Fortunately, plenty of cookies keep well—and some actually improve with age. Go ahead and try some of those traditional Scandinavian and German recipes that you’ve ignored all these years; many are made for keeping and delicious, indeed. Or, stay in your comfort zone with butter cookies, meringues, and biscotti.
If you can organize your sock drawer (so trendy right now) you can make a plan and start baking cookies immediately. (And for tips on how to bake a zillion cookies with only two cookie sheets go here.)
Always consult the individual recipe you are using, but here is the general scoop on types of cookies that keep well and/or actually improve with age—as long as you store them properly, in airtight containers or as directed in the recipe you are using. You can find storage times and further details for dozen of other cookies in my book Chewy Gooey, Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies (Artisan Books 2010).
Your Guide to Make-Ahead Cookies, A through T:
- Amaretti: These keep for at least 2 months, probably much longer.
- Biscotti: The super dry, crunchy type improve with a few days age and keep for several weeks. The cakier, less crunchy type may keep for 2 weeks.
- Brandy snaps (unfilled): These keep for 1 week.
- Butter cookies: Generally these are better a couple of days after baking but keep for at least 1 month (see also spritz, shortbread, Mexican wedding cakes, etc.).
- Fruitcake cookies: Depending on the recipe, you may be able to make these weeks or months ahead.
- Gingerbread folks: These keep for several months.
- Graham crackers: These keep for at least 3 weeks.
- Meringues: The type that are completely dry and crisp (not soft and marshmallowy inside)—which include meringue mushrooms—will last for months (stored airtight) unless your environment is very humid or they include ingredients like nuts that might go rancid or stale.
- Lace cookies: These keep for 1 week.
- Lebkuchen: These should be made at least 2 weeks before serving, and they keep several weeks.
- Mexican wedding cakes/Polvorónes/Russian Tea Cakes/Austrian Crescents: Most of these keep at least 1 month. There are some exceptions.
- Moravian Spice Cookies: These keep for at least 2 months.
- Peanut Butter Cookies: These keep for at least 2 weeks.
Make your pfeffernusse several weeks ahead of time. Photo by James Ransom
- Pfeffernusse: These should be made at least a few days or up to 2 weeks before serving, depending on the recipe, and they keep for several weeks.
- Shortbread and shortbread cookies: These keep for at least 1 month.
- Springerles: These should be made 2 weeks before serving and they keep for several months.