I’ll be the first to admit that patience has never exactly been my strong suit. So whenever I bake cookies and the recipe says to let the dough rest in the fridge before baking, I’m always tempted to skip that step!
But the only thing equal to my impatience is my curiosity, so I started to wonder what exactly resting the dough is supposed to achieve. So I decided to look into it, and I learned that this step is much more important than I ever considered it might be!
So today I thought I’d pass what I learned on to you, so we all have a better understanding of why this step is important. It seems that patience is indeed a virtue, especially when it comes to homemade cookies! :-)
3 Things That Happen When You Rest Cookie Dough Before Baking
1. Better Texture
When you place your cookie dough in the fridge to rest, it doesn’t just affect the temperature! While it rests, the moisture from the wet ingredients will continue to saturate the dry ingredients. This effect improves the overall texture of the dough.
This textural difference helps well-rested cookie dough bake and brown more evenly. It also helps ensure your cookies will have deliciously chewy insides and crisp outsides!
2. Better Flavor
In addition to improving the texture of your cookies, resting the dough can make them taste better too! Resting the dough is key to achieving that rich, somewhat butterscotch-y “cookie flavor.”
The flavor changes as a result of the way the ingredients begin to break down during the resting phase. This process contributes to browning and caramelization, which can both affect the flavor in a significant way!
3. Less Spreading
Ever wonder why so many baking recipes call for cold butter? It’s because the way butter melts has a massive impact on the appearance, taste, and texture of the final product!
If the butter melts too early, the dough will spread too much and you’ll end up with flat, crispy, and possibly oily cookies. Taking the time to rest the dough in the fridge can help you avoid most of these issues.
How Long Should I Rest Cookie Dough?
Many cookie recipes provide instructions about how long to rest the dough before baking, but it isn’t necessary to follow that guideline exactly. Chilling the dough for just 30 minutes is enough to make a pronounced difference, but you can leave them in longer if you like.
You can even leave your dough in the fridge for up to a day or longer! (For more on that, check out this blog post from King Arthur Flour that describes a single batch of dough evolved over a period of 10 days in the fridge.)
Which Cookie Doughs Should I Rest?
Most varieties of cookie doughs, including molded and drop cookies, will benefit from being rested before baking. With doughs that are particularly sticky (such as the dough for my favorite sour cream cookies), resting is crucial because it makes the dough easier to handle.
On the other hand, if the cookie mixture is more like a batter than a dough, it can typically be baked right away. This includes cake mix cookies, and any that need to be piped onto a tray.
- Resting cookie dough in the fridge can make it harder to scoop out into individual portions.
- To counter this, scoop and roll your cookie dough before putting it in the fridge.
- Scooping freshly mixed dough is so much easier, and you’ll still get the benefits of resting the dough!
What’s your favorite cookie recipe?