Complete Holiday Guide to Freezing Cookies

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rolling and cutting gingerbread cookie dough

Complete Holiday Guide to Freezing Cookies ~ I’ve tracked down the best tips and tricks for make ahead cookies so you can enjoy more of your holidays inside and outside of the kitchen!

There’s nothing on this earth as good as a fresh baked cookie, am I right?  And I think we all want to be that poised baker that pulls a tray of warm cookies out of the oven without breaking a sweat.  But carving out the time to shop for the ingredients, make the batter, bake them, and clean up the mess is a challenge.  That’s why freezing cookies and cookie dough is such a smart idea.  It’s especially genius during the holidays, when a leisurely Sunday afternoon of prep can set you up for the busy season ahead.

rolling and cutting gingerbread cookie dough

Most cookies and cookie doughs freeze well because there is little to no water content in them. Water expands when it freezes and then contracts again when it is thawed. That expanding and contracting can ruin the texture of frozen food, but most cookie doughs will not have this problem. Follow the tips below for your specific type of cookie and feel confident that your frozen cookies will come out perfectly.  Note: the window for freezing cookies is a little shorter than for most foods ~ it’s about 3 months.

Freezing Slice and Bake (Refrigerator) Cookies

Slice and bake cookies are a great choice for freezing, most of my shortbread cookies fall into this category.  You have a couple of options with this kind of cookie…

  • You can freeze the whole log of cookie dough ~ just wrap it in plastic, then put it in a heavy duty freezer bag and put in the freezer until needed.
    • To thaw a log of dough, put it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To freeze individual slices of dough, set them on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until solid, then remove to a heavy duty freezer bag or freezer safe container.
    • Bake from frozen, adding 2-3 minutes to the cooking time.

PRO TIP from Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake ~ after Liz puts her frozen cookies into a freezer bag she seals the bag most of the way, then inserts a straw into the bag and sucks out as much air as she can.  Then she completely zips or seals the bag.  Removing excess air helps keep the cookies fresher longer and helps prevent freezer burn.

Maple Walnut Shortbread Cookies

a log of maple walnut cookie dough, sliced

Freezing Drop Cookies

Most drop cookies like snickerdoodles, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal, and chocolate chip cookies freeze beautifully.  Once frozen you can pull them out singly or by the dozen.  Freezing can actually enhance the chewy texture of this kind of cookie so it’s a win win.

  • Scoop your cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking tray (to keep them from sticking) and freeze until solid.  Then remove the balls to a freezer bag or storage container.
    • Bake these cookies straight from the freezer, adding a couple of minutes to the baking time.

PRO TIP from King Arthur Flour ~ the reason you can bake cookies successfully straight from frozen is because cookies are small enough that they quickly go from frozen to simply chilled, once they hit the oven’s heat.

Chewy Ginger Cookies

chewy ginger cookies from The View from Great Island

Freezing Coated Cookies

You can freeze cookies that get coated in powdered sugar, but it is best to freeze them before baking and coating.

  • Form the cookies and then place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until solid.  Transfer to freezer baggies.
    • When ready to bake, thaw the unbaked cookies on the counter.
    • When the dough is completely thawed, coat them in the appropriate coating and then bake as per the recipe.

PRO TIP from Sally at Sally’s Baking Addiction ~ Sally makes a point to label her freezer bags with the date, temperature, time, recipe name, and any special instructions, etc.  This is really helpful when you’re making coated cookies that need an extra step before baking.

Cardamom Walnut Crescent Cookies

walnut crescent cookies on a baking sheet

Freezing Rolled and Cut Cookies

For cookies that you roll out and then cut out with a cookie cutter, you have a few options…

  • Make your dough, form it into a disk, and freeze the whole batch of dough in one piece.  Be sure to wrap it well.
    • Thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator.  Roll, cut, and bake when you’re ready.
  • Pre-cut your dough and freeze the unbaked cookies on a baking sheet.  Lay them out on a parchment lined pan to prevent sticking and put in the freezer until they are solid.  Then transfer to a freezer safe container.  Note: cut out cookies are more delicate than most, make sure to stash them in a safe spot in the freezer where they won’t get jostled.
    • When ready to bake, bake these cookies straight from the freezer.  This is a great option if you want to prep ahead for a cookie decorating party.

PRO TIP from Laura at Tutti Dolci ~ Laura bakes frozen cut out cookies straight from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the baking time (usually 1-3 minutes, depending on the recipe) no thawing necessary.

Easy Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing

cutting out gingerbread cookie dough

Freezing Royal Iced Cookies

Freezing royal iced cookies is a little tricky, but they can turn out alright.  Some find the icing colors can run or spot after freezing, others do not.

  • Make sure your frosting is completely dried/set before freezing.
    • Arrange the cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for an hour.
    • Carefully pack the cookies, individually, to protect them in the freezer.

PRO TIP from Bridget at Bake at 350 ~ Bridget successfully freezes baked cookies decorated with royal icing. She puts each cookie in an individual freezer bag, and then stacks the bags in a freezer container for extra protection.  She thaws these cookies in the bags, in the container, at room temp for several hours before unwrapping.  Martha Stewart agrees, fyi.

Holiday Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are the classic holiday treat --- decorate them with your own homemade colored sugars!

Freezing Sprinkled Cookies

There’s much debate on this question.  Some cooks do it successfully, some recommend against it.  I think the answer is that it depends on your sprinkles; some are made with dye that tends to run if exposed to any type of condensation or moisture, which can happen during freezing and thawing.  You can feel safe freezing cookies with decorative sugar, and white or silver sprinkles and nonpareils.

  • If you must freeze colored sprinkled cookies, take care when thawing them.  I suggest thawing in the packaging in the refrigerator overnight.  Then bring to room temperature on the counter, still in the packaging.  Unwrap carefully.

PRO TIP from LandO’Lakes  ~ the butter experts recommend double wrapping cookies in plastic wrap, and then in freezer bags for best protection.

Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

a stack of sprinkle sugar cookies

Freezing Filled Cookies

Sandwich cookies, thumbprints, and other filled cookie are problematic to freeze because the filling texture can be affected by freezing.  It kind of depends on the filling.  Jam fillings are not a good choice.

  • The best solution for sandwich cookies if you aren’t sure is to freeze the individual halves, either baked or unbaked, then bake or thaw the cookies, and fill afterwards.
  • When it comes to thumbprints you can freeze the dough, shaped into a disk.  Then thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and proceed with the recipe.  Or you can freeze pre-rolled balls of dough and let them thaw before proceeding.

PRO TIP from Tricia at Saving Room for Dessert ~ Tricia says her Whoopie Pies, with a marshmallow based filling, freeze beautifully.  She likes to serve them chilled because the filling doesn’t ooze out as much when you bite into them :)

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Making Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Freezing Baked Cookies

Some cookies do well being frozen after they are baked.  Simple cookies like shortbread, gingerbread, sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies, and chocolate chip cookies all freeze well once baked.

  • Make sure your cookies are completely cooled first.
    • Flash freeze the cooled cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet.
    • Then you can put them in a freezer safe container or zip lock baggie.
  • To thaw frozen baked cookies, put them, still in the packaging, in the refrigerator overnight, then bring to room temperature on the counter.  Do not package to send or give until they have come to room temperature.

PRO TIP from Pillsbury ~ the bakers at Pillsbury suggest using separate containers for each type of cookie to avoid mingling flavors.  One rogue peppermint cookie can do a lot of damage!

Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

A stack of soft batch chocolate chip cookies

Cookies you should not freeze

  • Cookies with a high moisture content (i.e. with a very thin batter) like wafer cookies, pizelles, lace cookies or Florentines won’t freeze well.  Cookies  that are meant to be very thin and crisp will not freeze well either.

PRO TIP from Betty Crocker ~ the folks at Betty Crocker suggest you “avoid freezing cookies that are known for their delicate texture such as meringues. And beware of freezing cookies that are coated with chocolate. They’ll taste fine after thawing, but they may have a white-color haze (known as bloom) that will make them not-so-great as gifts.”

Easy Cocoa Meringues

These easy cocoa meringues are the minimalist of cookies ~ just a few simple ingredients whip up into something magical! Meringues are a naturally gluten free, fat free treat!



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    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    Traci Bergeron
    October 16, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    What are your thoughts on freezing rolled sugar cookies that are not yet frosted. I would like to freeze prior to adding the royal icing.

    • Reply
      October 16, 2019 at 4:06 pm

      That’s ideal Traci. Just be sure they’re stored in a hard sided tupperware or other freezer safe container, and I like to separate them with little squares of waxed paper to keep them from sticking.

  • Reply
    August 21, 2019 at 8:34 am

    I need to freeze buttercream frosted sugar cookies, what is the best way? Normally I would freeze the baked cookies and then make frosting and frost once they are thawed, but I am giving these to someone who indicated she needs to freeze them for a later date. Thank you!

    • Reply
      August 21, 2019 at 9:20 am

      I would freeze them first on a baking sheet, then, once frozen you can transfer them to a container. To thaw, leave them at room temperature out of the container so the frosting doesn’t get exposed to condensation.

  • Reply
    Michele Boisvert
    August 4, 2019 at 5:04 am

    Thank you for sharing!!! This was very helpful!!

  • Reply
    December 27, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    This is such a great resource! I’ve been baking & freezing my Christmas cookies in advance for years, and I agree with all of these tips. (This year, I successfully froze Mexican chocolate crinkle cookies, lemon snowflake cookies, biscochitos, cranberry bliss bars, apricot-walnut rugelach, pistachio-cherry Linzer cookies, mint chocolate M&M cookies, and confetti cookies.) I will add that, in my experience, cookies with a glaze or very thin icing do not freeze/thaw very well.

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    December 2, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Such fabulous cookie tips! Will be sharing on FB this afternoon :)

    • Reply
      December 2, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks Laura, and thanks for your tip!

  • Reply
    Cheryl Kohan
    December 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    This is a great checklist. I often freeze cookie dough and love being able to bake almost on the spur of the moment.

    • Reply
      December 2, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      I love that too ~ the minute the doorbell rings I preheat the oven.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2018 at 11:49 am

    This was really helpful, thanks! I was looking for information on freezing already-baked cookies in anticipation of having a lot of cookies after a cookie party coming up :)

    • Reply
      December 2, 2018 at 11:55 am

      I’m so glad, I learned a lot doing the post myself!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Freezing Holiday Cookies …. That title brought a vivid memory to mind. Many years ago when I was a single mom and money was tight, I decided to bake sugar cookies for Christmas gifts. I diligently mixed and rolled and cut out cookies in any spare moments I had, and carefully froze them. When the time came to retrieve some cookies from the freezer for gift giving, I discovered most (nearly all) of them gone! Unbeknownst to me, my teenage son had been very happily eating frozen cookies. ?

    • Reply
      December 2, 2018 at 9:03 am

      Haha, I meant to mention something like that JoAn, lots of people love eating frozen cookies, especially soft chewy cookies that don’t get rock hard!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    December 2, 2018 at 7:25 am

    What a great post Sue! My readers ask questions about freezing cookies all the time. I’m going to send them here for all your great tips. Thanks!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Wow! SO many fabulous tips! I want to start mixing up cookie dough right now!!!

    • Reply
      December 2, 2018 at 7:38 am

      Thanks for your ‘tip’ Liz, I love it!