7 Mistakes to Avoid When Freezing Baked Cookies or Cookie Dough
Getting ahead of your holiday cookie-baking before the madness sets in is always a smart move. That means leaning on your freezer for some big help — prep those cookies now, tuck them away in there, and they’ll be there for you when those parties come calling.
You can freeze cookies, but there are some steps to take to make sure all of your festive cookies are a hit. Here are seven mistakes to avoid, whether you’re freezing raw cookie dough or fully baked cookies.
Mistakes to Avoid When Freezing Cookie Dough
The tips in this section are all about freezing cookies when they’re still in their dough form. At this step in making and freezing cookies, there’s a particular set of mistakes you can make from not paying attention to the needs of each specific dough, to holding off on finishing touches like powdered sugar.
1. Freezing the wrong kind of doughs.
Most cookie doughs freeze well, but there are a few exceptions. Thin, delicate cookies like tuiles, florentines, lace, and pizzelles usually have liquidy batters that don’t freeze particularly well unbaked or baked, so it’s best to make these kinds of cookies fresh.
Follow this tip: The best cookie doughs to freeze are drop cookies like chocolate chip or oatmeal, slice-and-bake cookies like shortbread, and cut-out cookies like sugar and gingerbread.
2. Not using the right method to freeze a particular dough.
Depending on the type of dough you’re freezing, be it drop, slice-and-bake, or cut-out, it’s wise to follow a particular method.
Follow this tip: Remember which kind of cookie dough you’re freezing and follow the best method for freezing that particular kind of dough.
- Drop cookie dough should be frozen in balls on a baking sheet until firm and then transferred to a freezer bag or airtight container.
- Slice-and-bake doughs should be frozen in tightly wrapped logs.
- Cut-out dough can be shaped into discs, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and transferred to a freezer bag or airtight container.
3. Freezing them already rolled in granulated or powdered sugar.
There are a few things you’ll need to save for right before you bake your cookies, and rolling them in sugar is one of them. The sugar can clump and form an unappealing coating on your cookies instead of baking up the way they should, like when you want that powdered sugar to form the crinkles on your crinkle cookies. Instead, wait to roll them right before you bake them.
Follow this tip: Hold rolling any cookie dough in granulated or powdered sugar until right before you stick them in the oven. This final step helps make your make-ahead cookie look and taste as fresh as possible.
4. Not remembering to add a few minutes to the baking time.
Balls of drop cookie dough can be baked directly from frozen, while slice-and-bake and cut-out cookie dough needs to thaw out shortly on the counter so that they can be sliced or rolled out. Regardless, the doughs will be colder than they would be if they were baked off fresh, so you should plan on tacking on a minute or two to the suggested baking time to ensure they’ll be cooked through.
Follow this tip: Add an additional one to two minutes of baking time to the suggested time given for the recipe, but keep an eye on the cookies just to ensure that they don’t over-bake in the process.
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Mistakes to Avoid When Freezing Baked Cookies
So you’ve already baked all your cookies — such a smart move! — and now it’s time to stash them away for future cookie plates and last-minute, easy desserts for friends. Here’s where you’ll find the tips on storage, decorating, and the recipes that work best for this method.
5. Not freezing them individually on baking sheets first.
You can freeze baked cookies successfully as well, particularly the kinds mentioned above that also freeze well as doughs, but if you just toss all those peanut butter cookies in a container and stick them in the freezer, you’ll be angry to see a block of stuck-together cookies when you go to grab just a handful. They need to be frozen solid individually first to avoid this.
Follow this tip: Freeze your baked cookies on baking sheets lined with wax or parchment paper first, until firm, and then transfer them to a freezer bag or another airtight container.
6. Freezing them with icing and other decorations.
While you can freeze baked cookies already decorated with icing or filling with jam or ganache, those ingredients don’t freeze incredibly well; you’ll get better overall results if you add them after you’ve thawed the baked cookies.
Follow this tip: Don’t ice your sugar cookies or add jam between your sandwich cookies or in your thumbprints until after the cookies are thawed from the freezer.
7. Thawing them in the containers they were frozen in.
If you thaw baked cookies in the containers you stored them in while in the freezer, the condensation that forms while they thaw could linger on the cookies and cause them to become soggy. You’re better off taking them out of their freezer bag or airtight container when defrosting so that condensation won’t form.
Follow this tip: Take frozen baked cookies out of their containers and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to thaw at room temperature.
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What’s your strategy for freezing cookies ahead of time? Are you someone who freezes the dough or bakes your cookies and freezes the final product?