How to Freeze Cookies and Cookie Dough the Right Way

Plus, how to bake both from their frozen state, so you can you have fresh, homemade treats whenever you want them.

Baking cookies is a holiday tradition for many, but it's easy to overestimate the amount you need. If you've made too many for your annual cookie swap and are wondering what to do with the extras, turn to your freezer.

"Freezing cookies is a great time saver and it never hurts to have cookies on hand," says food stylist and baker Molly Wenk. You can freeze already baked and unbaked cookies, as well as the dough itself, but there are a few things to consider before doing so—including the type of cookie you're trying to freeze and how to properly store them.

vanilla-bean sugar cookies
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How to Freeze Baked Cookies

If you want to freeze leftover cookies, make the dough and bake the treats as you normally would, then let them cool completely. Once cooled, freeze the cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet or another flat surface until they're firm (this will take about an hour). After they freeze, stack the cookies in an airtight container or re-sealable storage bag with a piece of parchment or wax paper between each layer. The baked, frozen cookies will last up to four months in the freezer.

Cookies That Freeze Well

Some cookies are better options for freezing than others, like sturdy, shaped, and sandwich varieties.

Sturdy Cookies

Sturdy cookies are best for freezing. Shortbread, biscotti, gingerbread, and drop cookies like chocolate chip or oatmeal are all examples of sturdy cookies that hold up well once frozen. "They can stand up to the cold temperatures and won't be damaged when you mindlessly rummage through your freezer," says Jason Schreiber, baker and cookbook author.

Shaped Cookies

Additionally, undecorated sugar cookies and other cutout shape cookies can also be frozen. "Since shaped cookies are flat, they're easiest to stack so you can fit a lot in your freezer at once," Wenk says. Wait to add any decorations (like icing, powdered sugar, and sprinkles) to the cookies after thawing.

Sandwich Cookies

Sandwich cookies—think thumbprints and Linzer—can be frozen, but you should wait to fill them with jam or ganache until they're thawed and ready to be served.

Cookies That Don't Freeze Well

While freezing baked cookies is a great way to stow leftovers until they're ready to be consumed, certain varieties can't stand up to this storage method.

Delicate Cookies

Avoid freezing any delicate cookies with thin batters, such as lacey tuiles, pillowy meringues, and pizzelles. "The delicate textures won't survive the freezing and thawing, and the change in temperature is likely to cause moisture damage or melting," Schreiber says.

Cakey Cookies

Cakey cookies, like madeleines, also don't freeze well. "They begin to lose moisture no matter how tightly they're wrapped," Wenk says. It is possible to resuscitate them with a few minutes in the oven after thawing, but they won't taste the same.

How to Thaw Frozen Cookies

To ensure cookies don't become soggy when they thaw, you'll want to minimize the risk of any excess moisture. "It's best to take your cookies out of the container or bag they were being stored in and place them on a paper towel-lined tray or plate in a single layer, to thaw completely and avoid any condensation," Wenk says. Let them thaw at room temperature. Once defrosted, you can bake the cookies for five to 10 minutes at 325 degrees.

Close up of chocolate chip cookie dough

How to Freeze Cookie Dough

If you have the option, freezing the dough is a tastier alternative to freezing already-baked cookies. "You'll be happy to have fresh-baked cookies at the end, rather than freshly thawed," Schreiber says.

How to Freeze Dough for Drop Cookies

Drop cookies, like chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin, are the easiest to freeze. To do so, place portioned dough in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until firm, then you can transfer the dough to zipper-lock bags, says Schreiber.

How to Freeze Dough for Cutout Cookies

For cutout cookies, place the cutouts on parchment-lined baking sheets. Layer the cutout dough to save room in your freezer, making sure you place two sheets of parchment between each layer of the cookie dough, or they'll freeze together. Wrap the entire baking sheet in plastic wrap before freezing.

How to Freeze Dough for Slice and Bake Cookies

Cookie dough for slice and bake cookies should be wrapped with plastic in log-from and frozen until solid.

How to Bake Frozen Cookie Dough

For the most part, cookie dough can be baked from its frozen state—but there are some additional tips and tricks to keep in mind.

How to Thaw Dough for Drop Cookies

For drop cookies, you should separate the frozen dough balls onto baking sheets and bake per the recipe's instructions. Keep in mind that frozen dough may not spread like fresh dough does. To remedy this, you can loosely cover the tray with plastic wrap and set aside until the cookies come to room temperature before baking.

How to Thaw Dough for Cutout Cookies

Schreiber likes to bake cutout cookie dough straight from the freezer, so they keep their shape. If the sheets are uncut, you should thaw them in the refrigerator until they're soft enough to cut, then bake.

How to Thaw Dough for Slice and Bake Cookies

Logs of dough should be moved to the fridge the night before you plan to bake the cookies, then slice and bake as usual. No matter what type of dough you're working with, you may need to increase the baking time slightly for the cookies to spread nicely and bake throughout.

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