Why do Sugar Cookies Spread when Baked?

Why do sugar cookies spread when they are baked? Well, that is an easy question with several different answers. There could be one or more reasons why your sugar cookies spread when they are baked. I have tried to cover as many as I can and hope you find the culprit.

Why Do Sugar Cookies Spread When Baked via thebearfootbaker.com

Why do Sugar Cookies Spread? 

Baking powder can cause your cookies to spread.
Try using half the baking powder your recipe calls for or omit it altogether. When I began baking sugar cookies, I used the full amount of baking powder the recipe called for. Well, the more sugar cookies I bake, the less baking powder I use. Experiment with it until you find what works for you.

Measure your ingredients properly
Baking is a science. I hated science in school and now I use it every day. Weird right? If you are making a recipe for meatloaf, you can add almost anything you want to it and it will probably taste pretty good. If you are baking, you need to be very precise. Everything is connected and is important to the recipe. Too much flour will make your cookies dry and crumbly. Too much sugar and butter can make sugar cookies spread and lose their shape when baked.

Chill the Dough before Baking your Cookies
This one requires a little patience because once you roll out your dough, you are ready to bake. Be patient and bake your cookies when the dough is really cold. Check out my videos on “How to Roll Our Sugar Cookie Dough” and “How to Cut Out Perfect Sugar Cookies Every Time.”

Re-rolling the Dough
Yes! If you re-roll the dough over and over it will make sugar cookies spread. Gail from One Tough Cookie has a great tip so you won’t waste any dough and still have smooth flat cookies. Shes says to take all the leftover pieces from where you cut out your shapes and add them to the new dough so they will stay fresh and you can roll the dough out a few times more.

Thickness Matters
How thick are you rolling your dough? I roll mine to 1/4″ thick. I know people who make their cookies thicker than I make mine and they don’t have spreading issues. The recipe you use will determine how thick you can roll your cookies. Try doing what the recipe calls for and make any necessary adjustments.

Parchment Paper or Silpat
Baking your cookies on a baking sheet that has been greased may make sugar cookies spread. Use a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat when you bake and it can help the cookies hold their shape. I have used parchment paper for years, but lately, I have been using my Silpats. I don’t know if it is a phase I am going through or what, but parchment and Silpats both work great.

Oven Temperature
Just because your oven says it is 325° doesn’t mean it is really 325º. Isn’t that crazy? If you have trouble with sugar cookies spreading when baked, you may want to purchase an oven thermometer that you can place in your oven to see what the temperature really is. If your cookies are baked in an oven that is too cool, the cookie dough won’t have time to set fast enough and it will make the sugar cookies spread.

A Warm or Hot Cookie Sheet
If you bake a lot of cookies and don’t let your cookie sheets cool before you place new unbaked cookie dough on them, your cookies will begin to spread before you even place them in the oven. Use cool baking sheets so the cookies will begin to bake evenly when you place them into the oven.

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy these:
Beginners Guide to Cookie Decorating
Sugar Cookie Recipe
How to Soften Butter Quickly
Salted or Unsalted Butter
Basic Decorating Supplies

Bear hugs,