Sarah Kieffer of 100 Cookies shares her tips and recommendations.

By Bridget Hallinan
December 02, 2020
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Having an abundance of cookies is never a problem. Dozens of brown butter chocolate chip cookies? Sign us up. A mountain’s worth of buttery shortbreads? Say no more. Cookies are such a joyful, comforting treat, and we’re all for big batches if that means getting to savor them just a little while longer. 

However, there are also times when you might not want to enjoy them all at once—and that’s ok! Maybe you want to prepare a batch in advance; maybe you’re cooking for one, and trying to finish three to four dozen cookies before they go stale seems like an (understandably) daunting task. That’s where your freezer comes in. By portioning out dough and keeping it frozen, you can defrost the exact amount that you need, whether it’s enough for 20 cookies or three, and keep the rest on hand for future bakes.

Credit: The Picture Pantry / Adobe Stock

The best part? The process is pretty simple, too. We tapped Sarah Kieffer, behind the Vanilla Bean Blog and author of the recently released 100 Cookies, for her recommendations for freezing cookie dough, from the supplies you’ll need—now’s the time to invest in a cookie scoop—to defrosting the dough when you’re ready to enjoy. Read on for her method and recommendations, shared in a phone interview with Food & Wine.

Grab your supplies

You’ll need a baking sheet—if you can’t fit one in your freezer, you can also try a 9 x 13 pan, “or whatever you can make fit in there,” Kieffer says—along with plastic wrap, parchment paper, and a freezer-safe container or freezer bag (or multiple containers/bags, depending on how many cookies you make). Kieffer also recommends a cookie scoop for portioning out the dough “so they’re all even.”

How to freeze cookie dough

You’ll want to freeze your cookie dough in two stages. First, Kieffer scoops the dough in pieces and places them “single-file” onto a baking sheet, lined with either parchment paper or plastic wrap so they don’t stick, and then covers them with plastic wrap. They go into the freezer until they’re “frozen solid”—Kieffer says this usually takes a few hours. Keeping the cookies separated in an initial freeze helps prevent them from sticking together in the bag or container later on during phase two. And you’ll definitely want to freeze them in separate pieces, as opposed to one large piece.

“If you do just throw like a big block of dough in the freezer or don’t freeze them individually first, it’s going to be a lot harder to work with the dough,” Kieffer says. “You’ll have to let it come to room temperature. So you want to make sure that they’re on the tray in separate circles or scoops. So that it’ll just make your life easier when you go to bake.”

When the cookies are frozen, Kieffer transfers them to a gallon-sized freezer bag and puts them back in the freezer. She says she’s found that “most cookies work really well coming out of the freezer,” and this freezing method works for most recipes as well. However, if you’re dealing with dough logs—for example, like these Nightcap Cookies from Ann Taylor Pittman—Kieffer says you can freeze the log and then slice when you’re going to bake. 

How long to freeze cookie dough

Once your cookie dough is in the freezer, you have plenty of time to use it. “I usually try to bake it off within a month,” Kieffer says. She explains that “the longer it’s in there, the less fresh they are.” Although, if you end up waiting a little bit past a month, don’t sweat it.

How to defrost cookie dough

When it comes time to bake the cookies and remove the dough from the freezer, you have a few avenues. If the recipe you’re working with has instructions, Kieffer recommends following those. She also says that “some cookies are fine straight from the freezer.” She typically brings the dough to room temperature before baking. 

“Just because sometimes the edges will bake faster if the middle is frozen solid,” she says. “And then they’ll be extra brown or hard and they’ll just take longer to bake.”

To get the dough to room temperature, Kieffer says you can either refrigerate them overnight, or let them sit on the counter. “It usually doesn’t take too long because the pieces aren’t very big,” she says.

How to freeze already-baked cookies

If you’ve already baked the cookies, you can still freeze them—feel free to skip the initial baking sheet stage, and get them right in the freezer bag. Like the dough, Kieffer recommends freezing them for about a month.

Recipes to try

We have plenty of cookie recipes, from the aforementioned nightcap cookies—Pittman recommends serving them with bourbon—to triple chocolate-peppermint cookies and these flourless peanut butter cookies. With the right tools and preparation, you’ll be able to stock your freezer with cookies for plenty of snacks to come.