How Long Do Christmas Cookies Last?
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! (Here are 14 baking hacks for Christmas cookies you’ll wish you knew sooner.)
In general, baked cookies will be fine at room temperature for about three 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: These 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 three days before they start to lose their lustre. If you’d rather freeze the dough, it can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.
- Sliced cookies: Icebox or sliced cookies keep similarly to drop cookies. You can freeze the well-wrapped logs of dough for six months (thaw in the refrigerator overnight before handling) or refrigerate them for three days before slicing and baking. The baked cookies can be frozen for up to six months, and they keep just fine at room temperature for three days.
- Cutout cookies: Cutout cookies are a Christmas cookie mainstay, 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 six months. You can also freeze the baked but undecorated cookies for six 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: These 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 three days. Alternatively, you can wrap a block of baked bars in plastic wrap and foil and freeze them for up to six months.
- Twice-baked cookies: 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 two 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 150° C oven.
- Cookie press cookies: Cookies that are never meant to be tender or chewy will last longer than their softer cousins. Of course, they’re best when eaten a few days after baking, but can last for two weeks or so when stored in an airtight container.
How Do You Store Cookies?
- Freezing: 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 six 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!
- Refrigerating: You can refrigerate your finished dough for up to three days as long as it’s very tightly wrapped. The danger here is that odours 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 the secret to making foolproof fudge!)
- 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 flavours 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.
- 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!
Next, check out the secret ingredient for the best brownies ever.