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6 Simple Ways To Thicken Runny Cookie Dough

This article will guide you with the best ways to thicken cookie dough, with a few frequently asked questions (because we’ve all been there).

The best ways to thicken cookie dough are to chill it, add binding agents, and use softened butter instead of melted butter. There should be a balance of wet and dry ingredients to achieve thick, firm, and moist cookie dough. Adding more ingredients that help absorb water will thicken the dough. 

So don’t be ruined by runny cookie dough, be a baller baker and thicken that dough!

A glass bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough

Why Is My Cookie Dough Runny?

Cookie dough becomes runny when it hasn’t been chilled, or it doesn’t have enough binding agents to thicken it. Chilling the dough allows the fats to solidify, thickening the dough. Flour is a binding agent in cookie dough. The more flour added, the thicker the cookie dough will be.

Keep in mind baking is all about science and balance. Having the right balance of wet and dry ingredients is essential. Runny dough indicates something is off balance, whether you mismeasured or forgot to add an ingredient.

But knowing how the ingredients react during the baking process will help you understand how to fix runny dough. All the ingredients work together to create the perfect cookie texture and taste after going through the baking process. 

Can I Bake Runny Cookie Dough?

Baking runny cookie dough will result in flat, hard, and brittle cookies. Since there’s not enough binding agent to keep the ingredients together, the ingredients will rapidly spread. The heat activates the caramelization of sugars and creates a brittle texture as the dough thins and spreads.

Runny dough can be a big problem, and baking it without thickening it may result in flat, brittle cookies the Cookie Monster wouldn’t even eat. 

Reasons To Thicken Your Runny Cookie Dough

The following are reasons to thicken runny cookie dough before baking: 

  • Easy to form: Even if you can form balls from the runny dough and place them on a cookie sheet, they will spread out too much, and more than likely be unedible. So, unless you’re interested in super thin cookie brittle that you can break your teeth on, it’s best to try to thicken that dough!
  • Even baking: You want them to be nice and thick, so they hold their shape as they bake. 
  • Moist and tender: Thickening your cookie dough will help provide the perfect cookie texture–a soft, chewy, and crispy outer layer. 

The 6 Best Ways To Thicken Cookie Dough

Many, many bakers fall victim to runny cookie dough at some point. So, don’t let it discourage you because it’s easy to fix. And there are several ways to thicken your cookie dough to achieve delicious, mouth-watering cookies. 

The following are some of the best ways to thicken cookie dough:

  1. Chill the dough.
  2. Add more binding agents.
  3. Softened butter instead of melted.
  4. Add a bit more sugar to the batter.
  5. Ensure the correct measurements are used.
  6. Add oats for texture and thickening.

Let’s explore the above-suggested a little more, so you can fix your dough and get back to baking!

1. Chill the Cookie Dough

Chilling cookie dough for at least 30 minutes before baking is one of the best ways to thicken it. Chilling the dough allows the fats from the butter and eggs to solidify, becoming firm with a uniform texture. As the cookies bake, the dough spreads slower and keeps form better than unchilled dough.

Side view of a glass bowl with chocolate chip cookie dough

Typically, recipes call for you to chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before baking, especially chocolate chip cookies, and there’s a good reason for this crucial step.

When you chill cookie dough, the fats in the dough solidify, becoming firmer, which makes it easier to handle when rolling and cutting out shapes. The chilling process also helps to give cookies a more uniform shape and texture. 

Additionally, chilling cookie dough can help to prevent spreading too much while baking, resulting in thicker cookies with defined, crispy edges.

To chill cookie dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using. 

2. Add More Binding Agents

One of the best ways to ensure your dough has the right consistency is to add ingredients like flour, cornstarch, or cocoa powder. These ingredients act as binding agents, helping the dough hold its shape when baked.

When you add binding agents to thicken the dough, add a little at a time. There’s nothing worse than cookie dough that’s too runny! 

Increasing the number of binding agents (binder) can help thicken the dough because a binder is what holds the ingredients together.  

For example, if you’re baking cookies that call for many eggs, like meringues and macaroons, you’ll need to add an extra egg white or two to help the dough hold its shape. Macaroons are especially finicky—the more egg whites you use, the better they’ll keep their shape in the oven.

Binder Ingredients in Cookie Dough

The following are typical cookie ingredients you can use to increase the thickness of your runny cookie dough: 

  • Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Arrowroot powder
  • Eggs

Flour: A Little Goes a Long Way

Adding flour to cookie dough is one of the easiest and most common ways to thicken it. Flour absorbs the excess moisture and holds the ingredients together. All you need to do is mix in a small amount of flour until the desired consistency is achieved. 

However, the following are a few things to keep in mind when adding more flour:

  • First, too much flour can make the cookies dry and hard, so it’s essential to add it slowly and in small amounts, like a tablespoon (14.3 g). 
  • Additionally, it’s best to sift the flour before adding it, as this will help distribute it evenly throughout the dough. 
  • Finally, mix the dough thoroughly after adding the flour so that any lumps are broken up, and all ingredients are evenly combined. 

How To Add Cornstarch To Thicken Cookie Dough

Cornstarch is an excellent thickening agent because it’s flavorless and won’t affect the texture of your cookies. 

To use cornstarch, simply follow these steps:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon (14.3 g) of cornstarch into 1/4 cup (59 ml) of cold water
  2. Then add the mixture to your cookie dough.
  3. Mix the cornstarch and dough to create an even texture.
  4. If more is still needed, repeat the previous steps a little at a time.

Add Arrowroot to the Mix

As with cornstarch, arrowroot powder is an excellent binding agent for thickening cookie dough without changing the overall flavor, and you use it similarly to cornstarch.

To use arrowroot, simply follow these steps: 

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon (14.3 g) of arrowroot powder with 2 tablespoons (29.6 ml) of cold water.
  2. Stir until it forms a paste. 
  3. Then add the paste to your cookie dough and mix until it’s fully incorporated.
  4. If the texture and thickness haven’t been reached, repeat the steps until you have firm, moist, and easy-to-handle cookie dough.

Thicken the Dough With More Eggs

It’s easy to thicken cookie dough by adding an egg or two. Eggs are already a common ingredient in cookie dough, so you may already have them on hand. You can also use an egg substitute if you prefer. 

Mixing an extra egg into your runny cookie dough will make it thicker because eggs bind ingredients as their proteins set.

Related How To Make Cookies Less Crumbly | 6 Easy Fixes.

3. Use Softened Butter

Softened butter instead of melted butter can create thicker cookie dough because the butter fats are still somewhat solidified. This allows the butter fats to melt slowly under heat, creating a slower dough spread. Butter helps to bind the ingredients together, and it also adds flavor and texture to the cookies.

A montage of chocolate chip cookie dough and softened butter in a small glass bowl

One of the best ways to thicken cookie dough is by using softened butter. While many cookie recipes call for melted butter, it’s best to use softened butter instead because melted butter can cause the dough to become too thin. 

You can also reduce the amount of butter in your recipe. Butter is fat, and all fats are considered tenderizers. Reduce the amount of fat in your cookies, and the result will be firmer dough and cookie.

4. Add a Bit More Sugar to the Batter

Sugar is another excellent ingredient that helps thicken cookie dough. Add a little bit more sugar when you add more flour for thickening to absorb the extra moisture causing runny cookie dough. Sugar also helps absorb moisture while the dough undergoes the chilling process.

The type of sugar makes a difference, also. Brown sugar absorbs more moisture than white granulated sugar. The cookie color and texture will differ depending on the kind of sugar you use in your batter.

5. Ensure You’re Using the Correct Measurements

Ensure the correct measurements are used because it can throw off the balance of ingredients. And the dry and wet ingredients need to balance out in a cookie recipe for thick, firm, and moist dough. More wet ingredients cause runny dough, and more dry ingredients create crumbly dough.

If you accidentally add more dry ingredients, add more wet ingredients like eggs to balance out the texture and thickness. 

For fixing runny dough made by using more wet ingredients, use one of the previously mentioned recommendations of adding more dry binding agents.

Having runny dough is definitely a bummer, but it can be fixed!

Related 9 Easy Ways To Measure 3/4 Cup (Without a 3/4 Measuring Cup).

6. Add Oats for Texture and Thickening

Oats are a binding agent that absorbs moisture and thickens runny cookie dough. If you use oats to make dough thicker, you should also use less flour in your recipe. The best way to thicken cookie dough is to combine flour and oats or grind oats into a powder, using it instead of flour.

While oats are an excellent thickener for runny cookie dough, you must be careful not to add too much because the oats can also make the dough too dry. 

It also adds texture to the baked cookies. So, if you like oatmeal or preacher cookies, you may want to try using oats to thicken your runny cookie dough. Or grind the oats into a powder to use like flour.

If you don’t want an oatmeal or preacher cookie-like texture, follow these steps to use ground oats: 

  1. Start by measuring the amount of oats you want to use—typically equal to the amount of flour. 
  2. Then, grind them into a fine powder using a food processor or blender. 
  3. Once the oats are ground, add them to your cookie dough and mix until fully incorporated. 
  4. This should help thicken up your cookie dough and make it easier to work with. Add more, little by little, until the desired texture and thickness are achieved.

How Thick Should Cookie Dough Be?

The thickness of cookie dough can vary based on personal preference, but a good rule of thumb is the dough should be relatively thick and firm but still spreadable. If the dough is too thin, it may not cook all the way through. If it’s too thick, it will spread out too much and cook unevenly. 

If you are using a cookie scoop to measure out your cookie dough, it should look like a heaping scoop with no cracks or holes in the top. If you don’t have a cookie scoop, use a spoon and make sure to scrape off any excess.

Related 10 Ways To Prolong The Shelf Life Of Cookies.

How Can I Thicken Cookie Dough With Flour?

One of the best ways to thicken cookie dough is to use more flour. You can add a tablespoon at a time until the dough is thick enough to form and hold its shape. The dough should be firm, moist, and easy to spoon or scoop onto a cookie sheet.

Slowly adding more flour to your runny cookie dough is a sure way to thicken it up. Adding a little at a time is essential, so you don’t add too much. Too much flour will result in a crumbly dough because the combination of wet and dry ingredients is unbalanced.

Can I Add Cornstarch to Cookie Dough?

You can add cornstarch to thicken the cookie dough. Cornstarch can be added to any type of cookie dough, from sugar cookies to chocolate chip cookies to peanut butter cookies. The amount of cornstarch you add will affect the final texture of your cookie, so it’s best to add in small amounts.

Keep in mind that adding too much cornstarch can make cookies that are dryer and not as chewy.

Final Bite

I hope this article has helped you take care of that runny cookie dough.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss 6 Ways To Fix Icy Ice Cream (And How To Avoid It).