Why do my snickerdoodles come out hard?

Snickerdoodles are a classic cookie that is loved for its distinctive flavor and soft, cakey texture. However, many bakers run into the frustrating problem of snickerdoodles coming out of the oven hard as a rock instead of soft and chewy. If your snickerdoodles keep turning out hard, don’t worry – there are several easy fixes you can try to get deliciously soft cookies every time.

Common Causes of Hard Snickerdoodles

There are a few key reasons why your snickerdoodles may be baking up hard:

Overmixing the Dough

One of the most common culprits behind tough snickerdoodles is overmixing the dough. Snickerdoodles rely on a delicate balance of ingredients to achieve their signature soft texture. Overmixing overdevelops the gluten in the flour, resulting in a dense and chewy cookie. For tender snickerdoodles, mix the dough just until combined – don’t beat the mixture until perfectly smooth.

Using Too Much Flour

It’s easy to accidentally add too much flour when measuring out ingredients for snickerdoodles, especially if you scoop the flour directly out of the bag. Packing flour into a measuring cup and leveling it off with a knife will give you a more accurate measurement and prevent too much flour from ruining the cookie’s texture. Stick closely to the recipe measurements for the most tender results.

Baking for Too Long

Snickerdoodles are meant to be soft in the center, so baking them for too long can quickly turn them hard and dry. Be sure to set your timer and don’t overbake. The cookies should still look slightly underdone when you pull them out of the oven. The residual heat will continue cooking the centers to just the right consistency as the cookies cool.

Using the Wrong Type of Sugar

Granulated sugar is the best choice for chewy snickerdoodles. Sugar substitutes like Splenda tend to make cookies crispy rather than soft. Powdered sugar can also lead to a dry, crumbly cookie. When only ordinary granulated sugar will do, make sure that’s what your recipe calls for.

Using Butter Instead of Shortening

Traditional snickerdoodle recipes call for shortening instead of butter. Shortening prevents the spreading you get with softened butter, resulting in taller, softer cookies. Butter is better suited for crisp, delicate cookies while shortening gives snickerdoodles their signature texture.

Forgetting to Chill the Dough

Chilling snickerdoodle dough before baking is an essential step that can’t be skipped. Refrigerating the scooped dough balls allows the ingredients to fully hydrate and the glutens to relax. Chilled dough bakes up much softer than dough baked immediately after mixing. Always build in chilling time when baking snickerdoodles.

How to Fix Tough Snickerdoodles

If your latest batch of snickerdoodles turned out disappointingly hard, don’t throw them out just yet! Here are some handy tips for turning hard snickerdoodles soft again:

Microwave in Short Bursts

A quick stint in the microwave can work wonders on hard snickerdoodles. Microwave the cookies for just 5-10 seconds at a time until slightly softened. Allow them to cool again before serving. This technique revives the interior texture without making the cookies chewy.

Toast and Sandwich with Ice Cream

You can turn those hockey puck cookies into an impromptu ice cream treat. Toast the hard snickerdoodles until slightly golden, then sandwich a scoop of ice cream in between two cookies. The hot crisp cookie contrasts nicely with the cold creamy ice cream.

Use as a Topping for Puddings or Crumbles

Bring out your trusty food processor and grind up those hard snickerdoodles into cookie crumbles. Sprinkle the snickerdoodle bits on top of puddings, ice cream, or fruit crisps as an extra crunchy topping.

Coat or Stuff with Cream Cheese Frosting

A swirl of rich, creamy frosting can transform the texture of a hard snickerdoodle. Either spread the frosting over the tops of the cookies or use it as a filling by slicing the cookies in half and frosting the middle. The moist cream cheese frosting adds softness to the crisp cookie.

Dunk in Milk and Enjoy

Sometimes the simplest solution does the trick. Dunking the hard snickerdoodles in a glass of cold milk softens them just enough to become enjoyable again. The milk also enhances the cinnamon flavor of the cookies with each dunk.

Tips for Perfectly Soft Snickerdoodles

Now that you know what causes snickerdoodles to turn out hard, you can tweak your recipe and technique to make sure your next batch turns out perfectly soft:

Use the Right Butter to Shortening Ratio

For chewy snickerdoodles with great flavor, use a combination of butter and shortening. 3/4 cup butter to 1/4 cup shortening is ideal. The butter provides rich taste while the shortening gives tenderness.

Cream the Butter and Sugar Well

Properly creaming the butter and sugar incorporates air into the dough, resulting in a softer texture. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for at least 3 full minutes before adding the eggs.

Avoid Overbeating the Eggs

After creaming the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. But be careful not to overbeat once the eggs are incorporated or the cookies may get tough.

Fold in the Dry Ingredients

Instead of beating in the flour mixture, fold it in gently just until combined. This prevents overmixing that would make the snickerdoodles dense.

Chill Dough for at Least 2 Hours

Give the snickerdoodle dough at least 2 hours in the fridge before baking. This allows the gluten strands to relax for supreme tenderness. Overnight chilling is even better.

Roll Balls in Cinnamon-Sugar

For the signature crunchy cinnamon coating, roll the dough balls generously in a 50/50 mix of granulated sugar and cinnamon before baking. Use a light touch so the coating sticks.

Bake at 375°F for 8-10 Minutes

Any hotter and the cookies risk drying out. Bake for just 8-10 minutes until set but still soft in the center. The residual heat will finish the baking process as they cool.

Let Cool Completely Before Serving

It’s tempting to devour the cookies immediately, but allowing them to cool completely prevents any additional baking that could toughen them up. Enjoy their just-baked softness by being patient!

Foolproof Snickerdoodle Recipe

Follow this simple recipe exactly as written, and you’re guaranteed soft, chewy snickerdoodles every time.


  • 3 1/4 cups (405g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (96g) shortening
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening, and 2 cups sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the dry ingredients just until combined. Do not overbeat.
  5. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment.
  7. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Scoop 1-1.5 tablespoon sized balls of chilled dough and roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  9. Space dough balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
  10. Bake for 8-10 minutes until set but still soft in the centers. Allow to cool on the baking sheets.

Storing Soft Snickerdoodles

Soft snickerdoodles don’t keep their texture long at room temperature. Follow these storage tips:

Short Term Storage

Keep freshly baked snickerdoodles in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days. The crisp cinnamon coating will soften.

Long Term Storage

For longer storage, freeze snickerdoodles up to 3 months in an airtight container with parchment between layers. Thaw at room temperature before serving.

Reviving Stale Snickerdoodles

If snickerdoodles lose their softness after a few days, revive them in a 300°F oven for 3-5 minutes until warm and soft again. Let cool before eating.

Common Snickerdoodle Baking Problems

Here’s how to troubleshoot some other common snickerdoodle mishaps:

Problem Cause Solution
Puffy with big air pockets Overbeaten eggs Gently fold in eggs just until combined
Flat and greasy Too much butter Reduce butter to 1 cup; add 1/4 cup shortening
Bread-like texture Too much flour Measure precisely; level flour
Spread too much Underchilled dough Chill dough at least 2 hours before baking
Falls apart or crumbles Overbaked Bake for shorter time at 375°F

Ingredient Substitutions

These ingredient swaps work well for making snickerdoodles:

For Flour:

  • 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons cake flour per 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour for 1 cup all-purpose flour

For Sugar:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar for 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup honey for 1 cup granulated sugar (reduce liquids)

For Butter:

  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1 cup coconut oil (slightly different texture)

For Eggs:

  • 1 chia or flax “egg” (1 Tbs seed + 3 Tbs water)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

Unique Snickerdoodle Flavor Variations

Put your own creative spin on snickerdoodles with these fun flavor ideas:

Mocha Snickerdoodles

Add 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the dough and roll in a cinnamon-sugar/cocoa mixture.

Toffee Snickerdoodles

Swirl chopped toffee or heath bar pieces into the dough before baking.

Cookies n’ Cream Snickerdoodles

Fold in crushed Oreo cookies and roll in a mixture of cinnamon-sugar and crushed cookies.

Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles

Stir in 1/4 cup canned pumpkin, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.

Chai Snickerdoodles

Add 1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper to the dough.

Strawberries n’ Cream Snickerdoodles

Bake plain snickerdoodles, then sandwich with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies

Spread frosting or nut butter between two snickerdoodles for a sweet treat.


With the proper techniques and a reliable recipe, you can easily bake up bakery-worthy snickerdoodles with tender, cakey centers. Avoid overmixing the dough, chill it thoroughly, and bake at the right temperature for just long enough. Troubleshoot any issues like toughness or spreading with the tips above. And feel free to get creative with fun new flavors – the possibilities are endless! With soft, cinnamon-y snickerdoodles on hand, you’ll always be ready to treat friends and family to these comforting classic cookies.

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