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Baking Perfect Christmas Cookies Every Time

Many families have a family tradition of baking cookies at this time of year. My children and I have carried on this tradition since they were old enough to stand up in a chair. I used to get frustrated when they didn't turn out right, until I figured out the tricks the pros use.

Get non-sticky dough

If you are making cookies that need to be rolled out, it can be frustrating when the dough sticks to your rolling pin. This is easily solved by lightly dusting the surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking. You may need to repeat dusting with flour occasionally. If dough is too soft, refrigerate for about one hour.

Fluff up your cookies

If your cookies spread and become flat after baked, try refrigerating the dough until well chilled (1 to 2 hours). If the dough is too soft, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour. 

To grease or not to grease?

Never grease your cookie sheet unless the recipe tells you to do so. Greasing a cookie sheet when the recipe does not call for it can cause the cookies to spread too much and brown too quickly around the edges. Most cookie recipes have enough fat in them to keep them from sticking.

Use quality ingredients

Quality ingredients are important. You can’t produce quality cookies, if you are not using top quality ingredients. Don’t skimp and use a low fat spread in place of butter or margarine in baking recipes. This will produce very soft cookie dough.

Get an even bake

If you want cookies that will be evenly browned, use a baking stone, or a shiny, aluminum cookie sheet at least two inches narrower and shorter than the oven. The sheet may be open on one, two or three sides.

If you choose to use a dark colored cookie sheet, watch it carefully. These may cause your cookies to brown quicker.

For best results in a conventional oven, place one cookie sheet in the oven at a time in the middle of the center rack of the oven. If cookies are baked on the bottom rack of the oven they may burn or not bake evenly. Leave about 2 inches of space around the cookie sheet to allow for good air circulation.

Freezing dough properly

After you have followed all the guidelines to make perfect holiday cookies, you may want to freeze some for later use. Both frosted and unfrosted cookies may be frozen for up to 2 months. Although it is best to freeze them unfrosted, sometimes frozen frosted cookies become moist under the frosting.

How to store your cookies

Arrange cookies in a container lined with plastic food wrap or aluminum foil. For best results, wrap cookies individually in plastic wrap and separate with layers of aluminum foil or plastic food wrap.

Store in an airtight container, with label and date. Be sure to thaw cookies, by letting them stand loosely covered on a serving plate for about 20 minutes before frosting or serving.

For answers to your baking questions, contact me at the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Miller County, 400 Laurel, Suite 215, Texarkana, call 870-779-3609 or email me at Be sure to follow me at or Twitter @MillerCountyFCS

I love this cookie recipe. You will get tender, buttery cookies that friends and neighbors will ask for each year.

Melt In Your Mouth Sugar Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup margarine or butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Mix powdered sugar, margarine, vanilla, almond extract and egg.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  3. Refrigerate in air tight container at least 3 hours.
  4. Heat oven to 375 degree oven.
  5. Divide dough into halves.
  6. Roll each on lightly floured surface.
  7. Cut into desired shapes.
  8. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet.
  9. Bake until edges are lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes.
  10. Once cooled frost and decorate cookies with vanilla frosting, colored sugar, small candies, and nuts if desired.

By Carla Due M.S.