Although shortbread cookies only call for simple ingredients and are relatively easy to make, they’re still not 100% hassle-free.
So, if you’re baking a batch, you might as well make it a large one and store some of it for later. Then, you can take a serving or two out, heat it up, and enjoy your shortbread.
How can you freeze shortbread cookies without ruining the buttery and crumbly texture? That’s what we set out to find!
Yes, shortbread handles freezing well, but that’s not really a surprise.
You might know that the name “short” comes from “shortening.” That’s because the dough is high in fat. Yet, its moisture content is fairly low.
All the eggs and liquid ingredients that keep other cookie dough watery are missing from shortbread, which makes freezing even easier!
The only catch is that the cookies don’t handle re-freezing well.
So, you’ll want to make sure to separate your portions before freezing. This way, you’ll avoid taking a large batch out, waiting for it to thaw a bit, taking only a small amount out, and putting the rest back in the freezer.
Yes, even if you make your shortbread at home, you can still save a batch for later.
It’s going to be a bit trickier than freezing prepacked, store-bought cookies, but definitely not impossible.
You can follow your recipe as usual, but you should never freeze cookies straight out of the oven. It’s a surefire way of getting sad, cracked cookies later!
Instead, you’ll need to let them cool on the counter for about an hour. Keep in mind that a typical shortbread cookie recipe requires a baking time of about 20 minutes.
So, make sure that you don’t need to go anywhere for at least an hour and a half before you pop the batch in the oven.
Freezer burns won’t make the cookies inedible, but they compromise the texture and flavor.
To avoid this, make sure you use an airtight container or a ziplock freezer bag. This should keep the dehydration process from ruining the shortbread’s surface.
Just don’t stack the cookies over each other without a separating layer of freezer sheets or parchment paper. Otherwise, they could stick together.
If you’re making a large batch, you might want to freeze the cookies as a single layer on a baking sheet a bit before moving them to the container. This way, they won’t crumble.
When you’re ready to defrost the shortbread, you just need to take it out and leave it in the fridge overnight.
Don’t bother removing the cookies from the packaging; they’ll thaw just fine inside it.
The next morning, you can let the shortbread sit on the counter for a bit before serving. That’s often better than eating cold cookies.
Microwaving the batch real quick might sound tempting, but it can turn the shortbread soggy. So, you can either eat the cookies at room temperature or warm them up in the oven.
We’d recommend going the extra mile and opting for the quick oven heating to revive the texture and get that even crisp back.
Keep in mind that this step works best on plain shortbread. Any coating or topping might not survive a heating round after freezing.
Some people find that their frozen shortbread cookies can last up to 6 whole months, but both the texture and flavor might not be great at this point.
It’s much better to thaw the batch and eat it within 1 month of freezing, but we know that you’ll probably need to store it for longer. In this case, it’s safer to aim for 3 months instead of 6.
Of course, we’d recommend using a label to mark the storage and “best by” dates on the cookie batches.
If you only have a small batch and want to keep it good to go for as long as possible, try wrapping each individual cookie or bar in cling film.
Your shortbread cookies can last for 3-5 days at room temperature, provided that you keep them in an airtight container and away from sunlight.
It is possible that the cookies have not yet spoiled after this range. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll taste good.
If 3-5 days don’t seem like a long enough time and you don’t want to bother freezing the batch, you can put it in the fridge instead. The shortbread should be good for around 10 days in this case, but you’ll need to let it sit outside for a while before serving.
Yes, it’s possible to freeze unbaked shortbread dough for later.
That said, most people find that it’s not an ideal way of saving shortbread since you have to thaw and bake it. With pre-baked cookies, you can skip the heating step if you’re in a rush.
If you still want to give this method a shot, check out these steps:
- Roll the shortbread dough out, make logs, and slice them as usual.
- Separate the dough into portions, if needed.
- Lay the cookies down in a single layer on a tray and freeze for 2-3 hours.
- Take the frozen cookies out and stack them neatly in an airtight container with freezer paper between the layers.
- If you don’t want to cut the dough into shapes, just wrap the whole log in cling film.
- Freeze the container for a maximum of 2 months to avoid compromising the quality.
- When you’re ready to bake, thaw the dough in the fridge and bake according to the recipe.
Figuring out the portions might be tricky, though.
Most recipes make around 2 dozen cookies/bars. However, some of those are small round cookies, while others are hefty bars.
That’s why we’d recommend going by the “serving” section of the shortbread recipe instead of the “yield.” Then, you can decide how many unbaked cookies or raw dough logs to store in one container, depending on your family size.
It’s possible to freeze both baked and unbaked shortbread cookies since their low moisture content allows them to handle freezing well.
Ultimately, the key is knowing how to avoid freezer burns, preventing sticking, and nailing your portions. That’s why airtight containers and parchment paper are your best friends in this case!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.