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What are Refrigerator Cookies?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Refrigerator cookies, which are sometimes also referred to as icebox cookies, are a number of different cookie styles that require chilling. Very often, the cookie dough is shaped into a log or a round, so that when chilling is complete in the fridge, the dough is easily sliced and baked. There are many different types of commercially made refrigerator cookies that people enjoy because of this slice and bake ease. Long before these commercial kinds became available in stores, bakers created delightful homemade cookies via this method. The advantage to homemade is that ingredient control is stricter and additional fillers or chemicals can be omitted.

Sometimes, a distinction is made between refrigerator cookies and chilled cookies. Many types of rolled out cookies require people to chill the dough for at least a couple of hours before using. Stiffer dough is easier to work with, whereas warm dough may be not be sturdy enough to withstand repeating rolling out and cutting. Almost all recipes that use cookie cutters save cooks incredible exasperation by recommending that dough be thoroughly chilled.

Often people view classic refrigerator cookies as different than chilled cookies because they won’t be used for cookie cutouts. Instead the prepared dough is formed into a rough log shape, wrapped tightly and either refrigerated or frozen. If the dough is frozen, it will likely need to defrost before it can be sliced and baked. Still, many people love having frozen dough on hand because they can prepare a big cookie batch, freeze several logs and bake as desired. Usually a couple of hours of defrosting outside the freezer is enough to get the dough to a temperature where it can be easily sliced.

The simplest refrigerator cookies are merely vanilla butter cookies, and these can be served as is, or they can be iced with various flavored frostings for additional taste. With careful cutting, it’s easy to turn the sliced cookies into sandwich cookies. Such cookies can be enticing with lemon or chocolate frosting in between.

A simple vanilla butter cookie dough recipe can be used for many different types of refrigerator cookies. People can half the dough, roll it out, and turn it into pinwheels of chocolate and vanilla or vanilla and cinnamon. A pinwheel sandwich cookie of chocolate and vanilla and peppermint icing is a delicious idea.

It’s also possible to take some regular cookie recipes and convert them to refrigerator cookies. Chocolate chip cookies adapt to this process quite easily, and then provide the easy slice and bake option. Many people convert most of their classic cookie recipes to refrigerator cookies so they don’t have to spend time spooning dough onto baking sheets. Given this preference, people will find a plethora of recipes online and in cookbooks that can provide inspiration for the next cooking baking session. Cooks should realize that these cookies require a bit more time because they do need to be fully chilled before baking.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon134330 — On Dec 14, 2010

how long can you keep homemade sugar cookie dough in the refrigerator?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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