Unless your cookie dough has the right texture, your cookies will not turn out perfect.
Soft and pliable cookie dough yields delicious cookies with the perfect texture.
But you may sometimes find that your cookie dough is dry and crumbly.
Baking crumbly cookie dough yields tough cookies.
So, what makes cookie dough crumbly?
Let’s find out.
- Reasons for Cookie Dough Turning Dry and Crumbly
- How to Prevent Cookie Dough from Becoming Crumbly?
- How to Fix Dry Cookie Dough?
Reasons for Cookie Dough Turning Dry and Crumbly
When you mix cookie dough correctly, it will have a soft and pliable texture.
The dough should form a smooth ball that holds together.
But it can sometimes end up being dry and crumbly.
Here are some of the reasons for dry dough.
1. Lack of Fat
Cookie recipes include fats like butter, margarine, or oil.
These ingredients lubricate and soften the dough, making it smooth and pliable.
It also holds the rest of the dough together.
When the recipe doesn’t contain enough fat, the ingredients will not hold up.
The resulting dough will be dry and crumbly.
2. Lack of Liquid
Most cookie recipes include a liquid, like milk or cream, as a binding agent.
The main purpose of the liquid is to hold the dry ingredients together and make the dough pliable.
If your dough doesn’t contain enough liquid, the remaining ingredients will not mix.
The dough will end up being dry and crumbly.
3. Too Much Flour
The ratio of ingredients in any cookie dough is important. How you mix them will decide the texture of the dough.
Changing the amount of any of the ingredients can make the dough too dry or sticky.
If there is a slip in measurements and you add more flour than needed, the dough will end up being too dry.
4. Too Much of Other Dry Ingredients
Over-measuring any of the dry ingredients in the recipe can result in crumbly cookie dough.
Even a small slip-up in measurements can affect the texture of the dough.
Excess baking powder or baking soda, even if it’s just an extra spoon, will throw the texture off balance.
It can make the dough crumbly.
5. Overmixing of Dough
The flour used to make cookie dough has gluten.
Kneading dough with liquid releases this gluten, and it makes the dough elastic and stretchy.
There is a fine balance to get the dough texture right. If you overmix the flour, the gluten will work too much.
It can make the dough tougher. Hence, the cookie dough will end up becoming too dry and crumbly.
Cookies made with overmixed dough end up being tough and hard.
6. Over-Chilling Dough in The Fridge
Most types of cookie dough are easier to roll out when you chill it.
It’s a common practice to place the cookie dough in the fridge for an hour after preparation.
But if you refrigerate it for too long, the texture of the dough changes.
The same thing will happen if you don’t cover the dough properly during refrigeration.
The dough will lose its moisture content in the dry and cool fridge environment.
Hence, it can end up becoming crumbly.
How to Prevent Cookie Dough from Becoming Crumbly?
You can prevent cookie dough from becoming crumbly by taking a few precautions.
Let’s find out what they are.
1. Measure the Ingredients Accurately
The easiest and most reliable way to ensure that your cookie dough is the right texture is to follow a reliable recipe.
Secondly, ensure that you measure all the ingredients correctly. Don’t mix up volume and weight.
Use accurate measuring tools like measuring cups or weigh scales to get the measurements right.
This will prevent your cookie dough from becoming too sticky or too dry.
2. Don’t Overwork the Dough
Cookie dough doesn’t need too much kneading.
Over-mixing flour can make the gluten too active and result in tough cookies.
To prevent this from happening, mix only till all the ingredients are combined.
Avoid getting the dough too warm since heat will also affect gluten activity.
3. Keep the Dough Covered
Whether you leave the cookie dough on the countertop or chill it in the fridge, always cover it.
This will help the cookie dough retain its texture.
If you live in a dry environment, cookie dough can lose its moisture and become dry when left in the open.
The same happens if you leave it uncovered in the refrigerator.
To prevent drying, always cover the dough. Either use plastic wrap or a lid.
Or you can place the dough in an airtight bag or container.
4. Use It Quickly
Cookie dough doesn’t hold up well at room temperature for more than a few hours. So ensure that you use it quickly.
Leaving the dough in the open for too long will increase the chances of spoilage.
It will also affect the texture of the dough.
To store the dough for a long time, refrigerate it. But take care to cover it before putting the dough in the fridge.
How to Fix Dry Cookie Dough?
By now, you know why your cookie dough is dry and what you can do to prevent it.
But what do you do if your cookie dough is already dry and crumbly?
Here are some ways to fix the dough and restore its moisture content.
1. Add Moisture
Lack of liquid content is one of the main reasons for cookie dough to be crumbly.
It usually happens if the dough dried out in the fridge or because it was outside for too long.
If the dough appears to be too crumbly, add water or milk in small batches. Use only a teaspoon at a time.
Mix the dough and see if it becomes soft. If not, add another teaspoon and repeat till you fix the problem.
When choosing the liquid, we recommend adding the same liquid that the recipe includes.
This will help to prevent any change in taste and flavor.
2. Add Butter or Fat
If the dough is dry and hard, it’s usually because the recipe doesn’t use enough fat.
In this case, we recommend adding some butter or fat to the dough.
Nevertheless, be careful when adding fat. Too much fat can make the cookies greasy.
So add only a teaspoon at a time and gently knead the dough.
Check the consistency after the fat dissolves into the dough and add more if required.
3. Mix the Dough with Your Hands
Sometimes dry and crumbly dough results from sitting outside or in the fridge for too long.
You may be able to restore the original texture by just kneading it again.
Use your hands to gently work the dough. Bring it together gently and check if the dough softens.
If it presses together and becomes a smooth ball, you may not need any additional ingredients.
4. Adjust the Recipe
If you didn’t use an accurate recipe, your cookie dough may end up being crumbly and dry.
In this case, revisit the measurements.
Check your recipe against a standard recipe and see if it has too much or too less of any ingredient.
Then, adjust the recipe to overcome this slip-up.
Sometimes, you may have to double the recipe to adjust the texture of the dough.
So you will end up with twice as much dough, but it will be better than having dry and hard cookies.
Related: Guide to Store Cookie Dough
5. Allow the Dough to Rest
Overmixing cookie dough often makes it dry and crumbly. If this is the case, it’s not easy to fix.
Nevertheless, you can try to correct it by putting the dough aside for some time.
Let the cookie dough sit for a short while since it can soften the gluten.
Place the dough ball in a mixing bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Set it aside for at least an hour.
Then, check and see if it has softened. Simply scoop the dough without kneading or mixing it again.
If it’s soft and presses easily without drying, you can proceed to bake it.