Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

How to Freeze Cookie Dough

Instructions for freezing cookie dough! Great make-ahead tips for the busy holiday season!

Did this photo catch your attention? I sure hope so.

Welcome back to my baking basics series! Where we can geek out about all things baking. The how’s, why’s, and what’s of the baking world. Hopefully you’ve learned a few things the past several months since I launched the series. Like the mysterious differences between natural and dutch-process cocoa, the head-scratcher that is baking soda vs baking powder, and how to make one seriously bangarang (yeah I said it) buttery pie crust. I’m having so much fun with this series.

baking-basics

So, let’s add a new post to the baking basics series today. We’re digging deep into the cookie world. I’m going to teach you exactly how I freeze cookie dough. Doesn’t sound revolutionary, but you won’t believe the amount of questions I get about this. And since the holidays are right around the corner, I know you’ll want to begin making Christmas cookies ahead of time. Let’s get started!

Instructions for freezing cookie dough! Great make-ahead tips for the busy holiday season!

Why I Freeze Cookie Dough

I’m so crazed running my blog during the holidays because it’s when my website receives the most traffic. Not only this, there’s holiday decorating and shopping to do. And between all this, I always need homemade desserts for gatherings, events, gifts, and parties I host. Having homemade cookie dough prepped in the freezer saves me time, sanity, and effort during these busy couple of months. And I usually get started on things right around now.

I freeze cookie dough all the time, actually. Not just this time of year! If I’m in a pinch or need dessert on the fly, I can open the freezer and I have cookie dough ready to be placed in the oven.

If there is one thing you prep ahead of time for the holidays, let it be cookie dough. You will not believe the amount of headaches I am saved by having it on hand. 10 minutes later, I have fresh baked cookies.

Instructions for freezing cookie dough! Great make-ahead tips for the busy holiday season!

How I Freeze Cookie Dough

Freezing cookie dough could not be any easier. I’m sure everyone has their own way, but here is what I do because it’s the easiest and most convenient. After my homemade cookie dough has chilled in the refrigerator (if the cookie recipe requires chilling), I roll the cookie dough into balls. Then, I chill the cookie dough balls for 1 hour. Then, I place the solid and cold cookie dough balls into a labeled zipped-top bag– large or small depending on how much dough I’m working with. I label the bag with the month and the baking temperature. Then, I place the bag in the freezer. I only freeze cookie dough for up to 3 months. So, the date helps me determine when the cookie dough will still be fresh and yield the freshest tasting cookies. And the temperature is written for obvious reasons. Really, you can write whatever is helpful to you. The date, temperature, time, recipe name, etc.

When it’s time to bake the cookies, I remove them from the freezer. Then I preheat the oven according to the recipe’s instructions. Then, bake the cookies for a minute or two longer since the dough is frozen. That’s it!

Here is everything listed for you:

  1. Prepare cookie dough according to recipe directions.
  2. After chilling the cookie dough (if the recipe calls for chilling), roll the cookie dough into balls.
  3. Chill the balls on a baking sheet for 1 hour. This helps get them nice and solid so they do not stick to each other in the freezer.
  4. Label a zipped-top bag (large or small) with the date, baking temperature for the cookies, recipe name, and/or how long the cookies need to bake for. I always list the date and baking temperature.
  5. Place the cookie dough balls inside the bag. Place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  6. Remove from the freezer, then preheat the oven.
  7. Bake the cookies for a minute or two longer than what the recipe instructs.
  8. Enjoy fresh-baked cookies in minutes!

Instructions for freezing cookie dough! Great make-ahead tips for the busy holiday season!

What Cookie Dough is Best to Freeze?

  • Any cookie dough with a lot of butter or fat.
  • Drop cookies are best. What I mean is cookies like chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, peanut butter cookies, etc.
  • Shortbread also freezes beautifully.
  • Icebox cookie dough is great. And very easy to freeze. Just tightly wrap the logs in plastic wrap, then into freezer bags. Freeze for up to 3 months, then let it thaw in the refrigerator for an hour or two before slicing.
  • Delicate doughs don’t hold up well in the freezer– avoid freezing French macaron, pizzelle, or madeleine cookie doughs.

Freezing Cookie Cutter Cookie Dough

Cookie cutter cookies, like sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies, also freeze well though the process is a little different from above. Wrap the cookie dough tightly in plastic wrap, then freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then roll out, cut into shapes, and bake according to the recipe’s instructions.

Freezing Cookie Dough Rolled in Cinnamon or Sugar

For cookies rolled into cinnamon or sugar, like snickerdoodles or peanut butter blossoms, freeze the cookie dough balls without the topping. When you are ready to bake, remove the balls from the freezer, let sit for 30 minutes, pre-heat the oven, then roll into topping. No need to bake for an extra minute or two since the cookies have defrosted a little.

Freezing Cookie Cake Cookie Dough

You can freeze cookie cake cookie dough. If making a funfetti cookie cake, chocolate chip cookie cake, or even a skillet chocolate chip cookie— you can freeze the prepared cookie dough. Simply prepare the cookie dough according to the recipe’s instructions. Then, chill for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Then, wrap up the cold dough tightly in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped ball of dough into a zipped-top bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Press dough into prepared cake pan and bake according to recipe’s instructions.

The BEST Snickerdoodle Cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Freezing Baked Cookies

Instead of freezing cookie dough, you can also freeze baked cookies like biscotti, oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, and cookie cutter cookies (before decorating).

After your baked cookies have cooled completely:

  1. Place them on a baking sheet and freeze until solid (this way they won’t stick to each other in the freezer).
  2. Then, place in a tupperware with parchment between each layer. Or into zipped-top bags.
  3. Freeze up to 3 months.
  4. Then, take the cookies out of the containers and thaw overnight in the refrigerator or simply on the counter.

You can also freeze baked bar cookies like blondies or brownies. I usually wait until the tray has cooled completely, then I cut into squares and freeze the squares in layers between parchment in a tupperware.

Instructions for freezing cookie dough! Great make-ahead tips for the busy holiday season!

Start getting prepped NOW for the busy holiday season. Or simply hold onto this post for future reference when you need to prep goodies ahead of time. I hope all of this helps. Here are all my cookie recipes. I usually note freezing instructions in each recipe as well. So make sure you check!

Cookie dough and cookies pictured in this post: Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies, THE Chocolate Chip Cookie, Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Cookies, Soft & Thick Snickerdoodles, Chewy Chocolate Chunk CookiesInside Out Chocolate Chip Cookies (but with chocolate chips, not white chocolate chips!), and Rainbow Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction Cookbook.

See you tonight, NYC. I’m selling and signing books at Whisk in Manhattan (933 Broadway between 21st & 22nd streets) from 5-7pm. I have a ton of candy and blog recipe samples for you!

Instructions for freezing cookie dough! Great make-ahead tips for the busy holiday season!
Instructions for freezing cookie dough! Great make-ahead tips for the busy holiday season!

93 comments

  1. If I have the freezer space, will I get the same results if I put the dough balls on a tray and freeze (then bag), skipping the step where I chill them in the fridge first?  Thanks!

  2. You are one clever cookie. A great resource during Cookie Season! PS – featured an excerpt from your new book on my site today 🙂 

  3. Unbaked spritz cookies also freeze really well. Just form them on parchment on a cookie sheet, freeze them until the dough is solid, then pop the frozen cookies off and put them in a baggie to store. When baking, put the frozen cookies on a pan and bake a minute or two longer than normal. Baking the cookies from frozen is actually more efficient! You can bake a lot more cookies at the same time because you can put the cookies a lot closer together on the cookie sheet than the spacing that the cookie press would have allowed!

    • Thank you for this tip! I have been freezing holiday cookies like mad but wasn’t sure how hubby’s favorite spritz cookies would fare. Glad to learn that freezing the pressed dough is an option!

  4. Oh this is so amazing – love the little cute colorful dots in the cookies 🙂 I am so terribly bad in baking but your page is giving me new inspiration. For some fun recipes please visit my blog , Maybe you’ll teach me how to and I’ll be able to post about it 🙂 
    Love Katie 

    http://www.whatskatieupto.com

  5. Thank you SO much for posting this!! 

  6. I feel negligent if I don’t have a homemade cookie to stick in my boyfriend’s lunchbox each day, so I ALWAYS keep frozen cookie dough on hand. I do it slightly differently though! I always make full batches of cookie dough, then shape them into logs (yes, even standard “drop-type” cookie doughs!) and chill in plastic wrap — with an outer layer of aluminum foil to prevent odor penetration — overnight. The next day, I slice up the whole log, bake half and freeze the other half. This way, all my cookies are the same size, and no prep is needed when I pull them from the freezer!! 
    P.S. Most drop-type cookie doughs can be prepared as slice and bake cookies with no recipe changes needed! As long as the cookie slices are well-chilled, they’ll keep their shape, and the result looks so professional!!

  7. Sally – 
    I tried the frozen drop/ball cookie out of the freezer, and baked. The edges browned way too fast while the centers were not done. It very well could be my oven. Do you think lowering the temp would help?… or maybe letting them sit a bit longer at room temp before sticking in the oven might help?

  8. Hi Sally! This is such a helpful blog post! Thanks so much for taking the time to make it so clear on how to freeze cookies.  Question – I made your holiday sugar cutout cookies.  If I freeze the dough and then thaw it to bake the cookies.  Would it be okay to then freeze the baked cookies as long as they’re not iced yet?  I wasn’t sure if that would be too much freezing.  Thank you!

    • You can absolutely freeze the baked sugar cookies (from the previously frozen dough)… no problems there. I’ve done it a ton of times.

  9. Hi Sally, I’ve frozen a couple batches of cookies but none of them turn out as gorgeous as yours after baking.
    The balls of cookie dough tend to look damp and greasy after freezing and when baked, forms a crust at the base whereas the top tends to remain rather wet and soggy. 
    I store the rolled cookie dough in plastic containers, separating each layer with parchment paper.
    Your cookie recipes usually turn out perfectly for me if I bake them after chilling, but freezing yields a completely different result. Is there anything I’ve been doing wrong?

    • That’s so odd, Amanda. How about you try thawing the cookie dough balls overnight in the refrigerator. Then baking them as you would normally.

  10. I like to make chocolate chip cookies stuffed with a small dollop of Nutella. Do you think I could make the cookie base, freeze the balls, bring them to a slightly chilled state (in the fridge overnight maybe?), and then flatten them to put the Nutella on, and re-roll into balls for baking? Would this mess with the consistency? 

  11. THANK YOU for this! I made your chocolate crinkles this week, and read the note you wrote about freezing them and it blew my mind. This year I have gotten the hang of freezing soups and chills and such, but never desserts. I am so excited for the weekend to fill my freezer with your cookies! 🙂

  12. Thank you for your freezing tutorial! I used it with my mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe and it worked wonderfully! However, I found that when baking the cookies it worked better to bake at 350 for 15 minutes than at 375 for 10, as the original recipe said. It seems like the lower temperature allowed the dough to thaw and spread out a bit more before baking, and my cookies were softer and less rounded. Experimentation is key! 🙂

  13. Next month I will need to travel by air to the midwest with several dozen decorated roll-and-cut cookies for a special celebration. I plan on baking the cookies a few weeks ahead and freezing them, unfrosted, until a couple of days before leaving when I will frost and decorate them. I would so much appreciate your sharing with me asap a recipe, if you u have one, for a sugar cookie dough that will both freeze well and also bake up into STURDY cookies that, packed properly, will survive the trip. I also need an icing recipe that will color well with gel colors and set up completely without remaining at all sticky or runny when packed and transported in warmer temperatures. Many thanks, Sally!
                                                                  C.Frank

  14. When you take your cookies out of the freezer, do you just bake them in ball shape or do you flatten them?

    Thanks

    Jan

  15. Hi Sally, thank you so much for this super helpful post. i have a few questions:

    1. i need to bake a bunch of cookies for a party later this month. can i use your cut out sugar cookie recipe, cut out the cookies and then freeze them in an airtight box? ( just to save time)

    2. how many days would the cookie stay fresh, baked and iced? and how to keep them? the weather is very hot where i live right now.

    thank you so much!
    Fabz

    • Hi Fabz. 1) You can freeze the baked cookies until the event (and up to 3 months). 2) I find they stay soft and fresh for about 5 days at room temperature.

  16. Hi Sally! Love your recipes. I have a question about chilling the dough. Is there a reason to chill the batch as a whole before forming into balls, or could you form the cookies into balls while the dough is soft, and then chill them for the 2+ hours, and then just let them sit out for a bit before baking? I have had great success forming my cookies into balls while the dough is soft and then putting them right into the freezer. I’m wondering if the same would be true for recipes that simply require the dough to chill. It seems you could really cut down on time since forming them when the dough is soft is easier (especially with a cookie scoop). Then you could just pull them out of the fridge, put on cookie sheets and go. Your thoughts?

    • Hey Emma! Usually cookie dough (my recipes at least!) are much too soft to get into neat ball shapes before being chilled. So that’s why I recommend chilling before rolling. If you find rolling the dough to be easy right after the dough is made– by all means, go ahead! 🙂

  17. I will be making chocolate chip cookie dough (adding a bit of blue coloring to the dough) ahead of time and freezing for a baby shower. I had planned to freeze the cookie dough in one large freezer bag, letting it thaw in a Yeti cooler during a 13 hour drive, then baking the cookies when I arrive to the town the shower will be held. The shower will be 3 days after I arrive. Do you believe this would be my best method? Or, should I bake the cookies and let them thaw on the way there?
    Thank you for your time,
    Jayme

  18. Do you have to put the dough in the freezer for 3 months? I need to make the cookies after a month… Thanks.

  19. Hi there! I froze a bunch of balls of cookie dough for my friend’s upcoming wedding, and I just tested a couple to check baking time from the freezer. I’m running into the issue of the edges browning but them being undercooked in the middle. Would you recommend lowering the temp and baking longer or letting them thaw a bit first? Thanks!

  20. Your cookie recipes just made my daughters 1st birthday party a huge success! I had made your oatmeal raisin cookies several times before so when I decided to do a cookie buffet at the party, I turned to your website and went with the oatmeal plus m&m, snickerdoodle, m&m, inside out chocolate and cake batter. Thank you so much for having so many flawless recipes and tips. 

  21. How do you make the perfect rounded cookies? I measure them out evenly and roll in balls but when I put them in the oven after they have been chilled they are small and super thick. Should I flatten the dough just a little before baking them?

    • Hi Casey, you can try flattening them out before baking. That should help.

      • I had already froze the cookie dough the night before but as soon as I took the cookies out of the oven I used your spoon method (pressing the back of the spoon onto the tops of the cookies) then let the cookies rest they turned out beautifully and they taste amazing. This cookie recipe is the only one I will ever use. Thank you.

  22. I finally got around to reading this, after you suggested it from another comment I made. So helpful! I do have a question… the only recipe I’ve tried freezing cookie dough balls with is your butterscotch oatmeal cookies from your cookbook and they didn’t spread very much, even though I made them bigger than usual like you suggested in your cookbook. Just wondering if it’s a cookie that doesn’t spread much, or if I did something wrong? Thanks so much! 🙂

    • How about leaving them out for about 30 minutes before baking? That will help them spread a little more. Thanks for asking Holly!

  23. Hello, I am planning to make some raspberry walnut pinwheel cookies for the holidays this year. Do you think these would freeze well if I made the cookie roll, wrapped it in plastic, and put it in a freezer bag? Or do cookies with jam and/or nuts freeze well at all?

  24. This post is saving me this holiday season! I have to bake seven trays of brownies, a pie, a crumb cake, and cookies for next week so I’m relieved to find out I can make the cookie dough now! Thank you!!!

  25. Hi Sally, 

    I’m in love with all of your recipes and can’t wait for the holidays to come at our house!

    I have a question about shipping cookies. We are a military family and unfortunately, that pushes us away from our families. I wanted to mail them cookies but I’m curious if I should bake them and ship them or simply ship them frozen dough. They  aren’t going over seas, just across the U.S. What do you recommend?

  26. This information is exactly what I needed. However, I have a question. One of my mother’s favorite cookies is a cinnamon pinwheel. The dough is primarily flour and sour cream. The dough gets chilled for hours, then rolled out and filled, then chilled again. I’m having shoulder surgery and it will be difficult to do cookies. I’m trying to mix a backlog of cookies prior to the surgery. If I could freeze the logs for these cookies, it would be a big help. Thanks.

  27. I’m having problems getting my dough to freeze. I chilled the dough before rolling into balls. Sadly they have been in the freezer for 2 days now, and they are still to soft to put into bags. Everything else I had in my freezer is completely frozen. I moved everything out thinking that might be the problem. But still the dough is still not freezing. My freezer thermometer reads negative 5. I used a basic chocolate chip cookie dough recipe. Is there something I’ve done wrong or am I just having bad luck with this batch?

    • I wonder how the dough could just NOT freeze in the freezer?! I’m honestly stumped, especially if your freezer is that cold. Maybe it’s the batch?!

  28. Hi Sally!

    I am wondering if freezing breakfast cookie dough (that contain banana) would work? I know freezing the cooked cookies work, but what about the dough?

    Thank you!

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