UACES Facebook Solving Your Christmas Cookie Dilemmas
skip to main content

Solving Your Christmas Cookie Dilemmas

Making holiday traditions with your children is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with them, making memories that last a lifetime.
mom and daughter rolling out cookie dough with rolling pin


Families create a lot of memories and traditions this time of year and one tradition at our house is making Christmas cookies. It’s something we do every year.  We spend hours in the kitchen laughing, getting flour everywhere, rolling and baking dozens of cookies. It is something we all love to do.

These are special holiday memories that we are developing that will last a lifetime.  Chances are they will forget what gifts they received from year to year, but they will remember baking cookies every Christmas season.

What a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with your children, grandchildren or next-door neighbors.  To see their faces light up when they taste those yummy cookies they created is worth all the effort and yes, even the mess.

Cooks everywhere know that sometimes cookies just don’t turn out like they are supposed to. Cookie dough sticks to the rolling pin, the dough spreads out, cookies burn, and a host of other issues. There are things you can do to prevent these problems.

Let’s start with dough sticking to the rolling pin. Lightly dust the surface and rolling pin with flour. Repeat dusting occasionally. Or use a pastry cloth and stockinet-covered rolling pin to make rolling the dough easier, and to help prevent dough from sticking.  Rub flour evenly onto the rolling pin and pastry cloth for easy handling.  If dough is too soft, refrigerate for about one hour.

It is frustrating when your cookies spread and become flat after they have been baked.  If this happens, try refrigerating the dough until well chilled, about 1 to 2 hours.  If, after chilling, the dough is still too soft, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour. 

Another reason cookies may spread is a greased cookie sheet. Greasing a cookie sheet when the recipe does not call for it not only causes cookies to spread; it can also cause them to brown around the edges.

During the holidays, remember good nutrition, but don’t sacrifice the quality of your baked goods either. Using a low fat spread with 60 percent or less fat in place of butter or margarine in baking recipes will make cookie dough very soft, due to the high moisture content.

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.  It may cause your cookies to brown quicker.

For best results, place cookies in the middle of the center rack of the oven.  Cooking on the bottom rack may burn or not bake evenly.

Make sure that there is about 2 inches of space around the cookie sheet to allow for good air circulation.

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.  Unfrosted cookies freeze better because cookies may become moist under the frosting.

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

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

Take this opportunity to bake with a child.  Their sense of adventure and fun will make you laugh and enjoy the season even more. If you need answers to your baking questions, contact me at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, in Miller County by calling 870-779-3609, or e-mail me at

This is the Haley family’s official holiday cookie. We make dozens a year and carry them to all the Christmas celebrations. I hope it helps build family memories like it has in our house.

Haley Family Favorite Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1-cup margarine

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tarter


In mixing bowl combine powdered sugar, margarine, vanilla, almond extract and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients, put in zip top bag and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into halves. Roll each half on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake until edges are light brown, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.

Note: If using self-rising flour, omit baking soda and cream of tarter.

Tried and True Tip:

Make up several batches at a time and keep in the refrigerator in closed zip top bags. Then simply roll out and bake as needed.

By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.