Chefs’ Tips For Making The Best Holiday Cookies

Christmas Santa Cookie

It’s that time of year when kitchens across the country are filled with the sweet aroma of homemade holiday cookies. But unless you’re a professional baker, those gingerbread houses and frosted sugar cookies may put your culinary skills to the test. To keep you from creating Pinterest fails, try these pointers from professional chefs for creating the best holiday cookies.

  • Let the dough rest and the cookies set – Michael Wallace, head chef at Cup4Cup gluten-free flour company, says the key to cookie success is letting the dough rest for at least two hours before baking. And when the cookies come out of the oven, let them cool for five minutes on the baking sheet so they can “set up.”
  • Freeze the dough before baking – Chilled dough is easier to work with and Tricia Brennan Nally, chef at Sur La Table, advises scooping it and putting it in the freezer to firm up before baking.
  • Less can be more – If you’re going for perfection, Nally suggests focusing on nailing one type of cookie first before tackling a lot of varieties. “I’d rather give people one or two of the same kind of cookie and have them be really good than give them 10 subpar cookies,” she says.
  • You can make different types of cookies using the same dough – Your shortbread or sugar cookie dough can be turned into thumbprint cookies, sandwich cookies, rolled cookies for cutouts and more.
  • Having good tools can help – Before you start baking, you may want to treat yourself to some new kitchen gadgets that could make a difference with your cookies. A bench knife, also known as a pastry scraper, can help you slice dough, cut butter into flour and more. Different size cookie scoops, a small offset spatula and a reusable silicone baking mat would also make good additions to your cookie tools.