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Oct 2, 2002 04:10 PM

what makes a cookie crispy or chewy or soft?

  • w

I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies over the weekend. Right out of the oven my husband loved it, the next day when it's cooled, he said it wasn't crispy and too soft for his liking.

I read the big cookie report from but it only gave people's favorit recipes, it didn't tell which recipe makes a crispy cookie or which makes a soft or chewy cookie.

Can anyone tell me what determines the texture? And if you have a recipe for a crispy chocolate chip cookie after it's cooked please do share.

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  1. I make chocolate chip cookies twice a week for kids' lunches. I always have to pack extras because everyone wants some. I get lots of requests for them. They are crispy and on the thin side. Here's the recipe:
    2 sticks margarine
    3/4 cup sugar
    3/4 cup brown sugar (I usually go a couple of tablespoons heavy on both sugars)
    2 eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    2 cups flour
    1-1/2 cups semi-sweet choc. chips (I don't like them with too many chips, but you might want to add more)

    I cook them at 375 for 12 minutes. When I take them out of the oven, I leave them on the pan for a few minutes until they crisp up a little, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

    They always stay crisp. I store them in a big rubbermaid-type container.


      1. I think one of the factors is the type of fat - do you use real butter (softer cookie) or margarine (crisper cookie)?

        Looks like Martha wrote about it recently (or more likely, one of her minions did, for which she took credit!). Check out the link below.


        6 Replies
        1. re: Linda W.

          Oops - reverse my statement - butter means flatter/crisper cookie, shortening means softer, puffier cookie.....according to Martha. :-)

          1. re: Linda W.

            But I did use butter, and it didn't really spread (I used a small ice cream scooper) it stayed a little round dome after baking.

            I will experiment more I guess...

            1. re: Wendy Lai

              scooping cookies will tend to give you a softer cookie just because of it's shape if nothing else, ingredients disregarded. to produce a thinner, crisper cookie try making a log rolled out in parchment paper, twist the ends, store in a ziplock bag in the fridge and cut off the appropriate amount to bake, thinner cuts mean thinner cookies, therefore crisper. but storing a cookie overnight will always, no matter how you store it create a cookie softer than it was when you took it out of the oven. better to bake small batches that can be eaten in one day if you're a crunch fan.

              1. re: Wendy Lai
                Stanley Stephan

                Ok, I make cookies once a year at Christmas, if I'm in the mood. But I've found that storage matters.

                Plastic wrap or tupperware containers retain moisture and make the cookies soft. I let cookies cool throughly. I make sugar cookies, so after cooling on a rack, I line the cookie sheet with aluminum foil or wax paper, place a single layer of cookies and cover with foil or wax paper. The next day they are nicely set and crispy.

                As these are gifts, I give them in those cellophane bags. Otherwise I keep them in a loosely covered jar that lets some air circulate. No plastic bags if you want crispy.

                If the cookie didn't spread, I'm wondering about the temperature of the oven. Maybe it wasn't hot enough. Perhaps buy an oven thermometer to check the temperature? Maybe they needed to cook longer.

                You can also used a glass to flatten the cookie prior to baking. A flat cookie will be crispy. Any mounding will make the cookie more cake like.

                That's my own limited experience.

                1. re: Wendy Lai

                  I agree with Rochelle - I think using the scoop probably kept them more rounded and softer than you'd like. I usually use two Tablespoons to scoop/scrape onto the baking pan. The bottom-of-the-glass method for flattening definitely works for the crisper texture you want. But make sure the dough is slightly chilled, or it'll stick to the bottom of the glass.

              2. re: Linda W.

                For the fat influence (shortening v. butter v. margarine) discussion, I cannot recommend highly enough the "Tako Chip Cookie" episode at

                It's entertaining, it's educational, it's tweaked. But most of all, it's actual food science presented by an animated talking octopus with stand-mixer issues. ;)


              3. To add a little to what Martha's minion said: if it's really humid in your kitchen, it'll be hard to keep even the crispiest cookie crisp unless you seal it in an airtight container. All sugar is hygroscopic (water-attracting) -- brown sugar and honey just come with more moisture built-in. So crispy cookies made even with all white sugar will still attract moisture from the atmosphere and may turn soft after a day or so, depending on your climate. You can increase the flour in the recipe slightly, but too much, especially if it's not balanced with the fat, will tend to make the cookies hard, not necessarily crisp. A year or two ago, Cook's Illustrated had a very good recipe for thin crisp chocolate chip cookies (not to be confused with their earlier recipe for chewy ones), which you might want to try.

                2 Replies
                1. re: MichaelB

                  "To add a little to what Martha's minion said: ..."

                  I *really* hope you're not referring to me as "Martha's minion"...I do NOT worship the woman as so many others do! :::Shudder:::

                  That article was the first I found on crisp vs. chewy cookies. It made sense, so I posted it.

                  1. re: Linda W.

                    My apologies!! I knew as I wrote that that my syntax was unclear -- should have taken the time to rewrite. What I MEANT was that I was expanding on the post YOU wrote which linked to the the article by Martha which you pointed out was probably written by one of her scurrying minions. Unfortunately, by 5 PM the part of my brain that controls writing skills was shot, so it came out a bit garbled. In any case, whether written by The Martha herself or by a minion, I thought it was a pretty helpful article, so thanks for linking to it!

                    yrs. in hopefully greater clarity ;)

                2. I used half brown sugar, half white sugar, butter, regular ap flour and baking soda, not baking powder.

                  My recipe is almost the exact same thing as the other poster's except that mine said I need to dissolve the baking soda in some hot water before mixing into the batter.

                  I also used a small ice cream scooper to put the dough on the sheet. It didn't really spread during baking.

                  I also put the cookies into a air-tight container after it cooled.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Wendy Lai

                    With all the great comments, you may find an appropriate recipe. But, I think that many cookies soften a little the next day. I like them slightly crispy on the outside and softer on the inside. This can only be guaranteed on the day of baking (chocolate chips, anyway) If you make the dough thinner, they may be too crunchy throughout. So, I think the best suggestion is to make the batch as you did, maybe with a little less flour, and then instead of baking the whole lot, wrap a log in parchment paper (or wax paper) as was also suggested and then bake four or five cookies upon command in a small toaster oven (what's ten or fifteen minutes if he will smile for three hours?) If you want to grab and go, then put them in the oven an hour before you want to grab and go (possible?). Even HE can do that. Slice and bake. Easy.

                    And, with the ones you have now, what would happen if you oiled the cookie sheet and popped them back in the oven for a few minutes? Better, yet, try the toaster oven, if you have one. Toast them up a little.

                    At one of my design shows, one of the showrooms had a toaster oven going all day, turning out 12 cookies each batch. They were the hit of the show!

                    1. re: Wendy Lai

                      I'm wondering if it might be the ice cream scoop. I've used that same recipe and it always said "Drop by tablespoonfuls..." An ice cream scoop must hold at least 1/4 cup. Maybe the cookies are just too big. And the scoop shape tends to trap moisture in the dough. Try flattening the scoops with the back of a spoon before baking.

                      1. re: C. Fox

                        Ice cream scoops come in a wide variety of sizes if you go to a kitchen specialty shop.

                        1. re: saucyknave

                          Yeh, but if it's tablespoon-sized, I might call it a melon baller instead. ;->

                          1. re: saucyknave

                            Well, call it what you will, :) this wee melon baller has a nice little spring driven strip of metal that pushes the ball out of the scoop, all in one motion. Which reminds me I have to get one!