So many cookies to make, so little time! This guide will help you bake and store every batch in the best possible way.
If you’re an ambitious gift-giver and a proud home baker, you probably plan to do a lot of cookie-baking for Christmas. It’s helpful to know how to store the most popular cookies as well as how long each will keep. This guide will cover it all!
How Long Do Cookies Last?
In general, baked cookies will be fine at room temperature for about 3 days, but only if stored correctly. For most kinds of cookies, there are essentially two ways to store them:
in an airtight container at room temperature
in an airtight container in the freezer
You can also refrigerate or freeze the dough, either as a batch or pre-portioned. Here’s the nitty-gritty details for each type of cookie:
Drop cookies are probably the easiest of all Christmas cookies to make and store. Because drop cookies are usually quite sturdy, they can be stored stacked on top of each other without fear of crushing the bottom layer. They can be kept at room temperature for about 3 days before they start to lose their luster. If you’d rather freeze the dough, it can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Icebox or sliced cookies keep similarly to drop cookies. You can freeze the well-wrapped logs of dough for 6 months (thaw in the refrigerator overnight before handling) or refrigerate them for 3 days before slicing and baking. The baked cookies can be frozen for up to 6 months, and they keep just fine at room temperature for 3 days. Here are dozens of slice-and-bake cookie ideas to make now.
Cutout cookies are a Christmas cookie mainstay (try these favorites!), but they can be a little finicky. One option is to simply freeze the dough; as with other buttery doughs, this works for up to 6 months. You can also freeze the baked but undecorated cookies for 6 months. Do this by placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freezing them until completely frozen. Then, carefully stack them in a hard-sided container until you’re ready to decorate. Since these cookies are often quite thin, the finished batch won’t keep long at room temperature—they tend to get very crumbly and the frosting often bleeds or melts. Try to keep them out for no more than two days.
Bar cookies must be baked immediately; there’s no freezing or refrigerating option for the dough. After they’ve baked, bar cookies can be stored at room temperature in the pan in which they were baked, covered tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. They’ll keep this way for 3 days. Alternatively, you can wrap a block of baked bars in plastic wrap and foil and freeze them for up to 6 months.
Cookies like biscotti that are baked twice and therefore extremely crispy and dry can be kept at room temperature longer than other kinds of cookies, up to 2 weeks. As with bar cookies, it’s best to bake this dough immediately. You can freeze the baked twice-baked cookies; they do lose some of their crispness but can be brought back to life with a few minutes in a 300° F oven.
Cookie press cookies
Cookies that are never meant to be tender or chewy, such as spritz cookiesand shortbread cookies, will last longer than their softer cousins. Of course, they’re best when eaten a few days after baking, but can last for 2 weeks or so when stored in an airtight container.
How Do You Store Cookies?
Making dozens and dozens of cookies is a lot of work. By freezing your dough as you make it, you can start as far as 6 months in advance. You can tightly wrap or cover the dough and store in the freezer, or pre-portion it into disks and freeze those. When you’re ready to bake, simply thaw the dough in the refrigerator and proceed. For people who thrive on planning ahead, this is definitely the preferred method!
You can refrigerate your finished dough for up to 3 days as long as it’s very tightly wrapped. The danger here is that odors and moisture from the other items in the fridge can make their way into the dough, which can result in cookies that taste funky. Here’s how to freshen up your fridge before baking.
Never store cookies before they’re completely cool; trapped heat will make them soggy.
Store different kinds of cookies separately. This way, soft cookies won’t make crisp cookies limp, and vice versa. There’s also a risk of flavors melding together, which might not be so bad for a batch of peppermint cookies and a batch of chocolate cookies but definitely wouldn’t be great for something like peppermint and lemon.
Don’t stack delicate cookies or cookies with soft frosting on top of each other—those are best stored in a single layer. Drop cookies and twice-baked cookies, however, can safely be layered between sheets of wax paper.
You can help soft cookies retain their moisture by storing them with a slice of bread or a piece of apple.
Due to their longer shelf lives, twice-baked cookies and cookie press cookies are your best bets for shipping to a faraway friend. Not only are they usually hearty enough to survive the journey, but they’ll taste relatively fresh once received. Find more shipping tips here.
Baked cookies should never be refrigerated unless the recipe specifically recommends it.
You should be confident that every batch stays fresh for as long as possible. Happy baking!
When you're done making cookies, whip up one of these cocktail recipes!