We Tried 6 Ways of Storing Christmas Sugar Cookies, and the Winner Tasted Freshly Baked After Days

published Dec 14, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Stylist: Debbie Wee

A fresh cookie is a true delight. What is less delightful is when you reach for a cookie a few days later, only to find that it’s turned from soft and chewy to hard and stale, or even gooey and wet. When life gets busy, we can’t always count on being able to bake and enjoy cookies on the same day. So, I set out to test the best ways to keep cookies fresh so you can bake several days ahead but still enjoy that ideal same-day experience.

Quick Overview

So, What Is the Best Way to Store Baked Cookies so They Stay Soft and Chewy?

Freezing baked cookies is the best way to keep them tasting fresh. Layer them between parchment paper before storing them in a resealable container (or plastic bag).

Most recommendations for cookie storage just say to store in an airtight container for four to five days, but there were also a few tips suggesting things to add to the containers to improve the method. We decided to put these common and uncommon tips to the test, and the winning method was surprising and superior to all others.

How I Found the Best Way to Store Cookies

  • The cookies: It’s hard to ensure each cookie is exactly the same, but to get as close as possible to uniform baking, I made two separate batches of dough to avoid doubling the recipe, using the same brand of eggs and butter. I portioned them out with the same ice cream scoop and used similarly shaped, sized, and finished (light-colored!) baking sheets. To remove another variable, I opted not to toast the sugar in the recipe, sticking to regular granulated in the cookie dough and for rolling. If any cookies baked a few shades darker than intended, they were not included in the storage test.
  • The storage: I ensured all my containers had tight-fitting lids with no cracks or buckling, and the bags did not have faulty or incomplete closures. I filled each container between halfway and three-quarters full. I wanted to limit the open space in the containers while ensuring the cookies did not smash into each other or that the container was too full to properly seal. 
  • The testing: I stored the cookies for five days at room temperature, except for the bag in the freezer. I set them on my counter away from direct sun and the oven to maintain a steady environment. To taste the cookies, I opened the containers to remove a single cookie and resealed the package. For batches with something added to the container for freshness, I tasted a few cookies, checking for consistency of texture and flavor within the containers. The frozen cookies defrosted, still in their sealed bag, on my kitchen counter until no longer cold to the touch.
  • Ratings: I judged each method on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the perfect, unchanged cookie. I considered flavor, aroma, and, most importantly, texture. Did the cookie absorb any unwanted flavors, and did the butter taste fresh? Did the cookies smell like toasty sugar and vanilla still? Was there still a trio of textures: crispy, soft, and chewy?
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Stylist: Debbie Wee
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Stylist: Debbie Wee

Rating: 3/10

About this method: A resealable bag or container is generally the advice you see online for cookies. We wanted to see if there was a difference between a thinner bag that zips shut and a firm container with a lid. I filled the bag a little more than halfway, laying the cookies flat and allowing them to overlap. I sealed the bag, making sure to press out any excess air from the top of the bag while sealing. The bag was stored flat.

Results: These cookies became firm and lost their soft, chewy middle. They cleanly broke apart with a gentle snap and no bend. Somehow, the edges of the cookies had become softer than the centers, which was the opposite of when they were freshly baked. They tasted correct, with no off or stale flavors, but had lost the intended texture so completely that I had to drop the ranking.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Stylist: Debbie Wee
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Stylist: Debbie Wee
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Stylist: Debbie Wee
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Stylist: Debbie Wee

Overall Key Takeaways

Storing soft and chewy cookies can prove challenging. There are several easy methods for storing at room temperature for up to five days, but these methods have moderate success at best. If storing at room temperature, pack cookies in a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and, if possible, drop in a few marshmallows.

The best method is to store baked cookies in the freezer. Not only will this keep them fresh once defrosted, you can keep them in the freezer well past the five-day mark when the cookies would otherwise be turning hard and stale.