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Is it okay to use whole wheat flour for cookies?

Using whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour can work for cookies, but there are some things to keep in mind. Whole wheat flour contains the bran and germ of the wheat, making it more nutritious but also giving it a heartier texture. Cookies made with 100% whole wheat flour will be dense, crispy, and somewhat crumbly. Here’s what you need to know about using whole wheat flour in cookies:

The Pros of Whole Wheat Flour in Cookies

There are some benefits to using whole wheat flour in cookies:

  • More fiber and nutrients – Whole wheat flour contains more fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals than all-purpose flour.
  • Nutty, hearty flavor – The bran in whole wheat flour gives cookies a nuttier, more wholesome taste.
  • Less gluten – Whole wheat flour has less gluten than all-purpose, resulting in a denser, cakier texture.

The Cons of Whole Wheat Flour in Cookies

However, there are also some downsides to be aware of:

  • Dense, crispy texture – Cookies made with 100% whole wheat flour will be denser, crispier, and crumblier.
  • Quickly become dry – The lack of gluten means whole wheat cookies dry out faster.
  • Strong whole wheat flavor – The hearty bran flavor can overpower other ingredients.

Tips for Using Whole Wheat Flour in Cookies

Here are some tips to get the best results when baking cookies with whole wheat flour:

  • Use a blend – Replace only half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat to keep cookies light and moist.
  • Add moisture – Increase eggs, oil, butter, or liquids to add moisture and tenderness.
  • Reduce baking powder – Cut back on leaveners which can cause too much rise and dryness.
  • Add extras – Mix in chocolate chips, oats, dried fruit or nuts to mask any bitterness from the bran.
  • Rest the dough – Let dough rest for 30 minutes so the whole wheat can absorb moisture.
  • Shape small – Make cookies on the smaller side so they retain moisture better.
  • Store properly – Keep cookies in an airtight container to prevent drying out.

Recipe Example: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here is an example recipe for moist, soft chocolate chip cookies using half whole wheat flour:


  • 1 1⁄4 cups (155g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 1⁄4 cups (155g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 225g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3⁄4 cup (165g) packed brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces (340g) semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Beat in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla until combined.
  5. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Portion dough into balls, about 1.5 tablespoons each, and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 9-11 minutes until lightly browned but still soft.
  9. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


While whole wheat flour changes the texture of cookies, using a blend with all-purpose flour can produce delicious results. The key is to increase moisture and richness, decrease spread, and bake for a shorter time. With some adjustments, whole wheat flour can be used successfully in cookies for a healthier treat.