When making homemade cookie dough it can be really easy to accidentally mess something up. There is no shame in it and it happens to all of us from time to time, you aren’t the first person to have a dry dough and have no idea how you caused it. Thankfully, there is a lot of information available for how to fix dry dough, how to know if it is too dry, and also how to avoid making the same mistakes again. So fear not, you are about to learn all you need to know about how to fix dry cookie dough.
Table of Contents
- What Makes Cookie Dough Too Dry?
- How To Fix Dry Cookie Dough
- Best Ways To Avoid Dry And Crumbly Cookie Dough
- Does Dry Cookie Dough Ruin Cookies?
- FAQs On Dry Cookie Dough
What Makes Cookie Dough Too Dry?
There are a lot of reasons and factors that can cause your cookie dough to be dry without you actually being able to pinpoint the exact reason. While it can be difficult after the fact to know what you did wrong, at least understanding the reasons will give you a good idea on how you can avoid it next time and fix it this time.
Too Much Dry Ingredients
Firstly, a huge reason a lot of people end up with crumbly cookie dough is because they add too many dry ingredients. It can be easy to just ignore measurements and add flour, baking soda, and brown sugar as you see fit but without the correct ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients, you are going to end up with an incredibly dry cookie dough.
Not Enough Liquid
With that being said, there is also another reason your dough could be dry which is the complete opposite. You may have not added enough liquids or wet ingredients to your dough. I promise that this is a different problem than having too many dry ingredients, despite them sounding incredibly similar.
When you add melted butter, egg yolks, and vanilla extract to the dough you want to make sure you add enough at each step. A lot of people can be scared of having sticky cookie dough so they go too lightly on the wet ingredients, giving themselves the complete opposite problem.
While it can be difficult to tell the difference, dough will react differently when it has a lack of liquids and when it has a lack of fats. Both of these are essential to the dough and neither ingredient should be lacking. Fat is not only important for the flavor of the cookie dough but is also a very crucial leavening agent in the cooking process. The dryness due to a lack of fats is a lot more noticeable in the finished cookies than it is in the cookie dough.
A lack of liquids is just as worrying as a lack of fats. Liquids play the role of keeping everything together once combined. Without enough liquid, all of your dry ingredients like flour and baking powder will have nothing to absorb and hold onto, causing the dough to be crumbly.
Enough liquid is essential for getting the perfect cookie dough consistency as all of your ingredients need to not only be mixed together, but stick together too.
Another very probable reason that dough can be dry is due to over-mixing.
When you introduce flour and water to each other, gluten is formed and developed. To describe gluten, it is a network of proteins which is responsible for the texture of almost all baked goods. As the dough is mixed more, more and more gluten develops. This means that the more you mix the dough, the chewier it gets.
While this is useful for some recipes such as bagels and pizza dough, cookies and a lot of sweet treats could do without that much gluten. You want a very fluffy and soft texture that bounces back if you press it.
How To Fix Dry Cookie Dough
Depending on which issue you are faced with, your best solution to this problem will vary. It can be hard to detect which issue you are actually dealing with. But there are also some all-rounder solutions that are sure to save the day.
Fix Ingredient Ratio
If you have added too many dry ingredients to your dough, such as too much flour or too much sugar, you can try to balance out your dough by rectifying the ratio of ingredients.
While I’m sure it doesn’t need explaining in great detail, the ratio of ingredients is very important as it dictates the overall outcome. If you need a 2:1 ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients, adding too much of either will ruin this. Try and work out exactly how much excess dry ingredients you have added, consult the recipe measurements, and add the appropriate amount of wet ingredients to your dough. This will result in a fair bit more dough than you were initially trying to make but at least the dough will be of a better texture.
Add Lacking Liquid
When it comes to rectifying a lack of wet ingredients, the solution can be a lot easier than you would think.
Firstly, you have to identify which liquid you are lacking. If it is the fat which is missing, then you can easily add more. Note that it should be the same fat that was initially used in the dough as you should not mix two different types. Additionally, when mixing your fat into the dough it is best to use your hands as it will let you control how much you add very precisely as well as being great for mixing it in without ruining the texture of the dough. Using your hands at this stage is the best way to prevent over-mixing.
Adding more ingredients to dry dough, like milk or eggs, can be trickier than adding fat but is still doable. If you are adding eggs, you will want to beat them until they are very liquidy as this will allow them to absorb into the dough a lot easier. Add very small amounts of your liquid at a time and slowly work it into the dough.
Cover the Cookie Dough
If the problem causing you to have dry or crumbly cookie dough is overmixing, there is a very easy solution that will help.
As mentioned, this is a build up of over-developed gluten as a result of you mixing the dough too much. The best way to counter this is to leave it in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and let is sit for an hour minimum at room temperature. This will let the dough rest and the texture will start to be less hard and chewy.
This is to do with the baking soda partially activating before the baking process. Giving your dough time to rest will allow for more carbon dioxide to be released from the baking soda, making your dough more airy.
After this hour has passed, you should immediately start scooping cookie dough and baking your cookies, no more mixing is necessary and would risk the dough being too dry again.
Best Ways To Avoid Dry And Crumbly Cookie Dough
While it is great to know how to fix an issue that you may be facing, what’s even better is knowing how to avoid it entirely going forward. None of these issues previously discussed are going to be made all the time and there are plenty of ways to avoid them. However, mistakes happen and you might cause one of these issues again in the future, but that’s okay. It’s part of being human.
Avoiding overmixing may sound like a difficult task but it is actually incredibly easy once you know a better method for mixing the dough. You want to start off by mixing your butter and sugar together with a hand mixer or a whisk. Keep going until there is an airy and creamy butter mixture that peaks as you pull away from it. You do not want it peaking as much as a meringue would, but little peaks are fine. After this, add all of your other ingredients except from the flour and continue mixing until the previous consistency is back again. Here is the main part of this method, when you are adding your flour it is best to use your hands or a whisk to mix it in. Overmixing it would cause the airy texture to be removed so you want to be gentle. If you are adding any chocolate chips, fold them into the dough with a silicone spatula.
If you are trying to avoid adding too many of either wet or dry ingredients, it is best to take is slowly and stick very accurately to the recipe you are following. Any sugar cookie dough recipes (like this simple 3-ingredient cookie dough), or any normal cookie dough recipe for that matter, will have detailed measurements of each ingredient and it is important to pay attention to that if you want delicious cookies. Adding too much flour or too much melted butter is an easy mistake. But if you’re careful, it can be avoided.
Does Dry Cookie Dough Ruin Cookies?
While sometimes you are in a position to fix dry cookie dough or crumbly cookie dough, other times you simply just have to roll with the punches. A cookie recipe is best to be followed, but sometimes you just have to figure it out on your own. Depending on how dry the cookie dough is, it might be fine if you bake it or it might be a disaster, there is no telling until you try it. Crumbly dough can easily be fixed with a little bit of softened butter so at least it isn’t all futile.
FAQs On Dry Cookie Dough
What to do when your cookie dough is too dry?
If you are trying to fix dry cookie dough, your best bet will be to add more butter to the dough. Do this by hand and be gentle as you do not want to ruin the airy texture that the dough should have. Using your hands also lets you be more precise with the amount of extra butter you add.
How do you moisten dry cookie dough?
If you are trying to revive a cookie dough recipe gone wrong, you might want to grab some extra butter and start massaging it into your dough. If you have crumbly dough that just won’t hold together, butter can be a great help for essentially sticking it together. Massage it in with your hands and add a little at a time.
Can you save dried out cookie dough?
You can easily save dried out cookie dough by figuring out what made it dry and fixing this. A very common issue with cookie dough is that people follow the recipe measurements exactly yet still end up with dry cookie dough. This is most likely because of overmixing and this occurs when you mix the dough far too much that it develops lots of gluten and becomes chewy. The best way to fix this is to let it rest at room temperature for an hour.
Why did my cookies come out dry?
If your cookie dough seemed fine but your cookies still came out dry, you are likely either adding less butter than needed or you are cooking them for too long. Fat helps with the flavor and texture of cookies even after they have been baked and without the needed amount of butter, cookies can be very dry.