Why is My Cookie Dough Runny?

Want to get those perfect cookies with a crisp edge and a chewy center? Well let me tell you – runny cookie dough is NOT the way to go about it. 

There are a few reasons why your cookie dough isn’t as stiff as it should be. There’s not enough flour in the dough, the temperature is too high, or you’ve added too much of the wet ingredients.

I’m Angie. I’m a self-taught baker and I’ve been baking for over ten years. Cookies are one of my favorite things to bake and I like them big, thick, and chewy. In this article, I’m going to share with you the reasons behind having runny cookie dough and how to remedy it. 

Without further ado, let’s get baking!

Reason 1: It’s Not You, It’s the Recipe

Before you proceed to overanalyze everything, double check your recipe to confirm that you have used the right amount of ingredients and check for the consistency your recipe calls for because every cookie is different! 

It could be that you are following a recipe for crispy, thin cookies. Dough for fortune cookies for example is so loose that it’s closer to a batter than a dough.

A moister than usual cookie dough with moisture from the extra addition of eggs can result in a cake-like cookie. 

Remedy: 

Check to see if you’ve got the ratio correct. If so, follow through. If not, make adjustments accordingly. 

Reason 2: Not Enough Flour

If your cookie dough is runny, consider whether or not you’ve added in enough flour. Flour absorbs moisture and is what gives cookie dough structure. Not putting in enough flour will result in a runny, too wet to handle cookie dough.

Remedy: 

If your cookie dough is “runny” but still able to form a very tacky ball, simply dust flour on your dough or flour your hands before working with it. It might be all you need, after all, we want to incorporate flour little by little, slowly because it’s not good to have dry cookie dough either. 

If your cookie dough is indeed too runny, try adding a tablespoon of flour at a time and mixing until fully incorporated after each addition. Give the flour some time to soak up the moisture, do not rush. Stop adding as soon as the dough reaches your desired consistency.

Reason 3: Too Warm

Another reason why your cookie dough is runny might be that the temperature of the dough is too high. Cookie dough contains a lot of fat. Fats like butter, shortening, and coconut oil are sensitive to temperature change and can change significantly in consistency when reacting to the temperature. 

It’s possible that where you live the temperature is simply too high. Or, you may have overworked your dough and transferred your body heat to it causing it to be too warm. 

Remedy:

There are three ways you can remedy this. First of all, try not to overwork your dough or give it a short break each time. If there’s a way to lower the temperature of your kitchen, do it. Turn on the AC or the fan. Last but not least, you can simply place your dough in the fridge to bring it back to a lower temperature.

Reason 4: Too Much Wet Ingredient

I know I said it might not be you, just the recipe, but sometimes, it is indeed you.

Could it be that you’ve accidentally added too much of the wet ingredients? And by that, I mean oil, eggs, milk, anything with a liquid consistency. 

Too many wet ingredients and not enough dry ingredients to balance out your recipe will result in a runny cookie dough. Once baked, your cookie may spread too much, have a dense texture, become too crispy, or worst case, completely split and turn into a disaster.

Remedy:

If that is the case, you have to figure out how much extra you’ve added compared to the recipe so that you can balance it out with more of the dry ingredients. Notice it isn’t just flour that you must add in this case, but also more of the leavening agents to ensure your cookies have enough rise. 

FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about cookie dough. I’ve answered them below. 

Why is my cookie dough so gooey?

Generally speaking, the same factors that can cause your cookie dough to be runny are the same reasons why they might be too sticky or gooey. You can check out this article where Michelle has answered this specific question! 

What is the perfect cookie dough consistency?

There’s no perfect cookie dough consistency – only the right cookie dough consistency. When it comes to cookie dough, do as your recipe tells you to and pay extra attention to the procedure section where the recipe owner describes what to look for after each step. Your goal is to match your cookie dough to what they say to get the perfect result. 

Should I roll my cookie dough into balls?

Some cookies are better rolled into balls but some could benefit from simply being scooped out without being pressed into a ball. Check your recipe to see what it suggests!

Final Thoughts

We all experience cookie problems. You’re not the only one. Now that you have figured out four reasons why your cookie dough is runny, you can better avoid this problem in the future. 

Have you had runny cookie dough before? How did you end up fixing it? And if you didn’t, how did your final cookies turn out? Share with us your experience in the comments section below!

About Angie
I am a self-taught baker. I’ve been baking for over 10 years and started my own home baking business as a side hustle. I was born in Hong Kong and spent a pretty big chunk of my life in Canada. If you’re ever looking for me, I am probably there whisking vigorously away in the kitchen.

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