Chill out! Turns out, when it comes to making cookies, this is great advice. Read on to learn why chilling cookie dough is such an important step in your cookie baking process.
As frequent bakers have likely noticed, many cookie recipes call for you to chill the dough for a few hours before baking. While this step can be irritating, there are some definite benefits to giving the dough a rest before baking up cookies.
Common questions about chilling cookie dough
What kind of cookie dough should you chill?
If a cookie dough will benefit from a trip to the fridge, it’s usually noted in the recipe. Generally, drop cookies, rolled cookies and molded cookies need to be chilled. Cookies that are made with batter, rather than dough, will bake up just fine without chilling.
How long should I chill cookie dough?
There’s not a hard and fast answer to this question. While you’ll see benefits from chilling for just 30 minutes, some bakers let their dough it for a couple of days. However, your dough won’t necessarily improve with more time.
In general, chilling for 2 hours or overnight will do just fine for most recipes.
Do I absolutely need to chill cookie dough?
No, it’s not required to chill cookie dough. However, you’ll find that this simple steps can refine your results, and the nuisance of added time may be worth it!
5 benefits of chilling cookie dough
1. Less spread
Some spread is natural when baking cookies, particularly drop cookies. However, you don’t want your cookies to spread too much, because they can stick together and become thinner than you’d like.
Chilling cookie dough reduces the dreaded spread by cooling down the fat. Butter and other fats become firm when chilled, which means the dough starts out more solid and you’ll minimized the spread when the fat heats up during baking.
2. Better flavor
As the cookie dough chills, the sugar in the dough absorbs moisture from other, more liquid ingredients. Plus, the carbohydrates in flour begin to break down into sugar. The combination of these chemical reactions makes for a more condensed flavor and a more mellow, pronounced sweetness. The result? More flavorful cookies.
3. A more appealing color
This is directly related to the same reactions detailed above: Sugar is also responsible for giving cookies that golden brown color we all love. As the sugar becomes more pronounced with the dough’s chilling, it promotes more even, beautiful browning.
4. Perfectly crispy edges
Reducing excess moisture from the dough and cooling down the fat in your cookie dough also helps improve the texture of your finished cookies.
The concentration of all the ingredients plus the limited spread means that you’re more likely to attain the highly coveted chewy inside, crispy outside texture that make cookies so crave-worthy!
5. Time to prepare for baking and storing
I’m not sure about you, but I’m terrible about mise en place. For me, the cookie dough chilling period offers a great chance for me to get my ducks in a row before moving on with the recipe.
While the dough chills, I line my cookie sheet, get the cooling rack out, prepare a storage container and start doing the dishes. It’s an indirect benefit of chilling cookie dough, but a benefit nonetheless!
Do you have a tip for baking perfect cookies? Leave a comment below!