why are my cookies flat and thin

Why are my cookies flat and thin? I really cannot count how much time I spent searching for the answer to this seemingly simple question. 

No matter what I did, my cookies always turned flat and thin.

That is why I can truly feel the disappointment you feel when you open your oven to find a tray of pancake-like items that are nowhere near Mrs. Fields-level cookies.

What I have gathered from years of playing around with cookie recipes is that things can go wrong for no apparent reason. 

To put it simply, homemade cookies simply require a few common ingredients, but they can be challenging to perfect. 

And if you wonder, “why are my cookies thin and flat?” you are about to find it out. 

Why are My Cookies Flat and Thin Always?

thin and flat cookies

If you want Instagram-worthy treats, you need to master the art of preventing them from spreading and turning out thin.

A single factor cannot account for why some cookies turn out flatter than others. 

However, if your cookies spread while cooking, it could be due to one of these typical blunders.

(Here are a few more typical issues while making brownies, bars or cookies.) 

The Butter You Use is Soft

the butter is soft

During a baking marathon, the oven is likely to be at a high enough temperature that the butter you left out to soften will melt before you can use it. 

Having the butter melt too quickly in the oven can cause your cookies to spread out before they have had a chance to set.

Butter may normally be softened on the counter in 30 minutes. 

Using the microwave, you might overheat the butter. 

Therefore, you can soften it in 15 minutes by cutting it into little pieces and letting it stand at room temperature.

Tip: Double-check to ensure your oven temperature is neither too low nor too high with the help of an oven thermometer to avoid issues. 

You Mix Butter and Sugar Incorrectly

mixing butter and sugar

One of the major reasons why your cookies may become flat and spread is that you over-mix your sugar and butter mixture.

It is possible that you ‘warmed’ your butter by combining it with an electric mixer for a bit too long, even if you used it at the proper temperature.

For many cookie recipes, the first step is to cream the sugar and butter together. 

This is done merely to incorporate the two ingredients.

What you should understand is that butter at room temperature can become dangerously warm if you do this for too long. 

In contrast to baked goods like cake, cookies do not require extensive mixing to integrate air or dissolve sugar. 


There is no need to spend more than two minutes on the blend to avoid getting flatter cookies. 

You Use the Cookie Dough at the Wrong Temperature

incorrect oven temperature

Chilling the dough is a necessary step in making several types of cookies. 

Do not skip the procedure, okay? 

There is probably a good reason why this step was included in the recipe.

Many traditional recipes for Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies, for instance, call for melted butter, which necessitates chilling the dough.

If you don’t, your cookies will probably become too thin.   

An Important Consideration

Over the years, I have learned that baking a single “testing” cookie can help eliminate any guesswork. 

only a single cookie

Test a new cookie recipe by baking a single cookie according to the directions.

Even though the recipe does not include refrigeration, chilling the dough for 30 minutes can help prevent excessive spreading in the oven.

So, start over and see if that works better.

Tip: Do not use too much oil to grease your cookies and instead use baking paper to line your cookie trays to avoid thin cookies. 

You Use the Fat Incorrectly

This could be the case if you constantly experiment and substitute different ingredients in a recipe.

It is crucial to use the exact ingredients called for in the recipe for the best results. 

For example, the results would be drastically different if you skip the butter and use margarine, or opt for butter instead of shortening.

shortening used

This is because they have different melting points and different fat percentages. 

So do not make this mistake and always opt for the ingredients mentioned in a recipe. 

You Use Excessive Sugar and Little Flour

Despite its solid state at normal temperature, sugar can be easily melted. 

If you use a lot of sugar while measuring, the cookies will spread more and become more liquid-ish as a result. 

Similarly, if you use too little flour, the cookies will be flat.

using excessive sugar

One of the most important skills in baking is learning how to accurately measure materials. 

Scoop dry ingredients carefully into a cup using a big spoon, and then level with the blade of a butter knife.

Tip: Using a kitchen scale is a great idea to avoid messing things around when measuring ingredients.

You Grease Your Baking Sheets Heavily

There is usually no need to grease cookie sheets because the fat in the dough will prevent the cookies from sticking. 

Too much flattening of the dough during baking results from too much fat on the pans.

greasing the baking sheet

Another factor contributing to flat cookies is the repeated usage of baking sheets. 

If you use the same sheet twice, there may already be some grease left on it.

In this case, the fat in the dough takes less time to melt as compared to cookies in the oven. 

This is a surefire way of creating all sorts of problems in baking.

Tip: It is imperative that the baking sheets be allowed to come to room temperature in between each use to avoid flat and thin cookies. 

You Avoid Mix-Ins

Skimping on mix-ins is yet another reason why you may end up having flat and thin cookies.

you avoid mix-ins

I do not see why you would use fewer chocolate chips than recommended. 

That is a sacrilege against cookies!

Do not skimp on the ingredients, period. 

Do not do it even if you ran out and did not feel like going to the shop or you are trying to watch your calorie intake.

If you do not have quite as much of an ingredient like almonds or chocolate chips as the recipe calls for, try other alternatives. 

You may always combine them with another mix-in to make up the difference. 

You Go Heavy on White Sugar

excessive white sugar

There are ingredients other than butter that aid in the spreading of cookies while baking. 

White sugar in particular has the same effect.

The likelihood that your cookies may spread while baking increases with the amount of white sugar used. 

Just always keep that fact in mind to avoid making thinner cookies.

Whenever I am making cookies, I find that a combination of brown and white sugar gets the best results. 

For denser cookies, I sometimes turn to brown sugar only.

Keep that important point in mind and be sure to experiment a little with the amount and type of sugar you use. 

This will surely help you avoid flatter cookies. 

You Use Expired Raising Agent

expired raising agent

The quality of your raising agent matters a lot when making cookies or baking anything else for that matter.

Keep in mind that cookies will not develop properly if you use expired baking powder.

Instead of rising, they will spread out across the baking sheet.

To ensure that your baked items rise properly in the oven, it is important to routinely replace your raising agents. 

You Use Hot Oven Trays

very hot oven tray

Yes, they need to be hot but if they are overly hot, you may end up hurting your cookies. 

This usually happens when you leave your oven tray in your preheated oven by mistake.

If you are making cookies, resist the urge to use the hot pans to remove the dough from the bowl. 

When cookie dough is placed on hot baking sheets, it begins to spread almost instantly.

Tip: Be sure to use cookie sheets or oven trays at room temperature to avoid damaging cookies in the process. 


Why are my cookies flat and thin? If you always ask this question, you may have now figured out how to correct the issue. 

Ultimately, it all comes down to your cooking methods and how closely you follow the instructions for your specific recipe. 

So, just be a bit vigilant and carefully inspect your cooking process to identify your mistakes. 

Correct them and you will have cookies to die for!