store sugar cookies with buttercream frosting in the freezer and on the counter

How to Store Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

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One of the many questions I am asked as a buttercream cookie decorator is how to store sugar cookies with buttercream frosting.

Fortunately, this is an easier task than it appears. Trust me, if you can store cupcakes, you can store sugar cookies with buttercream frosting.

Here’s how you can store buttercream sugar cookies, whether it’s in the freezer, counter, or packaged in bags.

I’ll also go over how to store sugar cookies that haven’t been frosted yet, as I get asked that often as well.

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.*

How to Store Buttercream Sugar Cookies

The first step for how to store sugar cookies with buttercream frosting is to obtain the correct type of storage.

  • The storage container needs to be air tight.
  • The storage container needs to be wide and preferably shallow in depth.

My favorite storage container for buttercream sugar cookies, decorated or not, are these large Rubbermaid containers. They fit both criteria and allow me to fit a good amount of cookies.

I have four of these containers and they have never let me down. We’re going on year three with them!

I love that they fit a large amount of cookies and the containers are shallow so I can easily stack them in my freezer or on the counter.

If your cookies are decorated and are a standard 3″ cookie, you can fit almost a dozen in one in a single layer.* If you have undecorated cookies, you can fit about three dozen standard sized sugar cookies in it.

*You will likely need to freeze at least a dozen buttercream frosted cookies at a time, don’t worry, I will show you how to do this below using these same storage containers.

The next step for how to store sugar cookies with buttercream frosting is determining how long you will need to store the decorated cookies.

  • You can store buttercream sugar cookies in the freezer if you need to complete the cookies up to three months before an event.
  • You can store the buttercream sugar cookies at room temperature up to five days before the event.

Let’s say it’s the Christmas baking season and you know you will be busy. You can decorate a set at the end of September, place it in an airtight container, and store it until the end of December. Seems crazy but it works!

Assembling The Sugar Cookies Into Your Storage Containers

buttercream sugar cookies storage

How to store undecorated sugar cookies:

  1. Allow the baked cookies to completely cool.
  2. Fill in the bottom layer of cookies as densely as you can into your airtight container.
  3. Begin stacking the cookies in the same manner.
  4. Store for the appropriate amount of time as designated above this section.

How to store buttercream sugar cookies:

  1. Make sure that the decorated cookies have crusted over. You will need a crusting buttercream frosting in order to ensure this.
  2. Once the cookies are completely crusted over, typically 8-12 hours of drying time in the open air, fill the bottom layer of cookies as densely as you can into your airtight container.
  3. Store the cookies for the appropriate amount of time according to the section above.

What to do if all of your buttercream sugar cookies cannot fit in one layer:

Follow these instructions if you plan to keep your cookies at room temperature:

  1. Place your airtight container in the same place you plan to keep your cookies, ideally somewhere they won’t be bumped or moved.
  2. Assess your cookie decorations. Cookies that are closer to being one dimensional, are the least detailed, and/or are the “filler” cookies in a set will be placed on the bottom layer of the container as densely as possible.
  3. The next layer will contain the cookies that are more dimensional or taller: think florals, any cookie you needed a projector for, handwritten cookies, etc. These are the “star” cookies of the set.
  4. If you are using the container I linked at the beginning of this post, you will be able to fit a dozen cookies using this method. I would not stack more than two layers at room temperature unless all of the cookies are less detailed.

Follow these instructions if you plan to freeze your cookies:

  1. Assess your cookie decorations. Cookies that are closer to being one dimensional, are the least detailed, and/or are the “filler” cookies in a set will be placed on the bottom layer of the container as densely as possible.
  2. Place the lid on the container and freeze the cookies for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from the freezer, remove the lid, and place the next layer of cookies that are more dimensional or taller: think florals, any cookie you used a projector, handwritten cookies, etc.
  4. Place the lid on the container and freeze again for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Repeat these steps for all of the cookies. You can stack more than two layers with this method since you have the added protection of the buttercream being frozen.
how to store sugar cookies with buttercream frosting frozen
These cookies were decorated, allowed to crust for 24 hours at room temperature, and then placed in my storage container & in the freezer in the above fashion. The stars and balloons made up the lower layers and the font cookies were the top layer. I transported the cookies on a 3 hour drive (over the mountains, too!) and they arrived perfect. (I removed the container from the freezer and placed it on a towel over the passenger floor for the safe car trip. At the party, I removed the lid for the first time and plated the cookies.)

Or, follow these instructions if you are short on time (or your cookies are painted with metallic paint):

  1. Assess your cookie decorations. Cookies that are closer to being one dimensional, are the least detailed, and/or are the “filler” cookies in a set will be placed on the bottom layer of the container as densely as possible.
  2. Place your least detailed cookies on the bottom layer of your container, then place a piece of parchment paper over them.
  3. Add your next level of detailed cookies to the next layer, placing another piece of parchment paper on top. storing buttercream sugar cookies successfully
  4. Continue in this pattern for the third layer of cookies. You do not need a piece of parchment paper on top of this layer.
  5. Close the lid and place in the freezer until you are ready to defrost.

how to store buttercream sugar cookies in containers

lowest layer of frozen buttercream sugar cookies
Here are the cookies defrosted. This is the lowest layer in the container and you can see that they are all unblemished and the paint has not spread.

FAQ About Storing Buttercream Sugar Cookies

How to Defrost Sugar Cookies

If you went the freezer route, it is seriously the easiest task to defrost the cookies.

  1. Remove the container of buttercream sugar cookies from the freezer.
  2. Leave the lid on and set somewhere safe at room temperature.
  3. In thirty minutes, open the lid and see if the cookies are defrosted. You will know because there won’t be any beads of water on the cookies.
  4. If there are beads of water still on the cookies, put the lid back on the cookies and wait another 30 minutes.

If you are in a hurry and need to plate the cookies right away, you can do that as well. You will need to be more careful removing the cookies, as buttercream frosting freezes hard and can break off easily. When it is defrosted, it is at it’s crusted level which is harder to break.

How to Store Sugar Cookies with Buttercream in a Pastry Box

how to store sugar cookies with buttercream frosting

If you are ready to store sugar cookies with buttercream frosting in a pastry box, here are some tips that I would recommend following for the most success:

How to Individually Package Buttercream Sugar Cookies

The most important thing to remember when packaging buttercream sugar cookies in individual bags is to use a crusting buttercream. If your buttercream dries hard enough, you can package it in many different ways.

I have an entire post dedicated to packaging buttercream sugar cookies if you’d like more information.

Can I Skip the Drying/Crusting Time and Just Freeze The Buttercream Sugar Cookies?

No, you need the cookies to completely crust/dry before freezing them. If you freeze them too early, the cookies will lose their shape as they defrost.

Can I Refreeze Buttercream Sugar Cookies

On the topic of storing sugar cookies with buttercream frosting, you may wonder if you can freeze the undecorated cookies, decorate, and then freeze the decorated cookies.

While some people may advise you against refreezing for possible food safety issues, I have frequently refroze buttercream sugar cookies and have never had an issue.

If you don’t feel safe refreezing sugar cookies, plan to bake the day of or day before frosting. If baking the day before, seal in an airtight container at room temperature until the next day when you decorate.

Should Cookies With Buttercream Frosting Be Refrigerated?

You should never refrigerate buttercream sugar cookies as they can dry out faster than if they were just left at room temperature. The best method if you need to store sugar cookies with buttercream frosting for more than a few days is to freeze them.

How Long Do Buttercream Frosted Cookies Last at Room Temperature?

Above I shared that you shouldn’t let the cookies out for more than five days before an event. The cookies will be the most fresh within five days.

That being said, you can safely eat buttercream sugar cookies at room temperature for about two weeks. So if you have leftovers after an event but the cookies have already been out five days, it is safe to still eat them.

Just remember to keep them in an airtight container or keep them individually sealed.

Can I Stack Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting?

Yes, you can stack buttercream sugar cookies when using a crusting buttercream. Follow my steps above in how to store sugar cookies with buttercream frosting for your best tips at stacking buttercream sugar cookies.

How Do I Keep Sugar Cookies Soft?

Using buttercream to decorate sugar cookies will keep the cookies softer than royal icing sugar cookies. Additionally, freezing the undecorated sugar cookies in an airtight container immediately after they have cooled produces a softer sugar cookie. It’s one of my best tips for soft decorated sugar cookies!

Can I Leave Frosted Sugar Cookies Out Overnight?

Yes, please do. You want your buttercream sugar cookies to form a crust to protect the design. This is why you use a crusting buttercream as opposed to a traditional buttercream. Here’s my crusting buttercream recipe.

Where Can I Learn How to Decorate Buttercream Sugar Cookies?

If you are new to this fun and rewarding hobby/career, I encourage you to check out my online classes.

I have a beginner birthday party cookie class that teaches you the basics of buttercream sugar cookie decorating without having to purchase a ton of tools.

Insta Worthy Birthday Party Cookies Mermaid Theme
Beginner Class – Insta Worthy Birthday Party Cookies

For those who want to start with Christmas sugar cookies, I have a beginner-friendly class that dives into the tools used for cookie decorating with both the basics and advanced skills covered.

Merry Cookies Buttercream Sugar Cookie Online Class
Merry Cookies Online Christmas Cookie Class

Both classes involve video and step-by-step photo series content and are priced below competition. I know you’d rather spend your money on fun cookie decorating supplies so I kept my classes cheap despite including everything you’d get for a higher priced competitor. I’ve got you!

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buttercream sugar cookie storage

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