Why don’t my cookies have crinkles?

If you’ve ever baked cookies and been disappointed that they turned out flat instead of with the classic crinkled look, you’re not alone. Many home bakers struggle to get those picture-perfect crinkled cookies. But don’t worry, with a few tips and tricks, you can get Bakery-style crinkled cookies every time.

What causes crinkles in cookies?

The crinkled texture in cookies comes from sugar. When sugar is creamed with butter, tiny air pockets get trapped. As the cookies bake, the air pockets expand and cause the tops of the cookies to crack and crinkle.

Here are some of the main factors that contribute to crinkly cookies:

  • Sugar – The more sugar in the dough, the more cracks and crinkles you’ll get. Recipes with 1 cup or more of granulated white sugar per 1 cup of butter tend to make the crinkliest cookies.
  • Butter – Butter creates more air pockets than other fats like oil or shortening. So butter-based doughs will crinkle more than oil-based.
  • Baking soda – This base ingredient causes cookies to spread and crack as they bake up.
  • Baking powder – Same effect as baking soda. The leavening gives height and crinkles.
  • Eggs – Whole eggs add structure and richness, contributing to crinkly texture.
  • Flour – The right flour can help achieve crispy edges and crinkles. All-purpose flour is ideal, while cake flour makes softer cookies.
  • Humidity – Dry air causes a crispier outer cookie and more cracking. Humid air will make softer cookies with fewer crinkles.

So in summary, a high proportion of sugar to butter, baking soda/powder, eggs, and all-purpose flour in low humidity will give you the most crinkly-topped cookies.

Common reasons cookies don’t crinkle

If your cookies are consistently turning out flat, dense, and crinkle-free, take a look at these common culprits:

Not enough sugar

Sugar is key for creating those coveted cracks and crinkles. If your recipe calls for only 1/2 cup or less of granulated white sugar per 1 cup of butter, the cookies won’t have enough sweetness to crinkle. Bump up the sugar to at least 1 cup per 1 cup of butter.

Using brown sugar

While delicious, brown sugars like light or dark brown don’t caramelize and harden the same way white sugar does. So they won’t give you quite the same crackly cookie tops. Use all or mostly white granulated sugar instead.

Too much liquid

Liquids like milk, maple syrup, or vanilla extract can make your dough too wet to crinkle properly. Stick to minimal liquid in your cookie recipes for crinkly success.


It’s important not to overmix your cookie dough. Too much stirring activates extra gluten development, resulting in dense and flat cookies without those coveted cracks.

Not enough baking soda/powder

These leavening agents create air bubbles in the dough that expand while baking, leading to a crinklier surface texture. Add at least 1/4 teaspoon baking soda or 1/2 teaspoon baking powder per 1 cup of flour.

Using oil instead of butter

Butter creates pockets of water and air that expand when heated to make crinkly cookies. Oil like canola or vegetable oil won’t have the same effect. Substitute butter whenever possible.

High humidity

Humid air prevents cookies from drying out and forming crisp crinkly tops. For best results, bake cookies on dry days or use air conditioning to lower the humidity.

Baking temperature too low

A higher baking temperature like 375°F allows cookies to bake up taller with crisp edges that crack and crinkle around the perimeter. Don’t go below 350°F.

Insufficient baking time

Underbaked cookies won’t have time to fully spread out and develop those signature cracks. Let cookies bake until the edges are lightly browned.

Using cake flour instead of all-purpose

While great for cakes, cake flour gives you much softer cookies without distinct crinkles. Stick to all-purpose flour or even bread flour.

Storing dough incorrectly

Allowing cookie dough to absorb moisture by refrigerating longer than recommended or at warmer temperatures prevents crinkling.

Tips for crinkly cookies

Now that you know what makes cookies crinkle, here are helpful tips to get picture-perfect, crinkly cookies at home:

Use more sugar

A good rule of thumb is 1 cup of granulated white sugar per 1 cup of butter. This amount contributes to caramelization and hardness for a delightful crackly top.

Cream sugar and butter thoroughly

Spend 3-5 minutes creaming room temperature butter with sugar. This aerates the mixture and creates tiny air pockets that become cracks and crinkles during baking.

Don’t overmix once flour is added

Gently combine the dry ingredients until just incorporated to avoid overworking the dough. Be especially careful not to over-stir once the flour goes in.

Let dough chill before baking

Chilling dough for at least an hour allows the sugar and fat time to solidify. This helps the cookies retain their shape and crinkle pattern in the oven.

Use parchment paper

Lining cookie sheets with parchment paper allows for better air circulation and prevents excessive spread. This results in taller, crinklier cookies.

Flatten dough balls slightly

Pressing dough balls down just a bit before baking helps ensure even spread and crinkle formation. Place 2-3 inches apart on the pan.

Don’t underbake

Bake a few minutes past the minimum time, until cookie edges are lightly browned. This extra time allows for caramelization and crispness.

Cool completely before storing

Let cookies cool completely so crinkles can fully set. Storing while still warm can soften crinkles over time.

Store in an airtight container

Keeping cookies in a sealed container prevents moisture absorption so they maintain their crinkly texture for days.

Recipe adjustments for crinkly cookies

Tweaking your regular cookie recipe can help create those coveted crinkles:

  • Use all white sugar instead of brown sugar
  • Swap 1/2 cup butter for 1/2 cup shortening for more tenderness
  • Add an extra egg yolk for richness
  • Increase baking soda or powder by 1/4 teaspoon
  • Use bread flour instead of all-purpose for chewier texture
  • Reduce liquids like milk or vanilla extract by 1-2 teaspoons
  • Sprinkle coarse sugar on top before baking for crunch
  • Cut back mix-ins like chocolate chips for denser dough

With the right ingredients, baking tips, and a few tweaks to your go-to recipe, you can get picture-perfect, Bakery-quality crinkly cookies at home every single time. Before you know it, you’ll have mastered the art of crinkly cookie baking. Enjoy the delighted faces when you serve up trays of these beauties!

Common Cookie Troubleshooting Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about crinkly (and non-crinkly) cookies:

Why are my cookie tops smooth instead of crinkly?

If your cookies are smooth instead of crinkly, the likely culprits are not using enough sugar, using the wrong kind of sugar (brown vs white granulated), too much liquid in the dough, overmixing, or high humidity while baking.

Why are my cookies flat and dense?

Flat dense cookies can happen if you use oil instead of butter, don’t use enough leavening (baking powder/soda), overmix the dough, underbake the cookies, or store them in a humid environment.

Why did my cookies spread too much on the cookie sheet?

Cookies that spread out of control are often due to the dough being too warm or wet, having too much brown sugar, or not chilling the dough before baking. Using parchment paper can help prevent excessive spread too.

How can I fix hard, crisp cookies?

If your cookies are too hard and crisp, you likely baked them at too high of a temperature, for too long, or stored them incorrectly. Try reducing oven temperature 25 degrees and checking earlier for doneness.

Why are my chocolate chip cookies flat and lacking texture?

Too many chocolate chips in the dough can weigh things down, resulting in a flat and dense cookie. Try reducing the amount of chocolate by 1/4 cup and see if that helps.

What causes cookies to burn on the bottom?

Cookies that are burnt on bottom were likely baked on a dark pan and too long. Use shiny baking sheets, rotate partway through, lower temperature 25 degrees, and check earlier for doneness.

How can I prevent a ring from forming around the outer edge of cookies?

That unsightly outer ring comes from overbaking cookies. Take them out of the oven 1-2 minutes earlier before the edges get too brown and set.

Why are my oatmeal cookies dry and crumbly?

To fix dry, crumbling oatmeal cookies, try adding an extra egg yolk for moisture and richness, a tablespoon of milk or cream, and an extra 1/4 cup of butter for tenderness.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Troubleshooting

Chocolate chip cookies are a classic favorite, but also prone to baking mishaps. Here’s how to troubleshoot common chocolate chip cookie issues:

Flat, dense cookies

– Use melted butter instead of softened for more sugar incorporation
– Add extra egg yolk for richness
– Increase baking soda/powder by 1/8 tsp
– Use bread or all-purpose flour instead of cake flour

Cookies that spread too much

– Chill dough thoroughly before baking
– Scoop dough into balls vs. shaping by hand
– Bake just a few at a time instead of crowding pan

Underdone cookies

– Add 1-2 minutes to bake time
– Bake one cookie on its own first to test doneness
– Use oven thermometer to check for accuracy

Burnt bottoms

– Use light or shiny baking sheets
– Set oven rack one level higher
– Reduce oven temperature 25°F
– Rotate sheets partway through baking

Hard, crisp cookies

– Bake at slightly lower temperature
– Check earlier and remove when just set
– Add extra egg or butter to recipe
– Store in airtight container after cooling

Lack chocolate chips

– Use chips that hold their shape like Guittard
– Chop chocolate smaller so it disperses better
– Sprinkle extra chips on top midway through baking

Sugar Cookie Troubleshooting

Perfection eludes many bakers when trying to make soft, chewy sugar cookies. Follow these tips if you’re struggling:

Flat, hard cookies

– Use melted butter, not chilled
– Cream butter and sugar thoroughly
– Add extra egg yolk for tenderness
– Avoid overmixing once flour is added

Cookies that spread excessively

– Chill dough for at least 2 hours
– Scoop dough with a cookie scoop instead of shaping by hand
– Space cookies 3 inches apart on the pan

Dense, heavy cookies

– Use bread flour instead of all-purpose
– Increase baking powder to 1 tsp
– Add an extra tablespoon of milk or cream

Dry, crumbly cookies

– Up the butter and eggs compared to flour
– Brush cooled cookies with simple syrup
– Store in an airtight container after cooling

Pale, under-browned cookies

– Sprinkle granulated sugar on top before baking
– Bake until edges are lightly browned
– Add 1-2 minutes to the bake time

Burnt bottoms

– Lower oven 25°F and check earlier
– Use light-colored nonstick baking sheets
– Rotate sheets midway through baking

Gingerbread Cookie Troubleshooting

Gingerbread men can easily lose their heads and limbs if your dough isn’t cooperating. Here are some tips:

Falling apart, limp limbs

– Add more flour 1 Tbsp at a time until dough firms up
– Chill dough thoroughly before rolling out
– Roll dough thicker, to 1/4″ instead of 1/8″

Too hard to decorate

– Make sure cookies are completely cool before decorating
– Use royal icing immediately before it hardens
– Thin icing with water 1/2 tsp at a time for better flow

Spreading out of shape

– Chill dough for at least 3 hours before baking
– Use parchment paper to minimize spreading
– Bake only a few at a time instead of crowding pan

Burnt edges and feet

– Lower oven 25°F and watch closely near end
– Use at least 2 baking sheets and rotate
– Add 1-2 minutes to bake time to set centers

Lack ginger flavor

– Use fresh ginger instead of ground
– Up the amount of ginger by 1/2 to 1 tablespoon
– Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon for extra spice and warmth

Too soft and cakey

– Swap 2 Tbsp molasses for brown sugar
– Use bread flour instead of all-purpose
– Chill dough thoroughly before baking


Baking crinkly, picture-perfect cookies is part art and part science. With the right ingredients, proper dough chilling, and careful baking, you can achieve Bakery-quality results right from your own oven every time. Pay attention to details like sugar content, butter versus oil, flour type, and baking temperature. And don’t be afraid to troubleshoot issues as they arise—slight tweaks to your recipe or method can result in amazing improvements. With a bit of patience and lots of taste-testing, you’ll master the art of crinkly, melt-in-your-mouth cookies.

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