How to Fix Crumbly Cookie Dough

Baking cookies can be a blast. It can also be a confusing nightmare. If you’ve followed your directions to a tee and have crumbly cookie dough that just won’t meddle, you likely didn’t add enough liquid or fat. Sometimes, your cookie dough just needs a quick break, too.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle, and I’m a complete cookie fanatic. Cookies were one of the first things I learned to bake some ten-plus years ago, and they remain one of my favorites. From classic chocolate chip to more sensational persimmon or cranberry, I enjoy them all.

If you’re wondering why your cookie dough is crumbly or falling apart, don’t worry – it’s not the end of the world. In fact, crumbly cookie dough is one of the easiest fixes in the cookie game. Keep reading to find out how to fix crumbly cookie dough.

Who’s ready to whip up a batch of cookies?

How to Fix Crumbly Cookie Dough: Problems and Solutions

Crumbly cookie dough is relatively common and therefore has easy solutions. The goal is to figure out what went wrong and go from there. Below, you will find the top four reasons why your cookie dough is crumbling and how you can fix it ASAP.

1. Not Enough Liquid

It doesn’t matter which cookie dough recipe you end up using. It will call for a liquid (don’t forget that eggs are considered a liquid when baking cookies!). If you don’t use the right amount of liquid or omit it altogether, your cookie dough will be crumbly and dry.

What’s the solution? It’s pretty simple. Add liquid. If you forgot it altogether, you would start by adding the correct amount of liquid to your cookie dough. 

If you already added the liquid but possibly made a measuring mistake, begin by adding a tablespoon of liquid at a time (water, milk, etc.). Continue adding liquid until the cookie dough is no longer crumbly.

You shouldn’t need to add more than a ¼ cup of liquid to bring your cookie dough back to the correct level of moistness. If you’re exceeding that amount, you may have another issue going on with your cookie dough.

2. Not Enough Fat

Fat is responsible for giving your cookies their rich, chewy texture. Before that, it’s responsible for greasing up your cookie dough so that it can be mixed, rolled, and baked. Without enough fat, the cookie dough will end up crumbly.

The solution is somewhat the same as the solution for not enough liquid. Add fat. Use the same type of fat your recipe originally called for. If the recipe calls for butter, use more butter. If it calls for some kind of oil, use that instead.

You don’t want to overdo it with fat, though. Too much fat and your cookies will turn into a flat, lifeless pancake. That said, don’t add more than a teaspoon of fat. It might not seem like much, but it will likely be enough to meddle your cookie dough together beautifully.

3. It’s Overmixed

If you’re using a mixer rather than your hands, you might accidentally set your cookie dough up for crumbly failure. You see, cookie dough that’s mixed too much will form a strong gluten network, making it crumbly and difficult to work with.

Is your cookie dough simply overworked? Then give it a rest. No, really. Let your cookie dough rest on the counter at room temperature for up to an hour. Do not store in the fridge as it will cause the cookie dough to dry out.

When you’re ready to form your cookie dough into balls, do not mix it any further. Simply scoop it out, roll it however you please, and place it on the cookie sheet.

In the future, try to use the mixer more sparingly. Mixers work surprisingly fast, which can overwork your cookie dough sooner than you’d think. Use lower settings and less time to avoid this debacle.

4. Bad Recipe

If you’re trying a new cookie recipe and things just don’t seem to be working out, it might just be a faulty recipe. Sometimes, a baker might list their ingredients or directions wrong accidentally. When others try to replicate it, things go wonky.

In this situation, the best solution is to simply try out a new recipe. You may also want to consider investing in a food scale to get the most accurate measurements. 


Now you know why your cookie dough is crumbly and, more importantly, how to fix it. If you still have questions about this topic, check out these handy, frequently asked questions below.

How do you add moisture to dry cookie dough?

Sometimes it is as simple as spritzing a little bit of water right onto the dough. Other times, you need to add a teaspoon of liquid to the dough before it becomes pliable (make sure not to add more than ¼ cup of liquid).

What happens if cookie dough is too dry?

If cookie dough is too dry, it’s essentially not going to cook right. Liquid and fat are necessary for providing the desired texture and flavor for your cookies. When baking dry cookie dough, you will end up with a glob of ingredients that just don’t taste right.

Can I add an extra egg to the cookie dough?

You can add an extra egg to cookie dough if you’re looking for a chewier texture.

How do you fix dry cookies after baking?

If you’re dealing with dry cookies after baking, you have options. Microwave in a damp paper towel for 15 seconds or place a slice of white bread in the cookie jar and let it sit for 24 hours.

Final Words

A crumbly cookie is a big no-no, although it’s pretty common. It’s mainly due to using too little liquid or fat. However, overmixing or using a bunk recipe can also be an issue. Luckily, these mishaps have simple solutions: add, rest, or try a new recipe!

How do you fix crumbly cookie dough?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Susan

    I couldn’t believe I found you just by putting in my exact problem! BRAVO! My cookies probably have too many raisins and walnuts and after freezing the cookies became somewhat like a granola! I’m going to spritz first, then add the bit of butter if that doesn’t work, The cookie dough was in the freezer just for about a month. Thank you!

    • Michelle

      Hi Susan,
      So glad I was able to help. I hope your cookies turn out good. They sound delicious!

  • Sigrid

    Hi, Every Christmas, I make my mother-in Law’s 7-layer cookies. I made already 2 batches and the one today is completely failed. All the goodies in it are crumbling and only a few pieces are together. Is there any remedy for it?

    Thank you!

    • Michelle

      Hi Sigrid,
      Are they baked already? If so, there’s not much you can do with them. You could be creative and use some frosting to hold them together. Or, you’ll need to start from scratch.