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Jan 3, 2009 10:01 PM

Why are my cookies flat???

Chocolate chip cookies. Flour, baking powder/soda is fresh. Butter @ room temp, cookie sheets @ room temp, oven temp accurate. Have made them before w great success but last 2 or 3 batches come out paper thin and flat. Why are my cookies flat???

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  1. It's most likely the flour -- have you changed to a different brand?

    Might want to consider using bleached all-purpose flour, which has a lower protein content. Better yet, try using high-gluten flour.

    Also, try chilling the cookie dough before putting them in the oven. Put it in the freezer for a 1/2 hour or so. This way the dough will spread out less when exposed to the oven heat.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Gluten is protein, so your two recommendations for flour contradict one another. I have been told that higher protein flour works better for chocolate chip cookies.

      1. re: jlafler

        Sorry, my bad.

        I meant to say ... "bleached all-purpose flour, which has a HIGHER protein content."

      2. re: ipsedixit

        For even better results, chill cookie dough for 1-3 days before baking. This was something our grandmothers' generation knew, and Cooks Illustrated demonstrated what it works even better than 1-2 hours (the dough gets properly balanced hydration - which takes considerable time to develop).

      3. This year I let the mixer beat / whip the butter quite a bit longer than my wife usually does and we found the cookies spread out more and were thinner than hers'. We were using the recipe on the Toll House chips package. She also thinks I am more 'precise' with the measurements. We used parchment paper this year for the first time. It won't be the last! It really made life easy when moving the cookies to the cooling racks and turning the cookie sheet around for the next batch.

        Alton Brown had a Food Network / Good Eats show where he described how to make thin, puffy, and chewy chocolate chip cookies. The recipes and a transcript can be found at wih the main Good Eats Fan Page at

        If everything was the same, I would guess something was old, or mixed longer than usual. Others with more experience may have a better answer and I would defer to their expertise.

        3 Replies
        1. re: geppetto

          We just tried the same recipe on the back of the toll house chocolate chip bag and they turned out all flat. Tried cooling, the batter, but it still didn't work. I suggest using any other recipe available! We looked for other recipes and salvaged the dough with an extra cup of flour (bread flour). Maybe adding a little less than a cup of flour would work too.

          1. re: allieeasley

            Used toll house recipe for years- for not flat cookies the trick is 1/2 butter and 1/2 crisco. Yup. Seriously. Its free of transfat now.
            Gives a nice thickness but still chewy in the center.
            I've made hundreds of batches of them like this

            1. re: Ttrockwood

              Read the label. It says "Trans fat free" on the can because they rounds down but there are trans fats in it.

        2. i don't know if this is your change from prior batches, but generally the reason for my flat cookies is, as ipsedixit also suggested, the temperature of the dough. chill the dough for 1-2 hrs prior to baking and see how that goes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cimui

            I had this exact issue a while back because I was mixing the dough on the counter above the dishwasher while it was running... /oops

            1. re: nickblesch

              Thank you! I just made a batch of snickerdoodles and the cookies were flat as pancakes. My dishwasher was running! Fortunately the cookies are still edible!

          2. Discussion here:

            "Another baker's dilemma is that chocolate chip cookies can turn out flat. Corriher suggests using an unbleached flour or a bread flour because they're higher in protein. More protein sucks in more water when they join together to make gluten, she says."

            5 Replies
            1. re: jlafler

              I've read that and it contradicted other things I've read about it, eg RLB on using lower protein flour:


              Ironically, RLB's answer agrees w/ Alton Brown (who consults with Corriher) on his puffy chocolate chip cookie which uses cake flour, an even lower protein flour than AP. I've tried using bread flour, based on what Corriher said, and ended up with very flat cookies, in a recipe I use often. I tried freezing and then baking the dough but it still spread. I think bread flour, mixed with melted butter, or very softened butter, makes a nice chewy cookie.

              Since the OP has made this recipe before successfully, I'd guess it's either that she's overmixed the butter and sugar or let the butter warm too long at room temp as gardencub suggested.

              1. re: chowser

                We should also ask what is room temp. Here in the northeast, in our 250 year old house, room temp in the winter means 60-65 degrees and in the summer could mean 95 on a really hot day. My room temp butter now is just barely softer than it is as it comes out of the fridge, but in July it is almost melted.

                When making bread dough, we consider that the traditional stand mixer (k-A) will raise dough temp 17-22 degrees from friction in a 5-8 minute mix/knead process.

                Just thought I would add this bit of useless info to the discussion.

                1. re: gardencub

                  Not useless info at all. It's a good point. It makes a big difference--leaving butter out for half an hour in the summer vs. winter.

                2. re: chowser

                  Higher protein only means more chewiness. If you want cakey, use cake or pastry flour. Also, letting the dough sit for days will cause the leavening to expire (Rose Levy Baranbaum says baking soda and powder will expire within a couple of hours. The overbeating makes cookies spread. The temperature shouldn't affect the dough... Many recipes (like Cooks' Illustrated) call for melted butter, which actually results in a very well risen cookie (because the butter isn't in a solid form that can be whipped, thus incorporating air). I'm not sure why but it's getting oxygen whipped into the batter that makes them sprrreeaaddd. ;)

                  1. re: PastryChefLish

                    Letting the dough rest overnight, or longer, makes amazing cookies:


                    Protein makes absorbs the liquids and binds them and affects the spread of cookies. See link above for RLB.The temperature for butter does make a difference. With the CI recipe using melted butter, it releases water and makes it chewier which is why they do it. This is a good article on butter and the importance of temperature:


              2. Baking the cookies from frozen dough will help them stay high. Granted, you might not want to wait when you're in the mood for cookies. But if you get ambitious and make a big batch, save some dough for later, scoop it and freeze it.

                A side benefit is that blobs of chocolate cookie dough are really good to eat frozen. :)