How to Make and Share the Best Cookies for Christmas

Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, shares tips for baking Christmas cookies so they turn out just the way you like them, plus tips for mailing them to loved ones far away.

From measuring and mixing to decorating and shipping, these easy tips will help you make and share Christmas cookies with your family and friends. Nicole will walk you through her tips for making chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies, and then she'll show you how to package them for mailing.

chocolate chip cookies on a white plate

Pictured: Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Measure and Prep Ingredients Properly

  • Be sure to read the recipe all the way through so you can assemble or prep all the ingredients you'll need before you get started.
  • When it comes to measuring ingredients, you'll want to use the right technique so you get the proper ratios that make your recipe work. To measure flour, for example, it can be weighed on a kitchen scale or it can be fluffed up, lightly spooned into a dry measuring cup, and leveled off with the back of a knife. Brown sugar, on the other hand, needs to be firmly packed into a measuring cup.
  • If your recipe calls for room temperature or softened butter, you should take it out of the fridge before you get the rest of your ingredients together so it will be soft enough to use by the time you're ready to start mixing your dough. Eggs should be at room temperature as well.
  • If your recipe calls for toasted nuts, you should do that right away and put the nuts in the fridge so they'll cool by the time you use them in your cookie recipe.

Mix Ingredients Separately

You'll mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then combine the two. Dry ingredients include flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Wet ingredients include sugar (yes, it's a wet ingredient), butter, eggs, and vanilla.

Mix a Lot

Most cookie recipes start by mixing, or "creaming" butter and sugar together until it's light and fluffy. (You're going to be so happy you softened your butter.) If you want to get in a good arm workout, you can do this by hand with a sturdy spoon and a mixing bowl. But to save time and effort, use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or use a hand-held mixer.

  • Start by beating the butter by itself on low for about 30 seconds, then add the sugar and beat on medium for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the room temperature eggs one at a time and beat for 45 seconds to a minute for a chewy cookie, or beat just until combined for a crumbly cookie.
  • The final wet ingredient is usually vanilla extract.
  • Add the flour a bit at a time, beating on low just until all the flour is incorporated. Don't overbeat.
  • If you're making chocolate chip cookies, stir them in (along with nuts if you're using them) by hand using a sturdy spatula or spoon.

Chill Dough Before Baking

Chilling the dough helps keep the cookie dough from spreading out in the oven. You can two basic choices for chilling the dough:

  • Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • OR you could scoop out portions of dough onto a cookie baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and put the baking sheet into the fridge to chill. Use an ice cream scoop (they come in many sizes) to quickly and easily portion out the dough and place the scoops at least two inches apart on the baking sheet.

Tip: For assembly-line baking, use at least three baking sheets so you can have one baking, one chilling, and one being loaded up with cookie dough. When a sheet of cookies comes out of the oven, slide the parchment paper — cookies and all — straight onto a cooling rack and set the baking sheet aside to cool down for the next load of dough. When the cookies on the rack are cool enough to handle, slide them off the parchment paper so you can reuse it, and let the cookies finish cooling on the rack.

Time and Temperature

  • When Nicole wants cookies that are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, she bakes them at a higher temperature for a shorter time. Try 425 degrees F for 8 minutes.
  • Rotate the pan halfway through the bake time so the cookies bake evenly.

Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs

Christmas tree sugar cookies

Pictured: The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

  • Roll and cut out the dough on a sheet of parchment paper, remove the dough scraps, and reposition the cut-outs on the parchment. This reduces the chance of stretching out the cut-outs.
  • Chill before baking.
  • Cool completely before icing.
  • Use royal icing to make smudge-proof cookie decorations.
round sugar cookies with winter scenes: a night sky with snow falling and pine trees covered in snow
Brielle Brauner

Pictured: Royal Icing I

Mailing Cookies

  • Wear gloves for food-handling safety.
  • Pack chewy cookies and crisp cookies separately.
  • Separate cookie layers with waxed paper.
  • Put the container of cookies into a shipping box that's large enough to hold the container and a generous padding of bubble wrap or packing peanuts.
  • Ship cookies using a service that will get them to their destination as soon as possible.
  • Let the recipient know they should open the package right away so the perishable cookies don't languish under the tree.

You can connect with Nicole as NicoleMcmom on Allrecipes and on Instagram @nicolemcmom.

More tips and tricks from Nicole:

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