Mar 17


Freezing Decorated Cookies

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I don’t have a lot of experience with freezing cookies decorated with royal icing.

UNdecorated ones; no problem!  Freezing them in airtight containers between layers of parchment paper, and then thawing them to room temperature before decorating, has always worked for me.


In fact, it’s a great time saver if I’d like to make my cookies for a certain date, but know I won’t have tons of time.  Making and freezing the cookies ahead means I can just do the fun part (decorating of course!), when the time is near.

So why the nutcracker here?

I made him before Halloween.  Ahem… um, yes, before Halloween – I was itching for Christmas this year 😉 and needed to freeze him so he’d be fresh for the Christmas season. (Click here for the recipe and more pics).

Once he was thawed, the colors didn’t bleed like I had anticipated, but I noticed little splotches on his navy legs. (See below).


To Freeze or Not to Freeze?  That is the question…

In this post, I have questions for you about freezing decorated cookies:

  • What has been your experience with freezing decorated cookies?
  • Was bleeding an issue?
  • Were spots an issue?
  • How do you thaw decorated cookies?  -In the fridge or at room temperature?   -Is the container lid on or off when you thaw them?
  • Why would only the dark color (navy) on the nutcracker, have spots and not other areas?
  • What are your tips for successful freezing of decorated cookies?

As an aside as well, I’ve recieved many emails about spots on cookies which have nothing to do with freezing… and I’m wondering if the two issues are related.

If spots form on the surface of your royal icing just after drying (or during the drying process), it’s possible the fats from the dough are penetrating through the icing.  I haven’t experienced the spotting issue (except for this cookie which I froze), and am not certain about the cause, but suggest the following ideas as solutions if spotting happens even before you freeze your cookies:

  • Less butter in your dough (maybe try a different recipe)
  • Dry cookies in an environment free of humidity/moisture
  • Avoid letting them dry in the sun
  • Make your cookies a little thinner
  • Make your royal icing thicker (consistency) or try a different recipe (I love Antonia74’s)
  • Make sure all ingredients used in the royal icing are fresh
  • Sift icing sugar and meringue powder when making your royal icing


Please leave me your feedback in the comment section below and/or on my facebook page here.

Looking forward to learning from you!



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  1. Wendy D
    June 21, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    You should leave them on the counter to thaw flat, unstacked. If put into the fridge you run the risk of moisture and then the spots on your cookies

  2. Vicky
    January 1, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I am a relatively new cookie decorator about two years. Since not being able to decorate the cookies quickly it would take me many many days to get them done so I experimented with freezing the cookie which was quite successful. However I still had many days of decorating and when it comes close to the event I always needed more time. So this year I decided to freeze the decorated cookies and I had great success I was able to do the cookie baking and decorating at my leisure before freezing. I also decided to PUSH THE ENVELOPE and decorate thawed cookies then REFREEZE them decorated. I was amazed – it worked great for me and the texture and taste were perfect I would recommend testing a dozen or so to see how it works for you. I did not see any spotting on my cookies. Would love to know how others made out

    • Megan
      January 14, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Hi Marian and Vicky,

      Marian, I visited this website and am very impressed, great job! I have learned so much in the past two days, thank you!

      Vicky, what a great tip and good to know about freezing and unfreezing and freezing again, as sometimes there is not enough hours in the day, or night sometimes, haha. But I have never done cookie decorating and looking to branch in to it, so thank you for the information!

      Have a wonderful day!

    • christine beelen
      March 12, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      HI Vicky:

      When you have a moment, would you please let me know if you freeze the iced cookies between sheets of parchment paper or wax paper. Just wondering if there would be any difference.


    • Julesie
      December 14, 2018 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      I have had much success freezing undecorated cookies, thawing, decorating and refreezing. I don’t use a strict royal icing, but do use a meringue-powder-based frosting and it works fine. Saves a ton of time during the holidays.

  3. Laine
    April 16, 2016 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Hi Marian, I am new at baking and makig sugar cookies. I’ve tried using the recipes and they were the best! I just have a question. I wanted to do the sugar cookies for my son’s 1st birthday and wanted to do a few things ahead because i have a loooot of DIYs and that’s a lot of time too! I just have a few question. How long can I freeze the cookie dough? And if I freeze the cookie dough, once it’s time to roll, cut and bake them, can I still freeze the undecorated cookies? So i would have enough time to decorate, i really enjoy decorating it’s just that I don’t have time. I wanted to make 5 dozen and thinking about it makes me panick already. Lastly, once they’re decorated and dried and wrapped them, do I need to freeze them? Or it’s okay to just place them on an airtight container in room temperature? I hope you can help me.

    Thanks in advance!!

  4. Kimberly
    December 1, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I freeze my decorated sugar cookies quite often, and I have never had a problem. However, I freeze them after decorating and after I have individually packaged and heat sealed the tops. I put them in a container just in case. When I want to thaw, I bring them out and let them come to room temperature. Easy peasy. Never had a problem with moisture, spotting, bleeding, etc. 🙂

    I’ve never tried freezing undecorated sugar cookies, or decorated sugar cookings without any packaging.

    • marian
      December 2, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Thanks so much for sharing Kimberly!

    • Jill
      March 24, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Hi! I’m Nibbles Bakery, a Saturday Market Vendor in Eugene, OR. Because of the eggs in the dough, you should not freeze the raw dough for longer than one month. Then, bake the cookies. You can freeze them for up to 3 months, if properly protected, without taste issues. You can actually freeze them longer, but they get that freezer taste without being frostbitten.

      You CAN also refreeze the baked cookies, but you must use new wrappings. When you are thawing them, make sure they are only one layer deep or they might fuse together with your parchment paper in the middle! Yuck!

  5. Crislyn
    December 11, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marian, it’s Sunday and I’m making sugar cookies for the kids to decorate in my son’s class on Thursday. Would you even bother to freeze these undecorated cookies? Or just airtight container for the next four days. Thanks!!!!!

  6. Mary
    March 20, 2017 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    Hi how did you wrap each decorated sugar cookie to be frozen ? I did an event today (Sunday) n disntvsell much bc of turn out but want to try another place in one week..I’m guessing I need to freeze then to keep the fresh ?’

  7. Linda Vassallo
    February 2, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    After thawing out your frozen sugar cookies and after painting them can you refreeze them as painted until shipping. I’m trying this for the first time because I got bombarded and I have the dates mixed up so I had to put the cookies that I already painted back into the freezer after already thawing them out and painting them they look OK but I just want to make sure and get somebody’s opinion thank you

  8. Rebecca
    May 2, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I can honestly say I freeze about 90% of my cookies. If I left them out I would eat way to many. Also, because of my job I usually have to make my cookies in advanced and worry about them staying fresh on the counter.

    I have never had an issue with spots or bleeding icing. Freeze between parchment once fully dried. Air tight container. I thaw my cookies at room temp on wire racks for air circulation over night. They are perfect.

    Now if you use sprinkles Or candies I have has those bleed. But they usually bleed even sitting on the counter so I don’t think it’s the freezing.

    • marian
      May 11, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your feedback Rebecca!

  9. Chris
    October 31, 2018 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    This information is very helpful. If someone can comment on whether there is a difference or preference with using parchment paper vs wax paper when freezing decorated cookies i.e. layering one of these between each layer of cookies. Thanks.

    • November 12, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chris, I’ve only ever used parchment, which works well. Sorry can’t compare.

  10. Sue
    February 25, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Using a sugar paper picture on my cookies. Can this be frozen?

    • marian
      February 25, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Hi Sue,
      Yes, it should work. If your sugar paper is not adhered to icing everywhere it may break easily though.

  11. Brock Fischer
    May 9, 2019 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I have had trouble with freezing cookies with royal icing, but I think it was because they weren’t always completely dry. I maybe waited 3-4 hours before stacking and freezing, and they would be stuck together when I took them out, ruining all of my hard work with the icing. I also have put some in Ziploc bags, and the icing would get ruined after adhering to the top of the bags, even though it appeared to be completely dry before freezing. I’ve read online that royal icing takes 8 hours to fully set. So best to leave them out overnight before trying to stack them (which concerns me for dryness, but it’s the only option). Also, if you put the iced cookies in the freezer while still wet at all, the icing will NOT set. It will remain soft. Royal icing has to set at room temperature. Once it is fully dried, stacking with or without parchment paper has been no problem for me.

    How do you guys feel about the shelf life of royal icing cookies on the counter vs in the fridge vs in the freezer. Usually, I make the cookies and freeze them the same night once dry even if I’m going to decorate in the next few days. I get worried about them drying out on the counter. Also after icing them, I have to leave them out overnight which is another eight hours of air exposure. So I always try to keep them in the freezer between baking and icing, and after icing if it’s going to be a few days until they are eaten. Maybe that’s too radical. Maybe I can leave them at room temperature for longer (up to a week?) without them drying out as long as they are in a sealed container. Or in the fridge rather than the freezer? I have noticed that you if you leave them in the freezer for more than about a week the royal icing will start to look not quite as pretty. It might get a few streaks in it or blotches, nothing too major. Would love to hear others input and experience on this.

  12. June Boucher
    June 5, 2019 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Some comments for Brock. I’m an Aussie and have been making biscuits (Aussie for cookie) for some years. I stack my cooked biscuits in plastic containers overnight before freezing. I use a recipe which came with the biscuit cutters and matching stencils I purchased from http://www.designer I have had many comments on how tasty they are. Since I have mastered decorating and freezing I now decorate and leave the biscuits overnight on racks for the Royal icing to dry completely. I worried about the biscuit becoming stale, but have not had a problem in that regard. If I need to freeze them after decorating, I put them in containers with parchment paper between layers. Golden rule is that when defrosting DO NOT OPEN THE LID until they have had time to come to room temperature. As added security I put a sheet of paper towel on top of the top layer, in case there is any condensation during the thawing process. I haven’t tried bagging the biscuits before freezing.

    • marian
      June 6, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing June!!

    • Nikki l wallenberg
      July 23, 2019 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      Do you put the paper towel directly on the top layer of cookies or on top of parchment paper? Does the paper towel leave marks when coming to room temp?

    • marian
      July 24, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Hi Nikki,

      I’m not sure how June does it, but I’ve frozen cookies quite a bit since this post went up, and I just freeze them between layers of parchment paper.

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