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What makes a cookie chewy - effects of ingredients question

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Something I've always wanted to know . . . if you have a recipe for a cookie or a bar, how do you modify it to make it more dense and chewy, yet still soft?

This question came up twice:

•once when I was trying to figure out how to make what were called "Ranger Bars" that were available when I was a lad - flat square shaped cookies about 1/4" - 3/8" thick, but very soft and chewy.

•and lately a project to bake a Clif type bar.

I've found recipes for these, but the results are never dense and chewy, in my opinon, but too light, dry and cakelike.
(I might be using the wrong terminology here - I'm after the consistency/texture of a Clif bar - the opposite of crumbly.)

. . . all of which leads to My Question:

If the amount of flour is kept constant, do I add more/less :  fat, sugar, eggs, leavening, etc?

Anyone know what controls to this attribute?

Edited by kbarb - 11/2/11 at 7:46pm
post #2 of 28
I know that brown sugar (or mix of brown and white sugars) can make a difference.... too much oil and you'll have a different effect (one I wouldn't like, but that' s just me!).
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post #3 of 28
Here is a URL to Alton Brown's cookie recipes:

The Chewy Recipe: Recipes: Food Network

He has three recipes:

The Chewy
The Thin
The Puffy

Take a look at the ingredients that he uses in each recipe and you can see what makes each of these types of cookies.
post #4 of 28
We're learning cookies this week in school~! Straight from my book, hope it helps~!

Moisture is neccesary for chewiness, but other factors are also required. In other words all chewy cookies are soft, but not all soft cookies are chewy.

1. High sugar and liquid content, but low fat
2. High proportion of eggs.
3. Strong flour, or gluten developed during mixing.

Ever seeking Knowledge
post #5 of 28
Basically....less fat=more chewy, more fat=less chewy/harder.
post #6 of 28
I once asked a pastry chef this question. He just told me to cut the time on the baking slightly. It seemed to work for him, his cookies always remained fairly chewy and soft. In school I remember reading that using inverted sugars, like corn syrup, glucose, or molasses, etc. affects chewiness, but I've never tried it out, I wouldn't even know substitute amounts in place of sugar if that would in fact work...

What about using a lower-protein flour like cake flour, anyone? Or would that only make it more soft?

I also read somewhere once that using melted butter vs. room temp butter could make more chewy cookies, but I've never tried it.

LOL, sorry if this doesn't help, but I'm a bit curious myself! :rolleyes:
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 

Ok, thanks everyone . . . this is all very helpful.

I'm trying my Clif Bar recipe tonight - see how chewy/flavorful that comes out.


Edited by kbarb - 11/2/11 at 10:37pm
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 

Returning to my question I posted here a few years ago . . .


Later on I found a great article on :

The perfect chocolate chip cookie . . . where a paragraph discusses :


What makes cookies soft and chewy?


High moisture content does; so the recipe, baking time, and temperature must be adjusted to retain moisture.

Binding the water in butter, eggs, and brown sugar (it contains molasses, which is 10 percent water) with flour slows its evaporation. The dough needs a little extra flour, which makes it stiffer. The stiff dough spreads less, less liquid evaporates, and the cookies are thicker.


Mass also helps cookies stay moist--big dollops of dough make softer and chewier cookies than tiny spoonfuls of dough. Bake these thick cookies for a shorter time at a high temperature to firm them quickly and minimize spreading. Most important, don't bake them too long--remove from the oven when the cookie rim is brown and at least 1/3 of the center top remains pale. The cooked centers will be soft.


What makes a cookie crisp or crunchy?


Reducing the amount of ingredients that hold moisture--flour, egg, and brown sugar--makes it easy for liquid to evaporate, producing crisp cookies.




So to make a cookie more chewy, from all the info that I've found (including here) . . . . if the amount of flour is kept constant, then I gather you need proportionally . . .  :
(And I am not a professional or expert cook by any means, just trying to make sense out of what I've read. If anyone knows better please correct me.)


  • more sugar, especially brown sugar.  (this is the one thing I notice in all the "chewy" recipes - they all have more brown sugar)
  • more eggs (?), or at least extra egg yolk. It seems that more of whole egg will make the cookies both chewy and thicker.
  • more gluten development
  • slightly less liquid  (liquid makes the cookies spread)
    However - and this is important
    - a primary objective is to have the dough retain moisture. But the way to do it is not to just add liquid itself.
  • less baking time but higher baking temp
  • melting the butter (adding this from the "chocotuile" suggestion below, and from the "The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie" article/recipe cited below.


  • less fat (although I see some recipes using slightly more. In general more fat creates more internal heat which drives out the moisture, and it also causes the cookies to spread, making them thinner and crispier. )


Maybe someone reading this can clear up some of the ambiguities.


Edited by kbarb - 11/30/11 at 12:47pm
post #9 of 28

Melting butter goes a long way in baking for chewy cookies. Don't cream the butter and sugar; melt the butter, whisk in sugar, then follow the rest of the steps. Try it and let me know! :)

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 

Also my friend Kelly says midway through baking you can take the cookies out of the oven and give them a smack to drive the air out of them.

Not sure how the cookies feel about that.

post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 

Can't leave my post alone. . . .


So someone gave me a print copy of Cooks Illustrated "The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie" from the May 2009 issue, raving about their results.


Charles Kelsey did a bunch of experiments on this subject and basically came up with the same list as I posted just above.


From the two eggs, he took out one egg's whites, but used only that egg's yolk.


In addition, he melted the butter, explaining that it exposes more of the liquid in the butter to the mix.

(He also browned some of the butter for more or a nutty flavor.)


And he used more dough for each cookie


Still, my hunch is that the major factor is the increased brown sugar.



The print article is three pages of very densely printed text, while the online article is very much abridged, here :

Edited by kbarb - 12/3/11 at 8:29pm
post #12 of 28



My aunt (who's a fabulous baker) told me to melt the butter (fat) in a recipe & then add the sugar, instead of creaming them together.


Also, years ago, one of my close friends told me to put the cookies in an air tight container (Tupperware) and put in slice of bread in with them.  You can't pack the cookies in because you need air circulation.  I've been doing this for years & it doesn't alter the taste of the cookie & it DOES make them chewy.  It even works on store bought cookies.


Good luck.

post #13 of 28

Corn syrup is a sweet liquid and a popular ingredient for making jams, jellies, frosting and candy, since it does not crystallize. For baking purposes, it can be used as a substitute for sugar, but it should never be used to replace the full amount of sugar. Corn syrup is not as sweet as refined sugar and using it will slightly affect the taste and color of your final baked good. You can either use dark or light corn syrup, as they may be used interchangeably, but dark corn syrup will yield a slight molasses flavor.

Replace only half of the amount of sugar called for with corn syrup. If the recipe calls for 6 cups of sugar, only replace 3 cups of sugar with corn syrup.

Add 1 1/2 cups of corn syrup for every 1 cup of sugar. If you are replacing 3 cups of sugar, then add 4 1/2 cups of corn syrup.


post #14 of 28

Hello there


I know it's been awhile since you orignally posted, but I wanted to tell you that this has been something I've tried to answer officially for years. I finally stumbled across the right webpage, which asks this very question so succinctly! So, thank you for this great thread. I'm interested in the science aspect of cooking also, so I'm quite pleased you couldn't leave your own post alone. All the info shared here has been interesting and others have obviously found it helpful also. If anyone knows of a great food or cookbook which delves into the science of baking and food, (something more engaging than say, Gisslen) I'd really appreciate it.


Thanks kbarb! ;) 

post #15 of 28

Melt the margarine or butter first and  add some baking soda., and a dash of simple syrup

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...


Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

post #16 of 28

I know this is an old post but I found this great resource that answers your question and much more.

post #17 of 28

I used to work for a Canadian Bakery franchise and we made large 5" diameter cookies that were crisp yet chewy.

The recipe was basic brown sugar white sugar eggs flour etc.......but it was the addition of both baking soda and powder that gave it that distinctive chew along with he brown sugar

post #18 of 28

I stumbled across your post while reading replies to "What makes a chewy cookie chewy?"  You asked if anyone knows of a good book on the science of cooking.  I can recommend an excellent one,



.  I purchased this book in the mid '80s, when it was first published.  At the time I was a biology student in college and a devoted cook.  McGee's explanations about food chemistry -the "why's" about various ingredients and techniques -were fascinating.  He completely rewrote/updated this book in 2004.  You can do a search for an interview with Harold McGee on National Public Radio that will give you a taste of the type of information included.  It's a wonderful resource for any creative cooks who want to understand the recipes they use (and adapt).  Enjoy.

post #19 of 28

Recently, my teenage son made brownies and realized (after they were in the oven) that he had forgotten to add the oil.  I predicted that they would be extremely cake-like without the moisture and  chewy texture that I assumed the oil contributes.  Was I wrong!  These were so chewy they could barely be removed from the pan.  I don't mean undercooked - just really, really chewy... the opposite of cake like.  So I would agree with the many contributors to this thread that suggest reducing the fat to make a chewier cookie.  It seems a bit counterintuitive but proved true in this instance.

post #20 of 28
GingerMitten ...

You wanted a book that looks into the science of whats happening as you cook, this is the one I use as a chef.

It breaks it down, talks about how they did the experiments, what the results were, why what happens happens, etc.

Amazon caries it in hardback.

Alexei B.
post #21 of 28

This is a wonderful post!  I'm about to start baking cookies.  I was asked for a chewy, moist, oatmeal, chocolate chip cookie.  I will try some of these suggestions here.  Wish me luck and thanks!

post #22 of 28

very interesting topic. although ive already got my own way to make great chocolate chip cookies, i always wanna make it even better.


never tried melted butter, cuz from what i have seen, melted butter provides poor texture, and i dont think the little extra effort would have much contribution to chewy cookies.


so we all know the key is keep moisture in cookies during and after baking. I suggest refrigerate the dough for 24hrs.


a lot articles on internet telling people how to make cookies chewy, but when people try it out, it does not work or not as good as you expected right? i never fully trusted a recipe, its just a guide, use own knowledge and do experiment as many as possible to achieve a good result.

post #23 of 28
From my experience how creamed the fat (I always use butter) is with both white and brown sugar is the key to a chewy or crisp cookie; especially chocolate chip but also oatmeal raisin. This effects the spread of the cookie and how thick or thin it is. The crumb size matters.

The other thing I do is let the pre portioned cookie dough retard for at least 12 hours before baking in the refrigerator. I take them right from the walk in, place on a cold parchment lined tray and bake. The less baked the overall chewier and the more baked the less chewier. I've found a very small window to get just the right crisp on the edge and still be chewy in the middle.
post #24 of 28
post #25 of 28
I am not an expert, but it seems to me that in order to produce a truly "chewy" cookie, the recipe must have some ingredients on which to chew. So a chewy recipe must have some or all of the following: oats, dates, raisins, coconut, nuts, apples, etc. Then the addition of melted butter, low fat, less flour, shorter baking time, etc. will really produce a great tasting chewy cookie.
post #26 of 28

I bake quite a lot i realize this is an old post but ill share a trick i learned from my mom. if you replace a third of the butter in your recipe with cream cheese you will have nice fat fluffy chewy cookies. i have done this with many of my recipes and it works every time. I hope this helps. :)

post #27 of 28
Thank you for the tip SGlasser, itss a good one.
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post #28 of 28
Originally Posted by MillionsKnives View Post

This is very much worth a read

This is seriously a great post! Very well written and outlines everything to make an awesome batch of cookies. Thanks for sharing this with everyone here! 

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