Apple Cider Vinegar Could Help Your Cookie Dough. Here's How

Ah, the wide, wonderful world of cookies. Anyone with a sweet tooth can attest to the magic of these small, self-contained treats: whether dunked in a glass of milk or enjoyed alongside a hot cup of coffee, cookies can bring a sweet interlude to our day.

Of the seemingly thousands of varieties of cookies out there — from traditional butter cookies to red velvet cookies to Mexican wedding cookies — it's pretty hard to dispute the fact that the chocolate chip cookie is the king of all cookies. Everyone seems to love it, and for every person who loves chocolate chip cookies, there seems to be a cookie dough recipe out there for them.

In the world's collective quest to craft the perfect chocolate chip cookie, bakers have relied upon a variety of "secret ingredients" ranging from cornstarch to brown butter (via Spoon University). But if you peruse a wide selection of recipes for this classic, you'll start to notice one ingredient in particular that pops up pretty often, whether it's used in thin, crispy-chewy cookies or soft batch cookies: apple cider vinegar. So why would an ingredient that's typically viewed as savory be included in a dessert?

It all comes down to science

When Lillian Stone embarked upon a mission to develop the most perfect chocolate chip cookie of all time for The Takeout, the writer ended up baking more than 400 cookies before settling upon a dough recipe they deemed "almost certainly foolproof." A fairly straightforward mix of flour, butter, brown and granulated sugars, vanilla extract, and two types of chocolate, the dough also contained one ingredient that, in a later article, Stone revealed garnered some confusion in fellow bakers: apple cider vinegar. Why, some readers asked them, would you add such a strong, acidic ingredient to a dessert?

As Stone explained, it has to do with the way that vinegar reacts to baking soda, which is also often found in baked goods: namely, the two together produce carbon dioxide, which gives cookies and other baked goods a little lift. Apple cider vinegar (and other varieties of vinegar, which produce the same effect, according to Baking Bites) is a particularly common feature of vegan cookie dough, which can't rely on beaten eggs to provide aeration, like in these recipes for snickerdoodles and almond flour cookies.

Not in the mood for cookies? Vinegar can also add lift to pancakes, chocolate layer cake, and vanilla layer cake, to name a few. So the next time you've got a hankering to bake, make sure you've got some vinegar on hand, too.