Secret To Stop Toll House Cookies Spreading?

Baking By Dayti Updated 16 May 2013 , 12:35pm by Annabakescakes

Dayti Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 1:47pm
post #1 of 82

I don't make many cookies, except for choc chip cookies using the Toll House recipe. But my problem is they seem to spread too much. I hardly beat the butter, sugars and eggs at all before adding in the flour, since I heard that overbeating makes them spread.
I use a trigger action metal ice cream scoop to portion them. I don't press down on the scoopful when they are on the baking sheets.
I bake at about 350F. Do I need to up my temperature? But then the outside edges get really dark. Or do I add more flour? I have also tried baking when the raw dough has been refridgerated/frozen, but I get the same problem. I bake on a silpat. Should I try parchment?
I really want my cookies to be a bit higher, rather than wider and flatter!

81 replies
Dayti Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 1:48pm
post #2 of 82

Oh, and for some reason, if I add white chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate, they spread even more icon_confused.gif

LKing12 Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 1:54pm
post #3 of 82

Check the temperature of your oven. Also, they may have too much sugar.

lilmissbakesalot Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 1:54pm
post #4 of 82

Toll House only uses baking soda right? Baking soda will make your cookies spread. I'd add a little baking powder. So if you use a tsp of BS (lol) use 3/4 tsp BS and 1/4 tsp BP... and keep adjusting until you get the cookie you like.

knoxmom Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 1:56pm
post #5 of 82

Hello try chilling your dough before baking them and that will prevent spreading.

Dayti Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 1:58pm
post #6 of 82

Thanks. My oven temperature is spot on, it definitely bakes at what it says its baking at. I will try reducing the baking soda and adding baking powder. I had no idea it might be that! If that doesn't work, I'll try reducing the sugar a bit.
I had tried refridgerating or freezing before baking and it didn't work for me at all.

ShandraB Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 2:00pm
post #7 of 82

I looked this up to make sure, since it's different from what you said, but according to my baking science book, with cookies, spreading can be caused by UNDERmixing as well as too much sugar or too low a baking temp.

lilmissbakesalot Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 2:06pm
post #8 of 82

I make all different types of choco chip cookies... some like really poofy cookies... I use mainly BP for that... some like a medium cookie and I use less BP... and some like really thin crispy one (this would be my hubby) and I use mostly if not all BS.

Mix your butter and sugar until combined... mix your eggs in until well combined... and then add your dry and chips. You don't want to overmix because you'll have a more cake-like cookie, but you don't want to undermix either.

Bake at 375...

lilmissbakesalot Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 2:11pm
post #9 of 82

Baking soda needs an acid to react and give you the leavening you are looking for. Chocolate chip cookies don't have a ton of acidic elements in them so there's not much for the BS to react with.

Baking powder is baking soda with an acidic agent (usually cream of tartar) and a starch to keep the moisture down. It has the acid in it to give you the leavening action no matter what.

Baking soda is usually used when there is an acid in the recipe... buttermilk, sour cream... things like that.

KathysCC Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 2:16pm
post #10 of 82

Don't use butter or margarine. My mom used Crisco shortening instead and this is how I've made them for years. I've tried it both ways and it is definitely the butter than does it. Crisco makes a less chewy cookie that does not spread. Try it. icon_biggrin.gif

lutie Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 2:23pm
post #11 of 82

Divide your fat into 1/2 butter and 1/2 an old Home Ec teacher, I can tell you that it is your fat, not the baking soda issue...the fats have different melting points and the combination of the two will allow the other ingredients to do their job when they are supposed to will notice a tender cookie with some height...nothing worse than seeing a chocolate chip cookie that looks like puke on a floor when you use only butter icon_smile.gif ...and if you use only Crisco, it looks like a mound of concrete (and tastes like it)

I used to have the kids do the experiment in my classes and it is amazing how the fats combination makes the difference. You know your oven, and adjust, try and see if this does not make the cookie you envision.

lilmissbakesalot Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 2:42pm
post #12 of 82

Yeah, but I hate using crisco in my baking so if you get creative with your leavening you get similar results. I wouldn't want cookies made with crisco (no offense, it's just my personal preference) so I figured out how to rememedy the flat cookie without having to use crisco.

The baking powder will react and give you some rise before the butter melts away and give you the structure you need. You get a cookie that is much like you stated... tender with some height with a nice chewy center and all the great flavor of butter.

Then there's my husband who LOVES those pile-o-puke looking cookies... LOL. I add some extra butter and use the BS and they almost look like chocolte chip tuiles... LOL.

Dayti Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 2:54pm
post #13 of 82

Yes, I really want to avoid Crisco, especially since it's soooo expensive over here. I only use it for bakers pan release and modelling.

I am going to try a batch with just baking powder. I never understood why it has BS in the recipe since there's nothing acidic in there. I just never thought to change it icon_rolleyes.gif

I agree I am getting choc chip tuiles/piles of puke. I want a nice chewy mound of buttery, chocolatey cookie icon_biggrin.gif

Dayti Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 2:56pm
post #14 of 82

Meant to ask if I am currently using 1tsp BS, shall I just use 1tsp baking powder instead? Or less BP than that? I'm not a food scientist, sorry!

Reimagining_Confections Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 2:59pm
post #15 of 82

Butter causes the spread, crisco doesn't. Crisco will give a crispy crunchy outside. Butter is more chewy in texture. I do half butter half shortening. Also, try adding a little more flour. (1/4 cup- this should keep them from spreading).

i use a cookie scoop too. If you freeze them, you need to bake them 3-4 minutes longer.

scp1127 Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 3:46pm
post #16 of 82

Alton Brown had a great episode on chocolate chip cookies. He shared three recipes, The Puffy, The Crispy, and The Chewy. He altered the recipe to produce the three. The video should be somewhere on the net, maybe even Food Network. All of the recipes are there. Look up the names above. I use a combination of his chewy with a recipe from my sister-in-law. Many chefs are sharing the advantages to chilling overnight.

With all due respect to Toll House, there are many recipes out there designed to do what you want. Alice Medrich has a book, Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy, with excellent scientific information. I just ordered a book from amazon with great reviews, Big Fat Cookies, by Elinor Klivens.

cakesandbakes Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 3:55pm
post #17 of 82

I have always used the toll house recipe too, and I also have always put in extra flour. I make this recipe at least once a week because I use it to make cookie cakes and they are quite popular at my kids school. I put in almost 3 cups of flour, the last cup I don't quite fill all the way. You don't want to not put in the baking soda, because then you will have cookies that are the exact same shape as your scooper. And yes I know this from forgetting to put in the BS before! LOL

Herekittykitty Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 4:00pm
post #18 of 82
Originally Posted by KathysCC

Don't use butter or margarine. My mom used Crisco shortening instead and this is how I've made them for years. I've tried it both ways and it is definitely the butter than does it. Crisco makes a less chewy cookie that does not spread. Try it. icon_biggrin.gif

My grandmother makes shortning Chchp Cookies and they are very thin and flat, but they are soft, not at all crispy. They are my favorite.

cakesandbakes Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 4:00pm
post #19 of 82

Oh and I fogot to say I always use Land o'Lakes margerine at room temp, no Crisco...Hope this helps!!

lilmissbakesalot Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 4:10pm
post #20 of 82

Don't use all BP or you will have a very cake-like cookie. If you have 1 tsp of BS in the recipe then use 1/4 tsp BP and 3/4 tsp BS and see if you need more BP from there.

I don't use Toll House recipe so I can't say for certain how much you will need, but that's a good place to start.


Not for nothing, but margarine is pretty much butter flavored crisco with some water, milk solids and salt in it.

jade8 Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 4:24pm
post #21 of 82

i use the toll house recipe all the time and i agree with cakesandbakes when it comes to adding a bit more flour. i add just enough more that when i touch the dough my finger does not stick to it. also you said the cookies get crispy around the edges? are you using alum. sheets or non stick. i find using the alum. sheets with the lip(i think its quarter sheet/bun pan) tend to not overcook the edges, where as the flat cookie sheets with no edges will cook your cookies too crispy. personally i stay away from anything non stick or dark in color because they will just come out too dark on the bottom and sides by the time the cookie is baked.

jade8 Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 4:29pm
post #22 of 82

oh and i also use margarine. butter has a lower melting and will melt and spread the cookie much faster than the margarine.

lilmissbakesalot Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 4:34pm
post #23 of 82

I think your using margarine has more to do with why your cookies don't spread as much than the extra flour.

The op stated that she bakes on a Silpat, so the pan wouldn't ever touch the cookies so I don't think that's her problem. The butter will give you a crispier edge than margarine will due to it melting and pooling at the edge. I love the little bit of crispy edge and the nice chewy center... the best of both worlds.

lilmissbakesalot Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 4:37pm
post #24 of 82

This is making me want to bake up a few batches of CC cookies with different leavening in each to illustrate the difference in the final product.

Too bad I'm trying to eat healthier right now... LOL. Maybe I will anyway and send them into school with my kiddos for the teachers.

divinecc Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 4:44pm
post #25 of 82

The toll house recipe is my favorite! I always cut the amount of butter in half. icon_eek.gif That's the look I get from everyone when I tell them, but cross my heart they still taste so yummy and NEVER spread. They are the perfect texture, a little crunchy on the outside but the inside is soft and chewy. I have converted most of my friends!

mamabaer Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 4:47pm
post #26 of 82

My mom and I like to call those taco cookies cause they are as flat as a tortilla when they are done...not good! icon_smile.gif
I use butter, but I add more flour about 1/4-1/2 cup more. and I bake on an insulated aluminum baking sheet. Has stopped the spreading completely. I only bake until mine are slightly brown on the edges then let them cool on the cookie sheet. They are so soft and chewy - to die for!

Dayti Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 5:29pm
post #27 of 82

Thanks for all your help everyone! I will try one adjustment at a time and see how things work out.

Narie Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 5:57pm
post #28 of 82

Just use parchment paper. Mix up the original recipe -no alterations, they will still spread because of the butter but not as much. And you will have absolutely no over browned edges. Use a cookie scoop to get even shapes and size. If the original recipe still isn't what you want, go to Alton Brown's variations. His recipes are trust worthy. (But continue using parchment paper. Cookies are pain without it.)

stlcakelady Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 6:00pm
post #29 of 82

So a while back I was trying to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Mine have always been good, but I wanted these to be a little crispy on the outside while chewy on the inside so I started investigating. I concur on reading what Alton Brown has to say...very interesting and I tried some of those tips. But I also read the info below. (I hope it pastes)'s a Mrs. Fields secrets thing. I followed that and now everybody RAVES about my cookies. My hubby said they're the best I've ever made. The secret (and basically you can use any recipe of choc chip cookie) is to mix it up...I use melted butter but you don't have to...mix by hand when you're at the flour stage...then roll into balls and refrigerate or freeze for a day. Then bake at a low temp (300 degrees). It makes the best cookies and they don't spread all out but they're crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside! Yummmmm

Dayti Posted 15 Mar 2011 , 6:15pm
post #30 of 82

I have some in the oven now, have decreased baking soda and subbed it for baking powder. I'll report back with pics!

Originally Posted by Narie

Just use parchment paper.

Instead of a Silpat? Does it make a difference? (I hate using parchment paper, I only use it in cake pans)

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