FREEZE: Rollout cookies – all the fun, none of the fuss.

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Want to have ginger snowmen, fresh-baked and ready to decorate, in just 10 minutes?

Sure you do! Who wouldn’t, given the hectic schedules we all pursue at this time of the year.

Between work and holiday shopping, chores and holiday shopping, errands and holiday shopping – and holiday shopping – who has time for making cookie dough, rolling it out, cutting, carefully transferring cutouts to cookie sheets, baking, cooling…

You do!

The secret?

Doing all the heavy lifting ahead of time. Having cookies all cut out and ready to pop into the oven the moment the kids come home (or the grandchildren show up).

By the time you get the icing and sprinkles organized, and the kids settled, the cookies will be baked, cooled, and ready to ice.

No way!

Yes, absolutely. Thanks to the modern miracle of electricity and freezers, you, yes you, can cut out your cookie angels, snowmen, and stars ahead of time, freeze them, then pop them in the oven whenever you’re ready.

Don’t care to fuss? This technique works fine for any rollout cookie; no need to frost or decorate.

And how about chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter, and all your other favorites?

Yes, they’re easily made ahead and frozen. Twenty minutes after unexpected guests arrive, you can ask, “Can I offer you a nice warm cookie, just out of the oven?“

Now THAT’S hospitality! Check out our timesavers for the holidays post from last year.

Place the following in a mixing bowl, and beat until combined:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt

Add 1 large egg, and 2 tablespoons molasses.

Beat until smooth. Amazing how that one egg smooths things out, eh?

Add 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Mix until thoroughly combined, then add an additional 1 1/2 cups flour, for a total of 3 cups. Add 3 tablespoons cornstarch, along with the second batch of flour.

Mix to combine.

See how dry this looks? Scrape the bowl, and continue to mix…

…until everything looks well mixed, with no dry spots.

Divide the dough in half, flattening each half slightly to make a disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight. This chilling period will make the dough easier to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and place it on a piece of half-sheet parchment (16 1/2” x 12 1/4”).

If you don’t have parchment, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface.

Roll it 1/8” to 1/4” thick. A thinner cookie will be crisper; a thicker cookie, more solid/soft (though not bendy soft; just softer than crisp).

Draw a mental line down the center of the sheet; or actually cut your dough in half, using a knife or pizza cutter. Your goal is to cut cookies that will fall  on one or the other half of the paper; you’ll see why in a minute.

Cut out cookies, removing and saving the dough between them. You’ll re-roll and cut these scraps.

As the dough gets warmer, it gets trickier to remove the crooked, awkward pieces of dough in between cutouts; a toothpick helps.

Now, take a pair of scissors and cut that sheet of parchment right down the middle.

If you like, you can start with a half-sheet of parchment, rather than rolling on a full sheet and then cutting; you’ll just need to use a smaller piece of dough.

As you continue to roll out dough and cut cookies, lay the sheets of cookies into a 9” x 13” pan. Continue until you’ve used all the dough.

If you prefer rolling cookies on a floured surface, you can pick them up and transfer them to the parchment in the pan. If you don’t have parchment, substitute waxed paper or foil.

Why roll directly on the parchment? It’s great for sticky dough, and/or intricate shapes. It’s easier to pick up a piece of parchment with cutout cookies than it is to successfully move delicate cookies from your rolling surface to a pan.

Next, cover the pan with plastic wrap (or a shower cap), and place it in the freezer. Once the cookies are frozen, you can leave the pan in the freezer; or, to save space (and get your pan back), remove the pan from the freezer, quickly peel the cookies off the parchment, and store them in a zip-top bag.

I say quickly because you don’t want cookies defrosting and getting soft; they’ll stick together in the bag.

Ready to bake?

Remove the cookies from the freezer. If you’ve kept them on the parchment, simply transfer cookies, parchment and all, to a baking sheet.

If the frozen cookies have been bagged, take the bag out of the freezer, and quickly place the frozen cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Do you see the word “parchment” being used constantly here? It’s the test kitchen’s best friend – and it should be yours, too. There’s nothing like parchment for keeping pans clean, moving stuff around, storage, preventing sticking, and a host of other uses.

A single piece of parchment can be used over and over again, too. What’s not to like?!

Bake the cookies just until they’re slightly brown around the edges, or until they feel firm, about 10 to 13 minutes.

Remove them from the oven.

See how the edges are just slightly brown? It’s easier to see on the right of these cookies.

When the cookies are completely cool, you can choose to decorate them – or not.

I have a huge personal antipathy towards decorated cookies; the process ratchets my stress level WAY too high. So I prevailed upon my long-time buddy and fellow test-kitchen baker, Sue Gray, to do some simple decorating as I took the photos.

First, Sue whipped up some royal icing (honestly, it took her like 2 minutes), and put it in a plastic piping bag. After adding a small, plain tip, she was ready to go. She piped lines on the snowman’s hat, and sprinkled with black sparkling sugar

…then shook Frosty to get rid of any excess sugar.

Next, she piped a face, and buttons…

…and a scarf, which she sprinkled with red sugar.

After shaking off the excess, she used a paintbrush to clean Frosty’s face.

Decorating like this isn’t hard, honestly; I just don’t have the patience (nor artistic bent) for it. So – thanks, Sue!

“Hey, how did she make that sparkling sugar stick onto the guy on the right?”

Brush the baked snowman lightly with corn syrup, honey, or maple syrup thinned with a bit of water; immediately sprinkle with sugar, shaking off any excess.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Light Spice Holiday Cookies.

Want to read more about how to prepare and freeze just-in-time holiday treats?

•Read about drop cookies, sticky buns, scones, and flaky cheese twists.
•Read about cinnamon buns.
•Read about fruit pie.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Irene in TO

    Keep the cookies on the parchment–it works to keep the layers separate when you freeze hundreds of cookies/piecrusts/etc. You can stack them as high as you need to, and then freeze the plastic tub.

    If you are freezing any rolled dough, remember–get PARCHMENT. Look carefully in the foil/wrap section as many grocery stores carry it.

    Freezing dough on waxed paper will turn it to wet mush that can’t be peeled off. Wastes everything including your time.

    Thanks, Irene – check out our bulk half-sheet parchment. PJH

    Reply
  2. menck96

    What GENIUS this is! I was just about to give up on making Christmas Cookies because of all the intricate work involved. This method makes it so much easier. Parchment paper is the answer. Using it as a vehicle for the shaped cookies and lifting them onto the cookie sheets is just about the best idea I have EVER heard. Thank you so much for bringing back the fun of cookie baking to me with this idea.

    Reply
  3. suesthebaker

    I think those cut out cookies look so good. In fact, those cut outs are so decorative that I think I will try to make some and see what others think of these cookies. And thanks for the great tips on freezing cookie dough. I haven’t frozen dough before, but it really sounds like a great idea and time saver when you come to think of it.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe complete with full instructions and baking tips.

    Reply
  4. milkwithknives

    Oh, lovely! I freeze drop cookie dough balls all the time, but I never thought of freezing cut outs before. Brilliant! And as much as I love gingerbread cookies, I love spice cookies even more. Thanks for the recipe, I’ll definitely be giving these a go.

    Reply
  5. marjiekanyer

    Is there a thawing time from freezer to oven? As one who bakes lots of cookies over the holidays, this sounds like the way to go!

    Frozen cookies go right from the freezer to the oven! Drop cookies that are scooped out and frozen may need a bit more baking time, but cut cookies bake in 11 – 13 minutes. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  6. glpruett

    I have used this “mix, roll, cut and freeze” technique for many years. The first was in 1977, when we had just moved into a fixer-upper home just before the holidays and I wanted to be sure I had Christmas cookies hot from the oven to bake and decorate with our daughter! At that time, I was unaware of parchment paper, so I just froze the cookies directly on my pans. When frozen, I took the pans out one at a time, scooped up the cookies with a spatula, put them into zip-top bags, and popped the bags back into the freezer. Then I was ready to bake and decorate after our move.

    Since I discovered parchment paper, however, this is a much simpler process! Your half-parchment sheets fit my pans perfectly, and work great. Thanks, KA, for another great product!

    Reply
  7. mijacronin

    where can I find the Snowman cookie cutter you used in this blog?

    Frosty is waiting for you as part of the Holiday Cookie Gift set (item 2731). The set includes the snowman cutter, a vanilla sugar cookie mix and a red and white spoonula! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  8. Cindy leigh

    PJ, great idea!
    Hey, I just gave you guys a plug. A reporter was here to photograph daughter’s sports team as they decorated and baked cut out cookies for an upcoming cookie fair. She asked me about my recipes and baking in general, and I told her I only use King Arthur.

    YEE-HAW, Cindy- thanks so much! Every little bit helps, and our customers are by far our best advocates. Hope the cookie fair goes well- :) PJH

    Reply
  9. carla

    Question…can I stir up, scoop out, and freeze cookies made with bakers ammonia? I wanted to make your Vanilla Dreams and freeze them…is that possible without compromising the quality?

    Thank YOU, King Arthur, for all of your help and baking support!! It is appreciated very much!

    Absolutely, Carla – go for it. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  10. kapintoperry

    I woke up this a.m. wanting to make dough and freeze it. but never thought to freeze the cut-outs…this idea is fabulous! i tasted the raw dough and it is yummy! can’t wait to try the baked cookie. thanks KAF for the constant wonderful ideas and this blog…it is a such a timesaver and an inspiration to me.

    And thanks so much for your kind words… happy cookie-baking! PJH

    Reply
  11. beaudebv

    I have a recipe very similar to the used here, but mine doesn’t call for cornstarch. What does the cornstarch here do? We cook our gingerbread cookies with string loops on the tops, then frost and decorate them to hang on our Christmas tree. Many of the adults’ cookies are quite artistic, but it is the children’s that usually look the best, probably because of the piles of glitter and crystallized sugars they use to enhance the colored frosting…

    Ah, kids – the more the better, right? And with Christmas cookies, that’s probably true! The cornstarch lowers the gluten in the flour a bit, promoting cookies that are a tad easier to roll out, and perhaps a tad more tender. PJH

    Reply
  12. awendt

    How long can these stay in the freezer? I am thinking this would be great tip for our Valentine’s Day cookie party.

    Thanks!

    Well wrapped, you can hold these frozen for 3 months. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  13. delineavit

    Hi all: I make about a million Russian Teacakes every Christmas ( I think these have a lot of different names, but they’re the little powdered sugar/butter/nut balls.) Could I make these now, freeze them, and store them in bags for a week or so? (mind spinning at possibility).
    Thanks in advance. KA is always such a great resource.
    You’d need to freeze them before adding the powdered sugar, as that gets soggy during thawing. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. delineavit

    These look GREAT, and such a good idea. Is there an easy way to get a printable version of this fabulous recipe and instructions?
    Hi there. You can find the Light Spice Cookies recipe here. To print the whole blog, you’d have to copy and paste it, but you can bookmark it on your favorites, then you can find it anytime you are online. – KAF

    You can easily print just the recipe my clicking “printable version” just above the main photo on the recipe page. PJH

    Reply
  15. Pam JWM

    How would these be different if I used all butter instead of the shortening? I think this is such a great idea, and I love the trick with the snowman that has white on just part of the cookie.

    Butter has a lower melting point. This substitution will cause the cookies to spread and loose their definition. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  16. kyleminor

    I’m glad the site re-linked to this blog post! Layering the cut-out dough on parchment in the freezer is GENIUS. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of that myself! Excellent idea.

    I have a great method for adhering sparkling sugar to baked cookies: an egg-white wash! Just take an egg white and thin with a LITTLE bit of water and beat a bit. Paint a thin layer on to your cookie — too much and colored sugar will start to dissolve and leave dark spots. Before the wash dries, sprinkle the sugar on.

    Cookies done this way look gorgeous and are usually much faster than using a buttercream or royal icing. I’m generally not worried about raw egg whites (A lot of folks use them in Royal Icing), but you could use the powdered kind, I suppose. It’d be harder to get the proper consistency without making it too wet, though.

    Reply
  17. incrementalingredient

    How long will these cut-out cookies stay delicious when stored, un-frosted, at room temperature in an air-tight container? I baked before having a chance to freeze! I suppose the follow up question would be whether I can simply freeze the baked, un-frosted version as well to take them out for later decorating? Please advise! Thanks! And, I love this cut-out cookie dough recipe. It’s very easy to work with, and just the right balance of spices.
    Sorry that this got posted without the answer, guess we were off checking the ovens. Anyway, I’d say go with the bake and freeze method. You can keep the frozen unfrosted cookies for up to 4 weeks, and just take out the ones you need when you need them. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  18. JJ

    Thank you, thank you! I just knew this had to be a legit way to do holiday cookies. I’ve searched high and low but I just keep reading “fine to freeze dough in a blob…fine to freeze baked/decorated cookies” but nowhere else have I found permission to roll, cut, freeze and THEN bake. I’m so glad that it came from KAF — I trust your test kitchen so much more than some random foodie blogger, anyway. :) Thank you again!
    Hee hee, we take the choco-cratic oath, don’tcha know. ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  19. Reyna

    Can this recipe be made with the KAF white whole wheat Flour? If so what adjustments need to be made? My family loves the White WW Flour. I have only been using it for a few weeks and it is just so good. Just have to figure how to adapt recipes to use the White WW flour.
    Thanks you.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Reyna, you can definitely use the white whole wheat – you’ll get a different cookie: darker colored, stronger tasting, not as easy to roll out. May I suggest substituting www for half the all-purpose flour, to see how you like the results? I routinely sub www 100% for the AP flour in muffins, cookies, scones, and bars; but in things like yellow cake and plain sugar cookies (like these), the substitution is more noticeable, and not everyone approves. Good luck – PJH

  20. Nancy Smith

    I just want to again, thank KAF for all the wonderfully delicious products and baking gear offered to us home bakers. I discovered your company last Fall and have ordered 3 times and am about to give it a go again today. Love all the help you give, your associates that answer the phones do a wonderful job and I just wish I lived closer to VT – I am here in Southern Oregon – will make a trip to KAF one of my bucket list priorities. It is so great to have found a place to purchase great baking materials with all the great instructions provided. Thanks my friends at KAF – my New Year 2014 is already the best. Happy New Year to all post 13 days.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Thank you SO much, Nancy – for your kind words, and for choosing to invite us into your kitchen. Here’s to LOTS of good baking in 2014! Cheers – PJH

  21. Amy

    I typically freeze choc chip cookie dough after I portion it using a mini ice cream scoop. I’ve always defrosted before baking, but that takes awhile. Normal bake time is 9-11 @375. What do you recommend for frozen dough baking time?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Amy, I’ve found the frozen dough balls bake almost as quickly – at most, maybe an extra minute longer. Kep your eye on the first batch; from then on, you’ll know how it works in your oven. Enjoy – PJH

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