Having fresh, homemade cookies on hand just got a little easier.

By Sheri Castle
December 08, 2020
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Credit: Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Can you freeze cookie dough? The answer is definitely, maybe. Some types of dough freeze beautifully. You’ll have the best success with dense, moist dough (instead of airy, delicate cookies), especially chunky drop or ball cookies. You can also freeze buttery shortbread, slice-and-bake ice box cookies, and cut-out cookies. Just think of freezing as an additional prep step; otherwise, you’re making and eventually baking the cookies the same as you always do.

Drop Cookies and Ball Cookies

For drop cookies and ball cookies, portion and form the dough and place the cookies on a baking sheet, but instead of popping them into the oven, stash them in the freezer. When firm, you can transfer the cookies into freezer bags or airtight freezer containers. These cookies don’t need to thaw before baking, although you’ll need to increase their baking time by a few minutes, maybe as little as 1 to 2 minutes more. A stash of these goodies means we’re never more than a few minutes away from warm, fragrant, freshly baked cookies for ourselves, family, and company. We can pull out and bake as few or as many as we need at a time.

Slice-and-Bake Cookies

For shortbread, sandies, and slice-and-bake rolls (what we sometimes call icebox cookies), shape the log or roll of dough and wrap well, as usual. Then place the rolls inside a freezer bag or container, and freeze instead of refrigerate. When it’s time to slice and bake, the dough will be easier to slice cleanly if you let it thaw for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.

Cut Out Cookies

For cookies that are rolled and cut out, flatten the dough ball into a disk, wrap well, and freeze. When you’re ready to bake, thaw the dough in the refrigerator until it’s soft enough to roll without cracking (likely overnight), then proceed with the recipe. Resist the temptation to hurry the thawing in the microwave, which often causes the dough to melt instead of soften. Another option is to cut out the cookies and arrange them on a baking sheet to freeze. You can then stack the frozen pieces in freezer containers with parchment paper between the layers. Frozen cut outs don’t need to thaw before they’re baked.

Freezing Basics

No matter the type and shape of the dough, make sure it’s packaged to protect it from freezer burn. Use several thicknesses of plastic wrap or foil, plus the added protection of freezer bags (which are thicker than regular sandwich or storage bags), or freezer-safe airtight containers. Label and date the containers, along with the baking directions so that you don’t have to dig up the recipe when you’re ready to bake. Well-wrapped dough should keep well for up to three months.