Named after the refrigerator’s predecessor (the icebox), these were cookies you could keep refrigerated, then bake at a moment’s notice—essentially a 1930s version of a Pillsbury slice-and-bake cookie. Today, icebox cookies are practical for the same reasons they were during the Depression.
Even with healthy additions, an oatmeal cookie is still a cookie. Enjoying one occasionally is OK. They may contain more nutrients than other cookies, but they still contain large amounts of fat and sugar, which aren’t so healthy and may be detrimental to your waistline.
For scooped cookies like oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip cookies, I like to chill the dough overnight. The texture is improved, the cold dough helps keep my cookies thicker as they bake, and the caramel notes in the cookies are enhanced. I definitely recommend a 24-hour chill for many scooped cookie recipes.
Mistake: When cookies turn out flat, the bad guy is often butter that is too soft or even melted. This makes cookies spread. The other culprit is too little flour—don’t hold back and make sure you master measuring. Finally, cookies will also flatten if placed and baked on hot cookie sheets.
350° is the standard temp for a cookie, and it’s a great one. Your cookies will bake evenly and the outside will be done at the same time as the inside. Baking at 325° also results in an evenly baked cookie, but the slower cooking will help yield a chewier cookie. The outsides will be a little softer, too.
Why Do Cookies Get Hard? Like all baked treats, cookies are subject to getting stale. Over time, the moisture in the cookies evaporates, leaving them stiff and crumbly. The longer they sit, the more stale they become.
Layer cookies between waxed or parchment paper. This keeps them from sticking together or losing crispness. Metal tins keep cookies firmer than plastic bins. Let cookies cool before storing.
Make sure cookies cool completely before storing. Store them at room temperature in an air-tight container, like Tupperware. Store different flavors separately. Over time, strongly flavored cookies like molasses or mint will seep into other cookies, so if possible store each flavor in its own container.
Bakery or homemade cookies can be stored at room temperature two to three weeks or two months in the refrigerator. Cookies retain their quality when stored in the freezer for eight to 12 months. Moist bars, such as cheesecake and lemon bars, can be refrigerated for seven days.
Make Ahead Tips
You can prepare the dough and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. When you are ready to bake, roll the dough to the desired thickness and follow the recipe instructions. Freezing Rolled Cookie Dough – Divide your dough into 2 equal-size balls.
“If you do eat a food past the expiration date [and the food] is spoiled, you could develop symptoms of food poisoning,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Summer Yule, MS. The symptoms of foodborne illness can include fever, chills, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Unless otherwise noted, don’t store cookies in the refrigerator: The cool air can rob cookies of their moisture and make them taste bland. In general, store cookies at room temperature or freeze them, as specified above.
Store the cookies with bread
When you pack up those cookies in a container or storage bag, toss in half a slice of any kind of bread before you seal them up. Basically, the cookies will absorb moisture from the bread, which keeps them nice and soft.
Can sugar cookies be left out overnight? Yes. Sugar cookies can be stored in a cookie jar at room temperature for 2-3 days or in a cool, dry, airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
The very best sugar cookies are soft and tender. → Follow this tip: One of the keys to great sugar cookies is mixing the dry ingredients only until they’re just incorporated, and not a second longer. Once the dry ingredients are added, less mixing equals more tender cookies.
Dried or drying royal icing should not be refrigerated. How do I store royal icing? Royal icing made with meringue powder or powdered egg whites can be stored at room temperature. To keep the royal icing from crusting, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the royal icing.
Cookies spread because the fat in the cookie dough melts in the oven. If there isn’t enough flour to hold that melted fat, the cookies will over-spread. Spoon and level that flour or, better yet, weigh your flour. If your cookies are still spreading, add an extra 2 Tablespoons of flour to the cookie dough.
Higher white sugar to brown sugar ratios will produce a more crisp and crunchy cookie while higher brown sugar to white sugar ratios will produce a more soft and chewy cookie. Dark brown sugar will up the chewiness even more.
Reduce the amount of flour slightly. Add an egg. A greater ratio of fat (butter, margarine, shortening, etc.) to flour will result in a more tender cookie. Start by adding just a ¼ cup additional to your recipe.
For most cookies, there’s enough fat in the dough to keep them from sticking to your baking sheets—no greasing required. If you grease the pans unnecessarily, the dough will flatten too much as it bakes. Related, reusing baking sheets for multiple batches of cookies can be another cause of flat cookies.
“Try to make all the cookies uniform—they bake more evenly and they look much better,” says Lipton. “The easiest way to do this is to use a cookie scoop, essentially a small ice cream scoop.” She recommends using OXO’s Medium Cookie Scoop for the best results.