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How to Ship Cookies in the Mail

Part 13 of my Baking Basics series: When you can’t deliver homemade baked goods in person, mail your loved ones a care package! This post contains tips for packaging and mailing cookies, the best kinds of cookies to ship, and my favorite way to keep cookies fresh until they arrive.

Holiday tin full of a variety of Christmas cookies on a red tablecloth

Since I’m very much in the “laugh so you don’t cry” camp of dealing with things, I chuckled when I heard someone recently call the cookies they planned to bake and mail to their family “quarantine cookies”.

Can you send homemade cookies in the mail?

Darn right, you can! And in 2020, more than ever, people are going to be spending the holidays apart. But that doesn’t mean that you, your family and friends can’t enjoy your signature Christmas cookie that’s always a hit with Santa!

P.S. Santa and the reindeer are still going to be working, so don’t forget about them okay? Rudolph is a big fan of those baby carrots and crisp red apples. Just sayin’.

Holiday tin full of wrapped cookies, nuts and biscotti on a red tablecloth

What are the best cookies to ship in the mail?

So many of them – you’ve got plenty of options to choose from!

  • Chewy cookies are the most likely to arrive in one piece because they’ll be a little more flexible and forgiving of getting bounced around a mail truck.
  • Crunchy cookies like shortbreads and biscotti are the sturdiest of the bunch. Since they’re already fairy dry, you don’t have to worry about them drying out before arrival.
  • Iced cutout cookies are right in the middle – they’re sturdy due to their shape and the hardened icing on top adds a little delicious armor, but there’s a little chewy and able to hold up to some jostling.
  • Cookies with decorative icing do best if you top them with  a royal icing or sugar cookie glaze that dries to a hard finish. Soft frostings and icings will get smooshed in the shipping.

Here are some of my favorite cut-out cookies:

And some of my other favorite cookies:

Sadly, all cookies are not created equal

There are the kinds of cookies you don’t want to mail:

  • Delicate cookies, like lace cookies, madeleines and macarons
  • Cookies that need refrigeration, like buckeye balls or custard-filled varieties
  • Cookies that are coated in or drizzled with chocolate. That’s not to say they won’t be sturdy enough to hold up to shipping, but the chocolate may melt and smear in transit – especially to hot climates!
  • Cookies topped with soft frostings and icings won’t cut it because they’ll melt or get smooshed.

My secret weapon: a piece of bread

I like to add a piece of plain white bread to the tin you’ve wrapped your cookies in.

Sure, it’s not the prettiest addition to a holiday tin and would just be discarded by the recipient when it arrives, but it can make a big difference when you’re mailing lots of softer baked goods.

A holiday tin full of wrapped cookies and spiced nuts

How to prepare cookies to be mailed

It’s a bit of a process, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to do right so that your delicious treats show up to their intended recipient in good condition.

  • Wrap everything in plastic wrap. And make sure you wrap chewy and crunchy cookies separately. If you store them together, the chewy cookies will lose their moisture to the crunchy cookies (and vice versa).
  • Size matters. If you’re shipping different types of cookies, stack bigger ones at the bottom, with smaller and lighter ones on top.
  • Give them some room. You don’t want to overcrowd the cookies as they’ll be more likely to get crushed and crumble.
  • Add plenty of padding. You want to add enough packing materials to ensure they can’t shift and move around during transport. Gently stuff the contain with tissue paper, newspaper, or bubble wrap.
  • Pack cookies in a sturdy, hard-sided container. It’s not the prettiest presentation, but plastic is best for a tight seal. However, a tin wrapped in plastic wrap or sealed in a large ziplock bag is good too.
  • Add padding to the shipping container, too! Surround your cookie tin with even more padding materials inside the box you’ll be shipping them in to give it an even better chance of not getting knocked around.
  • Write instructions on the shipping container. Use a black marker to clearly write “fragile”, “handle with care”, “perishable” and/or “this way up” to best reduce your chances of the container getting flipped around every which way.

Other ideas for packaging:

  • Try placing stacks of cookies inside cupcake wrappers to keep things separate.
  • Label everything! Since it’s going to be wrapped up tightly, your recipient might not be able to see what each item is. Try using masking tape, labels or gift tabs for each.

Tips for the shipping process

Choose your shipping date wisely. Try to avoid mailing on or right before the weekend, as your mail carrier might not work weeks and they could end up sitting in the facility all weekend before they’re even shipped.

Shipping overseas? Care packages sent to soldiers have to conform to very specific military and postal requirements, so check usps.com or anysoldier.com for instructions and guidelines.

Can you mail brownies?

Sure! The same principles apply here as they do with the cookies – you want to choose brownies or bars that are sturdy and don’t need refrigeration. Sorry cheesecake bars… you’re delicious, but you don’t travel well.

They’ll arrive in the best condition if they’re shipped in the pan that they were baked in – but if you’re baking in a heavy glass or ceramic pan… that seems like a pretty unlikely option. I mean, there are people I love – but not enough to pay those shipping costs and give up one of my pans! Sorry, dad.

My advice for mailing brownies

  • Let the bars cool completely
  • Wrap tightly in plastic
  • Wrap tightly in foil
  • Place in an airtight container (with that single piece of bread, if you have it!)

You can also let them cool completely, pre-slice them, and wrap each bar individually.

Avoid shipping bars and brownies that are frosted because the frosting will likely either get rock hard or melt during its journey.

What other treats can you mail?

You could also ship fudge, candied nuts, caramels, bark, and homemade candy are all awesome treats that can typically make the journey from your kitchen to your loved one.

Fudge

Depending on the recipe, fudge can keep at room temperature for weeks. Just remember to take into account the weather – if it’s hot and humid the fudge may “sweat” or melt during travel.

Candied nuts

These are super easy to ship and are probably the least fussy option. Just make sure they’re in an airtight container and don’t have a ton of wiggle room so they don’t bounce around and break.

Caramels

As long as they’re all tightly individually wrapped in an airtight container, caramels typically travel well.

Bark

Since it’s already broken into pieces, you don’t really need to worry about how it holds up to the shipping process! But keep in mind if it’s largely made of chocolate, it could be prone to melting.

Homemade candy

Be careful when it comes to homemade candy – chocolate candies tend to melt if it gets too warm. Hard candied are usually okay, but make sure they’re sturdy and not too delicate.

Whoopie pies

As someone living in New England, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include these in the list! Make sure they’re tightly wrapped in plastic and given plenty of cushion in their shipping container. Adding a piece of bread to their box to help them keep their moisture content is super beneficial, too.

How much does it cost to send cookies in the mail?

The short answer: it depends.

It depends on the service you use (USPS, UPS, FedEx), the speed of the shipping you choose, and the distance the cookies are going to travel.

Your best bet is to use an express or expedited shipping option so that they arrive at their designation as quickly as possible so they’re still fresh. Much like taking a cat to the vet, you want to keep the travel time to an absolute minimum.

KEEP IN MIND

If you’re reading this during the COVID-19 pandemic, many shipping options and services have been affected. Shipping times have increased and some services no longer offer guarantees of delivery dates.

Plan the best you can, be understanding, kind and patient – they’re working their butts off to get your packages where they need to be during unprecedented times.


I hope this helps! Are there any questions about mailing cookies that I didn’t answer? Let me know in the comments below!

Other content in the Baking Basics series:

Thanksgiving Dinner for Two
← Previous
Quick & Easy Mexican Corn Dip
Next →
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