Many cookie dough recipes recommend chilling the dough before baking.


Does refrigerating cookie dough have an effect on final baking result of cookies?

Background Research

Three experiments found that all demonstrate the value of refrigerating cookies before baking: Bakepedia, Marvel Refrigeration, and King Arthur Flour


  • Discusses how cookies refrigerated the longest will be the chewiest and moistest, with a darker coloring and less spread.
  • Credit this to the drier dough that is created by putting it in the fridge.

Marvel Refrigeration

  • Found that their cookies were denser, and that the longer the dough was chilled, the less spread that the cookie had
  • Credited this to the hydration of the dough, saying that the longer the dough sat, the more time the sugar and flour had to absorb the liquids
  • This gave the dough a drier consistency and affected the final product

King Arthur

  • It was found that over time, chilled cookie dough results in darker color, and more pronounced flavor
  • As the cookie dough chilled, it gradually dries out, concentrating the flavors of all the ingredients
  • Also affects the texture of the cookie because the drier the dough, the more concentrated the sugar


The cookie dough that rests and is refrigerated the longest will result in the highest density, lowest spread cookies after baking, and will have the chewiest consistency and most flavorful taste.


  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Cookie Sheets
  • Scale
  • Ruler
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons (both dry & liquid)
  • Refrigerator
  • Oven


  1. Make large amount of cookie dough
  2. Measure out 30 equal balls of cookie dough - 1 Tbsp each
  3. Divide into three equal sections. Label sections into original, 24 hours refrigerated, 48 hours refrigerated (10 balls each)
  4. Put 24 hours refrigerated section and 48 hours refrigerated section into the fridge.
  5. Measure mass of each of the balls. Record the average mass.
  6. Put original cookies (total of 10 balls) onto cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 9 minutes at 375°F
  8. Take out of oven. Measure mass of each of the cookies. Record average mass.
  9. Record average width of cookies
  10. Record any qualitative observations on the flavor, texture, and appearance of cookies
  11. Repeat procedure for each batch of cookie dough (with 24 hours in between each batch)
  12. Analyze and compare results of all three batches of cookies.
  13. Interpret data


Before Baking:
After Baking

Qualitative Observations After Baking:

Batch 1
  • light yellow
  • lots of cracks
  • rose after baking but not a significant amount
  • breaks easily
  • fluffy
  • not burnt anywhere
  • chewy
  • no strong flavor
Batch 2
  • center of cookie rose the highest after baking and is the most dense
  • more white in appearance
  • softer
  • much doughier
  • more flavorful
  • inside texture is denser
  • minimal cracks
  • not as uniform in shape
  • more malleable
  • slightly undercooked
  • smooth to touch
  • overall tastes better than batch 1
Batch 3
  • rose the most in the middle
  • more well done on the outside
  • similar flavor to batch 2
  • less crumbly
  • more raw on the inside than batch 2
  • doughy
  • bottoms most crispy


Physical Analysis

Without any refrigeration:

  • Very little flavor
  • High and fluffy

After 24 hours of refrigeration:

  • Cookies reached their peak flavor, consistency, chewiness, and texture

After 48 hours of refrigeration:

  • No significant change from the previous day
  • Slightly less flavor but very similar to last batch

Chemical Analysis


  • Fat takes longer to melt in refrigerated dough than room temp dough
  • Fat remains solid for longer--results in less spread
  • Creates a denser and doughier cookie


  • Sugar has more time to absorb liquid when sitting for 24 hours
  • If the sugar cannot absorb the liquid, the liquid is “free”--this results in greater spread


  • Flour has more time to absorb liquid in the egg
  • This liquid hydrates the starch in the flour
  • Results in firmer dough (makes the cookies nice and chewy)
  • Allows enzymes in flour and egg yolk to break down carbohydrates into fructose and glucose
  • Makes cookies sweeter
  • Makes cookies caramelize faster while baking


Refrigerating cookies results in a tastier, denser, doughier cookie. Cookies need to be refrigerated in order for flour and sugar to absorb liquid and for fat to solidify. While refrigeration helps in the improvement of cookies, there is a maximum amount of refrigeration that will result in a noticeable difference. After 24 hours of refrigeration, there is not a noticeable difference.


Chattman, L. (2014, March 16). Refrigerating Cookie Dough: Does it matter? Retrieved January 22, 2017, from

[Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from

[Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from

[Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from

[Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from

[Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from

Hamel, P. (2015, May 17). Chilling Cookie Dough: Does it make a difference? Retrieved January 22, 2017, from

Kalemba, L. (2013, August 13). Why Chilled Cookie Dough is Better. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from

Warren, S. (n.d.). The chemistry of cookies. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from

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