How to Freeze Desserts

Want to know a secret? I freeze pretty much every single dessert I make for the blog. Want to know how you can freeze things too? Well, you’re in the right place today.

How to Freeze Desserts - freeze cakes and cookies, bars, candy and even pie all in advance of the holidays!

The holidays are coming – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve. If you’re anything like me, these are the baking holidays. I make desserts for parties, pot lucks, class treats, gifts, family…and for the blog. In other words I have an abundance of sugar coming out of my kitchen. And? I don’t want to spend Christmas Eve baking 10 things; I like to bake ahead as much as possible. So what do I do?

I freeze dessert. All of it. And today I’m going to share my secrets with you. I get lots of questions about how long things last and how to freeze them, I figured it was about time to just write a post about it. Right? Right.

In order to successfully freeze pretty much any baked good, you need some supplies. My favorites are:

  • Paper towels (the kind that are select-a-size)
  • Gallon size Ziploc storage bags (they’re cheaper than freezer bags and I just don’t see the point)
  • Airtight containers (like tupperware or the Ziploc/Gladware ones)

With those three things, you can freeze pretty much anything.

Freezing baked goods (1 of 6)

How to Freeze Cookies and Bars:

Basic cookies and bars are the easiest things to freeze. Layer the cookies or bars in a single layer inside your gallon size bag. You’ll probably fit about 12-15 cookies or bars to a layer (depending on size). Place a paper towel on top (inside the bag) and add another layer. I find that three layers are as many as will fit, and each layer will hold less cookies, so you may need more than one bag. Seal and freeze.

To defrost: Let them set on the counter to come to room temperature. Don’t remove the paper towel, that will absorb the moisture as they thaw.

Freezing baked goods (3 of 6)

Note: you can also freeze cookie dough. Scoop balls of dough and place them on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze until firm, then place the balls in a bag or airtight container in the freezer. Pull out a few as needed and bake as directed.

My favorite cookies and bars: Russian Teacakes, Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Brownies

How to Freeze Frosted Cookies, Bars, and Cupcakes:

Yes, you can freeze things with frosting! This method works with anything that’s gooey and/or you can’t stack when room temperature for fear of crushing the decorations.

Place the items in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in your freezer. (Remember to use a pan that will fit in your freezer!) Let them freeze for about 30 minutes to one hour, then take them out of the freezer. Large airtight containers work best for cupcakes and you can stack frozen frosted cookies and bars between paper towels in gallon size bags like regular cookies/bars. Refreeze until needed.

To defrost: If your items are in a single layer in an airtight container or in one layer in a bag, just leave them on the counter to thaw. If you’ve stacked the items, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet to thaw so that the frosting doesn’t smudge when it gets to room temperature.

My favorite frosted bars and cupcakes: Triple Lemon Cupcakes, Perfect Sugar Cookies, Coconut Sugar Cookie Bars

Freezing baked goods (5 of 6)

How to Freeze Candy and Fudge

Yes, I freeze fudge. I have a huge bag from last spring still in my freezer!

Layer the candy or fudge in a single layer inside your gallon size bag.  Place a paper towel on top (inside the bag) and add another layer. Keep going until your bag is full. Note: if you’re dealing with small truffles, you might want to use a quart size bag instead.

To defrost: Let them set on the counter to come to room temperature. Don’t remove the paper towel, that will absorb the moisture as they thaw. The only issue I have with freezing chocolate dipped candy is that it is sometimes less shiny after thawing. So, if the truffles are for a gift, you may not want to freeze them. But if you just have extra after a marathon baking session, have at it. Then you can have a truffle whenever a craving hits.

My favorite candies and fudge: Oreo Truffles, Pecan Pie Fudge, Gingerbread Fudge, Sugar Cookie Bark

How to Freeze Muffins, Quick Breads, Pancakes and Waffles

Frozen breakfast foods are the best – make a big batch on the weekend and have breakfasts – fast – for the week. I often pop a frozen slice of pumpkin bread into Jordan’s lunchbox and by lunch it’s defrosted!

Muffins: Freeze them like you would cupcakes, in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once they’re frozen you can throw them all in a large gallon size bag, seal, and store in the freezer. Just take a muffin out as you need one and either let it come to room temperature or microwave it for about 30 seconds.

My favorite muffins: Fruity Pebble Muffins, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Freezing baked goods (6 of 6)

Quick Breads: Slice the loaf of quick bread and place each slice in a sandwich size ziploc bag. Seal and freeze. Take one bag out at at a time, as needed. Either let it come to room temperature, or microwave for about 30 seconds to thaw. The only issue you’ll have is if the bread is glazed, but melted glaze from microwaving is still really good.

My favorite quick breads: Mom’s Banana Bread, Healthy Banana Bread, Pumpkin Bread

Pancakes and Waffles: I like to layer my pancakes and waffles between pieces of paper towel. Then stack them up and place them in a bag and freeze. That way they’re easy to separate, because the paper towel keeps them from sticking to each other. Pancakes can be microwaved and I like to reheat waffles in the toaster. (This also works for french toast!)

My favorite pancakes: Cinnamon Sugar Pancakes, Sprinkle Pancakes, and Wheat Germ Pancakes

Freezing baked goods (4 of 6)

How to freeze Pie, Cake, and Cheesecake

YES. I even freeze my cheesecakes!!

There are two ways to do  freeze a cake, cheesecake, or pie.

  1. Freeze them whole. Let them cool completely. Wrap them well in plastic wrap and freeze. To defrost, unwrap and let them thaw in the refrigerator. (For a frosted cake you probably want to freeze it first on a cookie sheet, then wrap it in plastic.)
  2. Freeze the slices. Slice your pie or cake or cheesecake. If your slices are firm (like a cheesecake or a cookie pie) place each in a ziploc sandwich bag, seal, and freeze. If your slices are messier, like a cream pie, place the slices on a cookie sheet and freeze for 30-60 minutes, then place each in a bag and re-freeze.

There are some caveats with freezing pies, cakes, and cheesecake. If your cheesecake has a topping, like chopped cookies, they may soften in the freezer, so beware. I have more success freezing firmer pies, like chess or cookie pie, than I do pudding pie, but I’ve frozen them all. It’s just a matter of how pretty they look once defrosted.

If you’re serving for a party, I suggest not freezing a pudding pie. But cheesecake? Sure, but make the topping before serving.

My favorite pies, cakes, and cheesecake: Cookies ‘n Mint Chip Cheesecake, Key Lime Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Chess Pie, Toffee Pecan Pie

The problem with having that stuff in the freezer? Forgetting it’s there. But not having it on the counter all the time is priceless.

What are you making ahead of time for the holidays this year? Are you freezing it? Let me know in the comments!

 

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81 comments

  1. Girl if you EVEN SAW my freezer. Okay I have gallon sized ziplock bags with cookie dough balls in each, stacked on top of each other, x20 stacks high. Like I could whip off an easy 20 dozen cookies right now with how much raw dough I have. And there’s cakes, and bars, and quickbread. I don’t go to any of the fancy slicing and individual baggies that you do. I just do 1 bag for a whole loaf, etc. It’s a good thing I don’t eat meat because if I had to keep anything that normal people kept in the freezer like meat, fish, etc. I’d be screwed. I’ve got way too much dough and treats. Lol

  2. Thanks for the great tips Dorothy! Wish I had access to your freezer :). I freeze cookie dough, cookies and quick bread in ziploc bags.

  3. Great post! I would love to bake more for my blog but the fear was things would go to waste. Definitely going to try this, perfect to get ahead for the fast-approaching holiday season. Could you freeze just plain, raw cookie dough, defrost it and then add flavourings and add-ins? Thanks and pinned! 😀 x 

  4. I love these tips, Dorothy! I never freeze anything because at the moment we have no freezer space in our ancient above the fridge freezer. And if I did have room, I’d be one LARGE woman with sweets so easily accessible. I prefer to bake it all up and give it away, get it out of my house. Haha. You’re a better woman than me with much more will power!

  5. Hi. Great post! What is the link for the picture you show twice? It looks amazing! The cookie cake w M&Ms and peanut butter cups?  Thanks!!

  6. I like freezing desserts because it allows me to maintain variety in my dessert diet–I can grab one of something I baked a few weeks ago that I feel like again. Great tips!!

  7. You must have the world’s largest freezer! Mine is packed with desserts. I’ll have to try the paper towels, but right now I use parchment paper or wax paper. One of these days I will have a garage or basement freezer! I can’t even fit a whole cake in my tragic freezer! 

  8. And I enjoy raiding her freezer whenever I visit!!! I also freeze cookie dough, cake batter and pie fillings (like pumpkin) before baking so I can just defrost and bake in smaller portions.
    🙂

  9. What a great post Dorothy! I wish I could show you a picture of my freezer but I would be embarrassed by all the butter and ice cream. That’s pretty much all that’s in there. My freezer is the size of a shoebox I feel like 🙂 Chest freezer is on my bucket list…

  10. Great info!  Is there a recipe link for the first  picture – the cookie cups with the chocolate and candy canes? 

  11. I feel like this post should be sponsored by Ziploc… haha seriously, they should be paying you for this! I love to toast my frozen waffles as well, and a couple of years ago I found out you can freeze cupcake batter, so you can bake just a few at a time. Changed my life!

  12. This is SUCH a genius and helpful post!  The things that I give away that I should save for holidays/gifts/etc.  Thank you!!

  13. LOVE this post Dorothy, I’ve never tried freezing dessert – now I cannot wait to try.

  14. I like to freeze cookie dough in tablespoon-size balls, 6 to a Ziplock bag.  You are so good at these tutorials!  Thanks.  Your next book should be entitled  ” Baking School”.  You are putting your writing skills to good use!

  15. Love this!! Such great tips!

  16. Great post. I too freeze my cookies. I roll some in 1 inch balls and pack in layers between wax paper. I do this with my pecan tassie dough. I also freeze chocolate cookie dough, almond cookie dough, etc rolled into logs in wax paper and then put 3 or 4 logs in a freezer bag labeled with the type of dough and the baking directions. ( the temperature and time to bake) on the front of the bag. I also freeze Baked cookies in tins layered with wax paper and covered with a tin cover. I can stack the tins on top of each other. When I want to put together a tray I can take a few from each tin. I also freeze cakes and cheese cakes. I was lucky enough to purchase a stand up freezer at a yard sale for #100, 20 yeaars ago. It is still working well!e

  17. How long can you freeze up to? 3 weeks- 4 weeks?

  18. I love freezing desserts too! I never thought of freezing individual pie slices though. Brilliant!

  19. Fantastic! Thats for this blog Dorothy! Super informative and glad to know you can freeze dessert. I always wondered!! 

  20. Helps! Oh … helps!! 

    What are the recipes shown in the pictures?   

    I know the Candy Bar pie ….. but the two with the chocolate and crushed candy canes?  

    What is it?   Please .. help, oh help!!

  21. thank you so much for the freezing tips – never knew about the paper towel. also, get as much air out of the Ziploc bag as possible. it will prevent freezer burn and those little ice particles from appearing.
    thanks for the great recipes – love your blog

  22. This is such useful info, Dorothy!  I do freeze some things, but I get funny about stuff with frosting, etc., thinking it won’t taste the same.  I really need to give this a shot!

  23. This is such a fantastic post!  A few years ago I had a cookie swap during the holidays.  I had so many desserts I didn’t know what to do. So I froze them and took them out for Christmas Eve.  It was great not having to make anything!

  24. This is SO helpful Dorothy! As a crazy type-A planner, I am going to go start on my Christmas baking NOW!

  25. This is the BEST Dorothy!! Thank you so much! Can you believe I’ve never frozen anything?? It’s true… I just give it all away. But this is SO helpful right now since I want to start baking and posting more (eek!) and can’t eat it all… And I haven’t met my new neighbors yet, so they probably don’t want a new batch of cookies every 30 minutes. 😉

  26. This post will come in handy for everyone, especially food bloggers. I’m including it in my List Love Sunday post. Thanks for the information. 

  27. I have to freeze things these days—I cannot eat a whole cake without getting tired of it. My husband will eat one piece when it’s fresh and then he’s finished. Pie is a different story, however–he will eat that until it’s gone.

    I have never frozen a pudding pie, but they sell them in the supermarket, so why not? For Christmas cookies, I usually freeze the dough made into balls so that I can just bake them off as I need them. Even just for a regular batch of cookies I do that sometimes because we are just two people. I also freeze leftover Christmas cookies after we’ve eaten what we want and start to get tired of them. They are fine a few weeks later. I would like to prep more ahead of time this year, as I’m doing well on my shopping and might have the time to bake ahead and not all under last minute pressure. I don’t like pressure and will skip doing some things rather than try to crowd everything into my days.

  28. Do you think I could freeze a fresh fruit tart? Thanks!

  29. I just took the Wilton cake decorating class and have about 5 bags of frosting left over in our freezer.  🙂  Take them out when I want some piping practice again.

  30. Great post!  My son has asked me to do a dessert table for his Labor Day wedding.  I always stress about freezing stuff. I always freeze my cakes unfrosted but have u ever frozen frostings like Swiss meringue or buttercream or chocolate ganache?  Would u frost and fill and freeze or def frost And then frost the cake?  Oh one more question sorry. Have u ever tried freezing the cheesecake jars?  Would it make any difference if it was no bake vs baked cheesecake?  See freezing stuff stresses me out.   I am going to have a lot of baking to do and I will be a lot less stressed if I can make ahead!  I love this post

    • You can definitely freeze things that have been frosted in a pinch, but I recommend, especially for company/wedding, that you freeze the cake and then frost it day of or the day before. I’ve frozen buttercream frosting without any issues. Just let it come to room temperature and stir it up, and you may have to add some extra cream or milk if it’s too thick. I’ve never frozen ganache or swiss meringue, I’m sorry I can’t give you advice on those! Thanks for reading!

  31. Hello!! First of all, thank you for sharing this awesome idea! So far, I have had great luck. What do you think about freezing a truffle pie? It has chocolate chips, whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar?

    • Truffle pie, like ganache, that’s made already? I’m always wary of freezing cream pies if I’m serving them to company later. For me, it works just fine, but you never know about ice crystals and that sort of thing. For company, I’d make it fresh. To save leftovers? Freeze!

  32. My sons bday party was today but he woke up sick with the stomach virus:( hopefully we can reschedule later. What is the best way to freeze his cake (chocolate w/cream cheese icing) and Oreo balls?

    • I’m so sorry Meg!! That is the worst, when they’re sick on their birthday. I hope he feels better soon.

      The cake, since it’s already frosted, just cover it as well as possible and freeze. Place the Oreo balls in an airtight container, those will survive just fine but they may be a little dull looking when defrosting – nothing a drizzle of chocolate can’t cure (but no one would likely notice anyway!)

  33. I’d like to get a better idea about which recipes taste the freshest from frozen.  Does the texture or taste change because of defrosting them?  (Ex: Baklava will not be as crispy once defrosted, right?)  I would like a nice variety to make for a wedding.  Thanks!

    • You’re right, there are some things that do not taste the same when defrosted. Cookies, bars, cupcakes (things that are “bready”) tend to do better when defrosted. Anything that is cripsy when fresh (baklava, croissants, puff pastry) will loose that when frozen. In fact, those items are usually best freshly made too, eaten within a day or two.

  34. We’re traveling for my sons birthday & I thought about baking & freezing his cake instead of trying to make it all come together in an unknown kitchen.

    Are there certain cakes/icings that do better than others?

    • I’ve always had good success freezing moist cakes and buttercream frosting! Check out my cakes and cupcakes recipe pages for ideas! (Sorry for my delay in replying, I’ve been out of town!)

  35. in 19 days i have a reunion would like to know if i can freeze a peanut butter pie a choc. pie & a strawberry lush pie 2 of them will have cream cheese & cool whip in them & milk will that hurt to freeze 

    • I think the peanut butter pie is freezable – but I’ve never done that and defrosted, just eaten them frozen. I wouldn’t freeze the strawberry lush, the berries won’t freeze and defrost well. That’s an easy recipe and you can throw it together in just a few minutes, so save it for last minute!

  36. What is the best way to freeze apple pie??

  37. what about freezing peanut butter balls, and millionaires before dipping in chocolate.

    • You can definitely freeze the peanut butter balls. I’m sure you can freeze the millionaires too, even after you’ve added chocolate. The only thing with frozen chocolate is it can get a little cloudy when you defrost it. If that happens, just drizzle on some extra chocolate!

  38. I am make oreo truffles would you freeze them the same way you would cookies?

    • I do! Just know that sometimes when you defrost chocolate it can look a little cloudy. So, top with sprinkles before or even just wait to decorate with a drizzle of chocolate after if that is important to you. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes, so it just depends on where you’re serving them and if you care about it. (Note: most people won’t even notice except you!)

  39. would I be able to freeze caramel tarts?

  40. This is really helpful! Thanks so much, Dorothy! :o)

  41. I love freezing desserts too! I have never frozen a pudding pie, but they sell them in the supermarket, so why not?

  42. Thanks for the tips! I freeze slices of pies, my swiss meringue icing, cookies, etc…..I freeze most stuff solid, if iced, and then wrap really well in saran wrap and then foil as well. For pies, etc…I just cut slices and put in a zip lock baggie. Great tips!!!!

  43. Dorothy, this has been so helpful! I’ve been asked to make my decorated Bride & Groom heart cookies for an upcoming friend’s daughter’s wedding, but I will be traveling out of town in the week prior … from my understanding of your advice I will be able to freeze the royal icing decorated cookies ahead and thaw just before the wedding? I appreciate your encouragement in the freezer department … lol

  44. Hi Dorothy, believe it or not, we just started freezing! One year after Thanksgiving, my sister decided that it was just too much food to be thrown away and decided to freeze the left over pecan and sweet potato pies not to mention greens, string beans, dressing and sweet potato pudding! We had dinner over her house in January and was smelling a delicious treat in the oven. We complimented her on how wonderful the pie was. She soaked it all in and thanked us and told us it was one of the pies I made during the holidays. I would have never known! Freezing is a time saver and the food is as wonderful if not better from all of the ingredients melding together over time. We try to bake and cook in advance so all we have to do is thaw and heat up. A true blessing!

  45. Just found your site and I think I am going to be baking from now until xmas!

    Can you please tell me what the pie is called with the m&m’s and reeces that is portioned into bags on this freezer page is?

    Also can I freeze the one bowl brownies?
    Can I freeze things with marshmallow?

    Is there an alternative to the candy corn in the butterfinger type fudge? They don’t make them in the UK but I love butterfingers when I come to the US.

    Thanks for this wonderful site.

  46. Do you think i could freeze meringue cookies and toffee bars?

  47. can I freeze pineapple delight? Marshmallows, drained crushed pineapple, dream whip, graham wafer crust, thanks in advance

  48. I am wanting to freeze caramel pie… can that be done?

  49. Today I made a peach dump cake for a brunch tomorrow, which now has been cancelled
    due to inclement weather. Have you ever frozen a dump cake and if so please share your ideas with me.
    Thanks!

  50. Dorothy, this is amazing info. I find the holidays get so busy and I’m always wanting to make ahead, but never sure what can be frozen. This answers lots of those questions!!
    I make Gluten free turtls bars that have melted caramel, choc chips and chopped nuts in them. Could those be frozen and turn out OK for a party? If so, how would you freeze them? Thanks for the great info!!

  51. Do you have any advice for how long things take to defrost so I time it right? I froze cookies, brownies, peanut butter bars, rice Krispy treats, lemon bars, and cupcakes.

  52. can you freeze Cherry fluff dessert salad?

  53. I have a recipe for Pumpkin Squares using yellow cake mix, a stick of margarine and 1 egg.  Mix together and press into 9 x 13 pan.  Filling is a large can of Pumpkin Pie Mix, 3 eggs, and 2/3 cup evaporated milk.  Pour over crust and then there is a topping of 1 cup of reserved cake mix, 4 T. margarine, 1/2 cup super and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.  Bake for 50 – 55 minutes at 350 degrees.

    These are so delicious.  I would like to freeze.  What do you think?  I would prefer freezing the entire pan after cooling.  Or I guess I could cool, cut into squares and freeze?

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