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Selecting a Bag For Your Cookies: What to Consider

So you have managed to successfully make your first batch of decorated sugar cookies? Congratulations! Now it's time to package those beauties up for distribution! There are so many bags on the market, it can be hard to figure out what kind and what size to get. Let's look at what you should consider when making your bag purchase.

"We're going to need a bigger bag."

--Cookiers who don't take the depth of their cookies into account when choosing packaging

Bag Size

Let's do some cookie math to see what size your 4" cookie ACTUALLY is:

Cookie width: 4"

Cookie height (un-iced): ¼" (don't forget to account for both the “up” one side and the “down” the other side of the cookie)

Icing height: 1/8"

In terms of how much of your bag space your cookie will take up, you need to account for 4"+¼"+¼"+1/8", which is a grand total of 4 5/8" (or 4.625"). And this doesn't factor in any spread, decorative elements, or additional puff that your cookies might have. If you roll out to ¼" but your cookies puff up in baking, then I'm sorry to say you do not have a ¼" cookie, my friend. Just as I do not wear hats because I am forced to confront my extra-large head size every time I try to cram it into a stylish ball cap, you too must be honest with yourself and realize your cookies cannot fit in the too-small bags you have purchased--and it's not the bags' fault! Average up to a larger bag, and you will be much better off in the long run.

say it with me


So many cookiers have tasted the bitter sting of defeat when trying to bag their cookies, only to realize that they forgot to account for the fact that cookies are three dimensional when they chose those bags. All this to say--when you measure your cookies at 4" wide, you're not done measuring yet. You still have to account for the depth of your cookie.

Unless you are purchasing bags that are gusseted on the sides, when you insert a cookie into the bag, the top face of the bag itself lifts up, and the sides pull in. This is because you are not inserting a completely flat item; you are inserting a 3D object that requires the bag to expand in order to fit. 

gusseted bag

Gusset: a piece of material that provides expansion

If you do purchase gusseted bags, then much of this cookie math becomes a moot point. Bags like this have built-in expansion that account for the depth of the item being put in it. Think of trying to force your PB&J into a sandwich bag that doesn't expand. It's probably not going to happen, and even if it does, either your bag or your sandwich is going to be worse for the wear. Using this same analogy, though, many freezer bags have gusseted and non-gusseted versions, and it is up to you to know which one to pick, depending on what you are planning to store in it.

Cookie Bag Material

Most cookie/treat bags are made from either cellophane or polypropylene (commonly referred to as cello bags and poly bags). Poly bags tend to be durable, if a little cloudier (not quite as clear), and they're tougher on the environment, as they are made from man-made materials that are not always biodegradable. Cello bags are usually crystal clear, are made from plant-based materials, and are great for food packaging because they don't transfer any taste or odor to the contents. 

Poly bags have a reputation for sticking to dry royal icing, which can leave marks on the finished cookie. Unscrupulous sellers occasionally also list their bags as cello, but if you peek at the product descriptions, they will mention polypropylene, making it a poly bag, NOT a cello bag. (Sellers on the rainforest website ::wink wink:: are known for this, so always read the full product listing before hitting Add to Cart.)

Decorative Bags

One other awesome option for cookie bags is the decorative style of bags that may have a zip top closure. These are great because you can typically fit multiple cookies in one adorable bag, although you always want to consider your cookie design before shoving multiple cookies in one bag together. But again, you have to be able to fit your cookies through the opening first! If you are reading the listing for a bag and it says that the zipper opening is 3.5" wide, that does NOT mean a 3.5" wide cookie will fit through the opening, for all the same reasons we discussed at the beginning of this blog. A 3.5" wide piece of flat paper? Sure. But not a 3.5" wide cookie with icing and floral embellishments on top. Not gonna happen. Save yourself the heartache by measuring and planning accordingly.

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