How to Store Cookies so They Stay Fresh Longer
Few of life's joys are better than homemade cookies. But that joy can falter if your batch goes stale or even develops mold faster than you can eat it.
The good news is that cookies can always be saved for later, and there are even a few ways to improve their lifespan. Read on for the best ways to store soft cookies, crispy cookies, and cookie dough, as well as a few cookie storage rules you should never break.
The Commandments of Cookie Storage
There are a few rules of thumb when it comes knowing how to store cookies. These guidelines will keep any cookie in better shape for longer.
The first is to let cookies cool completely before attempting to store them. When cookies are cooling down, they're emanating moisture in the form of steam, so if those steamy cookies are all put in a plastic container, their storage space will quickly become moist. Excessive moisture can make for soggy cookies that quickly turn stale.
The second rule is that different cookies should be stored separately. Different cookies require different environments, and storing, say, cake cookies and biscotti in the same container, will compromise both types of cookies. This also prevents a strange mashup of flavors or stronger tastes "spreading" to other cookies.
Lastly, if you're going to store your cookies in a zip-top bag, don't leave them on the counter — they're just too vulnerable out there. They might get crushed, but they might also heat up in the warmth of your kitchen. That can lead to moisture, which will turn any cookie soggy and sad.
How to Store Soft Cookies
The key to soft cookie storage is minimizing air flow so your cookies won't lose moisture, says resident baking genius Darcy Lenz. When cookies (and other baked goods) are exposed to air, their starch molecules begin crystallizing and taking water from the gluten, resulting in staleness.
Softer cookies, including brownies and frosted cookies, should be stored in a single layer in an airtight container (such as glass meal prep containers or plastic storage containers) so they won't smush together. The same goes for any cookies with sticky glazes or toppings.
To keep soft cookies moist, you can add a slice of bread to the container. The bread will absorb the dry air instead of the cookies and help prevent them from going stale. Done properly, soft cookies will last for three days in the refrigerator and up to three months in the freezer.
How to Store Crispy Cookies
Crispy cookies, like shortbread, gingersnaps, and unfrosted bar cookies, can be stored in multiple layers. Depending on your cookie's makeup, however, you can store sturdier cookies in a few different ways.
Durable cookies (think chocolate chip cookies or shortbread cookies with firm-set icing) can be stacked in layers without anything between them. Not-so-durable cookies will need some degree of separation — you can use sheets of parchment paper, plastic wrap, or even tortillas as barriers between layers.
Crunchier cookies can also be stored in a cookie jar — in this case, the small amounts of air that seep in will actually help them maintain their texture.
How to Store Cookie Dough
One of the greatest self-care tips of all time is that you can (and should) store cookie dough in the fridge or freezer to bake later. Homemade cookie dough will last up to a week in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer. Store cookie dough in an airtight container, no matter where you're keeping it.
Freezing Cookie Dough
If you're going to freeze cookie dough, go ahead and roll it or scoop it into balls first, and give them an hour-long freeze (or until they're rock hard) on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flash freezing will help prevent your cookie dough from sticking together and help them maintain their shape. When that's done, relocate the dough to a freezer bag or other type of airtight container.
If you prefer, homemade cookie dough can even be rolled into logs ahead of refrigeration. (Think of it as your very own slice-and-bake cookies!)
Thawing Cookie Dough
Frozen cookie dough balls don't need to thaw out before baking (you'll just need to add a few minutes to the cook time), but if you want, you can let them thaw out in the fridge overnight. If you're making a cookie that's dipped or rolled in sugar, it's better to add the sugar after the dough has defrosted rather than rolling the dough before freezing.
Frozen cookie logs will also need to thaw out in order to slice the dough.