Of all the categories of gluten-free baking, it might come as a surprise to you that the one that seems to cause the most problems is not bread, but cookies! (Bread is a very close second, though!)
Particularly if the cookies must be both gluten-free and dairy-free … and (gasp) … what if they must be egg-free, too? Would it surprise you to learn that using Ener-G® Egg Replacer instead of eggs actually helps keep most gluten-free cookie recipes from spreading?!)
While most people tend to get a bit frustrated with their “free from” cookie baking results, if you keep these 13 tips (A Baker’s Dozen!) handy next time you’re baking cookies, you’ll be baking your way to moist, chewy success!
1- Cream the butter or shortening with the sugar with an electric mixer before doing anything else. This step will help whip up the butter or shortening and make it fluffier, while also breaking down the sugar a bit, so that it doesn’t melt as much (e.g. spread) when baking.
2- Bake with a combination of butter (or non-dairy butter alternative – i.e. Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks — NOT spreads because they … spread!) and shortening, rather than just butter alone. The combination works to give more body to the dough to prevent spreading. To see more on the benefits of this combination, see my video!
3- Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper for every cookie recipe. It prevents the cookies from sticking to the sheet (and then breaking apart when removed), doesn’t leave a greasy aftertaste on the bottoms of the cookies, and helps you spend less time in the kitchen doing clean-up duty when you’re done!
4- Chill your dough well before baking! (Particularly when dealing with rolled cookie doughs, although I happen to think it’s a good rule of thumb no matter what!)
5- Don’t put too many additions into any cookie recipe. For example, with chocolate chip cookies, adding too many chocolate chips will cause the cookies to spread, as there is not enough dough to bake up for support. This is one reason why I like using Enjoy Life® MINI chips (and they’re dairy, soy & nut-free, too!).
6- If your cookies still insist on spreading, add 1/4 cup of gluten-free flour to the remaining dough to help hold them together (also helps at high altitude!).
7- If your cookie dough is too dry and crumbly, just add back to the mixing bowl and stir in a couple tablespoons of your favorite milk. Add more if needed – the dough needs to hold together, but most cookie doughs shouldn’t be sticky. Sometimes I’ll keep cookie dough in my fridge or freezer and when I go to bake some, the dough has dried out from the cold. Same solution: bring to room temperature then mix in a few tablespoons of milk. Voila – cookie dough like new!
8- Baking by weight, as opposed to volume, is always more accurate. One measured cup of my gfJules™ All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour should weigh approximately 135 grams. Measuring your ingredients inaccurately can throw any recipe off, especially finicky cookie recipes!
9– If your oven has the option, bake using convection settings, rather than static temperature. If you have a convection setting on your oven and a convection temperature is not given, simply reduce the static temperature by 25 degrees when using your convection setting.
10- In fact, go ahead and reduce the temperature on your oven by 25 degrees anyway. If your oven is baking too hot (shockingly, most ovens don’t cook at the accurate temperature!), your cookies will definitely spread! The sugar in the dough may even sneak out the sides of the cookie and form a lacy texture. If this is happening, try baking the next batch at a lower temperature and see what works best with your oven.
11- Take your cookies out BEFORE they look done. With chocolate chip cookies, for example, I remove them when the centers still look a bit doughy. As they cool, they are still cooking. Taking them out of the oven at this point will ensure that they stay chewy!
12- Let your cookies cool before removing them from the parchment. I slide the parchment onto wire cooling racks after 5 minutes or so, and let them fully cool before I remove them. Once they’re cooled, they are no longer fragile … but still chewy and delicious!
13- Make sure your baking soda and/or baking powder are fresh. These are the leavening agents in your cookie recipe and if they are no longer active, your cookies won’t puff up and may spread more. Try a fresh container if they’ve been open longer than 3 months.
♦Want the gluten free recipes for my Vanilla Wafers, Oatmeal Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies and Snickerdoodles, all pictured here? Search my RECIPES tab and you’ll find all kinds of cookie recipes for the taking!♦
And don’t forget to sign up for all things Gluten-Free Cookie by joining the Gluten-Free Cookie Swap – your community cookie recipe share site!