Unfortunately, cookies don’t stay perfectly soft and chewy forever. All baked goods will eventually grow old and stale. It’s a sad fact of life, but that’s just the way it is.
This happens because the moisture inside the cookies evaporates over time, leaving behind a dry, crumbly mess.
Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated
So what can you do?
Read more: Your Ultimate Guide to Storing Holiday Cookies
How to Make Soft Cookies
If you want a soft cookie tomorrow, you’re going to have to start with a soft cookie today. Here are a few tips for keeping your next batch as pillowy as possible:
1. Use brown sugar instead of white sugar.
Since brown sugar retains more moisture than white sugar, this ingredient swap will help prevent a dry finished product.
2. Use cake flour.
Listen: A lot of recipes call for all-purpose flour for a reason. Don’t go swapping in cake flour without doing your research. However, the lower protein content in cake flour will keep gluten from forming. Less gluten = soft, tender cookies. If you’re comfortable with the recipe and your baking skills, try replacing half the called-for all-purpose flour with cake flour—this slight change may result in a softer cookie.
3. Bake at a low temperature.
The higher the temperature, the harder the cookies. Keep an eye on your cookies while they’re in the oven and, if the recipe instructs you to bake at 350°, maybe try 325° and see what happens.
4. Don’t overbake them.
Just like high temperatures produce hard cookies, so do long baking times. We’re not saying you should underbake them (nobody wants salmonella), but subtracting a minute or two from the recommended cook time may yield a softer cookie. At the very least, don’t leave the cookies in longer than you’re supposed to.
Read more: The Secret Ingredient for the Chewiest Chocolate Chip Cookies
How to Keep Cookies Soft for as Long as Possible
1. Eat them the day they’re baked.
Cookies are always better (and softer) fresh out of the oven. If you want to prep your dough in advance, that’s totally fine—just whip it up and stick it in the freezer until the day you plan to bake and eat your cookies.
2. Store them in an airtight container.
While we love a good cookie jar, it’s important to make sure that you’re storing your cookies in an airtight container. The longer the cookies are exposed to air, the more likely they are to harden. You’ve got to keep that moisture locked in, people! We recommend a tightly sealed Tupperware or Pyrex container. If you must use a cookie jar (because aesthetics are important), just make sure the lid has a tight seal.
3. Store them with a piece of white bread.
If you haven’t heard of this trick, prepare to be amazed: Storing a piece of white bread with your cookies will help keep them nice and soft. The cookies (apparently) absorb the bread’s moisture and stay fresh-tasting for a few extra days. Cool, huh?
How to Moisten Hard Cookies
1. Steam them in the microwave.
Place your cookies in the microwave next to a glass of water. Cook them both for about 30 seconds, and you’ve got yourself a soft, steamed cookie.
2. Wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave.
The moisture from the towel will be absorbed into the cookie when it’s microwaved for a short time. Don’t go crazy—about 10 seconds should do the trick.
3. Use the bread trick in reverse.
The bread trick goes both ways: While we recommend adding the bread before the cookies are stale, tossing a slice in later can’t hurt.
Here’s how it works: Place a slice of white bread in the container with your cookies. Let sit overnight. Enjoy a freshly soft cookie the next day.
Now that you know how to keep your cookies soft, it’s time to start baking. Here are some of our favorite classic cookie recipes:
- All-Time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Perfect Sugar Cookies
- Butterscotch-Toasted Oatmeal Cookies
- Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies
Hungry for more? You can find 100+ delicious holiday cookie recipes right here.
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