How to Moisten Hard Cookies, According to a Chef

Store your cookies properly to prevent them from hardening.
Image Credit: kimrawicz/iStock/GettyImages

There's nothing more satisfying than taking a bite of a freshly baked cookie. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to cookies, especially when it comes to texture — but if you're a fan of soft, chewy cookies, discovering your cookies have hardened can be very disappointing.

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"Improper storage is one of the most common reasons why cookies go hard if the baking process was carried out properly," Chinelo Awa, a professional cake maker and owner of Good Cake Day in London, tells LIVESTRONG.com. (FYI, you'll want to let your cookies completely cool on a baking rack before transferring them to an airtight container.)

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"When this happens, prolonged exposure to the air causes the moisture in the cookie to evaporate and the moisture in the cookie dries up. Consequently, the cookie loses some of its flavor and hardens, making it less pleasant to eat."

But all hope is not lost if your cookies are dry. Here, Awa details exactly how to soften hard cookies.

Things You'll Need

  • Hard cookies

  • Airtight cookie jar or container with an airtight lid

  • Plain white bread

  • Knife

  • Cutting board

Step 1: Fill a Jar With Hard Cookies

To moisten hard cookies, you'll need an airtight cookie jar or container with an airtight lid. This minimizes exposure to air that can cause the cookies to dry up. Fill up the cookie jar or container with hard cookies. Be sure to leave some room at the top.

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Step 2: Slice Plain Bread Into Quarters

Place a slice of plain bread onto a clean cutting board. Avoid using rye or sourdough bread as the flavors could transfer to the cookies — plain white bread is ideal. Use a knife to cut the piece of bread into four pieces.

Step 3: Place the Bread on Top of the Cookies

Put the pieces of bread directly on top of the cookies inside the cookie jar or container.

Ensure that no air can get inside the cookie jar or container by sealing it tightly.

Step 5: Leave Overnight

For the best results, leave the cookies on the counter to moisten overnight. The moisture from the bread will seep into the cookies, lending them some much-needed moisture. By the morning, you'll have moistened cookies.

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Another Hack to Soften Cookies

To fix stale cookies, place an apple slice skin side down in the cookie jar for a day or so. The sugar in the cookies attracts the moisture produced by the apple and that helps the dessert soften up, per the Culinary Institute of America.

This method works for a variety of cookies, such as chocolate chip, oatmeal and even eggless cookies.

Tips to Prevent Hard Cookies in the First Place

If you're worried about hard cookies, take a few steps during the baking process to ensure a softer outcome. Your ingredients matter.

  • Store them properly.​ An airtight container is key to keeping cookies fresh. When cookies are exposed to air, they can dry out and harden.
  • Use butter and brown sugar.​ Moist ingredients lead to soft cookies. Butter (rather than shortening) and brown sugar are important ingredients in a simple soft cookie recipe. Other moist ingredients that put a nutritious spin on your soft cookies include bananas and dried fruit.
  • Try buckwheat flour.​ The flour you use also matters. Make sure it's fresh, and consider using a mix of buckwheat and wheat flour for more antioxidants, according to March 2015 research in the Journal of Food Science and Technology. People reported that the cookies were still not too hard, despite the healthy addition of buckwheat. The most palatable, soft and spreadable cookies had no more than 40 percent of the flour substituted for buckwheat flour.
  • Shave a minute or two off the baking time.​ Another way to make sure your cookies come out soft is to underbake them. Pull them out of the oven while they're still gooey in the middle. They'll continue to cook a little out of the oven, but will also retain some moisture and stay soft for eating.

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