You may have heard the expression ‘that’s the way the cookie crumbles,’ but when it comes to cookie dough, crumbling is never a good thing.
If your cookie dough feels dry and crumbly, it means that you have either overused or underused one of the ingredients in your cookie recipe. It’s easily done, but it can ruin the texture or even the flavor of your cookies, so if this happens to you, it’s important to know how to fix it.
Luckily, there are a few different ways to resolve the problem of crumbly cookie dough, and we’re going to share them all with you in this guide!
Reasons Your Cookie Dough Is Crumbly
If you want to fix your crumbly cookie dough, you first need to understand what the cause of the dryness is. As we just mentioned, dry cookie dough usually means that one of the dry ingredients has been overused or, alternatively, you have underused one of the moist ingredients.
However, actually figuring out what’s lacking or overdone can be tricky. Here are the potential reasons why you have ended up with crumbly dough:
Lack Of Liquid
A lack of liquid is probably the most common reason for dry dough. The average cookie recipe calls for multiple sources of liquid, including eggs and vanilla extract. If you don’t add enough of these ingredients, your cookie dough will end up dry, flaky, and ultimately, crumbly.
Too Much Flour/Baking Powder
Adding too much flour or baking powder to your cookie dough is an easy mistake to make, but it can have a really unappealing effect on your cookies. If the quantities of dry ingredients in your cookie dough are too much compared to the quantities of liquid ingredients, your dough will take on a dry, crumbly texture.
Lack Of Fat
When it comes to baked goods, many of us worry about consuming too much fat. However, not adding enough fat to your cookie dough will cause the dough to dry out and become crumbly.
The reason for this is that fat is a lubricant, and cookie recipes need lubrication to remain moist. So, if you’re not adding enough fat sources (eg. butter) to your cookie dough, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.
Did you know that over-mixing your dough can cause dryness? The reason for this is that when you overmix your cookie dough, you are actually producing more gluten.
Too much gluten has a drying effect on cookie dough, so if you’re noticing that your dough is crumbling, this could be why. This is especially likely if your dough feels very hard.
Another potential reason for your cookie dough being dry is refrigeration. If you make cookie dough in advance, it is recommended to store it in the refrigerator.
The problem is that the refrigerator, being a very cold and dry space, can drastically alter the texture of your dough, and you may find that your dough is much more crumbly and dry after refrigeration than before.
5 Fixes For Crumbly Cookie Dough
1. Allow The Dough To Rest
Often, crumbly cookie dough can be fixed by simply allowing the dough to rest. Resting your dough is the best solution if you suspect that the dryness is a result of over-mixing.
Leaving your cookie dough to rest will allow the gluten created during the mixing process to soften, reducing the flakiness and crumbling texture of your dough.
Simply set the dough to the side with a covering over it for about an hour. Make sure not to mix the dough again before you scoop it into cookie dough balls and space it out across your baking pan.
2. Knead With Your Hands
Another way to correct dryness in cookie dough caused by over-mixing is to try kneading the dough with your hands.
Once you’ve finished mixing your dough, if you find that it has a crumbly texture, take the dough in your hands and gently squeeze and press it together. This may not always work, but if the over-mixing was not too excessive, it may be enough to fix dry cookie dough.
3. Introduce More Liquid
If you think you may not have added enough liquid to your cookie dough, you might be able to moisten dry cookie dough simply by adding more liquid.
Depending on the type of liquid that your cookie dough recipe calls for, you can try adding 1 teaspoon of egg, milk, or even water to the mixture. Don’t add more than 1/4 cup of liquid.
If you need to add more than this, you have probably not only underdone the liquid aspect of the recipe but also added too much flour or another dry ingredient like baking soda. In this case, you will need to skip to suggestion number 5.
4. Mix In More Fat
You can sometimes fix crumbly cookie dough by adding more fat. However, like adding more liquid, you don’t want to overdo it because the texture of your cookies can also be negatively impacted by an excess of fat.
Whether your recipe calls for butter or oil, try adding just a teaspoon of the fatty ingredient at a time and combine the dough using your hands to avoid over-mixing at this stage.
5. Start Again
Unfortunately, sometimes, the only way to fix crumbly cookie dough is to start from scratch. This is often the best solution if you have added too little liquid to your dough as well as overdoing the dry ingredients.
Hopefully, if you’ve reached this point, you now have an idea of where you went wrong with the recipe, so you’ll be able to use this knowledge to create delicious cookies on your second attempt.
We hope that this guide has shown you how to fix crumbly cookie dough! Fixing dry cookie dough can be tricky when it comes to baking cookies, but these steps should provide a quick and easy solution.
You may be able to fix dry dough by adding liquid or fat, letting the dough rest, or mixing with your hands. If you want to avoid excessively dry dough, try not to refrigerate the dough unless absolutely necessary.
If you do end up having to start again, don’t be disheartened! Learning from your mistakes and more dough will give you the practice and experience you need to improve as a baker.