There are plenty of cookies out there whose mission in life is to be crisp, like Oreos or gingersnaps, or pizzelle, or biscotti.
But because there are so many wonderfully soft cookies out there, it’s important to know how to soften cookies.
My recipe for Almond Joy Cookies creates a dense, chewy cookie.
You can tell when it’s crossed over from its perfect fresh-out-of-the-oven tenderness to a crumbly, this-could-use-a-freshen-up toothiness.
Cookies, because of their size, are often susceptible to going stale fast, so they need to be kept in an airtight container, or in a baggie where the air has been squeezed out.
So, at the point where you can tell there is a rough texture to what was a soft, fresh cookie that’s now a bit crisp on the edges, you can use some of our tips and see if you can return that delicious cookie to its former glory.
Remember that the best way to soften cookies is to keep them in a bag with a slice or two of fresh bread.
The moisture transfers from the bread to the cookie. It can take hours for this to work though.
But the microwave may work as long as you eat the cookie while it’s still warm. This is faster but the softness doesn’t last.
This is a quick summary of our preferred methods for softening cookies. (For full instructions, skip down to the step-by-step guides.)
- Soften cookies with bread: Place a slice of bread in with a container of cookies overnight.
- Soften cookies in the microwave: Wrap a cookie in a moist paper towel or napkin and heat it up for five seconds.
Things not to do
- Don’t soak your cookies in water. While you may read this piece of advice online it does not work. If you soak your cookies in water, even for a few minutes they will swell up and likely turn to mush.
- Don’t reheat your cookies in the oven. The baking process dries out cookie dough. If you put them back in the oven, they will get hot but they will also only get harder.
Consider this first
If your cookies have been stored in the refrigerator they are cold and therefore naturally going to be harder than they might otherwise be.
Before you try any special process to soften your cookies, allow them a bit of time sitting out at room temperature.
It is possible that your cookies will soften naturally after they come up to room temperature.
How to soften cookies using bread
This is one of those tricks to soften cookies that no one believes but actually works.
What you need:
- Slices of fresh plain white bread
- Container with lid
How to soften cookies the easy way
Step 1: Place two slices of fresh white bread in the bottom of the container.
Step 2: Layer cookies flat on top of the bread in a single layer.
Step 3: Cover the container and wait 24 hours.
Step 4: Check to see if your cookies are softer.
If your cookies are not as soft as you would like after 24 hours check to see if the bread is now stale.
- If the bread is stale, replace the bread.
- Give the cookies another 4 hours with the bread and they should be softer.
- If after several more hours there’s no improvement, it’s possible the cookies are not able to soften.
How does this method work?
Cookies get hard because they lose moisture. Fresh white bread has a lot of moisture in it.
When you shut cookies in a container with moist white bread, the sugar in the cookies react and absorb the moisture from the bread.
This is why it is crucial to use fresh bread. Also, if you check on the cookies and the bread seems stale, that is a good indication that the process is working, but also that you need to switch out the bread.
Soften cookies in the microwave
If you only need to soften one cookie at a time and you plan to eat it right away, the microwave is a quick and easy method.
It is important to keep in mind that this method only works if you plan to eat the cookie immediately. Once the cookie cools down from this method it will actually be even harder.
So use this method at your own risk.
What you need:
- Moist paper towel or napkin
How to soften cookies in the microwave:
Step 1: Wrap the cookie in the moist paper towel
Step 2: Microwave on high for 5 seconds.
Step 3: Check to see if the cookie is soft. If it isn’t through, heat it for an additional 5 seconds.
Note on this method: If you don’t have any paper towels you can get a mug or bowl that is microwave safe and fill it with hot water.
Set that in the microwave NEXT TO the cookies and use it to create steam. That steam will soften the cookies.
• Allow your cookies to cool completely to room temperature before you place them in any kind of storage device.
• It is best to allow the cookies to cool on a rack. That way air circulates all around them and they don’t continue baking on the hot pan.
• If you don’t plan to eat your cookies for several days, consider freezing them.
• When freezing cookies place wax paper between the cookies so that they don’t stick together.
• Don’t store hard cookies and soft cookies together. If you do, the hard cookies will absorb the moisture from the soft cookies and then the soft cookies will become hard.
We love cookies around here, and if the grocery store shelves are any indication, most of America is having a love affair with Oreos.
Ironically, Oreos tend to get soft when they go stale because they started out so crisp.
But for the chocolate chip cookies, no-bake cookies, and cookies from cake mix recipes, they get a textured edge when they just aren’t fresh out of the oven anymore.
The best way to keep cookies good is to make sure they don’t sit out too long and that they are stored in a container with a tight lid.
Check out some of these cookie lists and pick some to make at home and share with your friends and family! Eat them before they get hard, freeze the dough, or freeze the baked cookies!
- 2 pieces of soft bread
- 1 airtight container
- 1 batch of cookies
- Place 2 pieces of bread at the bottom of the airtight container.
- Layer cookies in a flat row on top of the bread.
- Close the container.
- Check to see if the cookies are soft after 24 hours.