Chewy, Crispy, or Cakey – What defines the texture of a cookie?


We all have a favorite type of chocolate chip cookie. For me, it’s chewy.

Baking is chemistry. The ratio and use of certain ingredients define the final product. The chemical reaction between flour, sugar, and fat paired cohesively with the oven temperature and baking time determine the texture and appearance of a cookie. Cookies will spread more at a lower temperature and longer baking time. A dough that’s been chilled overnight will spread less because the fat, usually butter, is cold. It’s all a game of science. So, I am going to try to break it down for you with the knowledge that I have.


Another fun scientific aspect of baking a chocolate chip cookie is the Maillard Reaction. It’s a process when carbohydrates, in the case of cookies this means the sugar, turn brown when heated. The change in sugar molecules, the browning, alters the flavor; think caramel.

The type of sugar you use in your recipe will impact the final texture of your cookie. Using more granulated sugar means less leavening and more spread. This is because it does not respond as actively as brown sugar would. Brown sugar has more acid, which when combined with baking soda, means more leavening and less spreading.


The use of flour is all about the protein percentage. All-purpose flour is higher in protein which means the cookie will brown more and become crispier. This is often the most utilized flour in everyday cookie recipes. Using a flour lower in protein, such as cake or pastry flours, will give you a softer cookie.

Utilizing these guidelines and information, I have come to the following conclusions:


For “Cakey” Cookies

– A higher quantity of brown sugar is needed to interact with the leavening agent (baking soda).

– The addition of egg will provide more leavening and increased moisture.

– Refrigerated batter will provide less and slower spreading.


For Chewy Cookies

– A higher quantity of granulated sugar is needed for less interaction with the leavening agent (baking soda).

– Lower oven temperature and longer baking time will provide more spread.


For Crispy Cookies

– A higher quantity of granulated sugar is needed for less interaction with the leavening agent (baking soda).

– The addition of canola oil or melted butter will increase crispiness.

-No eggs should be used.


A favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe of mine is Jacque Torres’ Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies. He uses a combination of low and high protein flours (cake and bread flours) in addition to a combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar. The use of these blended sugars and flours provide the ultimate cookie texture. He specifies refrigerating the dough overnight as well, which means a slower spread due to the chilled fats. It is an excellent recipe and a true marriage of all of the above information.

Hopefully, I have been able to help you learn how to achieve your favorite cookie.

What is your favorite cookie texture? Comment Below.


Want more cookie magic? Try my recipe for these
Sprinkled Sugar Cookies by clicking HERE.