Say goodbye to stale cookies, with our tips and tricks for keeping your sugary goodies fresh.
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One of the greatest gifts of the holiday season is the sheer abundance of cookies, whether you're making them yourself or receiving them as presents. But when your cookie jar runneth over, there's nothing worse than eagerly reaching for a treat only to discover that your stash of tasty baked goods have gone unappetizingly stale.

Luckily, there's a way to safeguard your cookies from untimely extinction, whether that involves smart storage after baking or careful planning before. Here you'll learn how to soften dry, hard cookies step-by-step, starting with the baking process:

How to Bake Soft Cookies

One of the reasons that cookies quickly go stale is they weren't baked correctly in the first place. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to ensure that they stay softer for longer, and adjustments that can be made to help you achieve an especially chewy batch.

1. Measure Your Flour the Right Way

Make sure to accurately measure your flour by scooping it into measuring cups and leveling it off with a flat edge (like the back of a knife), instead of haphazardly scooping a measuring cup into a bag. That extra flour can lead to an extra-dry cookie. Follow our guide on the best way to measure flour accurately.

If you have been a bit overzealous with the flour, compensate with some added butter or a little splash of milk.

2. Use Brown Sugar Over White

Use brown sugar instead of white — or a larger ratio of brown sugar, if using both — since it has a higher moisture content.

3. Use the Right Baking Sheet

Use an aluminum baking sheet instead of a dark one, which will keep cookies from over browning. We love this top-rated aluminum sheet pan from Made In ($25; Made In)

4. Don't Overbake

Remove cookies from the oven just before they're done, while still a bit soft and puffy. Since they'll continue to carry-over cook, keeping them in the oven until they're crispy will result in a dry cookie. 

5. Let Them Cool

Immediately transfer the cookies to a cooling rack ($28; Amazon) after they're done. If you let them sit on the hot baking sheet, they'll continue cooking and lose their natural moisture.

6. Wrap Them Up

Individually wrap your cookies in plastic wrap after baking, which will enclose them in moist steam.

How to Store Cookies So They Stay Soft

How to Store Cookies Long-Term

For long-term storage, it's always best to keep your baked cookies (or cookie dough) in the freezer.

  1. Place baked cookies in freezer bags ($10; Amazon) between pieces of parchment to prevent them from sticking.
  2. Squeeze out as much of the air as possible, then place the bags in airtight, freezer-safe containers. Don't forget to date and label them.
  3. The cookies will stay fresh for up to 3 months. To defrost, lay them out at room temperature for at least one hour before serving.

How to Store Cookies Short-Term

If you plan on eating your cookies quickly, keep them at room temperature. Storing soft cookies in the refrigerator causes their butter or fat to harden and congeal, leading to one tough cookie.

  1. Separate soft cookies from crispy cookies, as one can affect the texture of the other (they actually have an opposite effect — crispy cookies dry out softer ones, while soft cookies leach their moisture to crisp ones).
  2. Place them in a sealed plastic bag, stash them in airtight containers (like these cookie jars from OXO), and store in a cool, dry place.

How to Soften Hard Cookies

How to Soften Cookies With Bread

If your cookies go stale despite your best efforts, fret not. It turns out, the only thing that may stand between you and a temptingly squishy snickerdoodle is a slice of white bread! Here's what you need to do:

  1. Snuggle ¼ slice of bread per dozen cookies into the bottom of the container (use plain white bread, since it won't transmit any flavors).
  2. Allow to let sit covered for 24 hours, and replace the bread as needed, every time it starts to get stale. Bread releases moisture into the air, while sugar (present in large quantities in cookies), absorbs moisture out of the air.
  3. Don't have any white bread? Use a slice of apple instead. Just slip a wedge in with your cookies, cover, and let sit overnight.

How to Soften Cookies in the Microwave

Make (careful) use of the microwave. Believe it or not, it's a better bet than the oven, which will only serve to further dry your cookies out. One caveat? This only works if you intend to eat your cookies immediately; once cool, the cookies will be even drier than before.

But a 10-second zap should fleetingly produce a few warm and succulent cookies, ready for speedy gobbling. To further refine this technique, put a mug of water in the microwave with your cookies, or lightly drape them with a damp paper towel, to help produce steam.

The Best Way to Soften Cookies

Our number one tip for keeping cookies soft? Eat them as soon as you possibly can! Besides being fail-safe, this method is definitely the most fun.