How to Soften Hard Cookies

I don’t know how you like your cookies, but I like mine crunchy on the outside and chewy and moist on the inside. A balance of texture for me is key to a good cookie. 

Not every batch of cookies you bake is gonna be perfect like you want it – such is life. (Dramatic much?) But seriously, everyone experiences the disappointment of cookies turning out too hard. Is there a remedy for this?

Luckily, there is. I’m Angie. I’m a self-taught baker who’s been baking for over 10 years. I bake cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and all those yummy goodies out there. In this article, I am going to share with you my tips for softening hard cookies so that you too can salvage yours. 

There are three ways you can soften hard cookies: Heat them, wrap them, or toss in a slice of bread in your cookie jar. 

It’s time. Let’s go save’em cookies!

Method 1: Heat’em Up!

As much as we refuse to believe it, cookies are very high in fat. One ingredient that is standard in most cookie recipes is butter. It’s what gives cookies their amazing texture and flavor. 

The thing about butter is that at room temperature, it solidifies. Heated up, however, the butter melts and will instantly fill up all the crevices in your cookie, moistening it and making it softer. 

The same applies to chocolate. If it is a chocolate chip cookie, you’ll find that when heated up, the chocolate softens and melts in your mouth. This would not only make your cookie tastier but also less dry and crumbly in your mouth.

To do so you must not simply put your cookies back in the oven and rebake them. For soft chewy cookies, you can place them in a preheated oven for a few minutes to heat them up but not for the full duration that you would bake them otherwise they’ll stiffen up even more and all of this hard work would go wasted.

You can also microwave your cookies. You can do so with a piece of damp paper towel inside the microwave as the steam from the paper towel will moisten and soften your cookie. That said, it’s possible that the outside shell of the cookie will also get mushy and we don’t want that.

Moral of the story – when using this method, heat for the minimum amount of time necessary to avoid further overcooking your cookie resulting in an even dryer texture. 

Method 2: Wrap Them

Generally speaking when baking cookies, we know they’re done when the outside edge becomes golden and the inner ring / center of the cookie is still soft to the touch. Cookies should almost never be hard all the way when they come out fresh from the oven.

So what happens when that’s exactly how you find them? 

There is one way to reverse the mistake. You can wrap your cookies up individually in some cling wrap or tin foil, or in an airtight container – anything that can stop airflow and slow down oxygen from reaching your cookie. 

You want to do this when your cookies are still slightly warm from baking, but not too hot that would burn your hand. This method works by trapping steam inside the cookie and the container to soften them. 

Of course, too much of something is never a good thing. We don’t want over steamed, soft, and soggy cookies. 

Method 3: Pop’in a Slice of Bread

This method works like magic. I definitely like saving the best for the last! What makes this method awesome is that you only need a jar and a slice of white bread.

Casually sneak in your white bread – your cookies won’t even know. Keep the jar closed for over 24 hours and you’ll find that your cookies have magically softened.

How the magic works is that your cookies, without them even knowing, would start to feed off of the moisture from the bread. Like a parasite, if a nasty comparison helps you understand.

By the end of this process, you’ll find that your bread has dried up instead. (Like a corpse with all the water sucked out of it.) What you’ll be left with is a stale piece of crouton-like bread but without the crunch. 

Again, I suggest using only plain white bread for this purpose because you want to limit the odors that can get absorbed into and mix with your cookies.

FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about softening hard cookies. I’ve answered them below. 

1. Why do cookies get hard after baking?

Cookie dough contains a lot of butter. During the baking process, the butter is exposed to heat and therefore will melt into a liquid form. Once cooled, butter hardens again which is why cookies appear hard once cooled.

Another reason for the hardening of cookies after baking is the gluten formed during the mixing process. Overmixing your dough can easily lead to hard cookies. 

2. What to do with old hard cookies?

There are many ways you can use up old hard cookies. Make pie crust, crumble it up and add it to your other desserts such as ice cream as garnish, make a trifle with it.

3. Why are my soft cookies hard?

Generally speaking, soft cookies are hard due to higher than necessary temperatures or due to baking too long. Cookies, soft cookies especially, need to be slightly underbaked for the best result. Keep in mind that the baking tray is hot and the cookies will continue cooking briefly after being taken out. 

4. What’s the secret to soft cookies?

As answered above, the secret to soft cookies is to take them out just before they’re fully baked and let them finish baking on the baking tray to prevent overbaking. 

Final Thoughts

Cookies are one of the easiest treats to bake and to get the best results. I’m sure you know this by now. Even if you think you’ve messed up, don’t panic, and know that there are still several ways you can reverse the damage!

I hope this article has helped. Best of luck with your cookie baking. Have you tried any of these tricks? Do you know any more than I haven’t mentioned? Let us all in on your secret tips 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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