Cookie dough. (Emma Christensen / November 27, 2013)

There is any number of reasons why you might want to stash some cookie dough in the freezer. Maybe you like having treats on hand in case company stops by. Maybe the cold weather kick-started your holiday baking gene. Maybe you want a special treat to give your son or daughter at college, or a friend who just had a baby. (Side note: Give new parents frozen cookie dough and you win. Forever.)

But we're friends here, so let's be honest. Frozen cookie dough in our freezer means warm, gooey, fresh-baked cookies any time we want one. Or three. No judgment. Here are the best ways to freeze your favorite cookies for later.

For the purposes of freezing, let's divide cookies into three main categories: chunky cookies, tender slice-and-bake cookies, and cut-out cookies.

Chunky cookies like chocolate chip and oatmeal-raisin freeze best if you portion out the dough beforehand. Scoop out the dough just as if you were about to bake it, but then freeze it instead. Once frozen, the little balls of dough get sealed up inside a plastic freezer bag -- when you need a cookie fix, just grab as many as you want to bake.

By slice-and-bake cookies, I am referring to any fairly smooth, fairly tender cookie, like shortbread or sandies. These get pressed into logs, wrapped in wax paper, and frozen solid. They can be crumbly right out of the freezer, so when you're ready to bake, let them warm for a few minutes before slicing. If you can plan ahead, letting the logs thaw in the fridge for a few hours is even better.

Last but not least, we have cut-out cookies like sugar cookies and many holiday cookies. The dough for these cookies can be frozen in disks like pie crust. When ready to bake, thaw until pliable and continue with the recipe. Freezing the dough for cut-out cookies is a little less of a time- and labor-saver than the other cookies, but it's handy to break up the work of a big cookie-baking project or if you start a batch of cookies and get interrupted in the middle.

Most frozen cookies will need an extra minute or two in the oven. Otherwise, prepping and baking the cookies is exactly the same as in the recipe -- you're just giving them a freezer vacation in the middle.

Very Good Reasons (Excuses) to Freeze Cookie Dough:

--Instant cookies, any time of day

--Bake only a few cookies at a time, as needed

--Prep for a bake sale, upcoming holiday, or a busy time of year

--Cookies on hand when company stops by

--Gift for students, new parents, an elderly parent, or anyone you love. Cookies equal love, as we all know.

How to Freeze Cookie Dough


1 batch cookie dough


Baking sheets