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This is the one and only ultimate guide you will ever need to bake your perfect vegan cookies! This thorough guide covers all the tips and tricks plus a basic vegan sugar cookie recipe that is perfect to bake for Christmas, festive events, or any other occasion so you can get baking as soon as you finish this guide. Read till the end to get my FREE ebook The Little Guide to Perfect Cookies.
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Are you on team chewy or team crunchy when it comes to cookies? This is a question I ask everyone I meet because depending on your answer it determines whether we can be friends or not. Just kidding! As long as you love cookies we are besties.
But when it comes to cookies, I’ve always been on the team chewy (no offence team crunchy! I love crunchy ones too!) I just love that chewiness and softness when I bite into one. Mmm, it’s so good.
Baking cookies is something that I thought was difficult after I had a major fail as a little kid. I avoided baking cookies for far too long and finally, I got myself into the kitchen and worked hard on perfecting my dream cookies. I experimented and failed, but I kept pushing myself and finally managed to bake the perfect vegan cookies!
I’m assuming if you are reading this, you also want to perfect your vegan cookies but don’t know what to do or where to start. Good news, you are in the right place! I will tell you all the tips on how to bake perfect vegan cookies today so you can head into your kitchen and bake your own perfect cookies as soon as you finish reading this article. Let’s get started!
The basic ingredients to make vegan cookies are super simple. We are using the most common ingredients that are easy to find for most of us in your local supermarkets or online.
- Plain flour – flour is the main ingredient for vegan cookies. Regular plain flour is probably the most common flour and most easily accessible to most of us.
- Caster sugar – sugar adds sweetness to cookies and caster sugar is a type of fine white sugar. Some white sugar is not vegan due to the process it goes through though, so check before buying 🙂
- Brown sugar – brown sugar is my favourite sugar in baking. It adds flavour as well as creates that soft chewy texture in cookies.
- Vegan spread/butter – vegan butter gives that buttery flavour to cookies and I love it. You can either use a vegan buttery spread or sticks. If melting, both types work. If creaming, buttery sticks work better than spread. I love using Earth Balance!
- Plant milk – you can choose any of your favourite plant milk to make your perfect chewy vegan cookies! I like using soy/almond/oat etc.
- Baking powder – baking powder is the leavening agent in cookies.
*I use bone char-free sugars for all of my recipes. I cover the topic in my article Vegan Baking 101. Go to the “Is sugar vegan?” section to learn more!
There are several kitchen tools you need to make vegan cookies. I’m pretty sure most of you home bakers already have them but let’s go!
- Whisk – a ballon whisk comes in handy when mixing all the dry ingredients. It is important to mix the dry ingredients very thoroughly before mixing with wet ingredients.
- Wooden spoon – I use a large wooden spoon to mix the dry and wet ingredients.
- Mixing bowl – Large mixing bowl is very good to have for making cookies. I use a 20 cm wide, 2000ml big, glass mixing bowl.
- Ice cream scoop – an ice cream scoop is super handy to make the same size cookies consistently.
- Flat baking tray – have a flat surface baking tray for when baking cookies! If your tray is not flat and has dents here and there or has an uneven surface, your cookies will be baked unevenly too, so get a flat baking tray.
Cup measuring is easy but it is always recommended that you use a digital scale to weigh your ingredients as well as cup measuring or just scale measuring alone. This is because it’s so easy to incorrectly measure ingredients with a cup measuring method.
Say we are making a cookie recipe, and the recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of butter, hypothetically. Depending on how you put each ingredient into the cups, it makes a huge impact on your cookies. Say you scoop out the flour and press down, in this case, 1 packed cup of flour could be 140g. Whereas if you pour the flour into a cup and cut the excess off of the top, it could be as little as 110g. The same goes for sugar. Someone’s 3/4 could be 120g when someone else’s might be 200g!
It may look like a small difference if you are used to cup measuring, especially home bakers in the US. But even small differences in measuring can impact so much in the final product in the baking world. In the example above, if you used the packed 1 cup of flour and sugar that is under measured in cup measurement, the ratio of flour and oil is not right and the cookies will not spread in the oven or taste the way the recipe is intended to.
This is probably the major reason many people’s cookies don’t turn out the way they want to. So I strongly recommend you to purchase a digital scale. It’s a very small investment, I bought mine for less than £5!
Whipped/creamed butter or melted butter?
This question is something I had on my first attempt to bake cookies. Some recipes call for whipped/creamed butter, and some recipes call for melted butter. What is the difference? To tell you from my own experience, there isn’t a huge discernable difference between the two of them in terms of taste. But there are some slight differences in the texture and the making process so let’s take a look!
- Whipped/creamed butter – There are probably more recipes that call for this kind of butter over melted butter online. Why is that? whipped butter is said to create fluffier and firmer cookies. It’s usually beaten with an electric mixer along with sugar in the making process. When you beat butter and sugar, it creates little bubbles inside the mixture which is supposed to lift the cookies and make them fluffy. Whipped butter also holds cookies in shape as it’s in solid form. I tend to use whipped butter for cookies when I bake crunchy cookies and want them to be nice and fluffy.
- Melted butter – Melted butter is hands down my favourite way to use butter in my cookies! Melted butter creates chewier cookies. Melted butter is simply poured into flour or mixed with sugar before combining with flour. Because the butter is already melted before the baking stage, the cookie dough is slightly gooey which might be new to home bakers who are used to baking with whipped butter. You can also make brown butter too. Brown butter is melted butter that is cooked in a saucepan until it browns. It enhances the butter flavour and makes lovely chewy cookies.
Whether or not you are using whipped butter or melted butter, I recommend chilling the cookie dough in the fridge before baking. I will explain this in a later section!
To sum up, you can use whichever form of butter you want depending on the cookies you have in mind! I’m not here to say which makes better cookies or not. Some people prefer crunchy cookies and some people prefer chewy cookies (me), some people like that extra crunch and subtle sweetness with dark chocolate ganache in the cookies from a high-end department store while some people prefer the extra sweet, a little greasy, chewy cookies with lots of milk chocolate chips that their gran makes. There is no right way or wrong way to approach your cookies!
Also, make sure to buy vegan butter my lovelies. I recommend Earth Balance buttery spread or buttery sticks!
Here comes the fun part! One of the things I love about cookies is that unlike other baked goods like cakes, it’s so easy to make your own fancy cookies. Some examples of mix-ins you can use in cookies are:
- Chocolate chips
- Funfetti (colourful sugar sprinkles)
- Chocolate chunks
- Caramel chips
…And more! There are so many ways to make your own fancy cookies!
What is the best timing to add my mix-ins?
So is there a good time to add your mix-ins? Yes, there is. Always add your mix-ins at the end of the mixing process when everything else is mixed into cookie dough. Why can’t you add mix-ins when mixing flour, butter, and other ingredients? This is because if you add your mix-ins at the cookie dough mixing stage, especially if your mix-ins are chocolate chips or sugar sprinkles, they can melt or dissolve in the cookie dough while mixing. And the chocolate or the colours of sugar sprinkles can leak into the cookie dough. This can result in misshapen chocolate chips or uneven colour.
So when mixing in your mix-ins (say that 3 times fast), always add them at the end of the mixing process. When mixing, use a large wooden spoon or spatula and fold them into the dough rather than try to mix the dough over again completely. The dough is already mixed and all you need to do is fold in your mix-ins to make sure that they are in the cookie dough evenly.
The resting time (chilling the cookie dough in the fridge) depends on each recipe you are following but it’s essential for great cookies. Always read the instructions for how long you need to rest the cookie dough.
In general, creamed butter usually requires less chilling time as the butter is already firm in the cookie dough. Melted butter on the other hand requires a longer chilling time to firm up, about 30+ mins. Chilling the cookie dough in the fridge is good because it firms up the butter in the cookie dough and allows cookies to bake and spread slowly in the oven. This prevents cookies from spreading too much and ending up too thin and too crispy on the edge. So if your cookies spread too much, maybe try chilling in the fridge a little longer.
And there is more to the resting time stage. Some recipes require chilling the cookie dough for more than 24 hours even though they use creamed butter! Why is that? Well, resting the cookie dough has other benefits too. When cookie dough is rested for a long time, it relaxes the gluten developed at the mixing stage. Gluten is a protein found in wheat flour, and when developed too much it creates a tough texture in baked goods. So relaxing cookie dough makes baked goods like cookies softer and tender, creating an overall better texture.
Another good reason to rest cookie dough is it allows the sugar in the dough to incorporate very well with other ingredients. This makes sure the cookies are baked evenly in the oven.
Having said all that, you don’t necessarily need to go through a long resting time every time you bake cookies! I recommend resting your cookie dough for at least 30 mins in the fridge. This works well for most cookie recipes.
Baking temperature and time
We are now baking the cookies in the oven! The baking temperature for cookies is best at 180°C (350°F). If the temperature is too low, the cookies need a long time to bake and the colour of the cookies will be quite pale rather than golden. And if too high the cookies will become too hard and might even burn on top. So in general, 180°C is the sweet spot when baking vegan cookies at home. However, baking temperature varies depending on each recipe so follow the instructions carefully every time you try a new recipe!
Baking time is quite important when it comes to cookies too. For most of my cookie recipes, I bake them for 10-12 mins. Baking time also greatly depends on the recipe – some may need to be in the oven for only 5 mins, whereas others might need to be baked for 15+ mins. This is mainly because of the size of the cookies, small cookies require less time and bigger ones require more time to bake. I would say for medium-sized cookies, about 1 scoop of dough and around 7-8 cm big(when baked) in size, 12 mins is a good length of time to bake cookies.
To sum up, a good general setting to have in mind for the temperature is 180°C and the baking time is 12 mins. But always, ALWAYS, follow the instructions of each recipe you are making, this is the best bet!
You might be surprised how soft they are when lifting the cookies up especially when you are baking soft and chewy cookies. But don’t worry! As I said earlier, cookies continue to cook a little after taking them out of the oven, and they will firm up nicely on the cooling rack. So the baking process basically continues until you transfer the cookies onto a cooling rack.
Once they are cooled to room temperature, it’s finally time to eat! Yaaay. Cookies are always best when fresh out of the oven in my opinion, there’s nothing better than baking delicious cookies and devouring them right away.
Q & A
My cookies spread too much and they are too thin! What should I do?
I hear about so many home bakers who are gutted to see their cookies spread way more in the oven than they should. And I was one of them when I first baked my cookies. It’s super frustrating, I feel you! There are a few things you might be doing to make your vegan cookies spread too thin, so let’s take a look together!
- Not chilling the dough
Chilling the dough is important for many reasons and one of them is to allow cookies to bake slowly in the oven. When you chill your cookie dough the butter in the dough will firm up and it will allow the cookies to bake slowly in the oven. Whereas, if you skip this step your dough is most likely at room temperature or warmer if you are using melted butter, and your cookies will spread a lot faster than chilled cookie dough! This will result in cookies spreading too much, becoming too thin with too crispy an edge and maybe even a burnt bottom. As little time as 30 mins in the fridge will make a big difference and prevent your cookies from spreading too much. So try chilling your dough if you haven’t, it’ll do wonders!
- Incorrect measurement
So to prevent this, try to measure your ingredients with a digital scale. I explain more about gram measuring in the section above “Scale measuring”. If your cookies still spread after measuring correctly with a digital scale, it could be that the ingredients you are using and the recipe creator is using are quite different in consistency. This can happen often. So if this is the case, simply add a tablespoon or two of flour and see if it helps!
- Not using a flat baking tray
My first baking tray that came with my oven was NOT flat. I have no idea why the company thought it was a good idea to make a little bump in the baking tray but I can tell you from my experience that a good baking tray is super important to bake cookies. When I was baking cookies with the tray, my cookies spread to one side or the other because of the bump. It was almost like my cookies were running down a little hill! The cookies were way too thin and weirdly shaped. Not good at all. So I purchased a completely flat surface baking tray and all problems were solved. My cookies came out in a perfectly round shape without spreading to one side!
If you are using a baking tray or an old one that has an uneven surface, chances are your baking tray is making your cookies spread too much and making them into weird shapes. So if you think this might be the case for you, go get a brand new baking tray with a flat surface! It’s not expensive at all. Mine was less than £20!
Want to master the basics of vegan baking?
Check out Vegan Baking 101 – the beginner’s guide to vegan baking for you to become an excellent vegan baker and familiar with the basics of vegan baking, ingredients, and techniques with useful tips!
Thank you for reading this cookie guide!
Did you find this vegan cookie guide helpful? Let me know if you did in the comments section! And big news, now you can receive my new ebook The Little Guide to Perfect Cookies for FREE! This ebook has all the tips and tricks you’ve just learned in this post PLUS 3 easy and delicious vegan cookie recipes inside. Yes, if you’ve been wondering where the recipes for these delicious cinnamon cookies and chocolate chips are, they are in the ebook. Hurray! Grab your copy by signing up to The Chestnut Bakery mailing crew today!
Want cookie recipes to bake?
Here are some cookie recipes for you to bake from The Chestnut Bakery!
Here is an easy basic vegan sugar cookie recipe for you to bake using all the tips in this guide. Now go to your kitchen and bake your perfect cookies! Still have questions about baking vegan muffins? Let me know in the comments so that I can help you bake your perfect cookies!
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