How To Fix Cookie Dough That’s Too Dry

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Who doesn’t love a cookie?

These crispy, doughy, round little biscuits are so delicious, it is impossible to eat just one! And as for cookie dough, don’t get us started on that – cookie dough ice cream is one of the best things on this planet!

But what if your cookie dough is too dry – how do you fix it? You may need to add more liquid, either milk or water, or fat, such as butter, to fix your cookie dough that is too dry. However, the best method for fixing dry cookie dough largely depends on a number of different factors.

If your cookie dough hasn’t turned out quite as you expected, don’t give up! We’ve got all you need to know about cookie dough and the best ways to fix your cookie dough if it is too dry or crumbly.

What Is Cookie Dough?

As any chef will tell you, cooking is an art form, whereas baking is a science! You can play about with flavors and ingredients in casseroles and sauces, but baked goods such as cookies are not nearly so forgiving.

To understand why cookie dough can so easily go wrong, we need to understand what cookie dough is and how this delicate process works!

After all, cookies are quite remarkable – how can just a few very plain ingredients turn into something as delicious as a freshly-baked cookie?

Making the perfect cookie dough is vital if you want to make amazing cookies. Cookie dough is a mixture of the raw ingredients used to make cookies.

These ingredients normally include flour, butter, white sugar, and eggs. If the cookie dough is to be used to bake cookies, then a leavening agent such as baking soda will also be added.

But what’s all this about raw cookie dough? For centuries, children around the world have been allowed to lick the bowl when baking cakes and biscuits, as the raw ingredients taste so delicious.

And then someone realized that there was a market for raw cookie dough – genius!

Why Is Your Cookie Dough Too Dry?

When making cookie dough, it is important to get the texture and moisture levels exactly right. If you are familiar with making cakes and brownies, then cookie dough will look very odd to you to start with!

Cookie dough is much denser and thicker than cake mix and can be rolled into a ball without sticking or falling apart.

If your cookie dough does not roll into a ball or falls apart as soon as you attempt to roll it, then it is probably too dry.

Now don’t panic, this isn’t a disaster, but we do need to figure out what has gone wrong so we can fix it.

There are several reasons why your cookie dough might be too dry, and we need to look at the different ingredients and methods used to work out which one is the culprit!


All cookie dough recipes will include some form of fat, such as butter or oil. The fats in your cookie dough blend with the dry ingredients to create a soft and pliable dough.

It is this fat that gives your cookies that rich, gooey flavor – without it they’d be like sugary bits of cardboard! 

There are a few reasons why the fat might be to blame for your dry cookie dough. It could be because you substituted one type of fat for another – for instance, maybe you used margarine instead of butter!

Or it could be because you didn’t put enough of the fat into your dough mix. This can easily happen when measuring out liquid fats, such as oil or melted butter.


The liquid in your recipe, normally water or milk, is responsible for adding moisture to your cookie dough. If your cookie dough is dry or crumbly then it could be that not enough liquid was added, or the wrong type of liquid.

This can happen if you have substituted one type of liquid for another – perhaps you swapped full-fat milk for almond milk?

It can also occur if there were any errors in measuring, so double check your measurements carefully.

Dry Ingredients

Even adding just a tiny bit extra of your dry ingredients can be enough to turn your cookie dough dry and crumbly.

This is a common problem if you don’t have an accurate method of measuring your dry ingredients, and a set of weighing scales is a worthwhile investment if you want to perfect your baking technique.


Now for the science bit! When flour is mixed, proteins within the flour combine to form strands of gluten. This is what gives the cookie dough its elastic structure.

However, if you mix your dough for too long, more and more gluten will be developed. This will cause your cookie dough to become hard and dry.

When it comes to mixing your cookie dough, less is definitely better! You want your ingredients to be thoroughly combined, but stop mixing as soon as this is achieved.


Many cookie recipes recommend chilling the dough in a refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking. This is essential to give cookies the perfect texture when baked, so do not skip this step!

However, if your cookie dough is not properly wrapped before storing in the fridge, it will dry out and become crumbly. This is the same for any food stored in the fridge, which is why airtight bags and containers must be used.

What Happens If Your Cookie Dough Is Too Dry?

If your cookie dough is too dry, whatever you do, do not bake it as it is! Dry cookie dough will almost always lead to the inevitable disappointment of dry, tough cookies.

This is because the cookie dough does not contain enough moisture or fat to fully bond with the dry ingredients. When baked, these dry ingredients will become hard and tough, definitely not the outcome you are looking for!

But don’t panic – all is not lost! We can fix your dry and crumbly cookie dough and turn it into deliciously baked cookies in no time at all.

How To Fix Dry And Crumbly Cookie Dough

The hardest part of fixing dry and crumbly cookie dough is identifying the problem in the first place, and unfortunately, this can take a bit of trial and error.

You might be able to figure out the problem by looking at your dough or recipe, but most of the time it is just going to require a bit of guesswork.

If you’ve no idea what has gone wrong, we’d suggest working through this list in order, until you get the perfect cookie dough consistency!

Add More Liquid

Adding more liquid will not greatly affect the flavor of your cookies, and could be just the trick to fix your dry and crumbly cookie dough.

Add a similar type of liquid to what the recipe has already asked for – this could be water, milk, eggs whites, or whole egg.

Add one teaspoon of your chosen liquid at a time to your dough. Don’t be tempted to add more than this, and whatever you do, don’t chuck a whole egg in!

Mix the dough quickly and check the consistency – if it still isn’t right then repeat until you are happy with your dough.

Remember that excessive mixing will cause your dough to turn hard, so keep any additional mixing to a minimum. 

Add More Fat

Adding a small amount of fat can be a quick and easy fix for dry and crumbly cookie dough, but take care not to overdo it; otherwise, your dough can become greasy.

This will lead to cookies that are oily after baking, and no one wants that!

Add the same type of fat as your recipe asks for – butter, margarine, or oil. As with liquid ingredients, add one teaspoon at a time. This can be difficult to mix with a spoon or knife, so you may find it easier to blend with your hands.

Mixing Methodology

If your cookie dough is too dry or crumbly due to gluten formation, it is normally excessive mixing which is the problem.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to ‘fix’ this problem, but adding some liquid or fat may make it more pliable and easier to shape.

Using different mixing methods can help to prevent this problem in the future. If you are using an electric cake mixer, try swapping to manual methods instead.

Mixing cookie dough with your hands can be the best way to create the perfect cookie dough texture.


Another great tip if you’ve overmixed your dough is to let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

This resting period can help the glutens to soften, making your dough soft and pliable. Just make sure that you keep it in an airtight container, and avoid mixing it again before shaping it into balls for baking.

Change The Recipe

If your cookie dough consistently turns out dry and crumbly, you may just have a dodgy recipe!

You should not need to add extra ingredients to a recipe to make it perfect, so if this happens time and time again then ditch the recipe and look elsewhere.

Life is far too short to spend chewing your way through dry, tough cookies, plus it is a waste of your time and ingredients. Look for recipes with good reviews and user feedback to make sure that your cookies turn out perfect every time!

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over a few potential causes to your cookie dough being dry, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the topic!

How do you fix dry cookies after baking?

One of life’s greatest pleasures is biting into a delicious homemade cookie – crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, absolute perfection!

But what if your cookies come out of the oven like little lumps of rock? Or they’ve gone hard and stale really quickly in the cookie jar? Don’t panic, all is not lost – you can fix these cookies!

To soften up hard cookies, all you need is a slice of bread – something you should find in most kitchens!

Simply pop a slice of fresh bread on the bottom of an airtight container. Layer your cookies on top of the bread, close the lid firmly and leave them overnight.

Voila! Your cookies will absorb moisture from the bread and become soft and delicious, just the way we like them!

If you don’t have bread, then a slice of apple can do the same trick. Just bear in mind that the cookies may take on some of the apple flavors, which isn’t necessary such a bad thing!

How can you use stale cookies?

In most households, stale cookies would be a rare event – these delectable goodies are normally snaffled up as soon as the family gets a sniff of a packet being opened!

And as for homemade ones, you are doing well if they make it from the baking tray to the cookie jar without being eaten!

But on the off chance you do have some cookies which have gone stale, what can you use them for? Luckily, they don’t need to go to waste, as there are some great recipe ideas for stale cookies!

Here are some of the best recipes for using stale cookies:

Pie Crust

Stale biscuits such as cookies are the perfect pie crust for desserts such as no-bake cheesecakes and key lime pie. And a cookie pie crust is so much simpler than pastry, we don’t know why we don’t do this more often!

Simply crumble the stale cookies into melted butter until you have a thick mixture.

Pack this mixture into a pie pan – you can either just line the base, or around the sides as well.

Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes at 400°f, then cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes.

You can then add whatever chilled toppings you like to your pie crust – lemon meringue, banana cream, chocolate cheesecake, the list goes on! It is almost worth letting some cookies go stale just so you can try this!


This recipe is a work of absolute genius, and turns your leftover stale cookies into rich and sumptuous truffles! In a blender, blitz the cookies until they are fine crumbs.

Add cream cheese and combine thoroughly until you have a mixture that is the consistency of cookie dough.

Roll the dough into small balls and place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. They taste delicious just like this, but for added decadence, you can coat them in melted chocolate!

Ice Cream Dessert

It’s no coincidence that some of the most well-known ice cream manufacturers have brought out ‘cookies and cream’ ice creams – these two ingredients work so well together, it’s like magic!

If you’ve got some stale cookies then it is quick and easy to put together your own cookies and cream dessert.

There are two ways you can do this. One option is to make an ice-cream sundae, combining layers of ice cream with chunks of stale cookie dough. Add a drizzle of fresh cream over the top and you’re ready to serve!

Or if you want a fun snack ready to serve from the freezer, try making ice cream sandwiches. Put a layer of ice cream between two stale cookies, lay on a baking sheet, and refreeze.

Either eat straight away or pop them into an airtight container or plastic wrap to enjoy later.


If your cookies really are beyond the point of no return, then whizz them up in a blender with milk, cream, or ice cream to create a rich and delicious chilled milkshake.

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One Comment

  1. Another reason cookie dough will be too dry: Attempting to make them gluten free by using something other than wheat flour. I speak from experience

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