Tired of biting into hard, crunchy cookies? Here are some kitchen hacks for how to keep cookies soft — both while baking and when storing them.
Moist, warm cookies are one of life’s great pleasures. But chomping down on a hard, tooth-shaking one? Well, not so much.
In this post, I’ll share some baking ideas for how to keep your cookies soft. Plus, I’ll reveal some hacks for how to store cookies so they stay softer for longer.
🥣 Ingredients for keeping cookies soft
The right combination of ingredients and how you use them can go a long way in helping to keep your cookies soft and moist. Here are some recommendations.
Choosing the proper flour is one of the best ways to create softer cookies. The aim is to choose flour that’s lower in protein. Among those with the lowest protein content is cake flour. This will develop less gluten and yield soft, tender cookies when mixing and baking. If you want chewy cookies, but not too soft, use all purpose flour, which has moderate protein levels.
👉🏼 Related: Is All Purpose Flour the Same as Plain Flour?
Butter is a common ingredient in cookies, but the trick to using butter as a way to keep your cookies soft is to melt it before adding it to your batter. This will create a moist, fudge-like soft texture. Just be careful not to use too much butter. That can prevent the cookies from rising and they’ll end up flat, crunchy, and greasy.
Cornstarch will absorb liquid in the dough, but it won’t create more gluten. That means your cookies will be softer and more tender when they bake and they’ll have more volume. A little goes a long way — just 1-2 teaspoons mixed in with your dry ingredients can make a noticeable difference.
Light corn syrup
Corn syrup is basically a thick, liquid sweetener made from cornstarch. So it makes sense that this would help cookies stay soft as well. It also will give them a smoother texture. And it’s a bit less sweet than sugar. Use either 1-2 tsp of corn syrup or cornstarch, but not both.
👉🏼 Related: Is Corn Syrup Gluten Free?
Dark brown sugar
Brown sugar is denser than white sugar and will also absorb liquids in the dough while mixing. Plus, the molasses in dark brown sugar will add moisture to the dough. Both properties can help keep cookies moist during and after baking.
Egg yolks are lower in protein than egg whites. They’ll provide your cookies with extra fat and help limit gluten development. Both will result in softer cookies overall. Plus, an extra egg yolk will add a richer flavor to your cookies. It’s best to use yolks in combination with melted butter in cookies (rather than creamed butter) if you’re looking to a get moist, fudgy texture.
⏲ Baking methods that keep cookies soft
Now that we’ve looked at a few ingredients to help keep your cookies tender, here are some proven baking techniques that can do the same.
Bake faster at a higher temperature
The longer you keep your cookies in the oven, the more hot air they’re exposed to, which means the more they can dry out. So if your recipe calls for an oven temperature of 350° F, instead bake your cookies at 375° F for 1-2 minutes less. If you remove them from the oven slightly underbaked, they’ll end up being softer.
Move them to a cooling rack as soon as possible
It can be easy to simply pull your cookies out of the oven and leave them to fully cool right on the cookie sheet. But the longer they stay on the hot sheet, the more they will bake.
Instead, move them to a cooling rack just a few minutes after they’re out of the oven so they don’t overbake and become dry.
🍞 How to store cookies so they stay soft
Now that you’ve baked your cookies, how do you make them stay soft for as long as possible? The trick is in the storage.
White bread hack
One clever way to keep your cookies soft is to store them in an airtight container along with a fresh slice of white bread. The bread will give off some of its moisture, allowing the cookies to soak it up and not get dry.
Store at room temperature
It’s best to store cookies at room temperature, not in the fridge. That’s because the cold air in the refrigerator will sap moisture from the cookies and harden them more quickly. That means dry, brittle cookies instead of soft, delicious ones.
Eat within 3 days
Okay, this is less a hack and more a helpful piece of advice. No matter how you bake or store fresh cookies, in most cases, after 3 days they’ll simply start to become drier and harder. We usually have the opposite problem in our household: making them last 3 days!
If you think you’ll have leftovers beyond that, the best option is to freeze them in an airtight container or freezer bag. They should stay good for several weeks.
🍪 How to soften cookies that have hardened
If you do end up with hard cookies and you want to recapture some of their original softness, your best bet will be the microwave. But don’t just pop them in there. You also need to provide some form of moisture for the cookies to absorb.
To do this, wrap your cookies in a damp paper towel, then microwave for 15 seconds. Repeat until you reach your desired consistency.
Using a cookie jar is actually not your best option when it comes to storing cookies. Most are not airtight, so air can seep in and dry out cookies faster. Instead, use an airtight plastic container or resealable plastic bag to keep cookies soft and fresh for longer.