If you’re a cookie coinessieur, but prefer the puffy kind to the flat kind, this is the ultimate guide on how to make cookies puffy instead of flat and figuring out, once and for all, what makes cookies puffy.
Baking is a science, not an art, which means that there are plenty of small tweaks you can make for big results when it comes to making fluffy cookies, including increasing the amount of flour, chilling the dough, not overmixing the dough, and even rolling the dough into different shapes.
Many people love fluffy cookies because they’re sort of melt-in-your-mouth and pillow-y, but of course there are also always the bakers out there who are aiming to make a flatter, chewier cookie and are wondering, “why are my cookies puffy?”.
The cookie baking tips below are going to help make fluffy cookies.
If you don’t want fluffy cookies, do the opposite of what’s recommended in the post and stop doing any of these techniques if you’re doing it for your dough that keeps turning out wrong.
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1. Make Sure Your Baking Soda and Baking Powder aren’t Expired
The leavening agents in cookies, baking soda and baking powder, can go past their “best by” date and lose their potency.
Double check the expiration dates on both of these products to make sure that you’re not using something that has gone past its best and isn’t going to give you that rise that you want.
Out-of-date baking soda and baking powder is a surefire way to end up with flat cookies with little puff.
Must-Have Baking Tools (seriously)
- Silicone baking mats – I use this brand and my cookies slide right off without burning!
- a cookie scoop – get this one. It makes the perfect rounded cookies every time!
- silicone spatula – try this set. It’s the best way to get the most out of your dough and batters
- rolling pin guides – I use this one. Genius way to roll your dough out evenly!
2. Use Baking Powder instead of Baking Soda
I always remember the difference between baking powder and baking soda by remembering that Powder = P = puff and Soda = s = spread.
While baking soda is also a leavener, typically a puffy recipe is going to use more baking powder than baking soda, or is going to use baking powder exclusively.
Try replacing the baking soda with baking powder in your recipe, or decreasing the amount of baking soda and increasing the amount of baking powder by about 1/4 or 1/2 of a teaspoon.
3. Roll Your Dough Balls into Cylinders
We learned this hack from Sally’s Baking Addiction and it’s a great one!
Sometimes, all you need to do to create puffier cookies is to make sure that the cookie dough is shaped in a way that is going to create more of a puff and not spread so quickly.
If you shape your cookie dough into a cylinder, instead of a ball, and then place them long end up on the baking sheet (as opposed to lying on the longer side), it will take a longer time for it to sink down during baking which leaves you with a puffier and fatter cookie.
4. Chill the Dough
Always, always chill the dough if you prefer puffy cookies that don’t spread as easily in the oven.
Not chilling the dough is good for flat cookies or chewy cookies (sometimes), but puffy cookies almost always require that dough chilling we all dread because it means it takes us longer to get to the fun eating part!
But refrigerate your dough for at least an hour, preferably overnight, and you’ll find that your cookies are much puffier than they would be if you made the dough at room temperature.
This is because chilling helps turn the butter within the dough cold, which means that when it’s introduced to heat in the oven, it takes longer to melt, thus causing spread.
You can even bake cookies from frozen if you really want a puffy cookie.
5. Use a Silicone Mat, not a Greased Baking Sheet
One of the little known ways to prevent cookie spread (thus leaving you with a fluffier cookie) is to use something like a silicone mat for baking.
This is going to help prevent overspread and keep your cookies with a puffy structure, whereas something like a greased baking sheet is going to almost encourage your cookie to spread all over like a bit of a baking Slip N’Slide.
Silicone baking mats are one of the best baking tools for cookies regardless, as they can also prevent burn on the bottom and are super easy to reuse so you never have to buy parchment paper ever again.
6. Add another Egg Yolk
Adding in an egg yolk is a great way to give your cookie more fluffiness, as an egg yolk is going to help add moisture, structure, and puff.
If you think about it, the more eggs you put in, the more cake-like your cookies become (cakes use lots more eggs than cookies as they lead to a more tender dough).
But instead of adding a whole egg, which may introduce too much moisture to your dough, adding just an egg yolk is going to give you the positive effects without too much of a risk of a baking fail.
7. Substitute 1 Cup Oat Bran with 1 Cup Flour
Some bakers swear by making some substitutions when it comes to flour to help you make puffy cookies.
Substitute one cup of flour with one cup of oat bran is a way to end up with a puffier, chewier cookie than normal.
The reason for this is that the oat bran is going to help your cookie retain more of its structure than the flour, which is going to just get mixed with the butter and sugar.
Your cookies won’t taste like oats, but they won’t go flat, and that’s a win!
8. Increase the Amount of Flour
If you are sticking with flour for your cookies, you can two a couple of other things including increasing the amount of flour.
By increasing the amount of flour, you’re going to make sure that your cookies don’t spread as much, which keeps them puffy.
You could also substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour, which is going to create a cake-like texture that is tender and moist and puffier than a dense, chewy, cookie.
9. Don’t Use Melted Butter
Never use melted butter in a puffy cookie recipe.
Part of what makes a cookie puffy is using chilled butter (after putting the dough in the fridge), as it means that it takes longer for the butter to get to its melting point, which leaves you with a taller cookie that hasn’t spread as much.
Cookie recipes that use melted butter tend to produce flat, chewy cookies and will not ever produce a fluffy cookie because you’ve lost all of the structure that comes with using cold butter.
The butter is already melted, thus not helping your cookie stay together or stay puffy.
10. Make Sure Baking Sheet is Cool
Warm baking sheets are going to promote cookie spread, which can easily ruin a puffy cookie and turn it into a pancake.
This is because the dough is basically going to start heating up even before it gets into the oven, and it’s going to be heated up from the bottom even more than if you had introduce a room temperature or chilled baking sheet into the oven.
You don’t actually have to chill your baking sheet, but you should make sure that you are letting the baking sheet cool before using it again after you do a batch (this is a great reason to have more than one baking sheet).
This is an area where so many people go wrong, and they find that their first batch is perfect, but their remaining batches are less and less puffy – it’s due to the warm baking sheet, in part!
11. Substitute Half Shortening for the Butter
A good hack for fluffier cookies is to substitute half of the butter for the same amount of shortening.
Shortening is a great way to create thicker and cakier cookies, whereas butter produces a flatter and chewier cookie.
If you use all shortening, you may end up with a cookie that is a bit too cakey, but using half and half is a good way to get the flavor and chewiness that butter adds while also retaining the structure and puffiness that shortening helps with.
12. Don’t Overmix the Dough
After you cream the butter and sugar together, you should only mix the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients until just combined.
Overmixing the dough after this point is going to add too much air into your dough.
While this might seem to help with puffier cookies at first glance, aerated dough is going to rise quickly in the oven and then fall flat.
For puffier cookies, you want to just gently mix and fold together the wet and dry ingredients and then leave it alone and get the dough in the fridge to chill!
13. Add Pudding Mix, Cream Cheese, or Cake Mix
There are certain add-in ingredients like instant pudding mix, cream cheese, and even cake mix that can help you produce puffy cookies because of the moistness they’re adding to the dough.