One of the very first things I learned when I began baking as a teenager was there's a right and a wrong way to store cookies. The first Christmas I embarked on baking a few different types of cookies to gift to family and friends, I piled them all in the same large storage containers before dividing them up into their festive tins.
What happened was the chewy cookies quickly became stale, the crispy cookies became soft, and the mint from one cookie mixed with the gingerbread from another. I quickly realized I was doing it all wrong. Luckily, my family was too nice to tell me all the cookies basically tasted the same. Here's what I wish I had known then.
How to Store Baked Cookies at Room Temperature
The biggest trouble cookies face during storage, besides becoming stale, is their texture can go in the opposite direction that was intended: soft cookies can become hard, and crispy cookies can become soft. Another obstacle? Strong flavors from one type of cookie can overwhelm others. That means the best way to store cookies is to keep their original characteristics in mind, with the hope of preserving them.
For long-term storage, your best bet is to freeze cookies. However, if you simply want to keep cookies fresh for about a week, you're better off keeping them at room temperature. Here's how they should be stored.
Soft cookies such as gingerbread, chocolate chip, and peanut butter cookies should be stored separately from crispy cookies. If they have a strong flavor, they should also be stored away from other types of soft cookies in an airtight container. In order to keep them their softest, tuck a slice of white sandwich bread inside the airtight container. Just like this trick helps keep brown sugar soft, it will keep your cookies soft since the moisture in the bread will leach out into the cookies.
The goal for crispy cookies is opposite: You want to keep moisture away. To do this, store crispy cookies separate from soft cookies (whose moisture can actually soften crispy cookies), in an airtight container that's not completely sealed. This will allow some air to sneak in and keep your cookies away from humidity and moisture. Again, if any of these cookies have a strong flavor, divide them by type.
How do you like to store your cookies?