Holiday Cookie Masterclass: 10 Tips for Perfect Holiday Cookies

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Welcome to the Holiday Cookie Masterclass!

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of my best cookie recipes and tips so that you can bake the best holiday cookies! In this baking series, I will be sharing baking tips and recipes for one type of cookie each week. For example, one week will be drop cookies (yes, that includes everyone’s favorite chocolate chip cookies!) and the next week might be rolled cookies.

So get your baking pans and rolling pins out, you will definitely need them over the next few weeks!

First up are my 10 Tips for Perfect Holiday Cookies! As I was writing this post I realized that it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 cookie tips. But I will surely be sharing many more in posts and recipes during this baking series!

First, read the whole recipe. We all know how it feels to start a recipe and then realize you do not have all the ingredients. The second worst is to not realize the cookie dough needs to be refrigerated when all you want are cookies ASAP! Reading the whole recipe before you began anything (even taking out the ingredients) ensures that you will not have either of these conundrums again!

The fridge is your friend. I definitely know the feeling of just wanting fresh baked cookies NOW! As I was always told growing up, patience can be a virtue! DO NOT skip the step of refrigerating cookie dough in a recipe. Refrigerating cookie dough serves two purposes. First, it prevents the cookies from spreading too much when they bake. Secondly, it can give cookies a deeper flavor as the dough ‘marinates’. If the recipe does not call for refrigerating the dough but the dough is sticky or the cookies spread too much, popping it in the fridge is a great solution.

Use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Along with both of these being non-stick surfaces, parchment paper and silicone baking mats promote even browning. Additionally, the baking pan you use matters! Just be aware that using a dark baking pan leads to the cookies browning quickly, often before they are done.

Use a cooling rack. Allow cookies to fully cool on a wire cooling rack. Cooling racks are inexpensive and make sure that the bottom of the cookies are not soggy. Transfer your cookies to a cooling rack a few minutes after they come out from the oven. If you do it right away the cookies will be too soft and make not make it in one piece!

A cookie scoop is key for evenly portioned cookies. In order for your cookies to cook evenly, they must all be the same size! The easiest way to do this is by using a cookie scoop. They come in all sizes, choose your size depending on what size cookie you want (the bigger the better in my book)! Other easy ways to portion cookies are with a tablespoon or by weighing the dough. I like a 1 to 1 and ½ ounce ball of dough for the perfect sized cookie.

Know your oven temperature. When you set your oven to 350°F, do you think it is actually heated to 350°F? Although we would all like this to be true, it is often not! Every oven is different. While an oven may say it is heated to 350°F, it could be at 325°F or 375°F. When baking, these temperature differences matter. The best way to know the true temperature of your oven is to use an oven thermometer. They are inexpensive and easy to use! Once you have one in your oven you can adjust your oven temperature accordingly so that the thermometer reads the temperature you desire!

Bake one batch of cookies at a time. I know it is tempting to want to bake your cookies as quickly as possible since let’s admit all we really want is to eat the cookies! But baking your cookies one baking sheet at a time in the middle rack of the oven allows for even baking of cookies. For years I baked two sheets of cookies at a time and was frustrated that half of the cookies were burnt and the other half were done perfectly. If you still want to bake cookies two sheets at a time, make sure to rotate the pans halfway through cooking.

Press chocolate chips into the pre-portioned cookie dough for a photo finish. Have you ever wondered how bloggers and food stylists get the chocolate chips perfectly on top of a cookie? This is exactly how it is done! Once you have portioned your cookie dough, stick a few chocolate chips or whatever other add-in is in your cookies gently into the top of the cookie dough balls. Once the cookies are baked, the chocolate chips should be on top and just as perfect as in the photos!

Let your baking sheets cool. Never put cookie dough on a hot baking sheet. The cookies will begin to cook before you put them in the oven! This also leads the cookies to spread out more which is not ideal if you want thick, chewy cookies (my personal favorite).

Under bake your cookies. I would rather eat an underbaked cookie any day over an overbaked one! Underbaked cookies will stay softer and moister over time and will never have the burnt taste of an over baked cookie.

If you cannot resist cookies and want to bake some this week, these Cookie Butter White Chocolate Chip Cookies are a great place to start!

If you just like the cookie dough, these Triple Chocolate Cookie Dough Truffles are for you! Just sprinkle them with colored sugar for the holidays and they make great gifts 🙂

Discover my best tips and recipes from the first two weeks of the Holiday Cookie Masterclass!

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60 thoughts on “Holiday Cookie Masterclass: 10 Tips for Perfect Holiday Cookies

  1. I am so happy I found your blog. We have all these holiday potlucks coming up, starting with Halloween and I have to bring baked goods. Do you have a post on themed baked goods? For example Halloween? I’m not talking about a pumpkin pie though 🙂 I mean making them look like a witch or ghost.

  2. These are fantastic tips and they’re making me want to whip out my Kitchen Aid and start baking! I love your tip about underbaking the cookies! Soft and melty cookies are really the best!

    1. I am glad to hear it, baking is the best (in my humble opinion). I completely agree, soft and gooey cookies with a tall glass of milk are complete perfection 🙂

  3. I’ve never heard of a cookie scoopp before – what a great idea! And I totally agree about putting the dough in the fridge…so tempting to skip that part but it’s really necessary 🙂

    1. It’s like an ice cream scoop but small enough for cookies. It really does the trick and makes portioning cookie dough much easier 🙂

  4. Yes! I’ve quickly glanced at recipes instead of reading all the way through them…the results were sometimes interesting.

  5. These are such great tips! I get so impatient when I bake cookies so I definitely try too hard to get two sheets going at once, and sometimes I don’t cool them on racks. Now I know!

  6. I want to make cookies this year! Buuuut, my daughter is due on the 8th of December so I’m trying not to get any grandiose ideas about what I’ll be doing this Christmas. Haha!

  7. Love all these tips! My favorite is not putting raw cookie dough on hot pans. I used to do this all the time. I’ve learned my lesson, now.

    1. Thank you, I am glad you learned something! It is definitely tempting to put cookies on hot pans to speed things up but is worth the wait!

  8. If only I could count all the times I should have read the FULL recipe first…. =) Joking aside, these are awesome tips. I can’t wait to try adding in the chocolate chips onto the cookie dough for picture-perfect cookies. And I think your ‘underbaking’ tip needs to be highlighted, bold and large! Soft cookies for the win!

    1. I have definitely fallen into that trap many times before! I am glad you found the tips useful! Soft cookies are my favorite and underbaking the cookies as well as using cornstarch in the dough are a great place to start 🙂

  9. So THAT’S how they get the chocolate chips to look so good in the cookies! I’ve always wondered and have never been able to master it. My grandad was a chef and always told me to coat them I flour to stop them sinking in the bottom, but this way sounds much better! Also, yes, always under bake the cookies!

    1. It definitely is, it seems so small but gets them looking really pretty! You can also place chips on top when they have ~2 minutes left of baking. Coating chocolate chips or add-ins with flour works great for cakes or muffins as they are more apt to sink in those recipes.

  10. This post reminds me that I need a new baking tray haha! We just about managed to make cookies a few days back and I used a cake tin – NOT a good idea! And they just spread everywhere! Even forgot to use a parchment paper! Not a fan of baking a lot haha!

  11. Never thought about the temperature of the baking sheet! This is why you’re the expert baker 😉.

  12. I know I’m going to need patience to only bake one batch of cookies at a time, since that might not happen I was thinking I could get a couple sheet pans and prep them so when one pan comes out another can go in. And I’ve definitely got to get some of those silicone mats this year. I like that tip for a photo finish cookie too!

    1. It definitely does take patience, something that I am not known for. What you suggested is exactly what I do. I prep a pan when one is in the oven so I can just swap them out. I recently got silicone mats as well I found some cheap ones at HomeGoods. You can also use parchment paper, that also works well. I hope this helps!

  13. I love these tips! My mistake is always baking more than one batch at a time & overbaking them! Thank you for these

    1. Yes, I completely understand. That was my problem as well for the longest time. But with a few easy tweaks that can be remedied and your cookies will be better than ever 🙂

  14. I love your tips, I’m keen to make cookies this weekend and as someone who’s not british, it’ll be my first time, so definitely handy and I’ll make sure not to skip the fridge step. 🙂

    1. Thank you, I hope the tips are helpful! Yes, definitely don’t skip the fridge step, even if it is only for 2 hours!

    1. Besides an oven, cookie sheet, measuring cups, and a bowl you don’t really need much other equipment. A mixer is nice to have but definitely not required for most cookies recipes. I will be posting a new recipe this week that uses melted butter, so it really is as easy as whisking everything together 🙂

    1. It definitely is a very handle tool to have, a scale also works equally well! My favorite cookie size is 1.5-2 ounces!

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