How to Store Holiday Cookies

December 2nd, 2009 by Cheryl Brown

Well, it is the time of year where my kitchen starts to look like a cookie factory rather than a place for cooking meals! But I love this time of year. This is when I bake all my favorite cookie recipes that have been handed down from my mother, my grandmother and also some from close friends and neighbors. This year I’ll add some new recipes from our Cookie Exchange Book.

I love to bake cookies this time of year for gift giving. My 13-year-old daughter is always eager to help which makes it a fun time for us to spend together.

Storing CookiesSince a lot of the cookies I bake are for gift giving—whether for the teachers at school or for our cookie exchange in the decorating room–I want to start early so it does not become something that is stressful and stays fun and enjoyable.

So…that being said, storing cookies properly is key to retaining their freshness so that when they are given and enjoyed they are as fresh as when I baked them.

First thing I always make sure of before storing is that my cookies are completely cooled before putting in containers. Wilton’s stackable wire cooling racks definitely help save space in the cooling process.

I am very careful to NOT overbake my cookies as this will definitely give cookies a very hard texture, and they will be even harder after storing for any length of time.

Generally cookies will keep longer than most baked goods. If stored in an air-tight container, cookies will keep up to several weeks and if frozen 3 to 6 months. I always store each variety of cookies separately to avoid flavor transfer.

I like to store my cookies in large food safe containers and layer them with sheets of parchment paper in between. Some cookies are easier to store than others. Unless absolutely necessary, I would not store any fragile or decorated cookies.

It is best to freeze your cookies baked—but undecorated—and then just pull them out, thaw to room temperature then decorate. This is fun for my daughter and I also as we can spread out the fun of the decorating and personalize each decorated cookie. We avoid the baking process each time, as cookies are baked and ready to go in the freezer.

There are some cookie recipes where you can prepare the dough, refrigerate it, and then just pull out and bake when needed. There are special recipes designed for this process. If you’re not using a refrigerated dough recipe, the cookie will not bake properly after the dough has been in the refrigerator for an extended period of time.

Now as in anything you bake…not all cookies are alike…I always refer to the recipe directions for special storing tips.

I know my daughter and I make cookie making fun and with taking these steps it makes it easier to spread my baking over time.

Happy Baking, Happy Holidays!!

Cheryl Brown Cheryl has been the decorating room supervisor at Wilton for 3 years and truly enjoys the fun and exciting projects that are produced daily in the room. Cheryl’s start in the cake decorating/ baking industry came young as her first job was in an in-store bakery helping the bakers and decorators. Since then she has had many roles in this industry from retail to management to sales and has loved every aspect of the business. Cheryl’s daughter is a decorator in the making and has taken a few courses at the Wilton School as well as decorating and baking at home with Mom. Cheryl also spends a lot of time as her daughter’s chauffeur. Between dance classes and riding and showing her horse, they still find time to visit Cheryl’s family and friends back in Canada.

31 Replies

  1. Pete Rose says:

    Sounds like Cheryl knows her stuff about Cookies, would She know anything about a very Unique Cheesecake Recipe available only in Canada, know only as Uncle Louies….Just wondering…. I hear Wonderful things about this Cheesecake….

  2. Rachel says:

    I’m hesitant to put any food in the freezer. Regardless of how many times you clean it, or put baking soda in the freezer, previously frozen cookies, dough, etc. taste like freezer burn even if they are only stored in there for a few days.

  3. Karla says:

    If you store your cookies in freezer bags or an air-tight container they will taste fine.

  4. Linda says:

    Pete Rose???? Not the baseball player right? Not that it matters. I believe Cheryl does know a lot about cheesecakes. I know all of the food I’ve ate that she made was “DELICIOUS!!!”

  5. Joann says:

    I freeze cookies all the time and have had no problems ,, they always taste fresh,,, just as if I have just baked them,,, everyone raves over them….I have frozen them after I have baked them and also have frozen the dough… both ways…with no problem….I use freezer bags and containers…

    • Cheryl Brown says:

      I agree Joann the proper containers and bags for freezing are key.
      happy Holiday Baking

    • Jeannie says:

      What brand of containers and bags do you use?

      • Cheryl Brown says:

        Jeannie I use containers that I have had for years which most of them are tupperware but also I have been purchasing the dispoasble containers lately for things that just need to be sealed tight or refrigerated. If I want to freeze them then I put these containers in a large freezer bag and then put it in my freezer.
        Happy Holiday Baking

  6. Maxine Tisbe says:


    Check your freezer temperature, it may not be cold enough to keep things fresh. I had that trouble with my refrigerator freezer but my new upright keeps everything fresh tasting.

  7. jackie Davidson says:

    Cheryl’s cheese cake’s were to die for tried many at her cafe she owend.
    Glad to her your still baking.

  8. jackie Davidson says:

    Cheryl’s cheese cake’s were to die for tried many at her cafe she used to own. Glad to see you are still baking.

  9. Cheryl’s cheese cake’s are to die for tried many at her cafe she used to own. Glad to see you are still baking!!

  10. Donna Nicholson says:

    My problem is…I can’t keep from eating them right off the pan, let alone store the darn things!!

    • Cheryl Brown says:

      I know what you mean Donna, but I find the faster I get them in a container and out of my sight the easier it is to actually have some for gift giving, but as I pack them it is one for the box and two for me!!
      Always a plus when you love to eat your own cookies…Happy Holiday baking.

  11. Elizabeth TAmayo says:

    They are very good tips but I have a question, what happen to cookies decorated with royal icing, because after 12 hours they got soft, not crunchy, how do you store those cookies without loosing the freshness.
    Thanks for share all this knowledge.
    Happy Holidays

    • Cheryl Brown says:

      Elizabeth sometimes this will depend on the cookie dough you are using, if it is a softer dough it will stay a softer dough. I usually use Wilton’s roll out cookie dough for all my cut out decorated cookies I have never had a problem with this dough going soft after decorating with royal icing. Also check out Beth Somers blog on this site all about using this dough.
      I really would not recommend storing decoratied cookies for any length of time. Store your cookies after they are baked and pull them out as needed to decorate with your royal icing.

      Happy Holiday Baking

  12. Gail Morgan says:

    One of my challenges in baking cookies and other baked goods is to find good recipes that can use an egg replacer, as my daughter is allergic to eggs. The commercial refrigerated doughs that I have seen also frequently have eggs as an ingredient. Does anyone know of great recipe for sugar cookies or roll out cookies that does not require eggs?
    Also are you recommending that cookies be slightly undercooked if they are going to be frozen?

    • Cheryl Brown says:

      Gail….I would not recommend that you under bake your cookies but it is very important that you do not over bake them and dry them out as this will definately shorten their freshness.

      As for cookie recipes without eggs I have not come across any and I did consult with our test kitchen and they too have not. They suggested possibly trying a powdered egg substitute but said they had not tried it so were not sure of its reaction to any of outr recipes.

      Good Luck and Happy Holiday baking

  13. Analiza says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    I’m decorating a gingerbread house using royal icing. How should I store it after decorated? How many days can it stay fresh?

  14. Cheryl Brown says:

    Hi Analiza

    If you are wanting the house to stay fresh as if just baked for eating it pretty much would have to be eaten immediately. The gingerbread will still be good for eating after 4 or 5 days but will not be just baked fresh.
    When doing gingerbread houses you need your cookies to be dried out and a little and crispier so your house holds together and you need the open air to dry your royal icing.
    If completeing your house for decoration it should keep for about a month.
    happy Holiday Baking

  15. Diana Viera says:

    I just wanted to add to the storage of cookies. I normally use tins lined with tissue paper. This will keep the cookies cool and almost a freezer like quality to them without actually freezing them. I will start about a month in advance and they are just as fresh when it’s time to package them up for gift giving.

  16. MaryJo DeMatteis says:

    Bravo to Wilton for all its fine products! Your parchment paper is
    so much better than Reynold’s, in size and tear-ability.

    I already made 100 chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons. (I’m a
    small caterer.) For delivery next week.

    I read all the replies and Cheryl’s notes. But they’re made…
    so what is best way to store them? I don’t have a commercial

    Many thanks to all.

    • Cheryl Brown says:

      Hi MaryJo

      So glad you love our parchment…it remains a staple in my kitchen for many many uses.
      For storing your macroons I would store them in air tight containers and as long as you are keeping them in a cool place where your chocolate will not melt you can layer them between sheets of parchment paper. Store the containers in the refrigerator if you have room but if not in a cool dry place will work also.

      Happy Baking

  17. MaryJo DeMatteis says:

    Thanks, Cheryl. I did have them in an airtight container covered with
    parchment. Is there anything I can do to soften them when I’m ready
    to serve?

    Learned the hard way, never make macaroons until the day you’ll
    serve them.

    Thanks for your help. MJ

    • Cheryl Brown says:

      Hi MaryJo….you could try warming them in a low oven, that might soften them, but as soon as they cool off, they’ll probably harden again pretty quickly. Would have to be warmed and served immediately while still warm.

      You may want to test this with a couple in advance and see how soft it really makes them and how quickly they cool off and harden again before doing all that you have made.

      I think in the air tight container in a cool location should keep them as long as not trying to store them for a long period of time.

      Good Luck
      Happy baking

  18. MaryJo DeMatteis says:

    Thanks, Cheryl. I do have them covered with parchment in airtight
    containers and a piece of soft white bread on the top of the last parchment sheet. My Grandmother did this successfully, so we’ll see.

    Thanks for your wonderful advice.

  19. Sharon says:

    I’m making the rolled cut out cookies for a party favor for a baby shower next week and wondered how I can store them I have to decorate them this weekend cause I work fulltime and have cakes to make and decorate next week – how can I store these will they be ok decorated and placed in their plastic bag with a tie? for a week

    • Cheryl Brown says:

      Hi Sharon… problem the cookies will be fine for a week decorated and in their plastic bags. Make sure the cookies are completely dry before putting in the bags and you cookie favors will be a success 🙂
      Happy Baking

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