Can You Eat Raw Cookie Dough?

You're not supposed to eat the stuff, but it's so hard to resist. Can you eat raw cookie dough safely? Here's the scoop.

It is a universal truth that only one thing can rival a freshly baked cookie: the dough. Most of us are guilty of a nibble or two before the oven has finished preheating. But can you eat raw cookie dough? The CDC has us re-thinking that, with its recent campaign to Say No to Raw Dough!

What exactly gives raw cookie dough its bad reputation?

Why Can’t You Eat Raw Cookie Dough?

Eating raw eggs can cause salmonella infection

One of the major concerns with raw cookie dough is raw eggs. The outside of raw eggs can be contaminated with salmonella bacteria, and washing them won’t alleviate the risk. In fact, it could increase the risk by removing the protective coating around the egg, which lets the bacteria enter the egg via the pores on the shell. Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and a headache that can last four to seven days.

Uncooked flour can be contaminated with E. coli

Flour can also be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. As wheat grows in fields, it can come into contact with pathogens. When consumed, an E. coli infection can include diarrhea, stomach cramping and nausea, and can last up to a week.

You don’t need to eat raw flour in large amounts to get sick. According to a study published in The New York England Journal of Medicine, the bacteria is not evenly distributed throughout a bag of flour, so even sampling a small amount could put you at risk. Luckily, protecting yourself from illness is easy: wash your hands, clean your kitchen utensils and bake the cookies (we suggest these chocolate chip masterpieces) to kill bacteria.

The same is true for raw batter, so wait to enjoy your brownies until after they come out of the oven.

Can You Eat Store-Bought Cookie Dough Raw?

Yes—look for a dough that’s labeled “safe to eat raw.” To make store-bought cookie dough safe, companies heat-treat the flour and pasteurize the eggs, removing any bacteria.

But for all the homemade cookie dough loyalists, there are other options.

How to Eat Raw Cookie Dough Safely

You can safely eat cookie dough if you take the right precautions! To make edible cookie dough at home, replace or omit the flour and egg to avoid the risk of an infection. There are plenty of easy egg substitutes, from flaxseed meal to a mashed banana. You can heat-treat flour by baking it at 300°F until the flour itself reaches 160° to kill any bacteria.

Or, buy a premade edible cookie dough, designed to be devoured straight out of the jar. We did the hard work and taste tested to find the best raw cookie dough.

Recipes for Cookie Dough Desserts
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Kim Bussing
Kim Bussing is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She has written for publications including Reader’s Digest, Modern Farmer, Clean Plates and Vice, among others, and she is working on her first novel. She is always on the hunt for the perfect gluten-free cinnamon roll.