Christmas dinner calls for large quantities of main courses and desserts. Preparing this feast can be exhausting, especially if you’re working alone.
Thankfully, there’s a way to take some of that load off. By making the cookies beforehand, you can save energy and time.
The question is: How early can you make Christmas cookies?
Today, I’ll help you answer that question. Let’s get to it!
There isn’t a definitive answer. It all depends on the type of cookies you’re making and your go-to storage method.
Let’s see how these variables factor into the equation.
The storing method determines how long your cookies can maintain their texture and flavor. There isn’t one way to store Christmas cookies, though.
Let’s see how the top three methods compare so you can decide which one works best for you.
Fortunately, most popular Christmas cookies are freezer-friendly, and that’s the most efficient way to store them for a long time.
If you set your cookies properly, you can make them a few months ahead, depending on the type of cookies you’re working with.
A fair warning: While cookies can last up to a year in the freezer, I can’t guarantee they’ll maintain the same quality!
The fridge can prevent the cookies from spoiling, but not for long.
Overall, it’s a good choice if you want to make your cookies a couple of weeks before Christmas.
Cookies can’t last long at room temperature. You can take a few measures to preserve the freshness and crispness, but you’ll still be limited.
If you decide to store your cookies at room temperature, do it 3–5 days before Christmas.
Not all Christmas cookies are created equal. Some of them can handle the early prep better than others.
Here’s where the popular cookies can fit into your baking schedule:
Whether it’s made with chocolate chips or peanut butter, a batch of drop cookies is a classic Christmas dessert.
Since drop cookies are freezer-friendly, you can bake them as early as July.
You can keep them in the freezer for 3–6 months, and they’ll most likely maintain their texture, flavor, and sturdiness.
If you’ve watched Shrek 2, you know the gingerbread man is one tough cookie. After all, it withstood quite a few hits before breaking apart.
Sugar cookies don’t fall short on durability, either. So, you can bake them 2–3 months in advance and store them in the freezer.
However, you’ll want to be careful about how you arrange them in the freezer. Otherwise, the weak parts of the cut-outs (like the gingerbread man’s limbs) might break off.
To store the raw dough cut-outs, freeze them on a tray first and then move them to a freezer bag when they’re all hardened up.
Bar cookies are convenient and delicious. Plus, you can cut them into any size.
Here’s the icing on top: The more you let them cool off, the sturdier they become.
If you follow the proper freezing steps, you can make them around 6 months before Christmas.
I know the word “short” doesn’t imply that a cookie has a long lifespan. However, shortbread cookies can be surprisingly sturdy.
You can even bake them around 6 months ahead of time and store them in the freezer. If you want to keep them at room temperature, bake them 5 days before Christmas.
Some people think frosted cookies don’t freeze well because the frosting would dry out quickly. That’s a common misconception, though.
Frosted cookies are as freezer-friendly as regular cookies. You just need to learn how to store them properly.
The key? Wait until the icing is all set, then use layers of parchment paper to separate the cookies!
If all goes well, you’ll be able to keep them in the freezer for around 3 months.
Now you know that you can bake most cookies 3–6 months ahead of Christmas. But how do you store them properly, though?
It’s not as simple as throwing the baked batch in the freezer. The freezer would absorb the moisture, leaving you with dry, sad cookies.
The process is more systematic than that. Let’s take a look!
You don’t need any fancy equipment, but you do need a bit of patience.
Even if you follow all the steps, freezing the cookies when they’re still warm is a recipe for a disaster. When cookies are fresh out of the oven, they hold too much moisture.
If you freeze them right away, they’ll become soggy once you thaw them. They’ll lose their texture and flavor eventually.
Make sure the batch has completely cooled off before you go any further. You can use a wire rack to speed up the cooling process.
Once your cookies have cooled off, it’s time to store them. The overarching idea is to keep the air out.
That way, they can maintain their fresh texture. While a sealable freezer bag would do the trick, I recommend using an airtight container because it’s more compact.
Add the cookies in layers, placing wax paper between each layer. It’s also handy to put plastic wrap at the top of the container to seal it.
If you’re making different types of cookies, it’s best to store each in a separate container.
Just remember to add a label that includes the content and freezing date. This approach will help you keep track of how long each batch has been in the freezer and whether it’ll still be good by Christmas.
Storing your cookies at room temperature isn’t that different from freezing them. After all, your main goal is still to keep as much air away from the cookies.
So, let them cool off first and store them in an airtight container or a sealable bag.
To keep the cookies from drying out, add a piece of fresh white bread or an apple slice to the container.
They both hold a lot of moisture. When you put them in a small container, the cookies will absorb the moisture.
That’s a difficult question because there isn’t a concrete answer.
Some bakers add them before freezing or even during the dough prep. Others do it afterward.
While it’s not the most decisive factor, the quality of the sprinkles can influence your decision.
When you expose cheap sprinkles to the high moisture levels in the freezer, they tend to bleed. However, if you use high-quality sprinkles, you should be able to freeze them.
These usually include a wax coating, which reduces the risk of bleeding. They may not maintain their texture, but the flavor should be fine.
Thawing sprinkled cookies isn’t that straightforward, though. Instead of leaving the batch at room temperature right away, you’ll want to pop it into the fridge and let it thaw overnight first.
If you’re still doubtful, you can add the sprinkles after thawing the cookies.
Just because you know how to store Christmas cookies properly doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Maybe you baked them too early and can’t decide whether they’ve gone bad or not.
The obvious action here is to taste the cookies and determine that for yourself. However, if they’re spoiled, they might cause stomach issues.
We don’t want that, do we? Fortunately, there are visible signs to check.
If cookies sit in a humid environment for too long without a proper protective layer, they’ll develop mold. So, if you notice any discoloration in your batch, throw it away.
You can detect if cookies with fruit or nuts have gone bad from the smell, as they tend to develop a musty stench.
It’s also possible to use the texture to determine how good they are. Soft cookies usually become too hard when they pass their prime, while hard cookies turn soggy.
You can make Christmas cookies months in advance, but only if you store them right.
In the freezer, most types will last 3–6 months. However, if you store the batch at room temperature, you only have a couple of weeks before the cookies lose their appeal.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to make your favorite treats right in time for Christmas!
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.