Are you on Team Crunchy or Team Chewy? Just as with other important issues like politics and peanut butter, people tend to fall into one of the two camps, and will defend their choice vehemently. Me, I’m Team Crunchy. I’ve always preferred crispy, crunchy cookies. As a child, I would dunk chocolate chip cookies in milk because that tasted good, but it also made them soft and mushy, which I didn’t like. The key was figuring out the precise number of seconds the cookie could be in the milk in order to get the flavor, but not soften the cookie.
Some people prefer their cookies thin, crispy, and crunchy. Others like them soft, thick, and chewy. You know which kind of cookie you like, but do you know how to make it happen? It isn’t just chance – you can determine the texture of your cookies just by tweaking the ingredients in any cookie recipe. Whether you like crunchy or chewy cookies, here’s how to make them both.
1. Vegan Baking Basics
Vegan baking isn’t so hard once you figure out how to replace the non-vegan ingredients in the recipe. For tips and tricks, check out The Green Monster Vegan Baking Guide and A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Baking. If you need to bake gluten-free, get everything you need to know in The Ultimate Gluten-Free Vegan Baking Substitution Guide, 7 Tips for Gluten-Free Baking, and How to Ensure Your Gluten-Free Baked Goods are Moist. No matter what you’re baking, you’ll want to know How to Avoid 6 Common Baking Mistakes.
Back to the cookies. When it comes to cookie texture, the three ingredients that make all the difference are butter, eggs, and sugar, though flour also matters. So what does that mean for vegan cookies? It means the same thing, only with simple plant-based substitutions.
2. Butter and Egg Substitutions
Replace dairy butter with vegan butter, like this Homemade Vegan Butter, coconut oil, coconut butter, avocado, fruit purées, or nut butters. This recipe for Chocolate Tahini Cookies uses both tahini and applesauce. Depending on the recipe, you can replace half the fat with flax or chia seeds, or all of it. Baked goods will brown more quickly with the seed replacements, so you’ll get crispier cookies.
Forget the eggs. There are so many ways to replace them. Learn How to Cook and Bake Without Eggs. Eggs can be replaced by silken tofu, non-dairy yogurt, or vegan mayonnaise. Eggs can also be replaced with flaxseeds or chia seeds. For leavening purposes, baking powder will add lightness to your recipes. If you only need to replace the egg whites, try using agar powder or aquafaba, which is just canned chickpea brine. Of course, there are also commercial egg replacers that you can buy.
3. Crispy Cookies
If you’re like me, and you want your cookies thin and crispy, you need to use ingredients that let them spread out while they bake. You also want to minimize ingredients that are wet or hold moisture. If the liquids evaporate more, the cookies will be crispier.
Flour: Flours that contain more protein create browner, crispier cookies. All-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour are high in protein. Gluten-free flours, especially the heavier grain flours, usually have more protein. These might include millet, quinoa, and buckwheat flours, nut flours and meals, bean and legume flours, and cornmeal. This recipe for Pomegranate Peanut Flour Cookies with Chocolate Drizzle uses ground peanuts to create a meal-like flour. Read more in 5 Uncommon Gluten-Free Flours That are High in Protein and Everything to Know About Coconut Flour: The Grain-Free Superfood. However, you can’t just use one type of gluten-free flour by itself. Learn how to make gluten-free flour blends in The Ultimate Gluten-Free Vegan Baking Substitution Guide.
Fat: When it comes to fat, high protein, and low melting temperatures allow cookies to spread more, resulting in crispier cookies. When you use butter, including vegan butter, you want it to be softened but not melted. When softened butter is mixed with sugar, it creates air bubbles. Those air bubbles are then filled with carbon dioxide from the baking soda and as a result, you get crispy cookies. These crispy Gingerbread Cookies use olive oil, these Gingerbread Cookies with Cardamom Vanilla Glaze use coconut oil, and these Pecan, Walnut, and Ginger Cookies use canola oil.
Sugar: White sugar leads to crispier cookies than brown sugar or other sweeteners do. That’s because white sugar lets out a lot of water as it bakes, resulting in crispier cookies like these Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.
Eggs: Cookies without eggs are usually flatter and crispier since eggs act as leavening agents. However, it’s the yolks that make cookies chewy, while the whites lead to crunchier cookies. For our purposes, that means that agar-agar or aquafaba, which act as egg white replacements, can lead to crispy cookies. These Fugetaboutit Cookies use aquafaba and cream of tartar for delicious, crunchy cookies.
Baking cookies for a few extra minutes will also lead to crispier cookies because they have more time to spread out before they firm up. The thinner the cookie, the crispier it will be.
4. Chewy Cookies
If you prefer chewy cookies that are cake-like, that’s okay. I may not agree with you, but I’ll still give you tips on how to get what you want. Unlike crispy cookies, you don’t want the dough to spread a lot so you want dough that is stiffer with a high moisture content.
Flour: For chewy cookies, choose flours with a lower protein content. Cake flour works well for chewy cookies like these Chocolate-Dipped Almond Shortbread Cookies. You can also use ingredients like oats, coconut, and grains in place of flour (some or all of it) that will add chewiness. These Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies use both cooked quinoa and oats for a soft, chewy texture.
Fat: Fats with higher melting points, such as shortening, prevent cookies from spreading as much since they don’t instantly turn into liquids. These soft and chewy Perfect Vegan ‘Tollhouse’ Cookies use shortening. It may sound contradictory, but melted butter, like in these Chewy Sugar Cookies, doesn’t trap air the way softened butter does, so it adds flavor and moistness, but won’t make cookies crispy.
Sugar: Brown sugar is more acidic than white sugar, so it retains more moisture during baking which leads to a softer cookie. These Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies use brown sugar and chewy dates.
Eggs: Eggs are added to cookie recipes for moisture and leavening purposes. Egg yolks, which are full of fat, lead to softer cookies. Replacing eggs with methods that replace the yolks will lead to chewy cookies. Also, baking powder and baking soda will help with leavening. These Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies use both flaxseeds and baking soda.
Other tips for making chewy cookies include making them larger and thicker, like these Big Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies. Baking them for a shorter time at high temperatures will allow them to firm up quickly and give the cookies less time to spread out. If you get them out of the oven when they are just starting to brown on the edges, the cookies will be softer in the middle.
5. Chewy Recipes
So, now that you know the difference between baking crispy and chewy cookies, it’s time to get in the kitchen and start baking.
For the chewy cookie lovers, try these Chewy Plantain Sesame Cookies, Double-Chocolate ‘Everything’ Cookies, Soft, Chewy Gingerbread Cookies, Soft Coconut Breakfast Cookies, Hazelnut Butter and Cardamom Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Triple Ginger Tahini Cookies, and these Soft, Chewy, Chunky Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies.
6. Crispy Recipes
For those of you who fall into the camp of crispy cookie-loving, you need to make these Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, Salted Date Caramel Crunch Cookies, Homemade Apricot Cookie Bars, S’mores Cookies, Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Gingersnaps, Orange Zest Madeleines, and these Ice Cream Sandwiches with Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Whether you like them crispy or chewy, there’s nothing like a good cookie. With these tips, you’ll be able to make them, however, you and your family like them best. We like them best in our bellies.
Lead image source: Hazelnut Butter and Cardamom Chocolate Chunk Cookies