When making changes like this, you might be wondering why are my cookies flatter, and why are they coming out greased. Unfortunately, once cookies are out of the oven flat, you cannot really do much with them.
Too warm, and your butter may melt too fast, causing cookies to spread out too much before the flour mix has time to set. This means the butter has a tendency to start melting as we are still making our dough, before it even hits the oven. Butter has a lower melting temperature than shortening, which is why it is even more critical to refrigerate your butter-infused cookie dough. By keeping your butter cold, it delays the melting process until after your cookies start rising and baking, which results in a denser end product.
If you have butter that is too soft, just throw your butter into a hot oven immediately, it will simply melt all the way through, causing the cookies to spread out. If this happens, then your butter will melt more quickly in the oven, and your cookies will flatten out before they can even get a chance to set. What is more likely happening to your cookies is your butter melting before any of the other reactions can occur. If you are spreading out your cookies in the oven, you may have made one of these common baking mistakes.
If you notice your cookies are spreading when baking, you may want to try using a spoon to help you shape them back into shape. Repeat as long as needed while baking, and repeat again once your cookies are done baking.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop cookie dough into round tablespoons and place on a greased baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. If using balls of cookie dough, shape them taller so they have enough space to spread out when the ingredients are melting. Also make sure to use thick, quality baking sheets, since thinner, darker ones encourage browning, which can make cookies burn more quickly and easily. Using too much flour makes cookies too cakey, so try cutting down on your flour by two tablespoons.
If you are not measuring ingredients by weight each time you bake cookies (which I actually recommend, and am committed to doing more of), you are likely to end up with different amounts of flour or sugar each time. We are working to add weight measurements into our recipes to ensure you are getting the right amount of flour, or you are not getting too much sugar (which actually makes cookies spread). Using a scale and measuring out ingredients, particularly the flour, can likely fix 50% of the spread problems in cookies. If you are heavy-handed with the measurements, that extra sugar means more liquid, and a lot more spreading as your cookies cook up in the oven.
How much sugar you use impacts the crispness of muffins, cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. You could also experiment with limiting the amount of sugar you use, and see if it makes your cookies softer and more pillowy. Just changing up the butter temps and slightly increasing the flour, you will be able to see one spreading a lot less than the other.
The result is a cookie that is much thicker and chewier than a lot out there, thanks to brown sugar and the melted butter. The ideal cookies are made following the above recipe, except that maybe the butter is a bit softer than called for. Many cookie recipes begin by creaming together butter and sugar — it is simply for combining ingredients.
My classic chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for melting the butter, meaning that you will have to chill your cookie dough. If even a single cookie is spreading out in the oven, put the cookie dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so (even though the recipe does not call for it). Let cookies sit on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes, and then transfer cookies to a rack to completely cool. For most cookies, the dough has enough fat in it to prevent sticking on the cookie sheet — no need for grease.
Sometimes, spreading is corrected by chilling the cookie dough, or adding a little extra flour the next time. If your first batch of cookies baked flat, try adding 1-2 tablespoons of flour to leftover dough. If your cookies are flat, brown, crisp, and maybe even slightly flaky at the edges, this means that you will want to add some flour to the dough for your next batch. The way to remedy that is to make sure that you have chilled the cookies prior to baking them, either by letting the dough sit in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight before shaping and baking, or shaping cookies and then cooling your cookie sheet in the refrigerator for one hour.
Using spray oil or butter to grease baking sheets that are warm creates a greasy surface, again encouraging the cookies dough to spread out needlessly. If you are looking to make cookies with cookies cut outs that do not spread, for example, our test kitchen recommends using a firmer dough, such as that used in our recipe for Santas elf cookies. Shortening has a higher melting temperature, so it does not make cookies spread as much as butter.