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Hi guys- I wanted to start off this cookie season with a guide to help you adapt cookies along the way this year, no matter where the recipe was developed. This is my big High-Altitude Cookie Guide and I’m going to give you lots of tips and tricks on how to adapt sea-level cookie recipes, and how to troubleshoot your cookie recipes when things go wrong.

Baking Cookies At High-Altitude

This is my favorite time of the year for cookie baking, and it’s the time when a lot more people take to their ovens to make cookies. Let’s start with how to adapt a sea level cookie recipe for your high-altitude kitchen!

How to Adapt Cookies For High-Altitude

If you see a recipe online for cookies, or on TV, or in a magazine, chances are that it was developed at sea level, and you might have trouble baking cookies at high-altitude. Here are my tried and true tips to adapt a cookie recipe to work at altitude!

  • Reduce the leavening in the cookie recipe by about 25% if you live between 3,000-7,000 ft above sea level, and by about 30% if you’re higher up in altitude. This helps the cookies spread less as they bake- leavening agents can work a bit differently at high-altitude!
  • Increase your flour by 2-4 tablespoons for most standard recipes. You don’t need to go crazy with increasing flour on cookies because they already are formed typically from a thick dough that offers a good amount of structure naturally. Adding the additional flour can just give you a touch extra structure to help keep the cookies sturdy as they bake.
  • Don’t be afraid to add a little liquid. Because we’re working with thick doughs often times when it comes to baking cookies at high-altitude, you may find that your dough is lacking moisture and won’t come together. Liquid actually evaporates faster at high altitudes, so you can definitely add a touch to a cookie recipe that needs the help. I like to start with just 1-2 tsp. of milk or water to a cookie recipe to help it pull together.
  • Don’t over-bake your cookies! This is a common mistake, and not just at high-altitude! Your cookies are going to continue cooking even after you take them out of the oven, so pay attention the visual cues of the recipe you’re working with, and er on the side of under-baked to help you keep those cookies soft! All ovens are slightly different, so you can expect some variance on the indicated bake time of any recipe, especially when it comes to cookies which are not in the oven for very long.
  • Store your cookies as soon as they are cool. Because of the drier climate of high-altitudes, you’ll want to be sure you store your cookies in an air-tight container right away once they have cooled completely. When cookies (and any baked goods for that matter) are left out, they can dry out very quickly!

With these tips, I find that I can adapt most any cookie recipe from sea level to high-altitude without fail, and it’s a great starting point for any sea level recipes you might have, or that you might want to try out this year!

High-Altitude Cookies

Troubleshooting Baking Cookies at High-Altitude

While most cookies are on the more simple side of the baking spectrum, there’s still a lot that can go wrong. Here are some common issues that I hear from bakers, and how you can troubleshoot them in your own kitchen!

  • My cookie dough is too soft. If you end up with a very soft dough, first check the recipe for any visual cues for what the dough should look like. Some cookie doughs are soft! If you’re worried the dough is too soft, or even liquid-y- double check that you’ve added correct amounts of everything called for in the recipe. Optionally, you can add a couple more tablespoons of flour to the dough, and you can also chill the dough before baking for a more firm dough that holds up in the oven.
  • My cookie dough is too dry and crumbly. Again, you’ll want to first check the recipe for any visual cues in the recipe- some recipes, like shortbread cookies, have a crumbly dough. Otherwise, it may be the adjustment of additional flour. You can mix in 1-3 tsp. of milk or water, just enough until the dough comes together.
  • My cookies are spreading too much in the oven. This happens when the leavening and flour is not adjusted properly for baking cookies at high-altitude. You can stir in an additional 2-4 tablespoons of flour to your remaining dough to help it hold up better in the oven. Additionally, you can chill your dough before baking to help prevent over-spreading.
  • My cookies are not spreading enough in the oven. Similarly, this can happen when too much flour has been added to the dough. You can adjust by adding 1-3 tsp. of milk or water to your remaining dough.
  • My cookies are browning too quickly in the oven. I don’t typically like to adjust sugar in a cookie recipe, but if you find that your cookies are browning too quickly, or before they are fully baked, you can adjust the recipe next time you make it by reducing the sugar by 1-2 tablespoons. For the remaining dough, you can reduce your oven temperature by 15-25 degrees (depending on your oven’s setting options) and increase your bake time slightly to accommodate the adjustment.
  • My cookies are baking unevenly with spots of the cookies spreading more than others. This often happens when cookies are not fully mixed. Because you’re working with a thick dough a lot of the time, you may find that you end up with dry pockets of flour hiding at the bottom of the bowl, which can cause your cookies to bake unevenly. Give your cookie bowl a good scrape all over before baking to ensure you don’t miss any spots. You can also give your dough another quick mix if you bake a batch and find them to be under-mixed.

If you’re working with a cookie recipe that is already adjusted for altitude, you shouldn’t run into most of these issues! But some of these problems can arise when you are adapting from a sea-level recipe. These tips should help you troubleshoot your cookies as you go!

Baking Cookies at High-Altitude

Tools for Baking Cookies at High-Altitude

If you’re looking to get more into cookie baking, or if you’re looking for gifts for the cookie baker in your life, there’s a lot of really great tools that I love to use! Let’s start with some tools that I think are absolutely necessary to bake great cookies:

And here are some of my more optional, but lovely to have cookie-baking tools:

I hope this helps solve all your questions for baking cookies at high-altitude this season, and all year round! Comment with any questions I missed answering in this post, and I’m happy to help!

High-Altitude Cookie Guide

P.S.- Here’s some of my favorite high-altitude cookie recipes here on Dougheyed.com!

Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Cookies

Crispy Cinnamon Tea Cookies

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Giant Red Velvet Cookies

Maple Molasses Cookies

Perfect Gingerbread Cutout Cookies


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