Who doesn’t love cookies? It’s a good thing cookies can be simple and oh-so-fast to make. If you are new to cookie baking, or it’s been too long, it’s time to get reacquainted, don’t you think? You could start by checking out a list of wonderful cookie cookbooks or stick around right here.
If it’s been a while since you’ve made cookies, or you have many questions before you get started, I have plenty of answers. Pick and choose from the topics listed below to jump right to the info you need. See how easy that is?
- Getting Started Baking Cookies
- What Are the Types of Cookies?
- The Steps to Make Most Cookies
- What Are the Ingredients for Baking Cookies?
- How To Make Good Cookies from Scratch
- Can You Make Cookies without an Electric Mixer?
- What Makes Cookies Soft?
- What Makes Cookies Hard?
- What Makes Cookies Flat?
- What Makes Cookies Crumbly?
- How To Make Perfect, Round Cookies
- How To Make Cookies without Baking Soda
- How To Make Cookies Without Baking Powder
- What Happens if You Don't Use Baking Powder or Baking Soda in Cookies?
- How To Make Cookies Like a Bakery
- Why Cookies Spread During Baking
- Can I Add Cornstarch to My Cookies?
- Why Are My Cookies Crispy on the Outside But Wet in the Middle?
- When Should You Make Cookies?
- How To Store Cookies to Keep Them Soft
- How To Freeze Cookie Dough
- How To Freeze Cookies
- Bake Your Cookies
- Cookie Recipes and Related Resources:
Getting Started Baking Cookies
I get it. You want to get started and get those cookies made before you leave for work, the kids come home, your neighbors visit, in time for the party … insert your own reason.
Reading your recipe before you begin saves you time, energy, and a great deal of stress. Hey, I’m guilty of this too. I sometimes think, “Oh! Shiny, new cookie recipe. I have all the things.” And then I realize I have to refrigerate the cookie dough for an hour or *gasp* overnight, or get out the cookie cutters when those weren’t the kind of things on my cookie-baking agenda. Learn from my mistakes (because someone should).
Double-check ingredients. Gather together anything located across your kitchen (or in another room). That goes for smaller kitchen tools, too, like your must-have whisks (don’t you have a favorite whisk?), measuring cups and spoons, and an electric mixer and its wonderful accessories. Sometimes, you will realize a bowl or pan is dirty and have to clean it or that you let someone borrow the last of an ingredient and forgot to pick up more. I hate that, don’t you?
Check expiration dates. Yeah, it’s not only about having an ingredient but making sure that the almond flour you purchased so long ago for a recipe you don’t quite remember hasn’t expired and that your box of cornstarch isn’t four years past its prime. Cream of tartar doesn’t expire. For everything else, you’ll want to check the label.
You don’t need that happening in the middle of a recipe, especially since most homemade cookies use leaveners (baking powder, baking soda) to puff up.
Once you’ve mixed the leaveners with the dry ingredients and then the liquid, letting it sit can change the result, though not necessarily in a bad way. You’ve heard of people letting the dough for perfect chocolate chip cookies sit overnight in a fridge. But it could end up different from what you expected. It may result in a flat cookie.
Did you leave out the dough for your double chocolate chip cookies out too long? Like Bob’s Red Mill says, if it’s rancid or sour-smelling, it’s time to kiss it goodbye (okay, that’s the gist of it anyway).
Set out your unsalted butter or salted butter before you do anything else. Does it matter if you use unsalted butter or salted butter? In the majority of cookie recipes, you won’t notice a difference. In fact, most cookie recipes don’t use enough salt, so choosing salted butter can help boost the flavor.
Now, back to softening unsalted or salted butter. Yes, it takes around an hour to get butter to room temperature, but you might get away with less depending on the warmth of your kitchen and if you’ve chopped your butter into smaller chunks to speed up the process.
Room-temperature butter will leave a fingerprint yet still have resistance. It shouldn’t be a mushy mess. Mushy butter is butter that’s TOO soft for cookie baking. Your cookies will spread, and the texture will change.
Of course, if your cookie recipe uses melted butter, you won’t need to mess around with softening unsalted butter.
Preheat the oven and prepare your cookie sheet with biodegradable parchment paper or a silicone mat before you combine the ingredients. A spray on grease will discolor your cookie sheet and cause your cookies to spread.
What Are the Types of Cookies?
While it feels like my children don’t want me to venture beyond a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, there are a huge variety of cookies out there. Just, you know, not in my kitchen. I’m only joking. My kids eat everything.
But, as you can happily see, there are heaps of options and almost endless variations within each cookie category. Cookies forever.
1. Drop Cookies
2. Bar Cookies
3. Filled Cookies
4. No Bake Cookies
6. Refrigerator Cookies
7. Sandwich Cookies
8. Pressed or Molded Cookies
9. Cutout Cookies
If you are digging into the world of baking cookies, stick with a simple drop cookie or no-bake cookies to help get your bearings. Chocolate chip cookies ,and even this sugar cookie recipe, are usually the easiest to make and don’t pack in a bunch of extra steps.
Most recipes don’t require chilling, though you will still need to soften butter to room temperature up to an hour ahead of time unless your recipe uses shortening, oil, or melted butter. There are always exceptions. It pays to read through a recipe before you begin. READ, not SKIM.
Don’t worry about getting too fancy for now. Take it slow. As you keep baking cookies, you’ll figure out what you need and how to arrange your kitchen for a better workflow. It gets easier. Trust me. I’ve moved a million times and know that it takes multiple reorganizations to get it right. Don’t be afraid to rip your kitchen apart and put everything away in new places.
The Steps to Make Most Cookies
Vintage recipes and cookbooks of all kinds often assume you, the reader, understand how to incorporate ingredients and in what order. In general, when you make cookies, you should have a process similar to the steps below:
- Beating the granulated sugar (white sugar) and butter, shortening, or other fat together marks the beginning of most cookie recipes. Some recipes that use brown sugar will include it here too.
- Add any eggs, one at a time, vanilla extract, or whatever extract your recipe uses, plus the milk, buttermilk, oil, peanut butter, or other liquid.
- Add in your dry ingredients, scraping down the sides but taking care not to overmix the dough.
- Fold in your mix-ins, like milk chocolate chips, dried fruit, or candy pieces.
- As annoying as it is, it can be helpful to do a test cookie to check bake times and cookie spread when using a new or vague recipe. No one wants to end up with a bunch of overlapping cookies. Do I do this? No. I don’t. I take my chances, setting my timer for the low end of the recipe’s range “just in case.”
- Drop cookies onto a baking sheet between 1 1/2″ to 2″ apart, unless your recipe suggests otherwise, and bake at the low end of the time range. Cookies should typically appear light golden brown at the edges.
- Cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet. They will continue baking after removal from the oven.
- Once set, move to a cooling rack to finish the cooling process.
Have fun with this. The best part of making cookies is sharing them. Gift your neighbors. Surprise your coworkers. Treat your neighborhood kids. It’s a great way to start a conversation and ensure nothing goes to waste.
What Are the Ingredients for Baking Cookies?
Merriam-Webster defines a cookie as “a small flat or slightly raised cake.” Notice it doesn’t list specific ingredients. We know cookies run a range of ingredients and vary by culture, region, and personal preference.
You and I may have completely different ideas about what makes a great chocolate chip cookie. You may not even like chocolate chip cookies.
Suppose you bake a batch of typical cookies. In that case, you’ll need wet and dry ingredients like flour, granulated sugar (white sugar), brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter, and large eggs.
Those are the basics. Of course, your recipe may include add-ins like chocolate chips or M&M’s, olive oil or vegetable oil, milk, buttermilk, heavy cream, or spices. Extracts, like vanilla extract, mint, almond, or lemon may be included.
How To Make Good Cookies from Scratch
Now that you know the steps to bake cookies, you need to understand the method behind the madness. If you aren’t a cookie baker, you soon will be once you see how simple it is — deep breaths. You’ve got this.
- Read over your recipe. Do you have all the ingredients and required equipment? Do a quick inventory. But, like, actually look. Never assume.
- Soften the butter an hour before baking and set out your eggs for thirty minutes (or pop them in a bowl of warm water shortly before you begin).
- Preheat the oven and prepare your pans with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
- Measure your ingredients using dry measuring cups for dry ingredients, liquid measuring cups for liquid ingredients, and teaspoons and tablespoons (not silverware).
- Follow the recipe directions. Cream your butter and sugar for three minutes.
- Don’t overmix when you add in the flour.
- Salt is the best thing to happen to a cookie, especially a chocolate chip cookie, so feel free to add a smidgen more than your recipe states (if a recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon salt, I add 3/4 teaspoon salt), or sprinkle the tops of your cookies with a little coarse salt for added texture.
- Some cookie dough requires refrigeration or freezing, while others are shaped, pressed, or cutout. What does your recipe require, and do you have the time?
- When you bake your cookies, set your timer a few minutes below the lowest listed range in your recipe to ensure you don’t overbake your cookies. Temperamental oven owners should rotate their cookie sheets 180* halfway through baking.
- Allow your baked cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a minute or two, and then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to completely cool before frosting them or storing them in an airtight container. Rush the frosting, and it will melt. Pop too-warm cookies into a storage container, and they will get that funky wet sort of feeling to them. Not good. A soft cookie will become a crispy cookie if stored in a cookie tin. Opt for plastic airtight storage containers to keep your cookies at their peak for longer.
Can You Make Cookies without an Electric Mixer?
Absolutely. You don’t need an electric stand mixer for most recipes. I made my homemade cookies by hand for several years. Grab a wooden spoon and a bowl, and hop to it. However, making homemade cookies by hand wasn’t fun in the long term (especially if a recipe used peanut butter, such as this recipe for soft Peanut Butter Bar Cookie Bars), though my biceps were amazing (I kid). A stand mixer takes so much less time.
I remember dreading making Peanut Butter Blossoms at Christmas because combining peanut butter and butter was the absolute worst. I couldn’t believe how fast I finished recipes once my stand mixer got to work.
Below, you’ll find a slew of colors available from brands you know. I have a KitchenAid stand mixer, and a Hamilton Beech hand mixer (thanks, Mom) for when I have something piddly to mix that doesn’t need air (no frosting mixing with that one, at least not if it’s a recipe where I want a little height).
What Makes Cookies Soft?
When you want a soft cookie, you want a soft cookie. Is anything more disappointing than biting into a cookie that’s unexpectedly hard? Fortunately, with some science, it is possible to look at a recipe and know if you will bake out a soft or hard cookie.
The ingredients found in cookies are no small thing. A few of those ingredients are worth a closer look for one good reason. They are responsible for that cookie’s softness.
Take flour, for instance. When you think about ways to increase the softness of your homemade cookies, you may have had a “Eureka!” moment and considered grabbing bread flour. “Gluten makes things chewy,” your brain proudly blurted. Hold your horses.
There’s more to it than that, although you should probably reward yourself with a cookie for knowing something about gluten. Here’s a bit more, and why subbing bread flour for all-purpose flour in a cookie recipe just won’t work:
The idea here is that since bread flour absorbs more liquid and contains more gluten than all-purpose flour, it would make a more elastic (i.e. chewy) dough. This all makes sense, except that the way gluten is developed is through kneading. When you bite into that chewy pizza crust made from bread flour, that dough was kneaded for a very long time.
But with cookies, there’s no kneading happening at all. You just mix the ingredients until they’re combined and that’s that. So while it’s true that bread dough contains more gluten, it’s unlikely that bread flour alone is going to contribute much additional chewiness to a cookie.Danilo Alfaro, How to Keep Cookies Soft, The Spruce, November 18, 2019.
You can, however, add a little bread flour in place of some all-purpose flour. You’ll need to toy around with the measurements, so if you find tinkering fun, you have a new and tasty project on your hands.
You need to learn how to read a recipe if you want a soft cookie. Ready to get all Nancy Drew here? The recipe text holds a few big clues.
“To keep it simple, cookie recipes that contain a lot of butter, brown sugar or egg yolks are going to yield soft and chewy cookies, because those ingredients add moisture and retain it for a longer amount of time.
A shortbread or biscotti cookie, on the other hand, won’t ever be soft, because it lacks those magic, moisture-retaining elements. And while fiddling with baking ratios can be dicey, it can also pay off to experiment.
Try adding an extra egg yolk or swapping some of the white sugar for brown when you whip up your next batch.”
Easy, right? Pick cookie recipes with butter, brown sugar, or egg yolks for a soft and fluffy cookie with a heavenly bite.
What Makes Cookies Hard?
You’d be correct if you guessed that the absence of egg yolks, brown sugar, and butter in a recipe makes cookies hard and crispy crunchy. Go, you.
”A crisp cookie generally is made with solid (granulated) sugar, which tends to make it hard. The more granulated sugar used (with the same percentage of shortening), the harder the cookie will be to bite. Softness in cookies will be increased if part of the hard (granulated) sugar is replaced with a syrup.”
“Professional bakers generally use invert sugar, high fructose corn syrup or glucose syrup to take the place of some of the solid sugar. But the home cook can use honey, corn syrup or molasses,” he says.
Bright cautions that the formula will not work with volume measurements, such as cups and tablespoons. However, it will work when ingredients are measured by weight, using either grams or ounces.
A typical cookie formula recipe, he says, uses 10 parts flour to 7 parts sugar. To convert the recipe into a soft cookie, substitute 2 parts (by weight) of the sugar with syrup; that gives you a formula of 10 parts flour, 5 parts solid (granulated) sugar and 2 parts syrup.
This is more about cookies meant to be hard, like gingersnaps, gingerbread, or tea cookies, and not an accidental overbake. Intentionally hard cookies are great with coffee or tea and travel. Pack ’em up and ship ’em out to friends and family serving in the military or your neighbor kid who just moved to the college dorms.
What Makes Cookies Flat?
If your cookies resemble something less like a cookie and something closer in character to a flat tire, pancake, or skipping stone, a couple of things might have gone wrong.
Let’s start with butter. Is it softened? Or did you decide to make cookies at the last minute, get impatient, and nuke it? Did you soften the butter in the microwave or melt it all together?
When you use softened butter your cookies will be perfectly fluffy and a consistent round shape. Assuming you have a good cookie recipe your cookies will also be soft and chewy and won’t be greasy since the fat didn’t separate before the butter was mixed in.
If you use butter that has been microwaved or melted it will lead to oils being deposited on top of the cookie making them greasy to the touch. They are also likely to be misshapen and have an underdone middle because they aren’t able to cook through as constantly without the air bubbles created by creaming.
If your butter was properly softened for an hour or so, depending on the heat in your kitchen, then take a walk down memory lane. Head back to the magical moment when you started creaming your butter and granulated sugar and/or brown sugar together.
How long did you cream the butter and sugar? If your answer is less than three to five minutes, you know the result already. You’re lookin’ at your flat cookie. If you didn’t scrape down your bowl throughout the whole “combine your ingredients process,” you might have made something super flat or closer to a biscuit. Some recipes really hate that.
Worse yet, too much butter can cause your cookies to flatten or feel greasy. No one wants that in a cookie. I mean, we will all still EAT it, of course, but we won’t LOVE it as much as we could have.
What Makes Cookies Crumbly?
If you didn’t weigh your ingredients and were a bit heavy-handed with the flour: Bam! Crumbly cookies. Too much flour just destroys them.
I don’t weigh my ingredients either. I know. A kitchen scale is on the “wants” baking list. If you aren’t weighing your dry ingredients either, remember how the pros all recommend you use a dry measuring cup and lightly scoop in your flour (and the rest of your dry ingredients). Use the flat edge of a knife to scrape off the excess. Okay, that’s where I have to jump in.
Whenever I do the whole “lightly scoop flour” business, it doesn’t seem like it ends up quite right, like there is never enough flour. Instead of spooning the flour into my measuring cup, I dip and scoop, then use the flat edge of a knife to scrape off the excess without packing it down. It works for me.
Too crumbly cookies are a sign you may have overbaked your cookies. A too-long bake time zaps the moisture right out of them. Always set your timer for the low end of a recipe’s range.
Otherwise, know that it should take between 8-12 minutes for a cookie at 350* to bake. The bigger the cookie, or the more packed with mix-ins (like milk chocolate chips or candy pieces), the longer it will take to bake.
Bar cookies, in your typical 9 x 13 pan, take from 20-30 minutes, depending on the bar thickness.
How To Make Perfect, Round Cookies
If you’ve been using two spoons from your silverware drawer to plop cookie dough onto your cookie sheets, I have a gadget for you that will change your life. Or, at least, the state of your cookies. Cookie dough scoops come in an assortment of sizes. They are one of the best kitchen gadgets I have ever bought.
Popping cookie dough balls on a cookie sheet takes no time at all. They wash well in the dishwasher, make PERFECTLY uniform cookies (or close to it), and won’t break your wallet. Win/Win/Win/Win
I own a 1 1/2 teaspoon size scoop, a 3 Tablespoon scoop, and a large muffin scoop (I also use it to make giant meatballs, like my grandma).
How To Make Cookies without Baking Soda
You thought you had baking soda, but then … it’s gone. Does that mean you need to put the kibosh on your cookie baking idea? Not so fast.
If you are using baking powder as a baking soda substitute, for every one teaspoon of baking soda a recipe calls for, substitute three teaspoons of baking powder. In addition, baking powder produces a slightly different texture in cookies than baking soda does. While baking soda will create a coarse, chewy cookie texture, baking powder will produce a light, fine cookie texture.
To achieve the best cookie results, use a double-acting baking powder as a substitute. A double-acting baking powder will achieve a better rise in the cookies that the single-acting variety, which may not have enough power to raise the cookies properly. If using baking powder as a substitute for baking soda, it is also recommended to replace the acidic liquid in the cookie recipe with a non-acidic liquid.
The reasoning behind this recommendation has to do with the leavening process of double-acting baking powder. When the double-acting baking powder is exposed to liquids, it experiences its first leavening reaction. The acid that is present in liquids like buttermilk can halt that leavening reaction and result in cookies that have not risen adequately.
Baking soda does change the appearance of your cookies. Expect a cookie that’s a lighter color than usual. It may puff or rise less too.
How To Make Cookies Without Baking Powder
Your cabinet is devoid of baking powder. You’ve already been out. Instead of finding a new recipe, use science to figure out a replacement. Yay, science.
For every 1 teaspoon of baking powder, substitute: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch OR 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 cup buttermilk, sour milk or yogurt (for this substitution, you’ll want to decrease the liquid in the recipe by half).3 Key Chemical Leavening Agents in Baking, K-State Research and Extension: Johnson County, Accessed June 6, 2021.
Tip: When you’re out of something common like baking powder that you need, ask a neighbor if you can borrow your missing leavener. People love to help, especially if you share the end result.
What Happens if You Don’t Use Baking Powder or Baking Soda in Cookies?
If you lack baking powder and baking soda, skip your cookie baking for the moment. Yes, before you hit “send” on those angry emails, I know that baking soda and baking powder weren’t always a thing.
People used mechanical leavening—that’s basically what you do when creaming together your butter and sugar.
Women were once judged by their breadmaking. They experimented with all kinds of substances to make better bread, since they had to make their own yeast too.
The Smithsonian Magazine shares that baking soda was introduced in 1846 and baking powder in 1856. That changed everything.
By 1896, Americans consumed almost 120 million pounds of baking powder annually. It was such a big part of American culture that when missionaries visited Native American reservations, one of their markers of Native American assimilation was whether they used baking powder in their cooking.Shelby Pope, The Wild and Crazy History of Baking Powder, MyRecipes, February 07, 2018.
I had no idea. Now, if you don’t have these two amazing leaveners, the eggs in your recipe help add flavor and, according to BuzzFeed, a little lift from the egg white. But is that enough?
Despite being baked for the same amount of time as all of the other cookies we’ve tested, these turned out severely underbaked and pale. They were dense (in a raw cookie dough–type way) and didn’t spread or rise at all. Turns out you really do need a leavening agent in your cookie dough!Jesse Szewczyk and Lavanya Narayanan, Is Baking Soda Or Powder Better For Making Cookies With?, BuzzFeed, August 19, 2019.
Your cookies will be affected. Baking powder helps cookies reach their full potential.
How To Make Cookies Like a Bakery
Why do bakery cookies taste so good? They properly soften their butter, for starters. Otherwise, look at what you can do for cookies that rival any bakery.
- Salt, Salt, Salt. I said it before, and I’ll repeat it again. Up the salt on your cookie recipe or sprinkle the tops with a little coarse salt for taste and texture. Use something with large crystals, and don’t get too jiggy with it. If a recipe doesn’t include salt, add it. As I mentioned above, if a cookie recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon salt, I add an extra 1/4 teaspoon (to start). Test, then test again. Take notes in your cookbooks.
- Plan Ahead. Let your cookie dough chill out in the fridge overnight. The flavors develop and you get a fantastic finished product. Ruth Wakefield, the inventor of the chocolate chip cookie, even had chilling instructions written into the original recipe.
- Chocolate Chunks. Chop a chocolate bar into chunks instead of using chocolate chips for something closer to a bakery cookie. Chocolate chips are supposed to retain their shape. Chunks melt right in. Sprinkle the top of your cookie with a couple of chips for a little extra pizzazz.
- Use a Cookie Scoop. I shared about the wonders of a cookie dough ball scoop before, but cookie scoops help bake uniform, perfectly-shaped cookies. When cookies are the same size, they bake at the same rate. Bonus: it’s much faster to scoop the flour mixture and chuck it out onto the baking sheet than fiddling with two spoons. Trust me on this.
- Skip the Spray. I love Baker’s Joy or PAM for Baking with Flour — but not for cookies. Use silicone liners or parchment paper. Cookies have enough fat anyway. Reduce the risk of ugly cookie spread and opt for biodegradable parchment paper. If my sad grocery store carries it, I’m sure yours does too.
Why Cookies Spread During Baking
You get the idea that butter is important. It turns out that cookie spread is potentially affected by other factors too.
An oven that’s too cool can keep your cookies from setting fast enough. When they can’t set, they spread. King Arthur Flour discovered that reducing an oven’s temperature by 50* and upping the bake time from 14 to 22 minutes for chewy cookies and 30 minutes for crisp cookies resulted in picture-perfect cookies. No ugly cookie spread.
Because the fat in cookies is a big part of their structure, prior to baking. Scoop the dough onto the baking sheet, and the fat is at least partially responsible for them holding their shape.
Once those cookies hit the oven, though, the fat starts to soften and melt. And the hotter the oven, the more quickly it melts. If the oven’s hot enough, the fat melts before the cookies set. And since their flour/liquid matrix hasn’t yet had a chance to harden, the cookies spread – becoming those dreaded cookie blobs.
It’s also why you should let a cookie sheet cool before plopping on your next batch of dough. The fat will start to soften before your cookies are set. If you want to supercharge your cookie baking, get a second cookie sheet, to skip the wait.
How old are your leaveners? If your baking powder or baking soda is six months old, it’s time for a new box. Outdated leaveners may be the reason your cookies won’t rise. Take out the guesswork. Use a permanent marker and write the date on the top of your box or container.
Tip: Ask any little ones in your family for help. It’s a sneaky way to teach without teaching. Our youngest used to write the spice names on the top of my containers. It was great practice copying letters, and he loved feeling so helpful (yes, I transferred lids from several of those containers as time went by to save his big preschool scrawl).
Can I Add Cornstarch to My Cookies?
Some people believe that a bit of cornstarch makes light and fluffy cookies, even adding it in place of baking powder. I don’t know about that one. As we learned above, leaveners are important. However, I do think it can help make a delicate, tender cookie, it just isn’t a replacement for leaveners to me.
I do make a cake flour substitute for whatever recipes need it, by adding 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch to an empty one-cup dry measuring cup. I then fill the measuring cup with flour. However, you can use cornstarch as an egg substitute.
Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of warm water and you have a great egg substitute in cookies, cakes, or breads.Melanie Fincher, 12 Things You Can Use Cornstarch for That May Surprise You, AllRecipes, February 04, 2020.
Well, what do you know? If you run out of eggs, there you go.
Why Are My Cookies Crispy on the Outside But Wet in the Middle?
Humidity is a beast. Flip on the air conditioning to avoid cookies that are crisp on the outside yet almost wet in the center. Your cookies will thank you.
When Should You Make Cookies?
For me, the best time to make cookies is the day after we run out of cookies. I like to keep some sort of sweet treat at the ready. In my home, there are cookie emergencies.
I know by now that I have to give myself plenty of time, so if I have something a bit foofy, like a sandwich cookie, I prefer to make them the night before an event. If I have any mishaps, it leaves me with plenty of time to bake up a new batch. Yes, even now, there can be mishaps.
Keep reading below to see how to store cookies, so they stay soft and how to freeze cookies for your events, parties, and holiday celebrations.
How To Store Cookies to Keep Them Soft
The way you store your cookies after they have completely cooled will go a long way to keeping them soft. Using an airtight container, like those featured below, will give your cookies the best shot at a long, tasty life.
Why does bread make cookies soft? Tucking a piece of bread inside a container or jar of cookies keeps them soft. While you might think that bread adds moisture to your cookies, it adds humidity. It’s not for every recipe, but you can test it and see what you think.
Just don’t throw a lot of bread in with your cookies, or they will become too soft. Avoid strong-flavored bread to avoid affecting your baked goods. Stick to a wheat or white slice of bread, and you’ll have soft cookies for days.
How To Freeze Cookie Dough
Not all cookies make the best candidates for freezing. In general, drop cookies are the easiest cookies to freeze. So, how do you freeze cookie dough?
Dough for cutouts, aka sugar cookies, can also be frozen. In this case, the dough should be frozen un-portioned and wrapped tightly in plastic. To use it, the dough must then be moved to the refrigerator to completely thaw overnight. Then roll it out, cut and bake it.
This doesn’t save a lot of time, but it can be nice to nix the dough-making step if it’s a busy time of year like the holidays, or if you know you want to bake with kids, but don’t wait to deal with a messy kitchen in the moment. Just like slice-and-bake dough, cutout dough cannot be refrozen once thawed.
According to StillTasty, the unbaked cookie dough will last four to six months in your fridge. After that, your cookie dough may suffer in terms of quality. The texture could be off, and the flavor diminished. Mark your containers and leave yourself a note, so you know what your freezer holds. There is nothing sadder than a wasted cookie.
How To Freeze Cookies
Yes, you can freeze your Christmas cookies ahead of time. Put your cookies in the freezer any old time. You’ll have convenient cookie access when life is so busy and you can’t fit another thing into your day. Maybe too convenient.
Freezing works best for cutout cookies, drop cookies and slice-and-bake cookies because the dough has a firm texture and can withstand more time in the freezer. Store it correctly and it’ll keep for up to three months. Just make sure to label each package of frozen dough with cookie type and date frozen.Betty Crocker Kitchens, How to Freeze Cookie Dough (and Cookies), Betty Crocker, March 31, 2020.
How do you store cookies the right way so they don’t end up with freezer burn? Easy. Wait until your cookies cool down ALL THE WAY until you even think about putting them in the freezer. Otherwise, water will condense on the surface. We all know what happens when cookies meet water — a soggy, gross mess.
For best results, use a sturdy plastic container, separate unfrosted cookies with sheets of wax paper, or opt for a freezer bag. Whatever you do, don’t forget to date them.
To thaw your frozen cookies, keep them inside your bag or container so the condensation will form on the outside and won’t reach your cookies. Some people enjoy eating cookies right out of the freezer.
Bake Your Cookies
Now you know all the things when it comes to baking cookies. You don’t have to remember ALL OF THIS. Follow recipes from trusted sources. You know, sites that boast a clean design, unobtrusive advertising, with well-written recipes, few (if any) typos, and references to outside knowledge (where are the bakers getting their info from?).
The best thing you can do for your future cookie-baking self is to make notes on your recipe. Did you have to bake longer? Shorter? Did you substitute something? What’s your overall score on the recipe? Write in your cookbooks, so you always know where you stand.
Cookie Recipes and Related Resources:
- List of Cookie Cookbooks
- Deck Your Platters: The Big List of Christmas Cookie Cookbooks
- Soft Breakfast Cookies
- Chocolate Malted Milk Cookies
- How About Them Ranger Cookies
- Soft Peanut Butter Cookie Bars Recipe
- Carole’s Really Great Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Delightful Red Velvet Thumbprint Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Funfetti Sugar Cookies Recipe
- Amish Sugar Cookie Recipe (with Sprinkles)