Feb 20


How long do decorated cookies stay fresh? What is the shelf life of decorated cookies?

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So how long do decorated cookies stay fresh?

I get this question quite often so thought I'd share some info. with you in a short post. By no means am I an expert; it's just what I've found works for me through trial and error, but I hope you find this helpful.

Before I begin, a few details to go over:

  • I'll be talking about the recipes I use (you can find them here). All recipes are different. Although the answers here will help you in general, it's best to do some testing if you're using other recipes, to find out how long yours will last.
  • No preservatives are in the recipes I use – everything is from scratch.
  • In terms of planning your cookie decorating, besides figuring out how far ahead you can begin making them, these Cookie Decorating Schedules may be helpful for you.


How far ahead can I make my decorated cookies?

Although I've tested them for longer and the batches I've tried seem fine for up to 4 weeks, my general rule of thumb is up to 2 weeks. I know they're fine to eat at 4 weeks, but I feel better about giving the cookies away when the recipients don't need to eat them right away.

It's important to wrap them in some sort of an airtight bag or container once they're dry. I like to put cookies individually in cellophane bags and tie with a pretty ribbon.

Shrink wrapping isn't necessary, but I'd love to hear from you if this is the method you use. Do your cookies generally stay fresh longer?

 A few other 'shelf-life' tidbits of information for you:

  • Gingerbread cookies typically have a long shelf life. (4-6 weeks).
  • I've also noticed that gourmet stores with custom decorated cookies (from scratch/no preservatives), have a shelf life of about one month.
  • If you're interested in freezing decorated or undecorated cookies, you can find information in this post and the comment section here.

Once Upon a Cookie – Cinderella

This Cinderella decorated cookie is the second in a series of princess cookies (Click here to find the first one), copied from this piece of art. {Thank you, suisei-ojii-sama!}. I tried to stay true to suisei-ojii-sama's design, and really fought back the urge cover her dress in disco dust, but I couldn't resist adding the tips of her little shoes, and of course, covering with disco dust.

Other Sweet Tidbits

A few sweet morsels of information I'd like to share with you:

  • The Cinderella cookie shape was made by hand cutting the dough with a paring knife. Easy enough to do if you're only doing a few cookies, but a heads-up in case you don't already know, time-consuming if you're doing a lot of them. There's got to be cutters out there you could use though (drop me a line please if you see one), or even just pipe her on a rectangular cookie.
  • I used a Kopykake projector to help me pipe Cinderella's shape.
  • Click here for the royal icing recipe I used.

Thank you for reading me here, I appreciate each and every comment, and love to hear from you!

If you'd like, leave me a comment below, on Facebook, twitter, youtube or instagram, and share your findings about the shelf life of cookies as well – I love to hear what you've learned in your cookie decorating journey.

Have fun baking!



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  1. Tara Osmond
    February 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I love your blog and of course your cookies. I recently started making cookies, I usually only do cakes. I find that when I leave my icing to sit over night in the bottles or piping bags that the next day it is too runny to do anything with. When it was the perfect consistency when I used it the night before… can you help. I use your recipe for RI

  2. February 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this post! Love it. For some reason I had never stumbled upon the amazing cookie decorating schedule. Currently, I write them on a plain piece of paper, but now I have pretty pink schedules!!!!! You rock. Thanks

  3. marian
    February 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi @ Laurel: So true! Humidity wreaks havoc on decorated anything! You pretty much need to keep them in an air-conditioned/de-humidified environment to keep them at a happy temperature. I should add a tidbit of info. to the post, thanks! And thanks for all the other info., (including cookie cutter idea!). I’ll have to ask Pam about that!

    Thanks @ Yvette!

    @ Marie LeJeune: Good idea!

    Aw @ Regina! Gotta love those VHS videos. I loved my Disney ones as well.

    @ John Snediker: Thank YOU for the reply! You are so right on the money! I have to say first off that it’s amazing that you made 1000 cookies in your home oven… wowowowow! I remember seeing some pictures, and think it’s so amazing that you’ve developed this royal icing passion and are doing such and fantastic job with them. What was that new saying you said the other day? It was another awesome one!
    And as for your friends not eating the cookies – I can see why – they’re so pretty! Annnd you’ve got to admit, it IS cool/unique that you’re a family man with a sweet passion. You should be on Ace of Cakes or Cake Boss! ;-)

    @ Katie: Love those sayings, thanks!

    @ Isabel: Thank you so, so much! I really appreciate it! xo

  4. February 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    These Cinderella cookies are adorable! I love the slippers!

  5. February 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    thank you sooo much Marian for all your tips!! I Love cinderella and all of her princess’. Can’t wait to se the other ones done! Do you sell your cookies? What do you do with all the cookies you make? Just curious?? :)

  6. marian
    February 20, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    @ Jodie, @ Bethany: Thanks ladies! Bethany, I usually give them away to family, friends, neighbours, web designer, snow-plow guy (hehehe); basically anyone I want to say thanks to. ;-)

  7. February 20, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Marian, I’m with you on the 2 week time period. And, I’ve experimented with keeping cookies covered, not covered, and for varying lengths of time.
    While they can be kept for at least a month, the optimum is 2 weeks.
    But, as I write this, I’m looking at cookies I did 2 years ago! I’m just waiting for them to start disintegrating, but they’re completely intact.

    You’re the best, Marian!

  8. Amy
    February 21, 2012 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    I’m with Helena…you DO need to have a book! These cookies are just too cute! I LOVE the shoes…what a detail!!! Can I ask what brand of tips you use and where you get your cellophane bags? Thanks!

  9. Isabel
    February 21, 2012 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Hi Marian!
    Here I am… again! ;o) I’ve been searching some cookie cutters for your beautiful princesses… I put you three links to some shapes that may be useful for you:
    Candy corn 3”
    Egg 4”
    Flipflop 4.5” (this is what I think feets you best…)

    I hope you find useful this information and looking forward to see your new creations ;o)

    Best wishes and keep on doing this amazing job!

  10. February 21, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I keep the same rule of thumb- 2 weeks. I also often times individually package them in bags w/ribbon and found that they’ve tasted just fine after a month.

    Adorable cookies… Although, I’m inspired to make picture frame cookies now ;)

  11. Rose
    February 21, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    THANK YOU sooooo much for this post. I’ve admired your work since I first found your amazing blog and love all your informative posts. I was searching for this information just last week because I’m making music cookies for my daughter’s recital in two weeks and wanted to know how far in advance I could start since I’m super paranoid about serving fresh desserts. I couldn’t find anything definitive on it. Thank you for all your help – you are such an inspiration!!!!

  12. February 21, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    For maximum enjoyment, I’m with you on the two week time period and it’s what I tell my clients. Having said that, I’ve also had leftover cookies wrapped in cellophane bags in my kitchen for much longer than that and they still held their flavour and texture.
    Your presentation of this Cinderella cookie is wonderfully original…the cookie itself is adorable, the framing is beautiful.

  13. Hannah
    February 21, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I have followed your site and am looking to make mickey and minnie mouse cookies to take with me to a trip to disneyland with my children. I would like to leave them a cookie each night on their beds. I am new and am unsure the steps to take to make these. This is an example of the kind of thing I am looking to do. http://bearheartbaking.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/minniecookies.jpg

    Do I do the face color first, let it sit overnight, then do the ears let it sit, then the bow and let it sit and then the face?

    We are going on this trip March 1 so any advice you can give me to be successful in this would be great!

  14. Joe cy
    February 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    @ Marian (Sweetopia):

    Thanks for tips.
    I watched the video.. Very informative …
    Yes u r right… I’m living in a humid city…
    So from yr video, you implied that the icing will make the cookie soggy… But if i could make the icing to dry quickly, will solve problem of cookie soggy?

    Thanks for yr tips ^^

  15. Isabel
    February 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    February 21, 2012 at 5:51 am | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Hi Marian!
    Here I am… again! ;o) I’ve been searching some cookie cutters for your beautiful princesses… I put you three links to some shapes that may be useful for you:
    Candy corn 3”
    Egg 4”
    Flipflop 4.5” (this is what I think feets you best…)

    I hope you find useful this information and looking forward to see your new creations ;o)

    Best wishes and keep on doing this amazing job!

  16. marian
    February 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    HI @ Gail: I know! cool that they stay so well as long as they’re sealed in an airtight container (in a cool, dry area). *You’re* the best, Gail!

  17. marian
    February 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Hi @ Amy: Absolutely! There’s a video on my youtube channel which shares all my favorite decorating products.
    For the cellophanes bag, either Amazon.com or if I’m visiting Toronto, a place called “Creative Bag”.

    @ Tammy: hee heee, good idea!

    Hi @ Rose and @ Paula: Thanks guys!

    Hi @ Hannah: You’ve already figured it out! (Pat on your back ;-) Have fun on your trip! They’re going to be so thrilled!

    @ Joe cy: The main tip was working in an environment with a dehumidifier AND air conditioner. Your cookies won’t go soggy if you have those on in the room you’re decorating in.

  18. marian
    February 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Hi @ Isabel: Thank you so much for finding those for me! xo

  19. February 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    You are very inspiring lady.

  20. ladywild
    February 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    @ Tara Osmond:
    Does your runny icing seem to be separating? I had this happen when I over beat the icing. The air that was in the icing collapsed a bit overnight and the next day it would be a mess. Just through trial and error I’ve found the perfect amount of mixing. I wish I could just tell you, but honestly I do it by sight.

  21. February 22, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi @ Tara Osmond: Gosh, have I not answered you?! So sorry, I missed your comment! Thanks to @ ladywild for helping me notice that and for sharing your tips!

    @ Tara Osmond: This post should be helpful for you: http://sweetopia.net/2011/01/how-do-you-store-royal-icing-and-how-long-can-you-keep-it/

  22. Nancy
    February 23, 2012 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    CINDERELLA!!! My favorite! Thank you for sharing your beautiful creations with us. You are very talented. I still can’t believe you hand cut the dough so perfectly. Whats your secret? You have inspired me to try the technique on the “Very Hungry Caterpillar” cookies I will be making for my nephews birthday. So nervous, it will only be my second time making cookies!!!

    Would you mind sharing with me the shades of blue you used for cinderella’s dress? Did you use AmeriColor or Wilton?

    Thanks again!

  23. February 23, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Hi @ Nancy: Thanks! Use a sharp knife, and I’m still experimenting with what kind of paring knife works best, but this time I used a paring knife that was longer, as opposed to last time, when I used a very short one.
    I used Americolor black and Americolor sky blue to get the colour… a little bit at a time until I was happy with the shade.
    Good luck with your cookies! Take your time, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself – have fun with it!

  24. Nancy
    February 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Oh, good to know! I had not thought about the length of the knife. I will keep a few on hand and do my own little experiment. =)

    YOU ARE THE BEST! Thank you!

  25. Laura
    February 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE IT!! I love Disney, so when I saw the cookie of Alice…really, I don’t have words to aprecciate your work!

    It’s wonderful!

    With love from Spain :D

  26. Milagros Pinto
    February 23, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink



  27. jill
    February 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi! This is a great topic. I shrink-wrap many of my cookies for retail sale, and I would say that they definitely are fine up to a month, at least. One of the employees at a retail location said he found a cookie that I’d done many months ago somewhere in the storage area of the store and he ate it and said it was delicious, a whole 3 months later!

    I am going to submit my cookies to the NCSU food studies labs where for a fee they will perform shelf-life studies on shelf-stable products. When I get the results back I’ll let you know.

  28. marian
    February 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Oh, how cool @ jill! I can’t wait to hear the results! thanks!!

  29. February 26, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marian, Melissa here from Food Bloggers of Canada. Just popping by to let you know we’ve added you to our Membership Directory. Welcome aboard – we are all fans of your beautiful blog :)

  30. Theresa Murphy
    February 27, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I love this cookie!! You should do more of the princesses xD like snow white or belle

  31. marian
    February 29, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Hi @ Melissa: Thanks for dropping by! I’m looking forward to being part of Food Bloggers for Canada. See you there!

    Thanks @ Theresa Murphy: Will do!

  32. Maria gomez
    March 4, 2012 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    You are amazing and your cookies too!!
    Kisses from madrid

  33. Elizabeth L in Apex, NC
    March 4, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    @ jill:
    Hey, Jill! I’m in the Raleigh area, too. We should talk! Elizabeth@3-dSweets.com

  34. Libby
    March 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I did it. I broke down and got a projector. So far I’ve only used it for cakes, but I LOVED it. I was able to match the font of wedding invitations to a groom’s cake perfectly! I can’t wait to try it with cookies. I’ve been saving stickers and scraps of paper with future designs. Only issue is, my hand can get in the way, creating a shadow.

  35. marian
    March 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Besos, @ Maria gomez!

    Hi @ Libby: Awesome! Yes, the hand thing… I do mention it in my Kopykake tutorial in case you haven’t seen that section.
    Have tons of fun decorating, and please, feel free to share your photos on my facebook page if you like! =)

  36. Lindsey
    October 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    I was wondering if these cookies will stay soft for that long? I like sugar cookies to be not that hard! Thanks!

  37. Marian
    October 25, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    @ Lindsey: You’ll need to put them in a cellophane bag (or some sort of air tight package), for them to stay fresh.

  38. November 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marian! First of all, I love your blog, but I bet you get that all the time… ;)

    Well, I will be making a big batch of cookies using your recipe for a sale that’s about to happen in December 8th. My plan is to bake and decorate them ahead, like a week before, because I will also be making cupcakes. I thought I could do this and already place them into cellophane bags a week before, but I have a doubt about the cellophane bags. I had a terrible experience once with decorated cookies, and so I was wondering: would storing them in a cellophane bag make them soft, because of the lack of air, and soggy?
    I’ve seen some cookies like that once or twice in my life and I’m afraid it might happen to me.

    Thanks! :)

  39. marian
    November 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Hi @ Juliana: Not if you let them dry for 24 hours first. I know it sounds like they would go stale, but I assure you, they don’t. They still taste delicious and then the icing will be thoroughly dry.
    You need to store them in a cool, humidity-free environment though. (Not a fridge… too much moisture/condensation in there). Hope that helps and have fun with all your preparations!

  40. November 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    @ marian:

    Thank you so much, Marian :) I’ll give it a try!

  41. Bec
    November 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Hi, your cookies look amazing! How do you manage to pipe fine details (like the eyes on the princess above)? I have to make iced gingerbread cookies for a wedding bonbonerie & when I’ve piped two dots for the eyes & a line for the mouth using #1 tip, they spread slightly so it doesn’t give a fine look. I’ve tried with thicker royal icing but then i can’t pipe it with a #1. Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

  42. marian
    November 29, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Hi @ Bec: You’re on the right track! Try a little thicker icing with a piping tip #1.5 or 2.
    Hope that helps!

  43. December 6, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I was fortunate enough to have my husband bring me home a princess cookie cutter from a business trip to Germany. I am not sure who makes them though. He went to visit one of the castles there and they sold them castle and princess cookie cutters at the gift shop. I will see if I can find any details.

  44. yolanda pierce
    March 13, 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    @ Tara Osmond:

    Hi, Tara. I usually do the same thing and have found that it separates over night, although I have never left the icing in a piping bag. The way that I found to fix it (in a bottle) is to add a little bit of powdered sugar to the bottle, or to stir it with a chopstick, spoon handle, or anything that fits, it usually comes right back together!

  45. Donna Arnold
    December 4, 2013 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    I have large brass angel shape cutter for years, it was given to me as a gift so I have no clue of origin..It is so large I’ve probably used it one time. It’s approximately 6″ tall. If you’d like it I’d be happy to trade it for some cookies! Yum!
    You can email me, I’m serious. I’ll send pics if you contact me.

    • marian
      January 2, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      That’s awesome! I love it :) (Sorry for the delayed response btw!)

  46. Susie Booth
    December 9, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Thank you.

  47. December 26, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Hi Marian, I love your blog and the beautiful work that you do. For several years now, I have made decorated sugar cookies for Christmas gifts. I find that if I need to layer various icing colors and need to let each color set for 24 hours, the cookies become very dry by the end of the process. Any tips on how to keep them moist and delicious while decorating them over several days? I feel bad that, after all that hard work, they don’t seem tempting and edible.

    • marian
      January 2, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Hi Sara,
      The recipe might make a difference, if you’d like to try a different one. Another idea is doing a test cookie you don’t mind ruining if you test it by pressing the icing or tasting it… For example, if you do a layer and wait until it looks dry (might be less than 24 hours) and test it before you go to the next layer. Hope that helps!

  48. May 7, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    She is too cute. I can’t wait to see the others!

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  2. [...] Cinderella [...]

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