How to Keep Cookies from Spreading

Even if you enjoy flatter cookies, dealing with cookies that have spread too much is not ok. But what went wrong? If you keep finding yourself with cookies spreading way more than they’re supposed to, you need to know what’s going haywire – and, more importantly, how to remedy the situation.

Well, hey there! My name’s Michelle, and I’ve been baking cookies (and other yummy baked goods) for the past ten years. I genuinely love baking cookies – almost as much as I love eating them.

Of course, even though I have ten years of cookie-baking experience, it doesn’t mean I haven’t dealt with the infamous over-spread cookie. I’ve discovered why cookies spread too much and how to fix it.

Say Sayonara to spread nightmares. Read on to uncover how to keep cookies from spreading!

How to Keep Cookies from Spreading: 9 Tips for Success

Sure, a little spread is fine, but too much spreading isn’t good for any type of cookie. Here’s how to avoid the notorious over-spreading situation.

1. Use Room Temperature Butter

Your cookie recipe calls for room-temperature butter. Yet, many people equate room temp to warm. Well, room-temperature butter is not warm. It’s actually still somewhat cold but not so firm that you can’t press your finger into it.

The next time you’re baking cookies, ensure your butter is room temperature and not too warm. 

Starting your cookie dough with warm butter will mean that your butter melts prematurely in the oven, leaving you with a greasy puddle of overly spreaded cookies. Yuck.

2. Use the Correct Amount of Ingredients

Too many wet ingredients and insufficient dry ingredients are a recipe for disaster – or, should I say, cookies that have spread too much.

It seems simple enough to use the correct amount of ingredients. But you may unintentionally mess up the quantities if you’re not using measuring cups and spoons.

When you bake your cookies, always measure each and every ingredient. If you want to be really on top of things, you can take it a step further and weigh your ingredients on a scale. 

If your cookie dough feels a little too loose or wet, you can add another tablespoon or two of flour. This will help to reduce the risk of over-spread cookies.

3. Use the Right Flour

Wait, there’s the wrong flour for cookies? Yup. Some flours don’t have enough gluten, which can lead to your cookies spreading too much.

The best thing to do is use the flour recommended in your recipe. Most cookies will ask for all-purpose flour, but there may be other flour used for your cookies.

4. Make Sure Your Leavening Agent Isn’t Expired

Baking soda, baking powder, and other leavening agents are used in cookies to ensure they raise correctly. 

However, if your leavening agent has expired, it won’t work correctly. Your cookies won’t rise the way they’re supposed to, leading to over-spread nightmares.

Double-check that your leavening agent is not expired before using it.

5. Don’t Overmix

Mixing the cookie dough ingredients is kind of a must, right?

But did you know that mixing for too long can lead to excess air being incorporated into the dough? When it comes time to bake your cookies, they’ll collapse like a dying star – and end up spreading more than you want them to.

Whether using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or a good old-fashioned spoon, don’t mix the dough for longer than two minutes.

6. Chill the Cookie Dough

I know, I know – I hate chilling my cookie dough, too. I would much rather mix the cookie dough ingredients, roll them into balls on my cookie sheet, and start baking. But let me tell you, chilling your cookie dough is essential if you don’t want your cookies to spread too much.

Oh, and by the way – chilling the dough will make the flavor and texture even better. So why wouldn’t you want to chill your cookie dough? You’d be doing yourself a disservice by not chilling it!

When chilling your cookie dough, you can keep it as short as 30 minutes or as long as 48 hours. It’s up to you!

7. Use a Silicone Baking Mat

Almost any cookie recipe will tell you to grease your cookie sheet. This is done for one significant reason – your cookies won’t stick to the sheet. However, the product you’re using might be harming your cookies and making them spread – we’re looking at you, butter, and oil.

Butter and oil are greasy. Sure, they’re great for fending off sticking, and butter is fabulous for adding a little extra flavor to your baked treats. Yet, they also create a greasy foundation that can contribute to over-spreading.

What’s the better option? Silicone baking mats. They’re easy to use, reliable, and 100% reusable, so you won’t have to worry about harming your wallet or the environment. Just focus on beautiful, delicious cookies!

8. Don’t Use Hot Baking Sheets

When you’re on a roll baking cookies, it can be easy to re-use the baking sheets time and time again – especially if you’re in a hurry.

But placing chilled cookie dough onto a hot baking sheet will cause it to spread immediately. Your cookies will have zero chance of coming out the way you want them to.

Avoid this mishap! Have multiple baking sheets ready to go, or allow the baking sheet to cool down before you use it again. You can quickly cool down your cookie sheet by running it under cold water and drying it thoroughly before your next batch.

9. Check Your Oven’s Temperature

Most cookies bake at 350F. So, you turn on your oven, set it to 350F, and you should be perfectly fine, right?


Just because you selected 350F on your oven doesn’t mean your range will heat to 350F. Your oven may be reading incorrectly, leaving your oven hotter or cooler than stated – and a colder oven will take longer to bake, leading to the infamous spread.

That said, always double-check your oven’s temperature with an oven thermometer


Now you never have to worry about over-spread cookies ever again. Hooray! If you want to keep learning about this great topic, I have added a few additional questions below. Let’s keep learning, shall we?

Does parchment paper make cookies spread?

Parchment paper will not make cookies spread – other methods of greasing, like butter and oil, will. That said, if you want to stop your cookies from spreading, you can use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat instead.

Should I cook cookies on parchment paper?

Baking cookies on parchment paper is an excellent idea. You won’t have to worry about the extra grease from butter or oil causing spreading. It will also ensure your cookies don’t stick to the pan, leaving you with Instagram-worthy cookies.

Should you chill cookie dough before baking?

Although it seems like a nuisance, chilling cookie dough before baking is essential. It will solidify the fat, which reduces the chance of spreading. It will also enhance the overall flavor and texture of your cookies. It’s an all-around good idea.

Goodbye, Over-Spreaded Cookie Dilemmas!

Over-spread cookies are not only ugly, but they don’t taste as good, either. Luckily, simple changes can make sure that your cookies don’t over-spread. From using room-temperature butter to chilling the cookie dough, you now have the tools to fend off excessive spreading.

How do you stop your cookies from spreading?

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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