14 Christmas Cookie Baking Hacks to Help You Win the Holiday Season

Between shopping for gifts and entertaining guests, the most wonderful time of the year can get pretty stressful. Save time and money on your Christmas cookie baking with these genius hacks, so you can focus on enjoying the holiday season.

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iStock / AnthonyRosenberg

Turn marshmallows into frosting

Ran out of frosting? Don’t waste time and money running to the store. Marshmallows, if you have them handy, make a creative and easy icing fix. Dip one side of your marshmallows (mini ones work best) in water so they don’t slide off, then plop a few on each cookie when they have three to five minutes left to bake. Once they start to melt but aren’t too runny, take the cookies out and spread your “homemade” frosting with a spoon. Make sure the marshmallows don’t turn brown, or else they won’t spread easily. Add these favorite Christmas cookie recipes to your repertoire.

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Cookie dough
iStock / emptyclouds

Spice up pre-made dough

Using store-bought cookie dough to make Christmas cookies isn’t cheating if you add a personal touch. Take premade sugar cookie dough and let it soften. Then, sprinkle in any flavor you’re craving: cinnamon, orange zest, almond extract, vanilla extract, nuts, pure peppermint extract, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips. Your guests will never know the difference. Here are 12 common baking mistakes you might not know you’re making.

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Melted chocolate
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Dip everything in chocolate

The easiest way to take an ordinary cookie and make it instantly more appealing? Dip it in chocolate. This hack works with any type of cookie you make because, well, it’s chocolate. Add a dash of peppermint extract to give your dip a hint of Christmas. By the way, these are the best chocolate chips you can get at the grocery store.

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Raw pie crust
iStock / 2GreenEyes

Tackle two recipes with one dough

Cousin Nancy wants cookies; Aunt Lorraine wants pie, but you certainly don’t have time to make both. Making pie crust takes a lot of time and patience, so store-bought cookie dough can be swapped in for an easier alternative. Simply press the softened dough into a pie dish, bake it, then add your favorite no-bake fillings like cream or fruit. When you’re done with the sweet stuff, make one of these recipes for delicious appetizers for Christmas.

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Sour cream
iStock / ivandzyuba

Make a buttermilk or sour cream alternative

If your recipe calls for a cup of buttermilk or sour cream—but they’re nowhere to be found in your fridge—take 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, then add enough milk to equal 1 cup. For other quick fixes for missing ingredients, check out these other ways to make buttermilk out of pantry staples.

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Slices of white bread
iStock / SasaJo

Keep your cookies soft

No one likes a dry, hard cookie (especially not Santa Claus). To ensure maximum cookie freshness, store them in a container with a slice of white bread, half of an apple, or an orange peel. The cookies will absorb that moisture, keeping them softer longer. Here are other storage tricks to make your food last longer.

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Mother and daughter rolling out dough
iStock / Martinan

No rolling pin? No problem

Wine and liquor bottles make great substitutes for rolling pins. Just wipe them down, dry them completely and cover them in flour like you would a normal rolling pin. You can also wrap the bottle in parchment paper to be extra sanitary. Check out these other ways you can put old bottles to use.

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Oats in measuring cup
iStock / RightOne

Don’t let sticky ingredients stick to measuring cups

Many Christmas cookie recipes call for ingredients like honey, syrup, or molasses. An easy fix to a sticky measurement mess is spraying the measuring cups with a non-stick spray first. You’ll get more accurate measurements, and cleaning up will be a breeze. Here are some easy Christmas cookie recipes you’ll love.

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Measuring flour
iStock / sandoclr

Measure your flour properly

Scooping flour directly from a bag can leave you with inaccurate measurements. Instead, spoon your flour into a dry measuring cup and scrape any excess off with a knife. Here’s how to correctly measure other cookie ingredients.

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Cocoa powder
iStock / Quanthem

Substitute chocolate with pantry ingredients

If you ever find yourself short on chocolate, try this alternative. For every 1 ounce you need, substitute 3 tablespoons of baking cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of shortening or vegetable oil. Here are 9 easy ways to decorate your Christmas cookies.

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Stick of creamery butter in opened wrapper; Shutterstock ID 368432732; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of Home
Shutterstock / littlenySTOCK

Stay away from cold butter

Here’s a little baking secret: room temperature butter makes your cookies chewier. Leave the amount you need out on a plate for about 30 minutes before you start baking. It will mix better with dry ingredients and help the cookie dough to hold its shape while it bakes. Forgot to pull the butter out of the fridge? Check out these ways to soften butter quickly.

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Raw dough for Christmas cookies and cookie cutters shaped glove, Christmas tree, snowflake, jingle bell, gingerbread man
Shutterstock / Anastasia_Panait

Flour your cookie cutters

When it comes to making cutout gingerbread or sugar cookies, the dough often sticks to the cutter and deforms what you’re trying to create. Talk about a cooking disaster. Flouring your cookie cutters before each use lets the dough slice easily and keep its shape once it’s placed on the cookie sheet. Then, find out the favorite Christmas cookie in every state.

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Sugar cookie dough in a glass bowl with measuring cup in front
Shutterstock / nastiakru

Chill your dough

Chilling your dough at least four hours before baking makes it easier to work with. This also enhances its flavor, especially the butter, because all of the ingredients have had time to meld together. Adding in this extra prep time can seem like a pain, but you’ll thank yourself when you have the most savory cookies.

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Close up of kid decorating the gingerbread cookies
Shutterstock / Levranii

Make a frosting pipette out of a sandwich bag

Decorating your cookies has never been easier, thanks to sandwich baggies. Fill the bag with icing, snip off the corner, and you have a homemade pipette. The bigger the hole, the thicker the frosting. Next, don’t miss these Christmas cookie recipes you can make ahead of time.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest