Whole-wheat flour contains the grain's natural bran and germ, making it a healthier choice for baking than refined white flour. According to the USDA, a cup of wheat flour has fewer calories and carbohydrates, more protein and nearly four times the amount of dietary fiber compared to white flour. Cookies made with the flour have nutty, appealing notes and a lovely texture.
Cookies baked with whole-wheat flour will turn out differently from those baked with all-purpose flour. They will most likely be denser, with a heavier texture, and they may be drier as well, according to Food.com. You might also notice a “nutty” taste or texture in the finished cookies. Finally, it’s possible that whole-wheat flour will react differently with the other cookie ingredients than all-purpose flour. You may need to tweak the recipe by adding more liquid or cutting down on dry ingredients if the batter seems too thick or too thin before baking.
To begin making cookies with whole-wheat flour, replace just some of the all-purpose flour in a recipe instead of the full amount. Try substituting up to 1/3 or 1/2 the amount of white flour with wheat. You’ll get a cookie with a great rise, light texture and hints of a nutty, complex flavor underneath.
All Wheat Flour
You may substitute whole-wheat flour for all of the all-purpose flour in a recipe, but it’s preferable to seek out cookie recipes that already use wheat flour because they’re more likely to have correct ingredient proportions. Because you don't want cookies to be tough or dense, use lighter varieties of whole-wheat flour that have lower protein contents. Whole-wheat pastry flour and white whole-wheat flour work particularly well. KingArthurFlour.com states that white whole-wheat flour has the same nutritional values as whole wheat, but with a lighter texture because it has been milled from white berries rather than red.
The way your cookie will turn out with wheat flour depends on what type of treat you’re making. Chocolate chip, oatmeal and peanut butter cookies can be great successes because they have other flavors and textures that take center stage. However, shortbread and sugar cookies may become slightly gummy, dry or dense with wheat flour and may not have the fine texture or crumb that all-purpose would provide.
The best way to learn about which cookies will work best with wheat flour is to experiment. Try substituting some or all of the white flour in your favorite recipes with wheat and judge the results for yourself. Seek out whole-grain baking books at the library to find recipes that use wheat flour as the foundation, and tweak them to your own preferences to end up with the best cookie you can get.