How to store homemade cookies to maximize freshness

Fox fans reveal their favorite cookies on National Cookie Day

Janice Dean celebrates National Cookie Day on Fox Square with the help of Insomnia Cookies and Schmackary’s.

Whether you’re baking for a holiday or for everyday enjoyment, these tips for how to store cookies will help keep them soft and fresh.

Know how long cookies last

In general, cookies will last for about three days at room temperature—if you store them correctly! They’ll last for up to six months in the freezer.

Cool cookies completely

Making cookies is a lot of work, so don’t ruin your efforts by rushing the cooling process. Cookies need to be completely cool to the touch before you store them. Otherwise, the trapped heat will create condensation, which ultimately will ruin your cookies. (Here’s how to make your favorite "guilty pleasure" foods healthier.)

Cookies need to be completely cool to the touch before you store them.

Store different types of cookies separately

If you’re storing different varieties of cookies, plan to keep them in separate containers. Otherwise, your soft cookies will moisten your crisp cookies, and the flavor profiles of different varieties—say sugar cookies stored with gingersnaps—will start to blend together.

In general, it’s OK to store crisp cookies in a container with a loose-fitting cover. But to keep cookies soft and chewy, store them in a container that has a tight-fitting cover. Tip: If your cookies get too soft, crisp them up in a 300 F oven for five minutes.

Store cookies in layers

The last thing you want is for your cookies to stick together! To prevent sticking when you store your cookies, arrange them in a single layer, and add a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper between layers. This is one of our favorite food storage tips of all time

Your stored cookies will stay freshest in a cool, dry place, such as the back shelf of your pantry.

Keep cookies cool

Your stored cookies will stay freshest in a cool, dry place, such as the back shelf of your pantry. Depending on the variety, they’ll last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

You can also freeze cookies for up to six months. To thaw frozen cookies, take them out of their freezing container and spread them out on a clean baking sheet until they come to room temperature. (Here’s how to freeze fresh foods to limit waste.)

Store cookie bars correctly

When storing cookie bars, the best way to maintain freshness is to keep them in the pan you baked them in. Cover the pan with foil or place it in a large, resealable bag. If your cookie bars contain any perishable ingredients—such as a cream cheese glaze—store them in the fridge.

Tip: If you can’t keep your cookie bars in their original pan, slice them and place them in an airtight container. Store the container in the fridge—the cookie bars will stay fresh there for one to two weeks.

Store cookies without frosting, if possible

For best results, avoid frosting cookies before you store them. Not only will the end result look cleaner, but you’ll avoid taking up half of your fridge space with cream cheese-frosted cookies.

To store unfrosted cookies, let them cool completely before wrapping them in plastic wrap and freezing them in an airtight container. Thaw at room temperature before frosting and serving. (Here are the foods you should never store in the fridge.)

Freeze the cookie dough

Running short on time? Consider freezing cookie dough instead of baking it right away. For drop cookies, place scoops of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then place in the freezer for 30 minutes. When firm, place the dough drops in a resealable plastic bag. Bake from frozen for three to five minutes longer than the original instructions.

You can also freeze cutout cookie dough and other doughs that you’d roll out. These types of cookie dough have to chill anyway, so an extended stay in the freezer won’t do them any harm. Just wrap disks of dough tightly in plastic wrap and seal in a zip-top bag to store. Frozen cookie dough is best used within 3 months but you can freeze it for up to six months. To thaw, let it sit in the fridge overnight. (Here are the frozen food myths you still believe, but shouldn’t.)

To keep your cookies fresh, you need to keep air out.

Use the right container

To keep your cookies fresh, you need to keep air out. For that reason, we suggest storing cookies in an airtight container. Make sure nothing gets in the way of the container and its lid, and double-check that the seal is tight.

Pick the right recipes

Some types of cookies freeze better than others. Drop cookies, cutout cookies, icebox cookies, shortbread cookies, and hearty bar cookies stand up well to storage. Delicate lace cookies, meringue-based treats, and whoopie pies do not.

Chocolate chip cookies (everyone’s favorite!) generally store well, too. There’s no special trick for storing this ever-popular type of cookie—just keep them in an airtight container, especially if you love soft chocolate chip cookies. (Here are the reasons to eat dessert every day.)

Wait to decorate the cookies

Just as you should wait to frost your cookies, you should also wait to decorate them. Sprinkles, sugar pearls, candies, and other decorations can lose their flavor or consistency if left in the freezer too long.

This story was originally published in Taste of Home.

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