact if you want it to turn out perfectly. I'm someone that reads a recipe and immediately begins customizing it to fit what I like or the ingredients I already have.

And, not to mention I forget things in the oven quite often...

However, with a TON of practice, recipe testing, reading and research, I think I've uncovered the secret to moist, chewy cookies. But if you also forget things in the oven and are notorious for burning cookies, water, popcorn, then you're on your own there.

There are so many cookie recipes on the internet. I mean how many ways can you really make a chocolate chip cookie or a sugar cookie? What I've learned from reading and trying A LOT of cookie recipes, the key is that exact ratio of flour, butter, egg, and sugar. Moving the amount of any of those ingredients a little to the left or right, will result in a cookie...but just not the one you might have been expecting.

I learned this the hard way.

How to Make Chewy Cookie Dough

The cookie dough recipe I am about to tell you is a perfect cookie base. You can take this cookie dough and add chocolate chips or wafers, marshmallows (after cooking cookies for 8 minutes in oven and adding marshmallows for the last 2 minutes), oats and raisins, Reese's pieces, or Oreo cookie crumbs!

The dough is made from your typical ingredients, I will even include a vegan version for any dairy-free folks: flour, leavener (such as baking soda), salt, sugar, butter, and egg (or flax egg). It's the proper ratio of these ingredients that will get you the perfect moist cookie.

The Type of Flour You Use

For the first several batches of cookies I only used whole wheat flour. I had this chip on my shoulder about using a "healthier" flour option and trying to make it work without using all purpose, but the truth of the matter is...all purpose flour is really the best option.

Whole wheat flour is so thick and dense. I'm not saying you can't use whole wheat flour, I'm getting that you might have to add a little of this and a little of that to get it to smooth out and give you a chewy cookie and not a biscuit.

Every recipe you read for cookies will most likely list all-purpose flour. To convert the recipe to whole wheat flour use about 1/4 cup less than what the original recipe calls for.

The recipe testing has been real, y'all.

Whole wheat cookie dough will be very moist and sticky. To make one batch of cookies you should not need more than 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Keep your recipe at 2 cups or less.

Your Leavening Agent

So you've read a recipe including cornstarch or cream of tartar? Baking powder and baking soda?

Cornstarch helps give cookies a smooth consistency, while also keeping the dough from thinning.

I did learn that cream of tartar is a super secret ingredient to helping bring chewy cookie dough all together. It's what gives snickerdoodles that signature chewy taste we all love!

Baking powder and baking soda aid in helping your cookie hold shape. Too much of one of these will result in a thick, biscuit-like cookie.

Melted Butter or Softened Butter

I prefer softened butter when making cookie dough. Whisking soft butter with sugar creates a nice whipped texture.

Melted butter has turned my cookies into melted, greasy things when cooked. To use melted butter you could increase your flour very slightly, or add a teeny-tiny bit baking soda. Whichever you decide, just add a small amount and mix thoroughly. Scrape the sides of your mixing bowl and pop it in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Melted Butter and Brown Sugar for Cookie Dough
Melted Butter and Brown Sugar

Chocolate Chip Brown Sugar Cookie Dough
Chocolate Chip Brown Sugar Cookie Dough

The whipped consistency of the soft butter and sugar should mix great with all types of flour.

Brown Sugar or Granulated?

The short answer is both!

Granulated sugar helps your cookies spread out during baking, while brown sugar helps hold them together. When brown sugar is heated it turns into caramel, which can cause your cookies to have a crispier texture.

The combination should be somewhere around half cup granulated to half cup brown.

For so long I tried recipe variations using just 1 cup of brown sugar. And although they turned out tasting really good, they would cook a bit too fast and crisp on the bottoms. When brown sugar combines with baking soda and helps leaven the dough, making them puffier.

Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

These cookies above, were bready and too cake-like. They were definitely tasty, but not the texture I was trying to achieve.

To make brown sugar cookies, use the ratio of 2 cups flour, softened butter, and cook for 10 minutes at 300. That should do it!

Eggs and Vegan Egg Supplements

The number 1 best ingredient for soft, chewy cookie dough is eggs.

They bind ingredients together; they help the batter rise while it's baking; and they make your baked goods moist and chewy.

It is possible to achieve a good cookie with a vegan egg supplement. I've made a lot of cookies using flax seeds. The only issue with the flax seed mix is that it is water based and can dry your cookies out. A good idea would be to prep your flax egg mixture about 30 minutes or so in advance.

Flax Egg Instructions

Ground 1 tbsp of flax seeds (1 egg = 1 tbsp flax) and then add your 3 tbsp of water. Once the water is dissolved you should be ready to go.

Ground Flax Seed Egg for vegan cookies
Ground Flax Seed Egg


This recipe is as simple as cookie recipes go. You can add everything to a blender, to a mixer, or whisk it spoon and fork style, like I did.

I read loads of cookie recipes to help me with this one and many of them called for way too much sugar and sweetener additives than I was comfortable with. This recipe calls for 1 cup of brown sugar which is about half the dose of sugar than your typical cookie recipe. Of course you can add as much sugar or vanilla as you want, or a little less; that's what makes making your own cookies so much fun! Customize your cookie how you see fit.




Just the Dough Cookie Dough Recipe

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, very soft

  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tsp vanilla, Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste



Step 1.

Preheat oven to 375

Step 2. Combine the dry ingredients: flour, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

Step 3. Beat the butter and sugars: Using a silicone whisk, beat together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and softened butter in a medium bowl until combined and thick.

Step 4. Mix in the eggs and vanilla: Add the two eggs and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture and beat at medium speed until no clumps or streaks remain, 10 to 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters.

Step 5. Mix in the dry ingredients: Add flour mix to butter and sugar mix. Combine evenly with a wooden spatula so there is no flour showing.

Step 6. At this step you can add in any of your favorite toppings; chocolate chips, nuts, toffee bits, you name it!

Step 7. Chill the dough: If your dough is too soft to roll into balls, scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 15-30 minutes or until dough is thickened.

Step 8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop the dough, about a tablespoon in size, and place on baking sheet.

Step 9. Bake the cookies: Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Let them cool, then enjoy!




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