Today I’m sharing my best Christmas cookie baking shortcuts, as one of my favorite things to do during the holidays is baking cookies. Everyone loves Christmas cookies, but they can take some time to bake and decorate.
That shouldn’t stop you from baking lots of holiday cookies. Even if it seems like your Christmas cookies get eaten faster than you can bake them, you can still crank out lots of yummy batches with these shortcuts and tips.
Christmas Cookie Baking Shortcuts: Cookie Dough
Start by organizing which types of cookies you plan on baking and purchase all of your ingredients a few weeks before you plan on making them. On the day you plan to make your cookie dough, take your eggs and butter out of the refrigerator ahead of time so they are at room temperature when you use them. This will help you blend the ingredients together that much easier to make a more consistent cookie dough.
You can make cookie dough and bake cookies on the same day. But making your cookie dough ahead of time and then freezing it until you are ready to bake your cookies can be a lot more stress-free. You can even roll the dough into balls and then freeze it to make cookie baking even easier when you’re ready to start.
Did you know you can make icing ahead of time and freeze that as well? I’ve done this in the past because I’ve found that frosting cookies and then freezing them before the holidays, just makes the frosting crack.
But adding the icing last minute, even if it’s been frozen works well and is one of my favorite Christmas cookie baking shortcuts for making fresh cookies.
Cookie Baking Shortcuts Using the Same Dough
Another way to save time is to use the same cookie dough to make different cookies. Then make a double batch of the dough.
Sugar cookie dough can be cut out into various holiday shapes with cookie cutters and then frosted with different flavors to look like you’ve baked many kinds of Christmas cookies.
You can color the sugar cookies with food coloring or sugar sprinkles. Or, try adding flavored chips to the dough. This will give your Christmas cookie trays more variety with less work.
Butter cookie dough can also be used to make more than one cookie such as differently flavored jam thumbprints or fancy swirled-shaped cookies, using a cookie press.
Tips and Tools to Bake Cookies Faster
When it comes to baking quickly, it’s helpful to use several baking sheets on hand so that you can spoon cookie dough out onto one or two sheets while you’re baking the others. If you normally spoon out cookie dough by hand, you can save time by using a cookie dough scoop.
If a recipe calls for using a greased baking sheet, you can save a bit of time using a cooking spray, instead of greasing the pans by hand.
When the cookies come out of the oven, a two-tiered baking rack is handy for cooling cookies, so that they will not stick together when you put them on a tray.
Remember that most Christmas cookies can be baked and frozen in your freezer for several weeks, by storing them in air-tight plastic containers or freezer bags. Decorated cookies that you don’t want to crush can be stored in foil trays with parchment paper between each layer of cookies.
More Cookie Baking Shortcuts
It’s nice to bake and share cookies around the holidays. But if you don’t have time to make cookie dough and bake from scratch here are some more of my favorite Christmas cookie shortcuts and tips to save time.
- There are some very good dry cookie mixes you can buy to make gingerbread, peanut butter, sugar cookies, and more. Just remember to stock up on these dry mixes about a month or 2 before the holidays to get the best selection.
- Fill up Christmas cookie trays with holiday-dipped pretzels, Hersey Kisses, and other small candies to make the tray look fuller. Also consider using smaller trays, individual cellophane cookie bags, or little cookie boxes.
- If you don’t have time to scoop or roll out cookies, make some bar cookies like chocolate chip, funfetti, or M&M cookie bars. These are quicker to make because you can spread out the cookie dough in one pan, bake, cook, and cut into bars.
- Another idea is to make bark. Just line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread out a layer of saltine or graham crackers. Next, spread a thin layer of white or dark chocolate over the top and top it with sprinkles, toffee bits, or crushed candy canes. After it cools, break it up and you have holiday bark.
- Consider buying a big tray of cookies at BJ’s or Cosco and decorating them yourself. The types of cookies that are ideal for homemade decorating are Madelines, macaroons, or plain gingerbread men.
Quick and Easy Christmas Cookie Baking Shortcuts: To Save Time in the Kitchen
Baking Christmas cookies can be a fun and festive way to celebrate the holiday season. It can also be time-consuming and overwhelming. Fortunately, I’ve learned many Christmas cookie baking shortcuts over the years that can make baking faster and easier.
One of the easiest shortcuts for Christmas cookie baking is to use refrigerated cookie dough in a tube. This is a great option for those who are short on time or fun to do with the kids. Also, pre-made dough can be a great starting point to get creative with add-ins like chocolate chips or nuts.
As I mentioned earlier, freezing cookie dough in advance is a Christmas baking time saver. Chunky cookies like oatmeal raisin can be frozen in balls and later on baked frozen, while shortbread cookie dough can be frozen in logs and sliced before baking. This is ideal for those who want to spread out their baking over several days or weeks to have fresh cookies on hand at all times during the holiday season. 🙂
Understanding the Basics of Cookie Baking
When it comes to Christmas cookie baking, it’s important to understand the basics. This includes knowing the types of Christmas cookies that are a top favorite and the baking prep needed to make them. My mom always said, “Baking is a science, so measure everything correctly”. That is my number one tip.
Types of Christmas Cookies
There are many different types of Christmas cookies, each with its own unique flavor, shape, and texture. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Sugar cookies: These classic cookies are made with a simple dough of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. They can be cut into any shape and decorated with frosting and sprinkles.
- Gingerbread cookies: These spiced cookies are made with molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. They can be cut into gingerbread men, houses, or any other festive shape.
- Shortbread cookies: These buttery cookies are made with flour, sugar, and butter. They can be flavored with vanilla, lemon, or other extracts.
- Chocolate cookies: These rich cookies are made with cocoa powder and can be made into chocolate chip cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies, or any other chocolatey variation.
Cookie Baking Tools & Essentials
To make Christmas cookies, there are a few baking essentials that are needed. These include:
- Mixing bowls: It’s important to have a few mixing bowls in different sizes to mix the dough and ingredients.
- Measuring cups and spoons: Precise measurements are important in baking, so having measuring cups and spoons is essential.
- Baking sheets: It’s important to have enough baking sheets so you can rotate batches in the oven.
- Parchment paper: This is used to line the baking sheets and prevent the cookies from sticking.
- Cookie cutters: These are needed to cut the dough into festive shapes.
- Rolling pin: This is used to roll out the dough to the desired thickness.
By understanding the types of Christmas cookies, a few shortcuts, and the baking essentials needed to make them, anyone can crank out lots of yummy Christmas cookies.
Smart Ingredient Preparation
Preparing ingredients in advance can save time and make the baking process smoother. Here are some smart ingredient preparation tips for Christmas cookie baking:
Pre-measuring ingredients can save lots of time and prevent errors. So, I like to measure all the ingredients before I start baking. This way, I can focus on mixing the cookie dough and baking without having to stop and measure ingredients in the middle of the process.
To make pre-measuring easier I use measuring cups, assorted measuring spoons, and Pyrex glass bowls to line up my ingredients. These items are great for measuring dry ingredients like flour, sugar, and spices. For liquid ingredients, that’s where a few measuring cups are handy.
Room Temperature Butter
As I said before, cookie recipes call for room-temperature butter. Softened butter is easier to mix and cream with sugar, which is important for creating a light and fluffy texture. However, it can be time-consuming to wait for butter to soften at room temperature.
To speed up the process, you can cut the butter into small cubes and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Or you can microwave the butter for a few seconds on a very low power setting for melting.
By pre-measuring ingredients and preparing room-temperature butter in advance, you can save time and ensure that your Christmas cookies turn out nicely.
Quick Cookie Dough Mixing Techniques
When it comes to making Christmas cookies, quick mixing techniques can save time and effort. Here are two methods that I use to help streamline making cookie dough.
The creaming method involves beating butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This method is often used for making sugar cookies, shortbread, and other butter cookies.
To cream butter and sugar, start with softened butter and granulated sugar. Place them in a mixing bowl and beat them together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. This usually takes about 2-3 minutes. Then, add in any other wet ingredients, such as eggs and vanilla extract, and mix until combined.
Finally, add in the dry ingredients, such as flour and baking powder, and mix it in until it’s just combined. Over-mixing can lead to tough cookies.
If you have a Kitchenaid mixer, you will find that it can blend cookie dough together easily without much effort on your part.
The melting method is another quick mixing method that involves melting the butter before adding the other ingredients. This method is often used for making chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, and other drop cookies.
Also if you’re in a pinch and forgot to take the butter out of the fridge, don’t worry; if your cookie dough comes out too soft, you can always chill it in the fridge before baking.
To use the melting method, start by melting the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave. Then, add in the sugar and mix until combined. Next, add in any other wet ingredients, such as eggs and vanilla extract, and mix until combined.
Finally, add in the dry ingredients, such as flour and baking powder, and mix until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix, as this can lead to tough cookies.
By using this quick cookie dough mixing method, you can save time and effort while still turning out lots of yummy Christmas cookies!
Christmas Cookie Baking Shortcuts: Time-Saving Baking Strategies
When it comes to baking Christmas cookie shortcuts, I’ve got tips to save you time. Fortunately, there are a few time-saving strategies that can help streamline the cookie-making process and get cookies baked and decorated in no time. Here are two of my top methods to crank them out!
Batch baking is a great way to save time when making Christmas cookies. My Kitchenaid stand mixer is a huge time saver when making Christmas cookie dough in batches. Also, instead of baking one sheet of cookies at a time, bake multiple sheets at once. To do this, you will need to adjust your oven racks so that the sheets are evenly spaced and also rotate the sheets halfway through baking to help the cookies bake evenly.
If you’re working with a big batch of dough, consider investing in an extra sheet pan or two to make the process even faster. I highly recommend the Nordic Ware half-sheet pans for baking cookies without burning the bottoms. By baking cookies in batches, you can save a lot of time while making lots of cookies.
What to do if You Burn Your Cookies
Again, I swear by my Nordic Ware baking sheets, because it’s a light aluminum pan. If you bake on a dark-coated baking sheet, there’s a bigger chance of burning the bottom of your cookies. So, I just don’t use dark-coated baking sheets.
Still, once in a while if I have a cookie that cooks too much on the bottom, I use a stainless steel lemon zester to quickly shave the burned bottom of the cookie and it works like magic.
I mentioned this before, but I love freezing cookie dough; either in small freezer bag batches or pre-rolled into balls that can be baked later on. Freezing cookie dough is one of the best time-saving strategies for Christmas cookie baking. By preparing dough in advance and freezing it, I can have fresh cookies ready to bake at a moment’s notice. I also can save a few for after the holidays :-).
Then when it’s time to bake, I simply thaw the dough out in the fridge and bake it for fresh-baked cookies anytime.
By using these time-saving baking strategies, you can streamline the process and make the most of your time during the busy holiday season!
Decorating Christmas cookies can be a fun and festive activity, but it can also be time-consuming and challenging. Here are some decorating shortcuts that can help make the process easier and more efficient.
Ready-made icing and Frosting
Ready-made icing and frosting is a convenient and time-saving option for decorating Christmas cookies quickly. It comes in a variety of flavors and can be used with a decorative frosting tip to swirl the frosting onto the cookies. It looks fancy but is very easy to do.
If you want to get more creative, you can mix frosting colors together, dye them with food coloring, or frost cookies in two tones of frosting, like black and white cookies. You can also use a toothpick or small paintbrush to add details to your designs. With ready-made icing and frosting, you can spend more time decorating and less time mixing and cleaning.
Edible Candy Decorations
Edible candy decorations are another great shortcut for decorating Christmas cookies. They can be found in most grocery stores and come in a variety of shapes and colors. Some popular ones are sprinkles, Hershey’s Kisses, crushed candy cane bits, and flavored chips.
Just place them on top of your cookies after they have been baked and cooled. To help secure them to the cookie you can gently tap and press them.
If you want something different, you can even break up your own candy to make edible bits of Kit Kats, Snickers, or Andies Candies.
Cookie Baking Cleanup Hacks
Christmas cookie baking can be a messy affair, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few preventive measures and quick cleaning tips, you can keep your kitchen tidy and stress-free.
Preventing a Big Mess When Baking
The best way to avoid a big mess when baking is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are a few tips:
- Use silicone baking mats or parchment paper to line your baking sheets. This will prevent cookies from sticking and make cleanup faster and easier.
- Place a large cutting board or baking sheet under your mixing bowl to catch any spills or messes.
- Keep a damp cloth or paper towels nearby to quickly wipe up spills as they happen.
- Use a handheld dustpan and brush to quickly clean up any flour or sugar spills easily.
Quick Clean-up Tips for Bakers
Even with preventive measures in place, your kitchen is still going to get messy. Here are a few quick cleaning tips to help you get your kitchen back in order:
- First things first; I do not let anyone into the kitchen when baking Christmas cookies because I use all the space I have to stay organized.
- Fill a large basin in the sink with hot, soapy water before you start baking. This way, you can quickly toss dirty utensils and mixing bowls into the water for soaking.
- Use a rubber scraper or spatula to scrape any dough or batter off your mixing bowl and utensils before washing them.
- Cleaning the kitchen as you go is a big time saver. While your cookies are baking, take a few minutes to wipe down your counters and wash any dirty dishes.
- Use your dishwasher to get buttery, greasy items squeaky clean quickly.
Taking a few preventive measures and using these quick cleaning tips can make Christmas cookie baking a stress-free and enjoyable experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I make my Christmas cookies stand out?
To make your Christmas cookies stand out, you can use unique cookie cutters, and fancy sprinkles. But to really make your cookies stand out, just follow the recipe carefully. Don’t over-mix the dough and don’t over-bake them, because taste is everything!
What are some easy Christmas cookie recipes for beginners?
There are many easy Christmas cookie recipes for beginners, such as sugar cookies, butter cookies, and chocolate chip cookies. These recipes have some basic ingredients, are easy to make, and everyone seems to love them.
How can I store Christmas cookies to keep them fresh?
To keep Christmas cookies fresh, store them in an airtight container. You can also add a slice of American bread to the container to help keep the cookies moist. You can even defrost cookies on a platter with a slice of bread to soften them after they come out of the freezer.
Christmas cookie baking shortcuts: Make a variety of cookies quickly
To make a variety of Christmas cookies quickly, you can start with pre-made cookie dough that you previously made and froze. Or, make a double batch of cookie dough, like sugar cookies, and use different cookie cutters to shape them.
You can also divide the dough into different batches and use food coloring and flavored extracts to make variations of cookies. When I’m baking lots of cookies, I also like looking up baking tips at Land O Lakes when I need expert advice in a pinch. 🙂
Another Christmas cookie-baking shortcut to make it seem like you have a variety of different homemade cookies is to decorate them with different sprinkles, frosting, or candy bits.
Lastly, you can bake larger cookies, so you don’t have to scoop out that many. Then you can decorate and individually wrap each cookie to gift to someone special.
These are just a few ideas to think about and hope they save you time this holiday season when it comes time to bake cookies.
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