You followed the recipe exactly, chilled the dough, and baked your cookies for the mandatory 8-12 minutes, only to find out they still seemed a bit soft to the touch. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you’re not alone. Determining the right time to take your cookies out of the oven can often be challenging, especially for novice bakers, but do soft cookies really mean they’re undercooked?
Soft cookies don’t mean they’re undercooked. Cookies continue baking through residual heat even when they’re out of the oven, so to get the perfect texture, you’ll want to take them out of the oven when they’ve changed color but are still soft to the touch, for a total bake time of 8-12 minutes.
A cookie’s consistency and relatively small volume allow for it to continue cooking even when taken out of the oven, so you want it to be a bit soft before letting it cool. However, there are some caveats and nuances to this rule. In the following sections, I’ll explain all about why cookies are so soft after baking, how to know when your cookies are done, and more.
Why Cookies Are So Soft After Baking
If your cookies seem too soft after the allotted bake time, there’s no need to panic.
At this point, I’ve baked hundreds of batches of cookies, with some being more successful than others, and I can confidently tell you that if your cookies look and feel like they have the correct consistency right out of the oven, chances are they’re a bit overcooked.
As long as all the indicators of a fully-baked cookie are there, it doesn’t matter how soft or crumbly the batch might feel when taken out of the oven. With enough cool time, the cookies will take on the consistency you were looking for.
If anything, I’d say that having your batch feel soft right out of the oven is an excellent sign that the end product will be perfectly-cooked, featuring a crumbly, chewy texture, which is what most cookie recipes aim for.
However, if you prefer a crunchier cookie, you might want to adjust and experiment a bit with the bake time.
Even still, you want to be aware that the texture of your freshly baked cookies won’t be the same as the texture they’ll have once they’re thoroughly cooled. Make sure not to leave the oven on for too long, or they’ll feel stale and hard to bite into only a few hours afterward.
Generally speaking, a standard cookie should take anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes to fully cook through, even less if you prefer a chewier consistency. In any case, I wouldn’t advise leaving a batch of cookies in the oven for more than 14 minutes, as by that time, most recipes will be on the brink of being overcooked.
Most cookies aren’t completely done until half an hour after being taken out of the oven, so some foresight is necessary.
How To Know When Your Cookies Are Done
There are a few exceptions to the “soft cookies aren’t undercooked rule,” as there really is such thing as a too-soft cookie. Therefore, when checking a batch’s doneness, it’s better to rely on a few other indicators along with feel to determine whether your cookies are done or not.
Before diving into some handy cues that can help you tell whether your cookies are done or not, it’s essential to keep in mind that cookie doneness is ultimately subjective.
Depending on your textural preferences, what I consider a perfectly-baked cookie might seem like an underbaked/ overbaked mess to you and vice versa. Therefore, if you’re someone who prefers their cookies significantly chewier or crunchier than the average person, it’s best to make some adjustments to the following tips and tricks to accommodate your unique preferences.
Most recipes, especially those coming from reliable sources, are usually tested to a fault. Therefore, following their bake time and temperature exactly is crucial when it comes to getting perfectly-cooked cookies.
Therefore, it might be best to use a timer, as clean-up can easily take your attention enough for you to forget the cookies baking in the oven. However, it’s just as essential to keep in mind that no two ovens are the same.
So, if, through experience, you’ve noticed that yours seems to run especially hot or cold, adjust as necessary.
An excellent way to get around this issue is to use an oven thermometer. That way, you won’t have to rely on the equipment’s marking to make sure the interior has reached its ideal temperature.
You’ll also want to make sure not to overcrowd the oven. If you insert more than two baking trays at a time, the temperature might decrease too much too quickly, leading to a sub-par bake and an increased cook time.
Even though getting the timing right serves as an excellent guideline for the baking process, you still want to rely on some appearance-based cues to make sure your cookies are actually cooked through.
The top of the cookies should always be fully (or at least mostly) dry, even if soft.
Moreover, the surface should have lost its sheen and become more matt or even cracked. The perfect-looking cookie is fully dry around the edges and mostly matt, with a slight shine on top.
The center should be the slightest bit gooey, but it shouldn’t look or feel wet. A fully baked cookie should still be soft enough to fall apart when taken right out of the oven in most recipes. However, during the following half-hour, you’ll notice that the texture and structural integrity will reach their final form.
If baking a lighter cookie, color is a cue you’ll want to look for as well.
Generally speaking, you want the edges to have turned a golden hue, but there should be no drastic changes in color. If the surface of your cookies has started browning, you might be too late.
You can always use feel in conjunction with the previous two methods to make sure that your cookies are fully done. As mentioned repeatedly throughout this article, perfectly-baked cookies should still feel soft and crumbly to the touch.
However, they should be mostly dry.
If a batch seems particularly mushy, you might want to put the tray back in the oven for an additional minute or two, but during this time, keep watching your cookies like a hawk.
Is It Okay To Eat Underbaked Cookies?
It’s okay to eat underbaked cookies. Slightly underbaked cookies have probably reached safe temperatures. However, it’s always best to take into account the doneness level of your cookies and the quality of ingredients used in their dough before consuming them.
Moreover, the type of cookie in question also matters. Eggless cookies, for example, can be safe to consume much quicker than their traditional counterparts.
Considering that the highest-risk ingredients in a cookie are the eggs, it’s safe to assume that the dough is safe to consume once it reaches 160°F (71.1°C). However, a cookie is only fully done between 175 and 185°F (79 and 85°C).
Your health status can also dictate whether it’s safe for you to consume underbaked cookies or not.
For example, if you’re a healthy adult, salmonella poisoning might not be as risky as it would be if you were immunocompromised, pregnant, or otherwise susceptible to health-related issues. However, you still want to avoid it at all costs even if you are healthy.
Eating underbaked cookies shouldn’t pose any serious health hazards.
I’ve personally even taken a bite or two out of the raw cookie dough every time I make a batch to check whether there’s a need for any last-minute adjustments. However, this is by no means a safe practice, especially for those predisposed to health complications.
How To Fix Underbaked Cookies
If your cookies seem too shiny, light-colored, or generally soft, chances are they’re still a bit undercooked. The reason behind this is either a too-low temperature or a too-short bake time. But either way, your chances of fixing the issue depending on how quickly you’ve noticed it.
If you’ve just taken your cookies out of the oven, there’s no harm in putting them back in for an additional minute or two. That way, the batch’s final taste, and texture don’t have to suffer.
However, sometimes you’re not as lucky. I’ve experienced this problem firsthand. The cookies seem soft yet dry enough to be fully cooked through, and you take them out only to notice that while they’re cooling, they’re not continuing baking the way you expected them to.
The good news is that you can still attempt to put these cookies back into the oven, but don’t expect to get an ideal consistency.
Moreover, if your cookies have been sitting out for a while, it’s best to let them cool entirely before re-exposing them to heat. This will allow them to actually cook through instead of burning to a crisp.
Soft cookies don’t mean they’re undercooked, as most cookies are supposed to be soft and crumbly when taken out of the oven. They continue to bake through during the following half-hour using residual heat.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule, so make sure to look for some additional timing and look-related cues when determining whether a batch of cookies is done or not.