Cookies are a treat that needs no introduction. In fact, they're well-loved in some form or another in just about every country.
Ranging from soft and chewy to crisp and crunchy, from petite to oversized, and from daily favorites to seasonal specials, there really is a cookie for every occasion, which makes knowing how to store cookies useful knowledge to have.
What do you hope to find when you put your hand in the cookie jar? For me, I'd have to say I have plenty of favorites when it comes to cookies. In fact, I'm pretty sure I never met a cookie I didn't like!
Whether your preference happens to be softer cookies, sugar cookies, chewy cookies, bar cookies, crisp cookies, or something else, it's always worth knowing how to store them so they stay fresh and delicious, and crisp cookies don't go soft or chewy cookies go hard.
What are Cookies?
Cookies are basically flat, baked goods that typically contain eggs, flour, sugar, and butter. Known as "biscuits" in the UK among some other countries, there are many different types of cookies. Some cookie variants are sandwich cookies such as Oreos, chocolate-coated cookies, crispy cookies with nuts, spiced ones, and so many more.
One of the best treats ever has to be homemade cookies served warm from the oven, paired with a glass of cold milk or even a cup of coffee for dunking! Not all cookies are suitable for dunking, of course, but dunking cookies in milk or coffee has to be one of the real foodie pleasures in life, and this treat isn't just for kids either!
Now it might surprise you to find out cookies have been around pretty much as long as baked goods in general have. They seem to have been around since 7 AD according to evidence found in Persia as it was called then, or Iran as it's known now.
This was around the same time that sugar became widely available. Their popularity spread all over Europe and by the 1500s there were various kinds, including gingerbread men and spiced Christmas cookies.
Dutch immigrants brought the cookie to New Amsterdam (or New York, as it is now). Modern cookies, most of which are made by first creaming sugar with butter, weren't common until the 1700s, and of course today there are literally thousands of different cookies, each with their own charm.
How to Store Cookies
Whether your preference is sandwich cookies, filled cookies, drop cookies, no-bake cookies, refrigerator cookies, or another kind, it's good to know how to store cookies. This will ensure they don't go stale before you can eat them all.
The exact storage method depends on what kind of cookies you have. As a general rule, most cookies will be fine for about 5 days if kept in an airtight container at room temperature, but different kinds of cookies have different requirements, so we can take a closer look at the most popular cookie varieties:
- Drop cookies should last a week at room temperature or you can freeze the unbaked cookie dough or the baked cookies in a freezer bag or resealable plastic bag for up to 6 months.
- Cutout cookies should last a week at room temperature or you can freeze them un-decorated since glazes and frosting don't freeze well. You can keep cutout cookie dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days if you wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
- Icebox cookies should last 5 days. The homemade cookie dough will be good refrigerated for up to 3 days or you can freeze the dough (and the baked cookies) for up to 6 months.
- Shortbread cookies and most delicate cookies (thin cookies) will be fine for 2 weeks at room temperature or you can freeze them for up to 6 months in a Ziplock bag.
- Biscotti, and other twice-baked cookies, along with cookie press cookies will stay fresh for 2 weeks at room temperature. You can freeze biscotti for 6 months and then crisp them back up in the oven at 300ºF for a few minutes.
- Frosted cookies with fresh cream or cream cheese should be refrigerated and eaten the next day, although some will keep for up to 3 days. This variety isn't suitable for freezing.
- Chewy or crunchy cookies from the bakery or grocery store will have an expiration date on the packaging, so just keep them in the original packaging or in glass jars or cookie tins, in a dry place.
Don't keep different cookie types in the same container, or else the soft cookies will make the crisp ones soft and vice versa.
Also, you might not want the different flavors melding together. Don't keep cookies in the refrigerator unless they have a perishable frosting that has to be kept cool.
How to Tell if Cookies Are Bad
Apart from cookies with dairy-based frostings or other perishable ingredients which should be thrown out after 3 days have passed, most cookie varieties will be safe to eat even if they've gone a bit soft or hard. They just won't taste as good or as fresh. The only time you shouldn't risk eating stale cookies is if they smell bad or have visible mold on them because they'd upset your stomach.
First of all, for the best results, never store cookies until they have completely cooled down because trapped heat can cause them to be soggy. Let them cool a bit on the baking sheet or cookie sheet, and then finish cooling the cookies on a cooling rack.
The type of sugar you use to make fresh cookies also has an impact on their crispness: white sugar helps cookies achieve crisp edges, while brown sugar is better for making chewy, soft cookies because it's higher in moisture.
Ensure you're keeping the cookies in a glass jar or airtight plastic container since exposure to air can make them lose some of their crispness. If you're not going to eat all the cookies in a few days, you can always freeze some.
You have a choice. Either let them sit on the kitchen countertop in a single layer for about 20 minutes or else you can microwave them for about 20 seconds (the advantage to that method is that they will be warm as well as thawed)!
Did You Know?
- The average American will eat 35,000 cookies in their lifetime. That might sound a lot but works out to 1 or 2 a day, which sounds good to me!
- Soft chocolate chip cookies, which were invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1930, are the official state cookies of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
- Animal crackers were created to be an ornament to hang on the Christmas tree. That's why they came with a string in the cookie box until 2018, as they were meant to be hung on the tree in the lead-up to Christmas and then eaten on Christmas Day.
Now you know how to store cookies, you might be keen to try out some new cookie recipes, perhaps sour cream cookies or coconut cookies. These sweet treats always go down well, whether you're making them as gifts or simply because you find them irresistible!