Do Cookies Go Bad? – Full Analysis

by Charlie

Cookies are delicious treats that do not require storage via a refrigerator. However, it can be tricky when trying to determine if cookies go bad.

Do cookies go bad? The answer is yes but it all depends on the type of cookie, how they are stored, if they are opened or unopened, and other factors. Most unopened cookies last 1-2 months in the pantry. Cookies that are already opened last 7-21 days.

Many do not think of cookies as going bad but merely going stale. And for most, cookies do not stay in the panty long enough to go bad. 

Depending on the above factors, cookies can last from a few days to several months from their past printed date.

How to Tell if Cookies are Bad

Your senses are the best and most reliable way to tell you if the cookies that you want to eat have gone bad or not. If the cookie started as a soft cookie and it has turned into a cookie with a hard, dry texture, then it most likely is bad, not to mention stale. If they started as a hard cookie, they will be the opposite, with a soft texture.

You can also tell by the way they smell and always check to see if there is mold on them if they have been in the pantry for any length of time.

Shelf Life of Commercially Packaged Cookies Pass Printed Date [Chart]

Type of CookiePantryFreezer
Unopened soft1-2 months4-5 months
Unopened hard1-2 months4-5 months
Opened soft7-10 days4-5 months
Opened hard2-3 weeks4-5 months

How to Store Homemade Cookies

In general, homemade cookies will last about five days at room temperature but they need to be stored correctly. It also depends on the type of cookie you have made. The best way to store cookies is to freeze them or store them at room temperature in an airtight container

Drop Cookies

These are fairly sturdy cookies and can be stacked without ruining any type of decoration or being crushed. They can include oatmeal and chocolate chips. Leftover cookie dough can be stored in the freezer for about six months. To make it easy or to just bake one or two cookies, pre-portion the dough and freeze before you put them in an airtight container in the freezer.

Drop Cookies Shelf Life

At Room TemperatureFreezer
1 week6 months

Cutout Cookies

These cookies include sugar and gingerbread. Cookie dough can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days and in the freezer for up to six months. Baked cookies should be stored undecorated in the freezer as the glazes and frostings do not hold up in the freezer. 

When freezing these cookies, to help keep their shape, you should put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Then you can stack them and put them in a zip lock freezer bag. Push as much of the air out that you can before putting them back into the freezer

Cutout Cookies Shelf Life

At Room TemperatureFreezer
Within 7 days of baking (best taste first 3 days)6 months

Spritz and Shortbread Cookies

These are buttery cookies that have a not-too-sweet taste with a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth quality. These are cookies that last a while. The cookie dough for either of these cookies can be made up to three days in advance and kept in the refrigerator.

Spritz and Shortbread Cookies Shelf Life

At Room TemperatureFreezer
2 weeks6 months (3 months if individual cookies)

Icebox Cookies

These are like drop cookies in which they are also pretty sturdy and they can be put in a zip-lock bag or an airtight container. This is the type of cookie dough that is meant to be stored in the refrigerator before you bake them. Most are shaped into logs and then sliced into the desired width of your cookie. Make sure that you wrap the logs tightly before you store them in an airtight bag. They can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Icebox Cookies Shelf Life

At Room TemperatureFreezer
5 days (best taste)6 months

Twice Baked Cookies

These are like a soft, airy but crunchy cookie. It is baked for a few minutes, removed from the oven to let it cool, and then put back in the oven to finish baking. This type of cookie includes Mandelbrot and Biscotti. They have a longer shelf life than most other homemade cookies. You should not make this cookie dough and store it in the refrigerator to be baked later.

Twice Baked Cookies Shelf Life

At Room TemperatureFreezer
2 weeks6 months

Delicate Cookies

These types of cookies are generally really light and easily broken. They include tuiles, Florentines, brandy snaps, and pizzelle. They do take some finesse to store. These cookies do not have a very long shelf life. When making the cookie dough batter, use it immediately and do not try to store it. They do not store well in the freezer and if they have fillings, keep them in the refrigerator.

Delicate Cookies Shelf Life

At Room TemperatureFreezer
Within 3 daysN/A

Frosted Cookies

These cookies will require some care to store and should be stored in a single layer so you do not mess up your design. If they are decorated with royal icing, they can be stored at room temperature but if you are using whipped cream or cream cheese frosting for decoration, they need to be refrigerated. They need to be eaten within two to three days. The frosting and decorations do not hold up in the freezer so you should not freeze them.

Frosted Cookies Shelf Life

At Room TemperatureFreezer
2-3 days6 months (not decorated)

Bar Cookies

With this type of cookie, there is no refrigerating or freezing option for the dough so they have to be baked immediately. After baking, to store at room temperature you need to keep them in the same pan and cover them tightly with plastic wrap. For the freezer, wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil.

Bar Cookies Shelf Life

At Room TemperatureFreezer
3 days6 months

Tips for Storing Homemade Cookies

When you make cookies, you want to make sure that you store them correctly to give them as much shelf life as you can. 

  • Always make sure that the containers you are storing them in are airtight.
  • Use two layers of wrapping to help prevent freezer burn before you put them in zip-lock bags for freezer storage. Try to get as much air out of the bags as you can before putting them in the freezer.
  • Always make sure they are cool before storing them as they can become soggy from any trapped heat.
  • Store your cookies with other similar cookies. For example, store crispy cookies with crispy cookies. If you store them with soft cookies, it could make the crispy cookies soft. Do not mix the flavors as they could meld with the other cookies. Storing peppermint cookies with non-flavored cookies could have all cookies having a hint of peppermint.
  • Store delicate and frosted cookies in one layer and not on top of each other.
  • Homemade baked cookies should not be stored in the fridge unless they are frosted with a frosting that needs refrigerated.

Final Thoughts

  • When cookies, prepackaged from the store, are stored properly the shelf life of them passed their best by date is approximate.
  • Yes, cookies do go bad and if you eat them, they could give you food poisoning.
  • Always check cookies to see if they are past the “best by eaten date” to make sure they are not moldy or don’t have a weird smell.

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