Make-and-freeze cookie dough: For cookies when you need ’em

The sun sets early these days. When I leave work at 5 p.m. I step into a world of inky darkness broken only by the row of lights in the parking lot, and maybe the cold glow of a distant crescent moon.

Cold and darkness may be unwelcome to some of you, but to me, they signal the real heart of the baking season. In July, spending hours in a hot kitchen is something to be avoided; in December, it’s comforting. I turn on the oven, and feel its heat gradually chase away the dampness and chill. My well-worn recipe book opens automatically to the special Christmas cookies I make every year, and the never-fail fudge. I sigh happily, and start opening cupboards, assessing my holiday supplies. Cookie cutters? Check. Flour, vanilla, colored sugars? Check. Baking sheets, parchment, cookie scoop… check, check, check…

I bake my mom’s and grandma’s Christmas recipes. But I don’t bake EXACTLY like they did. I streamline every process I possibly can. Modern conveniences? Love ’em. Not for me a simple wooden spoon and bowl. Nah, I get the stand mixer and food processor and bread machine all going at once, making brownie batter and pie crust and yeast dough while I grease pans and slice apples and read again how to shape a fan-tan roll… I’m so used to multi-tasking every day at work, it’s an easy segue from desk to kitchen counter.

So, starting in early December, I make drop cookies and freeze them, unbaked, ready to pop in the oven at the last moment: for the office Christmas party, or when friends drop by after shopping. Here’s what you do: Make your cookie dough–your snickerdoodles, chocolate chippers, peanut butter cookies, whatever those special cookies are you bake and give every year. Use a TEASPOON cookie scoop to drop balls of dough, very close together, onto parchment-lined baking sheets, as many as can fit in your freezer at a time. Freeze the dough balls solid–this will take about an hour.

To freeze cookie dough for baking days or weeks later (I’m freezing dough for Sparkling Cranberry Gems here), use a cookie scoop to drop dough balls onto your parchment-lined pan. Place them close together, as pictured, then freeze. When frozen, throw ’em in a plastic bag and keep frozen till you’re ready for fresh, oven-warm cookies.

Remove from the baking sheet, pack them airtight in plastic bags, label, and store in the freezer. When you’re ready to bake, remove them from the freezer, space them on your parchment-lined baking sheets, and turn on the oven. The dough will thaw as the oven gets up to temperature, about 20-25 minutes. Bake and serve to an appreciative audience.

Now, why a TEASPOON cookie scoop? In fact, why a cookie scoop at all? First, there’s nothing like a cookie scoop to SAVE TIME and produce perfect balls of dough (read: perfectly shaped cookies). Never mind trying to scrape dough off sticky tablespoons… or your fingers. The cookie scoop just plop-plop-plops balls of dough onto your sheet. And using a teaspoon scoop at the holidays is a great way to add variety to an array of gift plates: instead of each recipient getting, say, a dozen normal (2 1/2″) chocolate chip cookies, you can make small (1 1/2″) cookies with a teaspoon scoop, and treat your friends to half a dozen each sugar, oatmeal, peanut butter, fudge drop, molasses… whatever your specialties are.

So that’s my first holiday tip: Make cookie dough, use a teaspoon cookie scoop to shape it (for more, smaller cookies, perfect for gifts), and freeze. You’ll thank yourself round about December 22…

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. hazel

    What a wonderful idea! I’m a once-a-month cook, who makes up various mixes ahead to save time, but for some reason I never tried freezing cookie dough! I’m going to do it today, though, after I mix up my cheesy bread sticks while waiting for them to rise.

  2. Stacy

    With family coming to visit and staying at a hotel, this is a nice way to sweeten their stay. We are making a batch of each person’s favorites so all are happy and satiated and they can take some back to their hotel room. It isn’t just for the holidays!

  3. Victoria

    I’ve read that cookie dough can be frozen, but haven’t seen anything addressed for pressed cookies dough. Will that also defrost and still bake a nice pressed cookie? Thanks!

    Yes, Victoria, in fact dough for piping or pressing cookies, since it usually has less water and more fat, freezes very well. PJH

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Not at all, Susie. You can still freeze the dough in a ball. It’s just convenience to divide into the small balls first, then you can pull and bake as needed. ~ MJ

  4. Shirley

    Are there certain types of cookie dough that take more / less kindly to being frozen?

    Since you mention chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, as well as piped cookies, those seem amenable to freezing. Any to avoid? Thanks!
    Hi Shirley,
    You are right, and most cookie dough does freeze well. In fact, most baked cookies freeze well too. Just be sure to add any icings and decorations after you thaw the cookies, otherwise the icing gets runny and the decoration colors tend to bleed.
    Have fun! ~ MaryJane

  5. Jackie

    I have froze dough in the past and it has worked out well. What would the difference be in the cookie if you bake the cookie undecorated and freeze ? I see where most people prefer to freeze the uncooked cookie dough over the baked cookie ?
    You can certainly freeze baked, undecorated cookies without any loss of flavor or texture. Just thaw on the counter and decorate as usual. Molly @ KAF

  6. Clara Hirose

    What a neat idea for King Arthur Flour for us to be able to “talk” to someone when we have questions. Thank you very much.

  7. Sarah


    I use the Baker’s Companion very, very often and I don’t *think* that this tip is in there, but it should be!

    I would like to freeze dough for peanut butter blossoms, sour cream cashew cookies, and toffee butter cookies. Would those work? I know I would still have to do the frostings and hershey’s kisses afterwards, but it would still be so much easier.

    Hurrah for freezers (and parchment paper!)

    Sarah, don’t see why any kind of drop cookie wouldn’t work just fine – as you say, you’ll probably want to finish them right when you bake, but definitely “drop” and freeze the dough balls ahead… PJH

  8. Beth

    When making cookies like Snickerdoodles, would you coat them in the cinnamon sugar before freezing them or after they’ve been defrosted?

    I’d do it before, Beth; they should be fine in the freezer, and it’s easier to do it while they’re moist, than waiting till they’re thawed, and then handling, IMHO. PJH

  9. Pauline

    How long can you safely store the frozen cookie dough balls for?

    Pauline, they start to deteriorate, flavor/texture-wise, after about 3 months in the freezer, so best not to leave them longer than that, OK? Good luck – PJH

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Yes, you can make in either. Just use your dough cycle and shut it off after the kneading stage, or in a food processor follow the directions in the manual for making bread dough, or cookie dough listed. ~ MJ

    2. Ellen

      If you are making cookies in a food processor, check that it has a metal, not plastic spindle. From experience, the light duty food processors with plastic spindles cannot handle the weight of the dough. The spindle develops a spiral crack. A heavy duty food processor with a metal spindle seems to do relatively well with most doughs.

  10. Kate Thomas

    What are your thoughts about freezing entire batches of cookie dough in airtight containers? Will it work as well as the scoop-and-freeze method?

    Absolutely; the only difference is you’ll need to use the entire batch once it’s thawed, rather than use part and refreeze. I like to scoop first so I can bake exactly how many cookies I want, but if you intend to bake the whole batch at once, go for it. PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You may roll in sugar and press with a fork before freezing. Go right from the freezer to the oven. Easy! Elisabeth@KAF

  11. Susan

    Can you freeze the cookies you make from homemade cookie dough that you’ve already frozen, thawed, and baked…or is that one too many trips to the freezer?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Susan- There are many cookies that would be fine frozen although there are a few that probably wouldn’t fair well. If you are making any kind of drop cookie like a chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, ginger molasses, etc. you should be just fine, and the same would go for any butter cookie like a shortbread. You could double-wrap them shortly after they are cooled and then place them in the freezer. You would then thaw them in the fridge overnight the day before you would like to enjoy them and then refresh them in the oven at the original temperature before serving if you like for a thorough reheating. I hope that helps and if you have any more questions, please feel free to contact our Baker’s Hotline at 1-855-371-2253. Happy baking! Jocelyn@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Judi, I’m not familiar with Mocha Crinkles, but most cookies freeze quite well – so I assume these will be fine. Good luck – PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The cookies may not spread as well since the cocoa will absorb liquid as it sits. Better to make a smaller batch freshly. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  12. Lillian

    I’ve made three BIG batches of cookie dough today: chocolate sugar, maraschino cherry, and oatmeal-pecan-currant. All are butter/shortening based and are chilling in the frig and shaped in logs for slicing. Half will go to a good friends’ retirement party and half I plan to wrap with a second layer of plastic wrap and freeze as logs for slice & bake. Does this sound o.k.? Do you see any problem with my plan? Thanks!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I think your plan sounds great. I would put the wrapped logs into an airtight container or zip lock bag before freezing. Here’s to fresh warm cookies whenever you want them!JoAnn@KAF

  13. Nicole Burton

    Do I have to let the cookies thaw once I remove them from the freezer before baking them? Or do I bake them a little longer than suggested time?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Just add about 3-5 minutes to the baking time if you are baking them straight from the freezer, Nicole. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  14. Elsie Mason

    I’ve frozen cut-out cookies also, just roll them out, cut your shapes. Freeze on trays, when completely frozen, stack with layers of wax or parchment paper, wrap in plastic and put in ziplock bags. My grand daughter loves to bake and decorate and this way when I’m not up for it she still can when she visits.

  15. Dvorah

    My five grandkids are coming for a month. This is the perfect solution to always have fresh cookies. Thank you. Love your stories, I almost can feel walking with you going back home to feel the warm oven getting ready to bake Thank you for sharing

  16. Dana

    I don’t use cookie scoop. Just flatten the dough, use pizza cutter, cut squares, then freeze, then put pieces in freezer bag. They still bake up round(Go figure!)

  17. Coleene Davidson

    I know drop cookies can be frozen with good results, however, I have been baking a lot of bar cookies. Would like to make ahead and bake as needed. Would freeze in 9×12 pan then package for freezer.

    Have not seen anything about this on any site. Can you help

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Coleene,
      The general consensus from the bakers here in the pod is that this should be just fine. Contrary to frozen cookie balls though, you’ll want to thaw the bar cookies in the pan before baking to avoid over-baked edges and under-baked centers. ~MJ

  18. L Edwards

    I freeze balls of chocolate crinkle cookie dough without rolling them in the powdered sugar prior to freezing. Would you advise rolling the cookies
    In the powdered sugar prior to freezing. It would save time.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Although it might save time, we’d recommend sticking to the method you’re using now: freeze without rolling in sugar first. Otherwise, the sugar might melt and become sticky as the dough thaws. If you want the best appearance for your crinkles, then roll in sugar just before baking. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  19. Ted Fichtenholtz

    I’m baking rolls for the holidays? Can I freeze roll dough? A very simple dough, not enriched except for some sugar.



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