Why Is My Cookie Dough Sticky? And How To Fix It!

So, you’ve gathered all the ingredients, combined the wet and dry mixtures, and voila! Your cookie dough came out too sticky. Sticky dough is not a train wreck, but your dough will be a lot harder to handle, and your finished cookies will come out flat and less tasty than expected. Is there any way to fix this? So Why is my cookie dough sticky?

Too much moisture in your cookie dough can cause it to become sticky. Your wet ingredients (eggs, butter, and other fluids the recipe demands) are the direct cause, and it is essential to measure them correctly. Adding more flour or chilling the dough can fix the stickiness.

Some people prefer to have stickier cookie dough for the type of cookie they are making; however, generally, you would like the recipe to turn out as intended – especially when baking for others.

Luckily, the causes of sticky cookie dough are simple, and the solutions are pretty easy to apply. There is always a plan B (as long as you don’t mind straying from the recipe).

What Are The Causes Of Sticky Cookie Dough?

Sticky cookie dough is usually the result of too much moisture.

That is to say, your wet ingredient to dry ingredient ratio is too high.

Although some recipes call for very moist dough, cookies that need to be rolled out or shaped by hand will be tough to make if the dough clings to every surface it touches.

Let’s look at the leading causes of dough that is too sticky. 

You Are Using Eggs That Are Too Large

Many casual bakers have reported problems regarding sticky cookie dough, and when asked what size their eggs were, the answer is in the range of large to extra-large.

In most recipes, medium-sized eggs will yield the best results.

Egg size is crucial since it can significantly impact the moisture in the mixture, resulting in a stickier dough. 

You May Have Added Too Much (Or The Wrong) Butter

Another usual suspect when it comes to sticky cookie dough is using too much butter.

The natural fats in butter are great for adding moisture to cookies and provide excellent flavor; however, excessive butter can cause baked cookies that are super thin and may make them overly greasy. 

Furthermore, using the wrong type of butter, or butter substitute, can also result in gooey cookie dough.

Margarine, for instance, is a standard replacement for butter, but it often has higher water content.

Therefore, recipes wherein margarine is used instead of butter usually result in stickier cookie dough and flatter cookies.

Some vegan butter also has the same effect as margarine on your dough.

Your Measurements Are Incorrect

A common mistake bakers make is using the wrong form of measurement.

Some recipes call for measuring by volume, while others measure by weight.

Double-check your recipe before starting to bake and tick off what you have added on a list as you measure out your ingredients.

The most common form is measuring by weight. 

Your Dough Is Too Warm

The temperature of your dough can also affect its texture because as the liquids become warmer, the dough becomes looser.

Warm cookie dough can result from many things, including climate, the temperature of your thermostat, and kneading the dough too much.

Using room-temperature ingredients would naturally also increase the temperature of your dough. 

close up of cookies dough

How To Make Cookie Dough Less Sticky?

The best way to have less sticky cookie dough is to prevent it altogether.

Therefore, ensure that your measurements are correct, your eggs are medium-sized, and that you use the right kind of butter.

When mixing the wet and dry ingredients, it is also wise to add the wet ingredients little by little and check how it affects the consistency of your cookie dough.

Finally, don’t knead the mix for too long. 

People also suggest using cold butter and eggs, especially in warmer climates, though some recipes call for softened butter and room-temperature eggs.

Instead, using them while a bit cooler can prevent sticky cookie dough. 

How To Fix Sticky Cookie Dough?

If you have already mixed your ingredients and followed all the correct steps and measurements, it still comes out sticky: fret not!

Simple solutions to fix sticky cookie dough are abundant, and most don’t require too much effort.

Chill Your Cookie Dough In The Refrigerator

Because temperature is often the cause of sticky cookie dough, simply placing the mixture in the fridge should help cool it down.

If the temperature doesn’t cause it, chilling your dough can still help your cookie dough reach the desired consistency by firming it up a little. 

This step is helpful and quick if your dough contains a lot of butter since butter hardens quickly in the fridge.

Some bakers also suggest flattening the dough between two sheets of parchment paper before refrigerating since this will speed up the process.

Add More Flour To Your Cookie Dough

Maybe you mismeasured your flour, or perhaps your eggs were too big.

Do you still feel like your cookie dough is too sticky? Try adding some extra flour to do the trick.

However, be careful since adding too much flour can dry out the mixture too much and make the flavor of the cookies too bland; therefore, sift it in slowly and keep careful watch over your dough’s consistency. 

Add A Little Cornstarch To The Dough

As an alternative to adding more flour, you can add just a little bit of cornstarch (around a teaspoon) to your cookie dough.

Cornstarch’s dryness will swiftly absorb the excess moisture; however, it may also produce unwanted effects, such as a softer cookie.

It also works best if the dough is just too sticky (and not runny). 

What To Do If Cookie Dough Is Too Sticky?

Maybe you feel like your cookie dough is still too sticky, and nothing helped bring it to a more solid consistency; there are still some pieces of advice that may help.

These may not prevent the cookies from falling flat and becoming too crispy, but at least you will be able to get them out of the bowl and onto the tray.

Besides, these tips are also helpful for recipes that call specifically for sticky dough.

Cover The Table And The Rolling Pin In Flour

Make sure to cover your working surfaces with enough flour to prevent too much sticking.

Don’t worry too much about the amount of flour you’re using, but also be aware that a lot of the flour coming into contact with the dough will get incorporated into the mixture, possibly making it taste blander.

Consider sprinkling sugar over the shaped cookies at the end to compensate.

Shape The Dough And Coat It In Powdered Sugar

This step is beneficial if you have added more flour, but your dough is still too sticky for baking.

The powdered sugar acts as a type of flour-coating but will also add back the sweetness lost from adding more flour.

Note that this will not work for all cookies, but simpler and flatter types will take well to this technique. 

Dark chocolate chip almond coconut cookies dough, Keto dessert

Handle The Dough With An Ice Cream Scoop Or A Spoon

This tip will only work for cookies that demand sticky dough, which won’t need any rolling out.

Of course, it can also serve as a final alternative if none of the other tips were able to make your dough less sticky.

We recommend ice cream scoops, especially if you want rounder cookies. 

Why Is My Cookie Dough Runny?

Like sticky cookie dough, runny cookie dough results from too many liquids compared to dry ingredients.

If your cookie dough is watery, it just means that the proportion of wet ingredients in the dough is much higher than it was with the sticky cookie dough.

Therefore, to make the dough firmer, more dry ingredients (i.e., flour) will have to be added.

Conclusion

Cookies may seem like an easy baking feat, but people underestimate how tricky and tedious these little treats could be.

Now that you know what can cause cookie dough to become sticky, it is easier to prevent it.

At least there are a couple of solutions in case things go wrong. Your next batch of cookies will hopefully have that perfect crunch!