Deciding to freeze cookie dough can be a great choice is preserve the dough for a later date. However, frozen cookie dough won’t last forever.
Does frozen cookie dough go bad? Yes, frozen cookie dough can go bad if it’s too long past its “best used by” or expiration date. Frozen cookie dough will typically last between 6 and 12 months, depending on the type, flavors, and ingredients.
Store-bought and homemade cookie dough will hold up differently, whether you’re storing it in the freezer or refrigerator, or if it’s left sitting out.
Ingredients, such as raw eggs and preservatives, also influence how long frozen cookie dough is good for. Let’s take a look at why frozen cookie dough goes bad and how to determine whether it’s safe to use.
Why Does Frozen Cookie Dough Expire?
Frozen cookie dough comes with an expiration or “best used by” date because the ingredients start to break down over time. Cookie dough with more preservatives will last longer, but most doughs contain raw eggs and other ingredients that can go bad.
While freezing cookie dough can extend its life, most foods and food products eventually expire. This means they are no longer safe to eat. Products with raw eggs, in particular, can cause food poisoning from salmonella and E. coli bacteria.
Some doughs do not contain raw eggs, however. Most of these varieties are touted as “edible,” but vegan recipes also substitute eggs with other ingredients like egg replacers and baking soda. Still, these ingredients don’t last forever.
The best rule of thumb is to use the shortest typical expiration life of one of the ingredients in the cookie dough to determine whether it’s safe. For instance, the USDA recommends using cookie dough before the date on the label or within 2 months of freezing.
What Date Does Frozen Cookie Dough Really Expire By?
It will depend on what type of cookie dough you store in your freezer. If you buy refrigerated commercial cookie dough at the store, it’s safe to say it remains good in the freezer for 6 to 12 months past the “best used by” date.
If you buy frozen cookie dough and put it immediately in the freezer, you can go 9 to 12 months past the “best used by” date on the package. You can store homemade cookie dough in an airtight container for 6 to 12 months in your freezer.
Of course, if you do see an expiration date on the package, this should overrule any other time frame.
What If You Remove Cookie Dough from the Freezer or Let it Thaw Out?
If you remove cookie dough from the freezer and let it thaw out, this will impact its life. Cookie dough that sits out on the counter will be good for 2 to 4 hours once it thaws.
If you thaw frozen cookie dough in the refrigerator in an airtight container, it will last for 2 to 4 weeks.
This means that you should bake the dough within these timeframes. Let’s say you take out frozen cookie dough and let it thaw on the counter. Check it in 2 hours to see if it’s ready to bake. Re-check every 30 minutes up to 4 hours from the time you took the dough out.
The same principle applies to frozen cookie dough you let thaw in the fridge. Obviously, you’ll be buying yourself more time with this option. However, you should plan to bake your cookies as soon as possible to ensure freshness and quality.
How to Tell if Frozen Cookie Dough is Bad?
There are a few obvious ways to tell if your cookie dough is no longer safe to eat. Those ways are by the dough’s appearance and smell.
If you notice a mold on your cookie dough or portions that are dried out, the dough isn’t safe to use. Likewise, don’t use the dough if it has a rancid or sour smell.
Another sure sign your cookie dough’s gone bad is it’s turned darker and hard. You may need to thaw out the dough first to see if the second variable is true. But if you notice darker patches in the cookie dough or along the edges, go ahead and throw it away.
More unfortunate ways to tell if your frozen cookie dough is bad is if your baked cookies taste weird or you get sick. These are things you want to avoid as food poisoning can have severe consequences.
How Can You Prevent Frozen Cookie Dough from Going Bad?
The obvious answer is to bake it before it expires. While the “best if used by” data on commercial or store-bought cookie dough isn’t a firm expiration date, it ensures the dough is of the highest possible quality.
To prevent any questions or doubts, plan on baking your frozen cookie dough before this date. You’ll get better-tasting cookies and won’t have to worry about making yourself or someone else sick.
Just be sure to follow the time guidelines for baking if you decide to thaw the dough first. Remember it’s within 2 to 4 hours for thawing on the counter and 2 to 4 weeks if you thaw in the fridge.
Can You Safely Eat Thawed-Out Raw Cookie Dough?
In most cases, the answer is no. Ingredients such as raw eggs make eating uncooked cookie dough unsafe. These ingredients put you at risk of food poisoning from bacteria.
However, you should be okay if you bought or made cookie dough without raw eggs. Your risk of food poisoning is low since the raw dough does not expose your system to potential salmonella or E. coli.
The exception is if the dough is past its expiration date. You don’t want to take that risk.
Remember these tips when deciding whether it’s safe to bake or eat frozen cookie dough.
- Look to see if there’s an expiration date or a “best if used by” date on the package. Plan on baking your dough before expiration or no longer than 6 to 12 months past the “best if used by” date for dough left in your freezer.
- The sooner you use your frozen cookie dough, the better.