How much raw cookie dough can you eat?

Quick Answer

While small amounts of raw cookie dough are unlikely to cause illness, it’s best to avoid consuming large quantities. The biggest risks of eating raw dough come from raw eggs and uncooked flour, which can contain Salmonella and E. coli bacteria. Adults and children should limit themselves to no more than approximately 1-2 tablespoons of dough while baking.

What are the risks of eating raw cookie dough?

The two main risks of eating raw cookie dough are:

  • Salmonella – Raw eggs used in dough may contain Salmonella bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.
  • E. coli – Uncooked flour may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria, which also leads to unpleasant gastrointestinal illness.

While the chances of getting sick are low, these bacteria pose a higher risk to vulnerable groups like pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

Can you get sick from eating raw cookie dough?

Eating raw cookie dough does carry a small risk of food poisoning. However, most people are unlikely to get sick from ingesting small amounts of dough.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over 1 million Salmonella cases in the U.S. every year, but the majority are caused by contaminated eggs or poultry, not raw dough.[1]

One study found that among over 4,500 cases of flour-linked E. coli infections, only around 3% were caused by eating raw dough or batter.[2]

So while it’s possible to get food poisoning from sampling cookie dough, the chances are very low. Strictly limiting intake reduces the risks further.

How much raw cookie dough is dangerous?

There’s no definitive threshold for how much raw cookie dough is dangerous. Illness risk increases the more dough is consumed, but even small amounts could theoretically cause sickness.

According to the FDA, eating 1-2 tablespoons of raw cookie dough is unlikely to cause illness in most healthy adults.[3] However, they recommend avoiding raw dough altogether, since bacteria may not distribute evenly throughout the dough.

Consuming large quantities like a whole bowl of cookie dough ice cream substantially increases the risks. At that point, the dangers depend on the specific batch of dough and the type of bacteria present. But it’s certainly possible to get food poisoning from eating too much.

Can you eat raw cookie dough while pregnant?

Pregnant women are typically advised to completely avoid raw cookie dough. Hormonal changes make pregnant women more vulnerable to bacteria like Salmonella, which can then spread to the fetus.[4]

In one study, 1 in every 7 cases of Salmonella poisoning during pregnancy led to fetal death in the mother. Other potential consequences include premature delivery or birth defects.[5]

While the overall risk is still low, pregnancy provides an extra reason to avoid raw dough. If you have a strong craving, it’s safer to use pasteurized eggs or heat treat the dough first. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.

Is raw cookie dough safe for kids?

Raw cookie dough poses more of a health risk to children due to their still-developing immune systems. Kids under age 5 are among the groups most susceptible to food poisoning.[6]

However, occasional small tastes of dough while baking pose minimal risk. Letting kids eat raw dough by the spoonful or entire bowls of unbaked dough ice cream increases chances of illness. Stick to small samples during cooking or use safer alternatives like pre-made dough.

How long after eating raw dough could you get sick?

If contaminated cookie dough causes illness, when symptoms appear depends on the pathogen:

  • Salmonella – Symptoms usually begin 6-72 hours after ingestion and last 4-7 days.[7]
  • E. coli – Symptoms typically start 3-4 days after exposure and last around 5-10 days.[8]

So most cases of food poisoning from raw dough will occur within 1-3 days. However, onset can be delayed up to a week. If you do get sick after sampling dough, call your doctor immediately.

What happens if a kid eats raw cookie dough?

If a child eats raw cookie dough, monitor them carefully for any signs of illness over the next several days. Possible Salmonella or E. coli symptoms include:[9]

  • Diarrhea or bloody diarrhea
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and cramps

Make sure they stay hydrated and contact their pediatrician if symptoms concern you. Food poisoning often resolves on its own, but antibiotics may be prescribed in severe cases.

Immediately seek emergency care if a child has symptoms like bloody stool, high fever, signs of dehydration, or neurological issues after ingesting raw dough. These could indicate a life-threatening infection.

Can cookie dough ice cream make you sick?

Most commercial cookie dough ice creams are safe to eat in normal quantities. Brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Edys use heat-treated flour and pasteurized eggs when manufacturing their dough ice cream flavors.[10] This kills any bacteria.

You’re mainly at risk of getting sick from store-bought cookie dough ice cream if:

  • You consume excessive amounts in one sitting
  • The product has been improperly stored, allowing bacteria to regrow
  • There is contamination at some point during production

Check the label before eating cookie dough-flavored products. Avoid brands that contain raw eggs or flour. Small amounts of heat-treated dough ice creams are unlikely to make you ill.

What ingredients make raw cookie dough unsafe?

The two most concerning ingredients that make raw cookie dough potentially unsafe are:

Raw Eggs

Salmonella in eggs accounts for approximately 79,000 cases of food poisoning yearly.[11] While eggs are typically pasteurized for commercial use, raw eggs in homemade dough may contain bacteria.

Salmonella gets into eggs via the chicken’s ovaries or through cracks in shells. Eating raw, contaminated dough exposes you directly to the bacteria.

Uncooked Flour

Flour may be milled from wheat contaminated with E. coli. Unlike eggs, cooking kills bacteria in flour. One study found E. coli in approximately 65% of raw flour samples.[12] Consuming unbaked dough means ingesting live E. coli if present.

Other dough ingredients like sugar, butter, chocolate chips, etc. are very unlikely to harbor harmful bacteria. Raw eggs and flour pose the biggest risks.

How to make raw cookie dough safer

To enjoy the experience of sampling cookie dough without the highest risks, consider:

Using pasteurized eggs

Pasteurized eggs, sometimes called heat-treated eggs, are briefly heated to kill potential Salmonella. Brands like Davidson’s Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs can be used raw.

Adding heat-treated flour

Heat-treating flour by briefly microwaving or baking it can kill E. coli. Let flour cool fully before using to avoid cooking eggs.

Buying edible cookie dough

Many brands now sell ready-to-eat cookie dough made with pasteurized eggs and heat-treated flour. These products are safer for eating unbaked.

Opting for small tastes only

While not completely risk-free, sampling small spoonfuls of dough minimizes any exposure to bacteria. Avoid eating lots of dough before baking.

Can you get sick from licking raw cookie dough off a spoon?

Licking small amounts of raw cookie dough from utensils or fingers is unlikely to make you sick, though it’s not considered completely safe. As per the FDA, consuming less than 1-2 tablespoons of dough poses minimal risk to healthy adults.[3]

To be extra careful, thoroughly wash any utensils and hands immediately after handling raw dough. Avoid double-dipping spoons back into dough.

There have been cases of people falling ill from licking bowls or spoons covered in larger quantities of raw dough. It’s smart to play it safe and lick dough in moderation.

Is it safe to eat raw cookie dough with no eggs?

Egg-free raw cookie dough removes the risk of Salmonella from raw eggs. However, you can still get sick from eating uncooked flour contaminated with E. coli.

In 2016, an outbreak of E. coli linked to raw flour sickened 63 people.[13] Most of those affected reported tasting or eating raw dough.

While likely safer than traditional dough, egg-free dough should still only be eaten in small bites until the flour is cooked. Avoid consuming large amounts of unbaked, egg-free dough.

Can you get E. coli just from tasting cookie dough?

Yes, it’s possible to get E. coli from tasting raw cookie dough if the flour in the dough contains the bacteria. You don’t need to eat a large quantity to get sick.

Briefly tasting a small bit of dough is less risky than eating lots of dough before baking. However, there’s no guaranteed “safe” amount since any sample could potentially contain E. coli.

Your chances increase the more uncooked dough you eat. But in some cases, even small licks or tastes have led to E. coli infection.

Does cooking cookie dough kill E. coli?

Yes, proper cooking kills any E. coli bacteria present in raw cookie dough. According to food safety recommendations, dough should be baked until reaching an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).[14]

Reaching this temperature destroys any E. coli or Salmonella, making the cookies safe to eat. However, just cooking dough a bit doesn’t eliminate the risk entirely. Cookie dough should be fully baked through.

You also cannot rely on simply browning or crisping the outside to kill potential bacteria. Use a food thermometer to verify dough reaches a hot enough internal temperature when baking.

Can you eat raw bread dough?

It’s not recommended to eat or taste unbaked bread dough due to risks of E. coli from the raw flour. While bread dough recipes vary, they typically contain flour along with yeast, salt, water, and other ingredients.

Like cookie dough, small tastes of yeast dough pose minimal risks to healthy adults. Consuming larger quantities of uncooked dough or allowing kids to sample increases chances of food poisoning.

For safety, refrain from eating raw dough. Always bake bread thoroughly until the internal temperature reaches at least 160°F (71°C). The same rules apply to eating raw pizza dough.

Can raw cookie dough give you food poisoning?

Yes, raw cookie dough can potentially give you food poisoning, mainly from these two sources:

  • Salmonella – Raw eggs in the dough may contain Salmonella bacteria, which causes symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
  • E. coli – The raw, untreated flour in dough could be contaminated with E. coli bacteria, resulting in similar gastrointestinal illness.

The risks are small, but rise the more dough you eat. Severe cases may require hospitalization to treat dehydration or infection. Vulnerable groups like pregnant women, elderly individuals, and children should avoid raw dough.

Cooking dough kills any harmful bacteria present. So while sampling raw dough is not advised, the chances of getting severely sick from small tastes are very low.


While the temptation to sneak bites of cookie dough is strong, raw dough does carry risks of food poisoning from Salmonella in eggs and E. coli in flour. The chances of getting sick are small, but still present.

Most experts recommend avoiding raw dough altogether, especially for high-risk groups like pregnant women and young children. However, occasional small tastes while baking pose minimal risks for most healthy adults.

Limit intake of dough before cooking to no more than 1-2 tablespoons. Look for safe alternatives like pasteurized eggs, heat-treated flour, or edible ready-to-eat doughs. Be sure to bake thoroughly and use a food thermometer to verify cookies or bread reach 160°F internally.

Practice good hygiene and monitor for any illness after handling raw dough. While cookie dough is certainly delicious, it’s smart to exercise some caution and restraint when sampling those tempting bites before they hit the oven.

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