Hint: It’s starts with choosing the right container.
By Corey Williams Updated December 10, 2019
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Unfortunately, cookies don’t stay perfectly soft and chewy forever. All baked goods will eventually grow old and stale. It’s a sad fact of life, but that’s just the way it is.
This happens because the moisture inside the cookies evaporates over time, leaving behind a dry, crumbly mess.
So what can you do?
How to Make Soft Cookies
Cookie Dough Getty 12/10/19
Credit: Ryan Cutler / EyeEm/Getty Images
Ryan Cutler / EyeEm/Getty Images
If you want a soft cookie tomorrow, you’re going to have to start with a soft cookie today. Here are a few tips for keeping your next batch as pillowy as possible:
1. Use brown sugar instead of white sugar.
Since brown sugar retains more moisture than white sugar, this ingredient swap will help prevent a dry finished product.
2. Use cake flour.
Listen: A lot of recipes call for all-purpose flour for a reason. Don’t go swapping in cake flour without doing your research. However, the lower protein content in cake flour will keep gluten from forming. Less gluten = soft, tender cookies. If you’re comfortable with the recipe and your baking skills, try replacing half the called-for all-purpose flour with cake flour—this slight change may result in a softer cookie.
3. Bake at a low temperature.
The higher the temperature, the harder the cookies. Keep an eye on your cookies while they’re in the oven and, if the recipe instructs you to bake at 350°, maybe try 325° and see what happens.
4. Don’t overbake them.
Just like high temperatures produce hard cookies, so do long baking times. We’re not saying you should underbake them (nobody wants salmonella), but subtracting a minute or two from the recommended cook time may yield a softer cookie. At the very least, don’t leave the cookies in longer than you’re supposed to.
How to Keep Cookies Soft for as Long as Possible
1. Eat them the day they’re baked.
Cookies are always better (and softer) fresh out of the oven. If you want to prep your dough in advance, that’s totally fine—just whip it up and stick it in the freezer until the day you plan to bake and eat your cookies.
2. Store them in an airtight container.
While we love a good cookie jar, it’s important to make sure that you’re storing your cookies in an airtight container. The longer the cookies are exposed to air, the more likely they are to harden. You’ve got to keep that moisture locked in, people! We recommend a tightly sealed Tupperware or Pyrex container. If you must use a cookie jar (because aesthetics are important), just make sure the lid has a tight seal.
3. Store them with a piece of white bread.
If you haven’t heard of this trick, prepare to be amazed: Storing a piece of white bread with your cookies will help keep them nice and soft. The cookies (apparently) absorb the bread’s moisture and stay fresh-tasting for a few extra days. Cool, huh?
How to Moisten Hard Cookies
mr - Chewy Chocolate-Molasses Cookies Image
Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Kay Clarke
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling: Kay Clarke
1. Steam them in the microwave.
Place your cookies in the microwave next to a glass of water. Cook them both for about 30 seconds, and you’ve got yourself a soft, steamed cookie.
2. Wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave.
The moisture from the towel will be absorbed into the cookie when it’s microwaved for a short time. Don’t go crazy—about 10 seconds should do the trick.
3. Use the bread trick in reverse.
The bread trick goes both ways: While we recommend adding the bread before the cookies are stale, tossing a slice in later can’t hurt.
Here’s how it works: Place a slice of white bread in the container with your cookies. Let sit overnight. Enjoy a freshly soft cookie the next day.
All Time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
Credit: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck; Food Styling: Pam Lolley
Now that you know how to keep your cookies soft, it’s time to start baking. Here are some of our favorite classic cookie recipes:
Hungry for more? You can find 100+ delicious holiday cookie recipes right here.
What makes cookies stay softer longer? ›
Baking cookies quickly in a hot oven – at 375 degrees F as opposed to a lower temperature – will make for soft results. They'll bake fast instead of sitting and drying out in the oven's hot air. Ever so slightly underbaking your cookies will give you softer results than cooking them the full amount the recipe says.What can I put in cookies to keep them soft? ›
Corn Syrup (Light)
Light corn syrup is sometimes used in specialist cakes and confectioneries to help keep baked products soft and doughy for longer. Use just a tablespoon for a regular batch of tasty cookies.
- Let the cookies cool completely.
- Separate the layers of cookies with parchment paper so they don't stick together.
- Store in a zipper-lock freezer bag or an airtight container.
- Date and label them so you don't forget what they are!
Simply lay the bread at the bottom of the container and pile your cookies on top of it, seal the lid, and wait a few hours. The cookies will soak up all the moisture from the bread and by the next morning, they will taste as good as the day they came out of the oven gooey.Why do my cookies get hard overnight? ›
They go from soft to hard because they start to dry out, and it begins as soon as you pull them from the oven. (Yikes.) Whatever moisture is left in the cookies is always in a state of evaporation.How do you make cookies chewy and not hard? ›
A lot of cookie recipes use 350°F as the preferred temperature, but if you lower it to 325°F, your cookies will cook a little slower and retain more moisture. Shorten Your Baking Time Another way to keep your cookies chewy and tender is to try baking them for less time.Why do my homemade cookies get hard? ›
The most common reason that cookies are tough is that the cookie dough was mixed too much. When flour is mixed into the dough, gluten begins to form. Gluten helps hold baked goods together, but too much gluten can lead to tough cookies.What is the secret to chewy cookies? ›
Cornstarch helps product soft and thick cookies. Using more brown sugar than white sugar results in a moister, softer cookie. An extra egg yolk increases chewiness. Rolling the cookie dough balls to be tall and lumpy instead of wide and smooth gives the cookies a bakery-style textured thickness.What makes cookies soft and flat? ›
If your cookies repeatedly turn out flat, no matter the recipe, chances are your oven is too hot. Here's what's happening. The butter melts super quickly in a too-hot oven before the other ingredients have firmed up into a cookie structure. Therefore, as the butter spreads so does the whole liquidy cookie.How do bakeries keep cookies fresh? ›
To extend the shelf life of products, many bakers use specially formulated enzymes for preservation. These naturally occurring protein compounds can keep baked goods soft while preventing crumbling and staling.
How do you keep homemade cookies fresh for days? ›
Baked cookies will stay fresh for three days in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. If you decide to freeze baked cookies, plan to defrost and serve them within three months.Is it better to store cookies in tins or plastic containers? ›
Metal tins keep cookies firmer than plastic bins. Let cookies cool before storing.
Dry cookies, like shortbread cookies, gingersnaps, and Danish butter cookies, will stay fresher for longer because they have very little moisture.Can cookies still be soft after baking? ›
When a light-colored cookie is done, it should hold its shape. However, it may look a bit puffy or soft in the center, too. This is normal and simply means that the cookie may continue baking on the sheet and rack once removed from the oven.How do you keep Christmas cookies fresh? ›
Use Airtight Containers
Once your cookies have cooled, store them in layers in airtight containers. Separate each layer with a sheet of wax paper to prevent the cookies from sticking together. Do so, and you should be able to store Christmas cookies at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, notes Auxer.
Most cookies are still soft when done (they harden as they cool) and will continue to bake on the cookie sheet once removed from the oven. Remove cookies from the cookie sheet as soon as they are firm enough to transfer, using a spatula, to a cooling rack or paper towels to finish cooling.Do cookies harden up when they cool down? ›
It is important to note that, most of the time, a cookie isn't completely done cooking until up to 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven: as it cools it firms up, sets, and finishes baking.What makes cookies hard or soft? ›
Butter contributes milk solids and water to a cookie, both of which soften it. Brown sugar contributes molasses – again, a softener. Using lower-moisture sugar (granulated) and fat (vegetable shortening), plus a longer, slower bake than normal, produces light, crunchy cookies.What is the golden rule in baking cookies? ›
"My golden rule for baking is make it cold and bake it hot," she said. The food and lifestyle maven said that using frozen butter over a box grater creates perfect size pieces. "You'll have no problem with it making the most beautiful flakiness -- in biscuits, scones, pie crusts and other laminated doughs."What are at least 2 things that make a cookie spread more? ›
- Room Temperature Butter. If it's too soft, it will melt faster in the oven and ultimately spread out. ...
- Excess Sugar and Fat. Measuring is key in baking. ...
- Mixing Butter & Sugar. ...
- Dough is Too Warm. ...
- Greased Cookie Sheets. ...
- Warm Cookie Sheets. ...
- Oven Temperature. ...
- The Test Cookie.
Is it better to use butter or shortening in cookies? ›
Which One Should I Use in Cookies? Basically, cookies made with butter spread more and are flatter and crisper if baked long enough. However, they are more flavorful than cookies made with shortening. Cookies made with shortening bake up taller and are more tender, but aren't as flavorful.Can I use salted butter instead of unsalted for cookies? ›
You can use salted butter instead of unsalted butter if that's all you've got — especially if you're making something simple like cookies where the chemistry of adding salt in a specific amount and at a certain time won't have a meaningful impact on the outcome (as it would with yeasted bread).Why are my cookies puffy and hard? ›
Q: Why are my cookies so puffy and cakey? Whipping too much air into the dough. That fluffy texture you want in a cake results from beating a lot of air into the room temperature butter and sugar, and it does the same for cookies. So don't overdo it when you're creaming together the butter and sugar.What keeps cookies soft and chewy? ›
Keep Them Sealed
The key to keeping cookies fresh and soft is to seal them in an airtight container, like a resealable freezer bag. And here's a nifty little trick: add a piece of bread to the bag. You might think that the bread trick works because the cookies absorb moisture from the bread.
- High sugar and liquid content,but low fat content.
- High proportion of eggs.
- Strong flour,or gluten developed during mixing.
Since it is not being creamed and aerated nor kept in cold pieces that create steam in the oven, melted butter does not serve the same roll in leavening pastries as softened and cold butter do. However, it does still play a roll in the texture. For instance, using melted butter in a cookie recipe will make them chewy.How can I make my cookies fluffier instead of flat? ›
Butter keeps cookies fluffy in two ways. First, creaming cold butter with sugar creates tiny, uniform air pockets that will remain in the dough it bakes up. Second, cold butter naturally takes a longer time to melt in the oven.What temperature do you bake cookies? ›
Cookie temperatures fluctuate, with some recipes as low as 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and a few as high as 425 degrees Fahrenheit, but most recipes land on 375 or 350 to evenly bake the entirety of the cookie.What happens if you put too much butter in cookies? ›
So let's say you accidentally put double the amount of butter in. Simply double all of the other ingredients and mix them in the dough. Now you have the right proportions, and more cookies.Can I store cookies in a Ziploc bag? ›
Cookies stay optimal for two or three days unrefrigerated. If your cute cookie jar isn't airtight (or if you don't know) and you'd still like to use it to store cookies on the counter, put your cookies in a sealable plastic bag before storing them inside the jar and zip your cookies in, keeping air out.
Where is the best place to store home baked cookies to keep them fresh longer? ›
Keep cookies cool
Your stored cookies will stay freshest in a cool, dry place, such as the back shelf of your pantry. Depending on the variety, they'll last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. You can also freeze cookies for up to six months.
As we mentioned, most cookie recipes last up to 3 months in freezer bags or containers when you store cookies unfrosted. Get all the freezing information here.Do cookie tins keep cookies fresh? ›
First of all, tins block sunlight which is important when preserving flavor for most food hence the need for pantries in houses. Also, tins don't add any taste or smell to cookies. And most importantly tins cut down on air and humidity transfer a lot keeping the softness or the crispiness of your cookies.How do you keep cookies fresh for a couple days? ›
If you are planning to eat the cookies within a few days, place them in an airtight container or zip-top plastic bag. You can also place a slice of sandwich bread inside the container, which will absorb excess moisture and help keep the cookies soft.How far in advance can I bake cookies? ›
Aim to make them about 2 weeks in advance at the most if you are keeping them at room temperature. Making them 1 week, or a few days in advance is even better if you are going for the freshest possible cookies.How far in advance can I bake Christmas cookies? ›
You'll find that most of your favorite Christmas cookie recipes can be made anywhere from a month to six months before the 25th of December. (Consult this handy how-to guide to the matter.) Generally, most recipes will be best if baked and then frozen.How do you add moisture to cookies? ›
Just adding more water isn't going to do it. But one liquid we do recommend adding is either corn syrup or golden syrup. It helps to retain moisture and will make your cookies super chewy. Add in 1/4 cup of corn syrup to your dough and enjoy how moist your cookies turn out!What is one trick that prevents humidity when storing crisp cookies? ›
Keep those cookies crisp by storing them in an airtight container. Some people toss a piece of bread in with the cookies to help absorb any excess moisture. You could also re-crisp them by baking on a wire rack in a 300 degree F oven for a few minutes.What happens if you add extra egg to cookies? ›
Too many egg yolks will add too much moisture, making your batch of cookies spongy and cake-like, so don't overdo it — sometimes moderation is the best approach when baking.Is it better to bake cookies with butter or oil? ›
Baking with fats creates a rich tasting experience and more flavor overall. Another plus: cakes and cookies will be moister when baking with fat. Overall, baked goods made with fat taste better, that's a fact 😊.