If you’re like most people, the thought of taking the time to chill your cookie dough seems superfluous. I completely understand, because who wants to wait for cookies?! When the craving strikes, you want that cookie now, not 12 hours later. And what happens to the dough when it’s refrigerated overnight? Well I’m here to share with you why it’s worth the wait to chill your cookie dough if you want the BEST cookies possible. Patience is key, and more oftentimes than not, it’s absolutely worth it.
Let’s take a look at the difference chilling the dough for 12 hours makes for these Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies. It’s amazing what an overnight chilling period can do!
So, what does chilling the dough do?
This chilling period accomplishes a few things.
Most importantly, chilling the dough allows the flavors to combine and for the dough to rehydrate. The liquid from the egg hydrates the flour, which adds structure to the dough. This resting time also allows the enzymes in the flour to break down the carbohydrates into its individual components, which make way for a tender cookie in the middle while maintaining that chewy edge we all love.
We see this demonstrated in the photo above using the Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Both cookies were baked on the same baking sheet, at the same temperature, for the same amount of time. The only difference was that one was baked immediately after mixing, and the other was baked after sitting in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
Even before tasting, you can see the difference. The cookie that was baked immediately after mixing spread much further, and overall has the same height across the cookie. In comparison, the cookie that was baked after just one overnight chill has variations in height – the outside edges are thinner and crispy, while the middle is thicker and fluffier.
From a taste and texture standpoint, the first cookie has a much crispier texture since it spread out more during baking. The flavors are slightly punchier, as if the sugars and salt didn’t fully meld into each other. The second cookie tastes chewy throughout, and has a balance of butterscotch and chocolate flavor that is completely irresistible.
Of course, both cookies are delicious and if I’m not here to tell you not to bake the cookies if you really want it now. But I hope this helps illuminate the secret to getting your cookies reach their maximum potential!
Q: CAN I THROW THE ENTIRE MIXING BOWL INTO THE FRIDGE OR DO I NEED TO PRE-SCOOP MY COOKIE DOUGH?
It’s ultimately up to you! The results will be the same. However, I personally recommend pre-scooping your mixed cookie dough first and setting the cookie dough balls onto a baking sheet to freeze. This is because it’s much easier to scoop your cookie dough while it’s still soft and pliable. Otherwise, you would need to take out your bowl of dough out to come to room temperature before scooping and baking. Depending on how much cookie dough you have and the temperature of your kitchen, this may take a while.
Q: HOW LONG SHOULD I CHILL THE DOUGH?
Cookie dough can be chilled anywhere from 12 to 72 hours. If you’re in a pinch, you can get away with just a couple hours but it’s standard to recommend at least an overnight chill period. The longer you chill the dough, the more the flavors will meld and develop. I do not recommend chilling cookie dough longer than 3 days (72 hours) to avoid the risk of drying it out.
Q: WHEN DO I FREEZE THE DOUGH?
If you’re wanting to freeze the cookie dough, simply store the cookie dough balls into a freezer safe, air tight container after 12-72 hours in the fridge. Do not skip the chilling period in the fridge. This is because the chemistry that happens when you chill cookie dough during refrigeration is not the same as the intense freezing process that occurs in the freezer.
If you freeze your cookie dough right away, you’re missing out on the benefits from the chill period in the fridge.
Q: DOES THIS APPLY TO ALL COOKIE DOUGH?
This mostly applies to chewy drop-style cookie dough recipes like chocolate chunk cookies or anytime you want the flavors of your cookie dough to develop more.
Do you chill your cookie dough? Let me know what you think in the comments!