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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!



p.s. If you’d like to never miss a post, and/or receive more tips on cookie decorating, click on this button below to sign up:


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  1. 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!

    • deb kendall
      December 20, 2017 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      re: cookies drying out? a trick that i found to bring “dried” out cookies back to life? i let the icing set on the top…and when all the layers are dry? i put the cookies on a cookie cooling rack, and then place it on top of damp paper towels, then cover with plastic wrap. the next morning, the icing will still be hard, but the cookies will be soft again.

    • Viveca
      February 10, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      You can try this recipe, flavor and consistency is excellent. It is called Signature cookie dough recipe.

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

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

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  6. Carey
    January 14, 2015 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Hello! Do you know how long cutout (sugar or shortbread) cookies stay fresh? For example, can i bake them on a Wednesday, then ice them with RI the following Wednesday and still have them okay to eat by the next Wednesday? I guess I’m asking for their shelf life. 😉 thank you!!!

    • January 15, 2015 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      I sometimes bake my cookies and then freeze them in an airtight container after they are fully cooled. Then I can decorate them anytime I want within about 6 weeks. They thaw in as little as a half hour and taste just as fresh as just baked. If you seal them in an airtight container after fully decorated and dried, they last for several weeks (4-6). I like to individually wrap my cookes and I don’t have a heat sealing machine, so I use a hot knife and it works great.

  7. February 4, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Hi there 🙂
    How long does icing preserve in the bag? I find that challenging, it separates really quickly the sugar from the water. I need help on this topic 😉
    Thank you!

  8. Elizabeth
    February 15, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I would think that using a female gingerbread cookie cutter would make the shape, if you cut her arms and feet off. In fact, that’s what I thought you had done until you said there was no cookie cutter used. I would think that you could try that because the female gingerbread cutter I have has a skirt, a torso, and a head shape. Since you’re decorating inside the cookie shape, not to the edge, I think it would be a relatively easy guide.


    this link is not exactly what I have but it is similar.

    • marian
      February 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Elizabeth!

  9. Lauren Lynch
    May 28, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Hi, Marian–LOVE your website! I’ve read your posts about the multi-day decorating timelines and storing cookies. If I’m decorating over several days, what do I need to do with the cookies in the in-between time? Will they get stale if they are sitting out on a pan or parchment paper on the countertop in between decorating days or do I need to store them in airtight containers? Thank you!

    • Lea
      October 5, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      I would like the answer to this question as well. How do you store cookies while the first layer has to dry sometimes up to 12 hours? I’m a airtight container it just out on a sheet? thanks

    • Meagan
      November 1, 2015 at 1:57 am | Permalink

      Hi! I’m not sure what she does, but I leave mine on parchment paper on pans. This helps me and I feel like they stay safe, not stale. I would like to know as well! I made 12 doz this week and I couldn’t imagine transferring them from air tight container to decorating surface each day!

  10. June 16, 2015 at 12:01 am | Permalink

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  11. Alba
    February 17, 2016 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Dear Marian,
    Your Cinderella’s cookie is really charming and beautiful!

  12. February 17, 2016 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi! What colors did you use to achieve the icing colors on her dress? I’m making Cinderella cookies this week, and love your cookies!

    • marian
      February 18, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Hi Betsy,

      I used sky blue and just a bit of black from what I remember. Have fun decorating!

  13. Lucy
    May 27, 2016 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    Can I freezing unbaked sugar cookie dough and then that in the fridge before I cut and bake?

  14. Melissa
    December 3, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if you found a Cinderella cookie cutter, but if you know any sheet metal workers…they can make custom cutters. My husband cut a small strip of heavyour gauge stainless steel, took my pattern and using a brake in his shop bent and fabricated the cutters with spot welds to hold themy together. When have one that looks just like our house, his business logo and Skippy John Jones.

  15. Donna
    December 5, 2016 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    One quick question…can I freeze the dough to roll-out and bake at a later time?

    • marian
      December 6, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Hi Donna,
      Yes, absolutely. I freeze mine already rolled out and stack on baking sheets. If you have a freezer that allows this, it’s very helpful.

  16. Bobbie
    February 2, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I am having trouble with my royal icing piping a thin line. I am using a #1 tip and have tried 10 and 15 sec icing. Any thicker and it either did not want to come out the tip or bust it busted a hike in the side of my piping bag. Any suggestions please help. Thank you!!!!

  17. Lorie Ann
    June 1, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Have you ever put a slice of bread inside your container to make sure they are soft?
    Also have you ever rolled your cookie dough in powder sugar?

  18. December 20, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Where do you buy you’re piping bags and tips?

  19. Carolyn Gillio
    November 30, 2018 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    jbcookiecutters.com have the Cinderella cookie cutter and about a 1000 more for you to look at!!
    Love your website,

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  6. […] It   may seem strange to be sharing holiday cookies in early November, but the beautiful thing about cookies, is that they freeze really well, and I love getting a head start on holiday baking. I hope you can forgive me for being so early. I’ve also got so many ideas to share with you… I’m going to try and get them all in before Christmas! If you’d like to start baking and decorating early, click on the links to find posts on freezing cookies, thawing cookies and the shelf life of cookies. […]

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  9. […] It may seem strange to be sharing holiday cookies this early, but the beautiful thing about cookies, is that they freeze really well. If you’d like to start baking and decorating early, click on the links to find posts on freezing cookies, thawing cookies and the shelf life of cookies. […]

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Bakerella in Toronto!

Bakerella in Toronto!

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