Why You May Want To Wait To Store Frosted Sugar Cookies

If you have a sweet tooth, then you've probably got a soft spot for that most versatile, most portable, most snackable sweet treat: the cookie. A true jack-of-all-trades of the dessert world, cookies typically come into our lives (and lunchboxes) from a very young age, and work their way into our hearts in their myriad of forms, from classic chocolate chip to fluffy gingerbread to chewy red velvet. Cookies seem to be just what we need at various times of the day, whether that's an afternoon pick-me-up, a late-night indulgence, or even at breakfast alongside a cup of strong coffee (shhhh, we won't tell anyone).

One of the most essential cookie recipes to any baker's repertoire is the sugar cookie, a solid, palate-pleasing treat whipped together from butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla extract. A great sugar cookie, Sally's Baking Recipes notes, should be soft on the inside and crispy on the edges with a rich, buttery flavor and a texture that lasts for days after baking. Since sugar cookies are often iced with an array of colorful frostings, that last part can be tricky, but one of the keys is calling upon your patience when icing and storing the cookies.

Frosted sugar cookies need time to harden and set before storing

Cookies become even more delightful when frosted with buttercream, which will crust over with a thin, hard shell as it dries, yet remain soft and creamy underneath, according to Food52. But making a great sugar cookie requires patience, the outlet notes: Not just when waiting for the baked cookies to cool before frosting them, but also after you've iced the cookies and are fixin' to store them.

As the site explains, buttercream frosting takes a few hours to harden over — and you don't really want to disturb the cookies during that time, lest you mess up the pretty decoration and undo all your hard work. You'll want to wait at least several hours before packing frosted cookies into an airtight container and storing them at room temperature, but the best way to go is to leave the cookies alone for a full 24 hours, which is how long it takes for the icing to fully fuse to the cookies, Food52 notes. The enormous quantity of butter in the frosting will insulate the cookie below, keeping it soft and chewy even though it's not in a container yet.

Once stored, the cookies will stay fresh for about five days (via Sally's Baking Recipes) — if cookies can last that long in your household.