Cookies and Snickerdoodles

Cake & Pastry

Why Are My Snickerdoodles Flat? (6 Reasons)

Who doesn’t love the buttery/cinnamony smell of a pan of warm snickerdoodles fresh out of the oven? The aroma is divine and makes the kitchen and house smell delicious. But baking these cookies from scratch can lead to a less than perfect rise. There are several reasons this could occur; let’s discuss the top six reasons for flat snickerdoodles.

Expired Ingredients

The flavor is one of the main reasons most people prefer homemade fresh baked goods to those commercially prepared. When cakes, cookies, and other treats are baked at home, they are prepared without the preservatives commercial suppliers use in their products to maintain taste and texture for the weeks or months that the product sits on the shelf in the grocery store.

While cooking is an art tailored to individual tastes and preferences, baking is chemistry. Using fresh ingredients provides homemade baked goods with more flavor and improves the texture. Using expired ingredients in delicate cakes, bread, and cookies creates disaster inside the oven.

Snickerdoodles made with old or expired leavening agents like eggs, baking soda, baking powder, or even flour can cause cookies to spread out on the pan instead of the desired light and airy rise. The nutritional makeup of home-baked goods is compromised when using ingredients past the peak of freshness. 

Using Baking Powder Instead of Baking Soda

Baking powder and baking soda have a similar effect on baking recipes but are not interchangeable. While baking powder and baking soda are both chemical leavening agents, they differ in reaction to the other ingredients in the recipe. 

Baking soda, also called bicarbonate of soda, is three times stronger than baking powder and requires acid in the recipe for activation. Common baking acids include buttermilk, cream of tartar, or molasses. 

Baking powder, however, does not have the leavening strength of baking soda but already contains the acid necessary for the chemical reaction to take place. Baking powder contains a combination of baking soda, cream of tartar, and cornstarch.

Bakers cannot substitute baking soda and baking powder on a 1:1 ratio due to these differences in chemical makeup. Using baking soda in place of baking powder or vice versa requires further changes to the recipe to produce a relevant result.

Cookie Dough is Too Warm

Many recipes call for chilling the cookie dough before placing the final product into the oven. Some pastry chefs and expert bakers make refrigerating cookie dough a common practice in baking. 

When baking chilled cookie dough, the fats called for in the recipe take longer to break down than they would at room temperature, and the more time required for the fats to break down, the less flat the snickerdoodle will be after baking, producing a fluffier cookie. 

But in addition to stabilizing the fat for a more significant period, chilling cookie dough for anywhere between 30 minutes and 24 hours leads to improvement in uniformity of brown. Chilling the dough also increases the depth and complexity of flavor by giving the flour time to absorb moisture from the eggs and butter. 

Inadequate Dough Shaping

Occasionally a cookie recipe calls for flattening the dough after placement on the baking sheet. When working with dough that’s too firm to flatten out as it bakes, this step is crucial to baking treats that don’t resemble small baseballs when the cookies are removed from the oven.

Snickerdoodle cookie dough is soft and does not require flattening on the pan. Snickerdoodle recipes typically call for the dough to shape into small round balls before being rolled around in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and placed on the cookie sheet for baking. 

Shaping the dough this way makes applying the characteristic cinnamon-sugar mixture much more manageable and gives the cookies a uniform appearance after cooling.

Consider Using a Silicone Mat

Many bakers now use reusable silicone baking mats as an alternative to single-use parchment paper and are seeing some fantastic results when baking tasty treats like snickerdoodles. These baking mats are made of silicone and fibreglass and provide a smooth surface for even heat distribution for achieving a better rise with cookies. 

Silicone mats are comparable to parchment paper when baking snickerdoodles and other cookies by providing a protective barrier to cookie sheets. This barrier helps prolong their life and simplifies clean-up. In the long run, silicone baking mats are more economical than parchment and can serve other purposes in the kitchen outside the oven. 

The use of silicone in cookware has raised some concerns. While the FDA has approved silicone as a food-safe substance, many people still question the safety of this compound in the excessive heat of the oven. For this reason, it’s essential to research any potential silicone bakeware purchase to ensure you’re purchasing good quality cookware.

Give Those Eggs a Good, Close Look

In addition to the chemical reaction of the baking soda and cream of tartar, eggs play a pivotal role in ensuring your snickerdoodles rise. Eggs and egg yolks trap and hold air released during baking to make cakes, cookies, and bread rise. In addition, eggs add structure and flavor to foods, but different egg parts have different roles in the baking process.

Eggs are sold by size, and specific measures found in the supermarket include medium, large, extra-large, and jumbo, and eggs are sized by their weight. For example, a medium egg weighs around 50 grams, while jumbo’s start out at about 70 grams. These differently sized eggs can have vastly different reactions to the other carefully measured ingredients in a recipe.

For this reason, most recipes specifically call for large eggs to ensure the proper balance of liquid to dry ingredients. Using medium or extra-large eggs will not ruin the recipe; it can be a significant factor in why your snickerdoodles are flat.


When you receive a less than perfect result when baking it can be a heartbreaking experience. Set yourself up for success by using fresh, high-quality ingredients and strictly following the recipe.