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ATK Kids

What Makes Some Cookies Chewy and Some Crisp?

Kids can explore the answer with a sweet science experiment that’ll leave you with a mixed batch of sugar cookies.
By Published Dec. 17, 2021

The ingredients you use and how you shape your cookies both play an important role in whether your cookies turn out crispy or chewy. The type of flour and sugar you use, if your cookie dough contains eggs, and whether you use melted or softened butter all factor into the crispy-chewy equation, too. 

To explore one side of the crispy-chewy conundrum, we created an edible science experiment for kids in The Complete Cookbook for Young Scientists (you can also find it on our kid-friendly website). Kids bake one batch of cookies with white granulated sugar, and one batch of cookies with dark brown sugar. Naturally, there’s a taste test to help them determine the results.

As kids eat and examine the cookies, they’ll notice that the cookies made with brown sugar are darker in color; have a moister, chewier texture; and bend easily. Their cookies made with white sugar will be lighter in color; have a drier, crispier texture; and will snap when bent. That’s partly due to brown sugar (which is just granulated white sugar with molasses added to it) adding more water to the cookies than white sugar thanks to that molasses. 

Another reason cookies made with brown sugar are moister and chewier? Sugar is hygroscopic—it’s really good at absorbing and holding on to water from its surroundings. And brown sugar is even more hygroscopic than white sugar.

Bottom line: When it comes to cookies, the type of sugar you use matters.


Hey! Did you know ATK Kids has its very own YouTube channel? Subscribe now and watch great, funny, silly, and delicious cooking videos for the whole family.

Check out our new series, Scientifically Delicious.