You can make cookies without creaming the butter and sugar together, but the texture and taste of the cookies may be different. Creaming the butter and sugar together creates air pockets in the mixture, which gives the cookies a lighter and fluffier texture. If you choose not to cream the butter and sugar, your cookies may be denser and have a different texture.
There are many cookie recipes that don’t require creaming the butter and sugar, such as shortbread cookies.
Creamed vs. Non-Creamed Butter and Sugar
When the recipe asks that you cream together your butter and sugar, it usually calls for taking butter that is at room temperature and beating it with an electric mixer first. Try to use a hand mixer or a mixer that has a paddle attachment for the best results.
Add your sugar next and beat at a high speed until you notice the mixture being light, fluffy, and an ivory-white color. If it feels a little grainy, just know that that is normal. It should also have the texture of soft clay.
From that point, you can continue with your recipe. Creaming the butter and sugar this way aerates the butter and causes it to have tiny air pockets. It is these air pockets that cause the cookies to be thick and fluffy. This means that if the butter and sugar aren’t creamed, it’s likely the cookies will spread out further on the baking tray and your cookies will be thinner, less airy, and a little larger.
It doesn’t normally affect the taste of the cookies, which is why some people never cream these two ingredients together.
It could also be that you have no electric mixer, either a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Beating these two ingredients by hand will be both painful and time-consuming, which is why most people don’t do it this way.
When making cookies, especially chocolate chip cookies, many people without electric mixers either cream the sugar and butter by hand using a wooden spoon or mix these two ingredients in other ways. Below are some of those ways:
1. Melt the Butter Then Add the Sugar
While the texture of the cookies will be less fluffy overall, you can still melt your butter then slowly add and stir in the sugar. You can melt the butter in either the microwave or over medium heat in a saucepan. Make sure the butter is completely melted before slowly adding the sugar, then make sure you stir the mixture well before continuing with the recipe.
2. Refrigerate the Dough for a While
Once you make up the dough and all of the ingredients are added, don’t make the cookies right away. Instead, wrap the dough in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate it for 24 to 36 hours. This helps give your cookies the same taste and texture that it would have if you had creamed the two ingredients first.
3. Mix the Wet Ingredients and Dry Ingredients Separately
There is a certain order you should use to make your batter. First, melt the butter and add the sugar, salt, egg, and vanilla using a whisk. Next, combine the dry ingredients such as flour and baking soda in a separate container.
Both the wet and dry ingredients should be mixed thoroughly. When you’re done, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly without overdoing it.
4. Try the Reverse Creaming Method
With this method of mixing your butter and sugar, you’ll mix your dry ingredients first, then your wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat for only a short time – around 90 seconds. This method is also a little easier for people who do not have a mixer and have to do everything by hand.
Creaming and Mixing Are Very Similar
You have to be careful when following recipe instructions when you don’t have a mixer and you still need to mix together sugar and butter for a cookie recipe. Using a standard electric mixer will “cream” the two ingredients, whereas using a spoon or fork to combine the butter and sugar usually means these two ingredients aren’t creamed.
The mixing or beating is important because when butter and sugar are creamed this way, the cookies come out with a very light and fluffy texture.
What this means is that when you mix sugar and butter instead of creaming or beating them, the cookies are not as light or fluffy and can sometimes turn out flat and thin. The cookies will still be edible, but the texture and feel of them in your mouth will be a bit different.
You may also get fewer cookies when you’re finished baking, and they’ll likely be heavier as well. Does that make a huge difference? Usually not, and many bakers actually prefer cookies without too much air and fluffiness in them.
If you like your cookies fluffy and airy, make sure you cream your butter and sugar instead of just mixing them together. If you like dense and large cookies, you can simply mix or combine the two ingredients before continuing with the recipe. It’s up to you.
Cookies can be fluffy or dense, and if you want the former, you’ll need to cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer or beater. You can mix the ingredients by melting the butter, refrigerating the dough for 24-36 hours, or using a reverse creaming method.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.