The Land O'Lakes Blog

— Bringing inspiration to those who share our love of good food. —
Cookie Know-How: Why do my cookies spread?

Cookie Know-How: Why do my cookies spread?

spreading cookies

Cookies are the most common “from-scratch” recipe made by home bakers so, of course, the top question relates to cookie baking: Why are my cookies spreading?

Many bakers get frustrated and often find this happens with recipes they have made numerous times. Regardless of how many times a cookie recipe has been made successfully, sometimes it can fail. Cookies may spread too much for a variety of reasons. Here are the top five reasons they may look more like pancakes than cookies and some possible solutions.

1. Dough is too soft. This is because the flour may have been incorrectly measured, the temperature in the kitchen was too warm or the dough has set out too long before baking. If this happens, put the dough into the refrigerator until it is well chilled, usually about 1 to 2 hours. Another possible fix is to add some additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is slightly stiffer and doesn’t spread.

2. Butter or margarine is too soft. Never soften your butter in the microwave because it can easily be over-softened. Butter should only be softened by letting it stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. It should indent slightly when you press it with your finger.

3. Cookie sheet is too warm. If you reuse a cookie sheet that has just been taken out of the oven, it is too hot and will cause your cookies to spread. Always use at least two cookie sheets, and always allow them to cool before putting more cookie dough on them.

4. Extra-large rather than large eggs are used. All Land O’Lakes recipes have been developed using large eggs, unless a recipe specifically calls for another size. Extra large eggs add more liquid to the dough and may cause it to be too soft and spread.

5. Greasing a cookie sheet when the recipe does not call for it can cause the cookies to spread excessively and brown too quickly around the edges.

With prime cookie-eating season upon us, you’ll want to make sure your baking efforts are paying off. Follow these suggestions, and you’ll be more likely to beat the spread.

Back to Top

Leave a Comment

Please note, all submissions are screened for content deemed appropriate by Land O'Lakes. Comments are published within 3 business days.


Very good tips! I will use these suggestions. Thank you

Posted July 28, 2014 by Jennifer Aki

I like it when my chocolate chip cookies spread out causing the chips to protrude slightly on the top of the cookies. I especially dislike it when they don't spread out, resulting in a thick cake-like cookie.

Posted April 10, 2012 by Joe

Why do sometimes my cookies turn out lighter than usual and look raw???? I am baking those nice jumbo chocolate chip cookies for my cookie business and each cookie weighs 4 ounces. i actually weigh the dough and flatten out the cookie to make rounds using a circular cookie cutter. I bake my cookies at 360 degrees for about 9 minutes. Any suggestions would be helpful as i dont want to serve my customers doughy tasting cookies!!!! By the way i always use nothing else but land o lakes maragrine in my baking!!!!

Posted March 09, 2012 by Maryann
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
.I am thinking your cookies are doughy but may also spread too much. One suggestion is to make sure the margarine is as cold as possible when you mix the dough. Also chll the dough for about 30 minutes before forming cookies. One other suggestion is to bake each pan of cookies until completely baked. Ovens fluctuate in temperature approx. 25 degrees either way from the temperature you set the oven to. Since cookies bake a rather short amount of time the temperature may be slightly lower than 360 degrees during the baking time. Therefore, you may need to bake the pan of cookies a minute or two longer.
Posted March 14, 2012

Fantastic advice! This is a key frustration of mine lately. I've made Nestle's chocolate chip cookies for years and only recently are my cookies coming out like pancakes. I absolutely think it could be that the butter is too soft or pan is way to warm. Thanks for these tips!

Posted December 15, 2011 by Meg

how do u save this test kichen foods and tricks to my box or pc???

Posted October 22, 2011 by tammy m.
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Currently you will need to copy and paste the article to a word document and save it to a folder, your desktop or where you want to archive the information. At this time you can only save recipes to your recipe box.
Posted October 23, 2011

From the Test Kitchen... Today you can find Baking Ammonia in some drug stores or specialty food stores. It is fun to bring back some of the cookies from years ago and again use an ingredient such as this.

Posted December 20, 2010 by Cindy

I put the cookie dough in the refrigerator overnight, and the cookies come out perfectly, no spreading at all.

Posted December 19, 2010 by Donna

I have a recipe for "Baking Amonnia Cookies" My mother use to get the baking amonnia at the drug store, where can I get a small amount now?

Posted December 18, 2010 by Arlis B.

I'm making nut roll and the dough is what I'm having a problem with and the person who made it is no longer here to ask but what i do remember is she used a block of yeast and i cant remember how much milk and i think she put sugar in there too.. after the dough was done she put it in the frige over night ... the recipe is 8cups of flour , 6 eggs, block of yeast , 1 pound of butter ,1 tsp of salt ... this is all i was giving when ask to look at her recipe ... but i remember her heating up milk and putting the yeast in there but i dont know how much milk and i swear she put sugar in there to... i hope someone can help out ...thanks

Posted December 14, 2010 by helen

Thank you for the tips. I have often had 'spreading' cookie syndrome. Now I have suggestions to improve on this problem. Looking forward to trying these suggestions.

Posted December 13, 2010 by Pat

Thanks have always been curious about this!

Posted December 13, 2010 by Susy

Some cookies I want to spread. I especially like my choc chips to be thin and chewy. I learned a long time ago to acheve that result I needed to hand mix in the the dry ingredience after using the mixer to creame the wet ingredience. I also chill the dough between loading the cookies sheets.

Posted December 01, 2010 by Chris