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How To Store Holiday Cookies

by Jamie on December 13, 2011

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Image Credit: Good Life Eats

You’ve been baking until you can’t bake anymore. You have holiday cookies cooling in every nook and cranny of your kitchen and you’ve got to find somewhere to put them all. I know there have been plenty of posts on holiday cookie storage; however, I think I have some tips and tricks up my sleeve that you might not have heard of before, so I hope I can help make sure you store those cookies somewhere other than your tummy!

Freezing

Keep in mind that drop cookie dough freezes very well before it has been baked. In fact, almost every drop cookie dough you can think of – chocolate chip, peanut butter, shortbread or sugar cookies – get better with a little (or a lot) of chill time before baking.

The method I use to freeze cookie dough is flash freezing. It’s basically the same method you would use to freeze berries or fresh vegetables – I line a baking tray with parchment paper, scoop out the individual dough balls onto the tray (no need to have 1″ spacers like you would if you were baking), and then place the tray in the freezer for 20 minutes to an hour. If you aren’t familiar with this method, check out Katie’s post on the process.

When I happen to remember the tray is there, I remove it from the freezer, and drop each dough ball into a gallon-sized freezer ziptop bag. One bag should hold 2-3 dozen dough balls, and that’s for large cookies. The bag will hold even more than that if the dough balls are smaller.

Most cookie doughs will last approximately 3 months in the freezer. Just be sure to date and label the package so you can get all that deliciousness baked up before expiration! I also label the bag with the temperature the cookies should be baked at, and the cooking time. That way, I don’t have to go searching out the recipe before I get my bake on.

Stay away from cookies that have a less dense or cakelike batter, as they won’t freeze well. When you go to bake your dough balls, you can bake them directly from the freezer. Just remember that they may need an extra minute or two in the oven on top of the recommended baking time.

This tip is also great for portion control. You can bake up one or two cookies at a time instead of two or three dozen – perfect for when you’re craving just a little something sweet after dinner.

But to swing it back around to holiday baking, what this really means is, you can start your Christmas baking in October if you want to. No more stress about trying to get all those cookies made in a few days.

Storage

Make sure that cookies have cooled completely before you try to store them. If they’re still warm when you try to put them in an airtight container, you’ll create condensation within the container and the result is a soggy cookie. Gross!

Freshly baked and cooled cookies can be frozen. Store them flat in a ziptop freezer bag, with layers of parchment paper between them. That will make it easy to separate them for serving, with minimal breakage. It also makes for more organized storing in the freezer. Cookies should thaw at room temperature outside of the bag for 10-15 minutes. If you’d like to reheat them, bake at 300F for about 5 minutes.

Think about the flavors of the different cookies you’ve baked before you store them. If you’ve made sugar cookies and mint chocolate chip cookies, you wouldn’t want to store them together. The mint will overpower the sugar cookies, and they’ll take on that flavor.

If you’re trying to store decorated cookies, make sure to layer them between wax or parchment paper after the decorating icing has completely hardened.

Bar cookies, like brownies or blondies, should always be baked before storing. They will freeze well, but should be frozen in the container they were baked in. Wrap the pan with a few layers of plastic wrap, then cover with freezer-safe foil, and label with the date. Defrost them at room temperature with plastic wrap and foil removed. If you’d like to warm them again, place in the oven at 300F for about 5 minutes.

Do you have any additional tips to add?


{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar December 13, 2011 at 6:57 am

Thanks for the tips! I didn’t know cookie dough froze so well!

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Julie @Savvy Eats December 13, 2011 at 7:31 am

I’m not usually one to “pimp” my blog in comment sections, BUT I just did a post yesterday on the best way to store cookies for shipping so that they stay fresh (tested 5 different methods for 5 days each)!

http://www.savvyeat.com/brain-food-101-storing-and-shipping-holiday-treats/

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Luv What You Do December 13, 2011 at 7:42 am

I keep all m holiday cookies stored in the freezer for easy assembly when need them. I sometimes use freezer save tupperware for the more crumbly bunch and I also freeze my marks and chocolate candies too.

Just remember not to freeze/refridgerate your rice krispy treat type cookies!

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The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh December 13, 2011 at 8:48 am

I think you just saved my life/sanity. (Okay, some might say too late on the sanity!)

I have cookie hell coming up in a few days and this is going to save me some serious time and I love having some on hand to bake up if we just want a few here and there. Thanks for the tips!

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Christina December 13, 2011 at 8:58 am

If you throw a piece of bread in the container/bag of cookies, the bread will soak up all the excess moisture and keep your cookies fresh longer! When the bread gets hard, you just replace it with a fresh piece!

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Wendy December 13, 2011 at 10:28 pm

This is funny to me because it is so dry where I live (UT) that we put apples slices in to keep the cookies from drying out. Great idea for muggy climates though.

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Amy December 13, 2011 at 9:04 am

Timely post- I just made about 12 dozen sugar cookies to be decorated next weekend and I let them cool completely before storing them in a giant tupperware container. Glad to know they’ll be fine with a little bit of defrosting(before covering with frosting, heh heh!)! :) THanks!

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Joanna December 13, 2011 at 9:18 am

Is there a rule on what kind of baked goods should be stored in the refrigerator?

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Mary Ellen December 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Do you mean cookie wise or baked anything? In general, baked goods that have items that will perish when not refrigerated usually do not last more than 2 days at room temperature. This includes your apple, cherry, pumpkin pies. Things with non-dried fruit. I’m sure people have had their apple pies out longer than that, but this is just what I have read and try to go by. It makes sense especially since homemade items are chock full of preservatives.
I noticed that some of my cookies lost their flavor fast in the fridge. I would avoid that.

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Cookbook Queen December 13, 2011 at 10:12 am

I love all these tips!! It’s so frustrating to bake things ahead and have them stale by the big day. Totally going to try freezing some this year.

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jennifer @ peanut butter and Peppers December 13, 2011 at 10:20 am

This is awesome! Thank you! I had no idea! I love that you can freeze brownies. I’ll bake them in a foiled baking pan and freeze. Love it! Thank you!

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brenda December 13, 2011 at 10:26 am

Thanks for sharing! This will really help with my Holiday baking.

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katiek December 13, 2011 at 10:47 am

How would you store cake balls? Could those me prepared then frozen? Or store in an airtight container?

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Lauren December 13, 2011 at 11:03 am

Great tips for freezing drop cookies! I never would have thought of doing that! Thanks for posting this. :)

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Stephanie December 13, 2011 at 11:25 am

Wow, thanks for the tips! I’ve always frozen my cookies in logs, only to have to spend more time later trying to cut them in a semi-frozen state. I am soo impatient though! I will definitely be freezing my cookie dough in balls now.

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Brandy December 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Do you have any tips about shipping them? I will be shipping a lot of cookies and last year they ended up in crumbles but the year before they were fine.

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Jennifer D. December 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I have frozen both iced and non iced sugar cookies that have been baked as well as the unbaked dough. When I froze them with royal icing, I got some weird spots on the icing. Mostly on the gray cookies (death star) but the lighter colors were ok. It is easiest though to make big batches of the dough and freeze. Then thaw and bake. Then freeze the baked cookies until you are ready to ice them. Makes it much less time consuming to do in batches. Thanks for the tips!

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Chris @ TheKeenanCookBook December 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Great tips! My only concern is freezing the cookie dough – whenever I do this for some reason I end up with less than I started out with (jk, someone sneaks bites :) )

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jo-lyn's cup cakes n' candies December 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm

great tips! thank you!

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Ann P. December 13, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Great tips! These are going to save me a ton of time in the future :D

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Amanda December 13, 2011 at 8:07 pm

I freeze cakey batters and they’re actually okay. I only leave them in there for a few weeks though. Can’t do the ball thing – I freeze them in logs.

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Aimee @ Simple Bites December 13, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Super practical, as usual, Jamie. I’ll be sharing this tomorrow!

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Carole December 13, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Great topic and suggestions–thanks so much!

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Nicole December 13, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Thank you so much!!! This is wonderful and eye opening. I had no idea and now I don’t have to throw things away I can portion control!!!!!!!! Woot!!!!

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Chelsea December 14, 2011 at 2:42 pm

This is what my holiday repertoire was missing. Thank you!!

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Tracy December 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Great tips and so helpful for this time of year!

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Jodi December 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm

What about cookies like macaroons? Do they freeze (and thaw) well? Or are these best made up right before the big day?

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Jamie January 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Macaroons freeze and thaw beautifully, Jodi.
– Jamie

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Sandy November 5, 2014 at 10:30 am

I want to start baking Thanksgiving weekend, will sugar cookies and choc. chip cookies and oatmeal cookies store well until Xmas I will be making large quantity giving cookies as gifts.
I have in the past stored them in the large metal containers that you see around the holidays that popcorn comes in. Do you recommend this type of container? They work well since they are so large and have tight fitting lids.
Thanks

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Jamie November 5, 2014 at 11:45 am

Sandy-
You might try freezing them to maintain the flavor and texture of the baked cookies. I would recommend an airtight container or wrapping the cookies in plastic wrap before storing them in the metal tins. I hope this helps.

-Jamie

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