Cookies Don’t Spread Out During Baking

Cookies are some of the easiest sweet snacks that you can make at home and most families have their own cookie recipes to make the most delicious cookie dough.

Although the recipes may be easy to follow, that doesn’t mean that your cookies will be perfect every time, however.

Even if you’re an expert at baking, you may struggle to have your cookies spread as they should.

There are quite a few factors that can prevent your cookies from spreading while baking. These hints can be used to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie or any other cookie you enjoy baking.

Why Don’t My Cookies Spread Out During Baking?

Let’s look at the different reasons why your cookies don’t spread out during baking.

If you keep these reasons in mind, every dozen cookies you make, whether they’re chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, or any other type of cookie, will spread perfectly.

Too Much Flour

One of the most common reasons that can prevent your cookies from spreading is adding too much flour to the dough.

When making cookies, it is important that you follow any cookie recipes perfectly and only use the amounts that the recipe calls for. This is especially the case with flour.

One of the most important factors in the thickness of cookies is the ratio of flour to butter. Too much or too little flour compared to butter will result in thicker cookies than you want.

You should also take care when adding any wet ingredients to your mixing bowl as well as your baking soda or baking powder.


When you measure flour, make sure you use your measuring cup correctly. You should spoon the flour into the cup and level the top so that the flour isn’t heaped.

Try not to pack the flour down into the cup as this can result in you including too much flour.

You should always take care to get your ingredients right. Follow your baking recipes closely so you don’t add too much flour or butter, too much sugar, or not enough sugar.

The Butter Isn’t The Right Temperature

Another common problem you need to overcome if you want your cookies to spread correctly is ensuring your butter is at the right temperature.

This is the case whether you’re using salted butter or unsalted butter.


Make sure that you read your instructions correctly and that your butter is at the correct temperature.

For example, one recipe might require cold butter but you may find another recipe calls for room temperature butter or for you to soften butter before it is used.

Cold butter is commonly used in baking recipes for chocolate chip cookies as these are often thicker cookies. In this case, you want the end result to be a soft cookie that doesn’t spread as much.

However, another cookie recipe might use softened butter, melted butter, or even warm butter. These types of butter will see your cookies spread and bake evenly.

Cookies Don't Spread Out During Baking

You Chilled The Cookie Dough For Too Long

An often important step in baking cookies is chilling cookie dough instead of using room temperature cookie dough.

Many cookie recipes require you to put the cookie dough in the fridge before shaping your cookie dough balls and putting them on the baking sheet.


Chilled dough won’t spread as much as dough that is at room temp so make sure you only chill the dough if the cookie recipe requires it.

Even if the recipe does tell you to put the cookie dough in the fridge, don’t leave it there for too long.

If the dough balls are too cold, it will prevent the cookie dough from spreading on the baking sheets as it should.

Often, you may decide to put the cookie dough in the fridge for convenience.

If the cookies aren’t going to be baked immediately or you have some remaining dough you may choose to place the cookie dough in the fridge in an airtight container ready for baking another day.

In this case, let your cookie dough sit so it comes back to room temperature before placing it on the cookie sheet and baking if this is what your baking recipe needs.

Your Oven Temperature Is Incorrect

Temperature is also important when it comes to your oven. An oven that is too hot or too cold can affect how your cookies spread.


Pay attention to the instructions in your recipe and preheat your oven to the correct heat. You need a hot oven to bake cookies but it shouldn’t be too hot.

Check your oven thermometer to make sure you have the right oven temperature before baking.

You should also check the baking sheets that you are using.

Even cookie sheets can prevent your cookies from spreading so don’t be afraid to try a couple of different options such as darker aluminum cookie sheets or even a silicone baking mat.

If you use metal baking sheets, remember to line them with parchment paper.

You should never bake cookies without parchment paper on a baking sheet as this can affect the cookie spread and can make them stick during the baking process.

We don’t recommend using a hot baking sheet when baking. Simply line the cookie sheet with parchment paper and put it in the oven at room temperature.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we looked at the common reasons that can prevent cookies spreading.

These reasons can affect the spread of all types of cookies, whether you’re baking chocolate chip cookies or any other type of cookie dough.

You should always follow your cookie recipe closely and ensure you’re not using more flour than you need.

Ensure you use the right butter as well, whether this is cold butter, melted butter, or room temperature butter.

Getting the correct temperature is also important when it comes to your cookie dough and oven temperature.

Your cookie recipe may need room temperature cookie dough for the cookies to spread correctly during baking.

Picture of Kathryn Sewell

Kathryn Sewell

Hi! I'm Kate and I have been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. I like to share the most interesting tips and recipes I try here on What Kate Baked for you to enjoy. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share send it over on social.

About the Author