How to make cookies spread more

Are you sick of small, fat cookies that do not spread properly? Lucky for you we have the solution to all of your problems! Well, maybe not all of your problems. But at least your cookie spreading problems!

In this article we tell you everything we need to know about how to make your cookies spread more. First we provide a quick list of tips that you can try to make your cookies spread more. Next we explain why these tips can help your cookies to spread more. 

Almond flour lemon cookies fresh out of the oven

When should cookies start to spread?

When should your cookies start to spread? If your cookies are going to spread well then they need to start spreading fast. If a cookie takes too long to start spreading then the outer wall of the cookie will cook through and solidify. The outer wall of the cookie will serve as a barrier that holds the gooey insides of the cookie in place and prevents it from spreading. 

How to make cookies spread

Here are some quick tips for how to make your cookies spread more. If you want to learn more or if you want to know why these modifications make your cookies spread better then continue on to the following sections.

  1. Do not refrigerate your cookie dough before shaping the cookies. Use warm dough instead. 
  2. Use melted butter rather than softened room temperature butter. 
  3. Increase the fat content in the cookies. 
  4. Use more white sugar and less brown sugar.
  5. Make sure your baking powder is not old.
  6. Add more liquid to your batter. 
  7. Make sure your oven is pre heated and increase the temperature in your oven.
  8. Take your cookies out of the oven when they are almost done and bang the cookie sheet against a counter. 

Why these methods help cookies spread

1. Making cookies spread by using warm dough

If you want your cookies to spread more then you should use warm cookie dough. You should not refrigerate your dough before shaping your cookies. When you refrigerate your cookie dough, the fats in your cookie dough solidify. Specifically, the butter in the cookie dough solidifies.

The more solid your cookie dough is when it goes into the oven, the longer it will take to start spreading. This is a problem because cookies that do not spread fast will not spread at all. The outer wall of the cookie dough will cook through and solidify before the butter even has the chance to melt and spread out.   

2. Making cookies spread by using melted butter

If you want your cookies to spread more you can use melted butter rather than softened room temperature butter. This tip works for the same reasons that the previous tip does – it increases the ratio of liquids to solids in the cookie dough. We recommend trying to use warm cookie dough with soft semi-solid butter first. If that does not work then you can take things a step further and use melted butter. 

Solidified butter is usually one of the main things that holds cookies in place as they start to cook. If the solidified butter is taken out of the equation entirely then the cookies will be free to spread faster. 

3. Making cookies spread by adding more fat

Fats, and especially melted fats, help to grease things up and make an environment more slippery. Adding more melted fats to your cookie dough will allow the dough to glide effortlessly over the pan. 

If you are going to add more fats to your dough to help your cookies spread then you should consider using liquid fats rather than solid fats. This is because solidified fats can help hold dough in place and prevent dough from spreading. We recommend adding a little vegetable oil or melted butter to your cookie dough.

Gluten free oatmeal cookies

4. Making cookies spread by using white sugar

This tip is particularly useful if you are using a cookie recipe that contains baking soda – which many cookie recipes do! Why do cookies that are made with white sugar spread more than cookies that are made with brown sugar? This is because brown sugar is more acidic than white sugar. This means that brown sugar has a stronger reaction with baking soda than white sugar. This reaction between brown sugar and baking soda causes the cookies to puff up and become thick and cake-like. If you do not want this to happen you should use white sugar. 

If you want to know more about the effects that different kinds of sugar have on different baked goods you should check out this article. 

5. Making cookies spread with new baking powder

Does baking powder expire? It absolutely does! Baking powder generally has a shelf life of 6 – 12 months after it is opened. However, depending on the conditions the baking powder is stored in the shelf life might be even shorter than that. Baking powder is sensitive to moisture and humidity in the air so if it is stored in a warm, humid place it might expire even faster. 

Why does expired baking powder prevent cookies from spreading? Baking powder is the main raising agent in most cookies. If you use expired baking powder then your cookie dough will be densely packed together which means that it will not grow in any direction. Instead the cookie dough will remain in a dense, tightly packed ball. 

6. Making cookies spread by using more liquid

This one is a no brainer. If you have ever accidentally added a few tablespoons of liquid to a cookie recipe rather than a few teaspoons you will know that cookies that have a lot of liquids do not hold their shape well. If you add a little extra liquid to your cookie dough then the dough will start to spread before it is even put into the oven. 

This is part of the reason that using melted butter rather than solid room temperature butter helps cookies spread faster. When you melt the butter and turn it into a liquid ingredient rather than a solid ingredient it increases the ratio of liquid ingredients to solid ingredients in your cookie dough right off the bat.

7. Making cookies spread by heating your oven

Why do cookies spread more when they are cooked in a warm, preheated oven? This is because most cookies contain fats like butter, margarine, or coconut milk that are solid at cool temperatures and liquid at warm temperatures. The temperature of your oven has a huge impact on the amount of spread that cookies can get because the faster you melt the solid fats the faster the cookies will spread. 

Timing is critical when you are trying to get cookies to spread. Cookies can only spread for a certain amount of time before the outsides of the cookies start to solidify and hold the gooey insides in place. That means that you need your cookies to spread fast! Heating the oven up to a higher temperature and melting the solid fats faster will help with this. 

8. Making cookies spread by banging them on your counter

So say your cookies are already in the oven and you notice that they are not spreading properly. You might think “It’s too late, there is nothing that I can do about it now.” But the truth is that it is not too late and there is something that you can do about it! 

If your cookies are a few minutes away from being done and they have not properly spread you can take the baking sheet out of the oven and bang the bottom of the baking sheet on the counter a few times. This will provide a little physical force that will encourage the cookies to spread. This is also a useful strategy if your crinkle cookies are not getting that nice crinkly appearance. 

How to prevent cookies from spreading

If you are interested in preventing cookies from spreading then these tips are still helpful. All you have to do is look at these tips and do the opposite! For example, if using warm dough makes cookies spread then using cool dough will prevent them from spreading. If using melted butter makes cookies spread, then using room temperature softened butter will prevent cookies from spreading. You can also check out the tips in this article. 

Our favorite cookie recipes

Gluten free oatmeal cookies

This recipe for almond flour oatmeal cookies is our absolute favorite cookie recipe! These spiced oatmeal cookies are warm, nutty, and all around delicious! 

Almond flour lemon cookie on a baking sheet

I absolutely love lemon flavored baked goods! Lemon cookies are my absolute favorite! These vegan lemon cookies are also made with almond flour which means they are vegan, gluten free, dairy free, and egg free! It doesn’t get much better than that!

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