Because we tend to gobble ’em up fast, “How long do cookies last?” is generally not a question we worry about most of the year. But come holiday baking season, we like to go all out and bake by the dozens. If you do, too, this is when how to store cookies (besides in your stomach) becomes a more important consideration. To maintain the taste and flavor of your creations, follow our complete guide for how to store baked cookies.

By Karla Walsh
Updated September 09, 2020
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Cookies and bar cookies are among the favorite simple desserts in U.S. kitchens from coast to coast. So much so, in fact, that the average American eats 300 cookies per year! If you’d like a steady supply of homemade cookies but don’t have time to bake several times a week, it’s time to consider, “How long do cookies last?” so you can maximize their shelf life. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up our best tips and tricks on how to store cookies. In dough form or baked, bar cookies or drop cookies (you know, the ones you scoop onto cookie sheets), we’re covering all you need to know about cookie storage.

Jason Donnelly

How to Store Unbaked Cookie Dough

If you want to get a head start on cooking making, but still want fresh-from-the-oven cookies in a few days, store the dough. Then, when you're ready to serve, remove the dough from storage and bake.

  • Refrigerate Cookie Dough: How long do cookies last in the fridge? Unbaked, you’ve got about 7 days. Mix cookie dough (except bar cookie batters and meringues) and refrigerate up to 1 week. To store cookie dough, pack dough into airtight containers or shape your slice-and-bake dough into logs and wrap. Store in a tightly-covered container. 
  • Freeze Cookie Dough: Most butter- and shortening-based cookie doughs can be frozen for months at a time. Place dough in a tightly-sealed container and freeze using these directions

How to Store Baked Cookies at Room Temperature

Curious how long cookies last at room temperature? Most homemade cookies will maintain their taste and texture for up to 3 days. If you leave them out for too long, the cookies begin to harden or dry out. To prevent cookies from becoming stale, cover them with plastic wrap or keep in an airtight container. 

  • How to store cookies in a pan: To keep bar cookies in the baking pan, cover the pan with foil or plastic wrap.
  • How to store cookies separately: Store each type of cookie separately in a tightly-covered cookie storage container ($8, Bed Bath & Beyond). If you mix soft and crisp cookies, the soft cookies will dry out and the crisp cookies will become soft. They may also begin to absorb the flavor of other cookies if combined, so aim to keep each style of cookie recipe in different cookie storage containers.

How to Store Cookies in the Freezer

As we mentioned, most cookie recipes last up to 3 months in freezer bags or containers when you store cookies unfrosted. Get all the freezing information here.

Peter Krumhardt

How (and When) to Store Cookies in Multiple Layers or Single Layers

Sturdy cookies and baked goods, such as drop cookies, unfrosted bar cookies, and cookies with firm-set icing can generally be stacked in layers in airtight containers without losing their shape or freshness. So if you’re wondering how to store sugar cookies or how to store chocolate chip cookies—two of our holiday season and bake sale MVPs—this efficient way to store cookies is your answer. Layer between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container or resealable plastic freezer bag ($13, Target). Layer delicate cookies, such as spritz or gingerbread men, between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container. So how long do cookies last like this? The cookies will stay fresh at room temperature or in the refrigerator up to 3 days, or freeze the cookies up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy or share them as a food gift, let the cookies sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then decorate!

Softer cookies and baked goods, including brownies, cheesecake bars, and any sweets with sticky toppings, are best stored in a single layer in an airtight container. This keeps the treats from losing their shape or smushing together in storage. (Although a mash-up recipe of brownie and cheesecake sounds pretty great to us!) The same timing applies here: Store cookies in a single layer in the refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Now that you’re an expert on how to store cookies, the answer to “How long do cookies last?” is more a matter of “How long can you resist them?” rather than “When will they taste less-than-fresh-baked?” Stock that freezer every three months or so and a never-ending supply of homemade cookies can always be yours. 

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