Why Chilling Cookie Dough Makes Better Cookies

Nicole Austin

Does refrigerating cookie dough make a difference? It sure does. We're breaking down exactly why chilling cookie dough makes the best cookies.

When it comes to baking delicious cookies, we can all agree we want to eat them sooner than later. So, is chilling cookie dough in the fridge a critical step, or something we can skip?

In the quest for the perfect cookie, we’ve walked that fine line of adding, removing, or reducing ingredients, and trying different bake times and temperatures.

Levain Double Chocolate Cookies Photo

Whether you prefer pillowy soft chocolate chip cookies, for instance, chewy cookies or crisp cookies, one step appears frequently in many favorite recipes - chilling cookie dough in the fridge before baking.

It’s so tempting to get to the final steps of cookie making and wanting to rush to the baking. After all, once you bake your cookies, you can get to the most rewarding part - eating the final product!

Is Cookie Dough Better When Chilled?

After spending the time preparing your favorite cookie recipe, the last thing you may want to do is wait to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Guess what? Chilling cookie dough actually makes a big difference in terms of texture giving you the best results for almost any type of cookie you might be baking.

Letting the cookie dough rest in the refrigerator is not just for sugar cookie dough! Your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe will benefit from this step, too.

You'll see a noticeable difference! While what makes a cookie delicious is all a matter of preference, what makes a cookie bake is a matter of science.

The long and short of it? Science has compelling reasons for chilling cookie dough to ensure optimum baking potential.

Levain Double Chocolate Cookies Picture

Why Chilling Cookie Dough Makes Better Cookies

Still skeptical? Here are a few different factors informing our general rule of thumb to never skip chilling cookie dough, even if you’re in a time crunch.

Chilled dough makes a superior cookie, every time, which is why you see the best cookie recipes recommending this step all the time.

Levain Double Chocolate Cookies Pic

The Best Cookie Flavor

Resting your dough in the fridge allows for the ingredients to meld together, resulting in an undeniably better flavor profile in cookies baked from chilled cookie dough.

Plainly, the dry ingredients will absorb the wet ingredients, resulting in a more fully hydrated dough that isn't as sticky or wet in texture allowing the flavors to become more fully concentrated.

In terms of flavor, the good news is that even very basic cookie dough can see a huge difference in how the final baked cookie tastes just by chilling the dough!

Chewier Cookies

Chilling cookie dough is a crucial step when it comes to avoiding cookies that bake into flat, sad disks spreading across the baking sheet. It's a simple step that makes a difference.

Frankly, this is arguably one of the main reasons you want to chill cookie dough before baking them! Chilling cookie dough gives cookies a better consistency, full stop.

Cooled dough also holds its shape and texture, making it easier to scoop.

Because the fat (often butter) won’t melt immediately if it’s cooled, the cookies will be less likely to lose their shape while baking, unlike with room temperature dough.

Levain Double Chocolate Cookies Image

With dough that hasn't been chilled, you also have room temperature butter. This means that as soon as your tray of raw cookie dough a hot oven, the butter is immediately melting.

The chilling step helps prevent your cookies from blending into the ones surrounding it, because the butter or other fat heats more slowly resulting in a final texture that's far superior.

Love a decadent cookie with crispy edges and a chewier center? This is it, friends. This is the trick you've been waiting for and it's such an easy way to improve your cookie game!

Who knew it would all come down to resting time and cold butter? That said, cutting the amount of sugar in your recipe will also yield fluffier cookies.

Experiment by halving the amount of sugar in your favorite recipe, and rather than rolling your cold dough into small balls of dough, make the cookie dough more cylindrical.

This will keep the cookie taller and the dough softer while baking.

File 1 - Levain Double Chocolate Cookies

How Long to Chill Cookie Dough

The type of cookie you're making, including drop cookies, sugar cookies, cutout cookies and many other types of cookies, will often include a note for how long the dough should be chilled in the recipe.

If that's the case, we suggest chilling cookie dough for the entire recommended amount of time noted in the recipe.

In the event the resting time isn't included in the recipe, top bakers regularly suggest chilling dough for a minimum of 1 to 2 hours, and optimally, 24 to 36 for the truly perfect texture.

While I don't frequently let cookie dough rest overnight, I do try to abide by 1 to 2 hours and while the cookie dough chills I'll get my kitchen all cleaned up or start dinner prep.

Remember that a little extra chilling time never hurts if you happen to go over on time. If the cold dough is a bit too hard, let it warm slightly and then use a cookie scoop to scoop it out of your mixing bowl.

What if you can’t wait for the dough to chill? Popping the cookie dough into the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes will help speed the process up considerably.

This also comes in handy when you want to save some dough for later!

File 2 - Levain Double Chocolate Cookies

Flash freezing cookie dough balls by placing them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour, then tossing them into a plastic bag or airtight container, can allow you to bake last minute cookies at a later date.

I suggest that busy parents do this for the times they are unexpectedly volunteered to bring treats the next day - this may have happened to me a time or two!

While we can debate chocolate chips vs chunks, or what type of flour is best, the one irrefutable truth to baking the best cookies is that resting and chilling cookie dough is essential to ensure a better likelihood of good results.

Trust me on this one. Try chilling cookie dough - you'll be so glad you did!

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Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.

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