My family doesn’t have a ton of traditions, but the ones we do almost all revolve around Christmas. And one of my absolute favorites is decorating Christmas cookies!
Every year, it was one of the first things we did. Usually a day or two after getting the Christmas tree, we’d clear all the kitchen counters and spend hours decorating cookies, sneaking increasing amounts of dough until we got stomach aches. When my brother was little he helped, but he got bored pretty quickly and it became mostly a mom-and-me thing. One year, I even made her wait to make them until I got back from studying abroad so I wouldn’t miss the fun!
Obviously it’s not the same to do it without my mom, but these cookies are so built into my Christmas season that I can’t imagine celebrating without them. I’ve been known to grab whoever’s around – my husband, the neighbor’s kids, anyone! – and rope them into helping me decorate. Because decorating Christmas cookies is just not a solo activity, especially if you make 3 batches of dough and wildly underestimate how long it’ll take to bake that many cookies. You’ve been warned.
The dough is easy to pull together, but needs a few hours to chill first.
These cookies are simple, similar to butter cookies with an almost shortbread-like flavor. Perfect for piling high the decorations! They can stand up to icing too, if that’s more your thing, but I’m more of a sprinkles and decorations kind of girl.
This year, my favorite two year old in town helped us decorate!! He was a champion cookie decorator, and Wedge especially loved his liberal use of sugar.
Classic Christmas Cookies
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 4 cups flour
- Cream the butter and sugar together for 3-5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. (You don’t have to sift for these.)
- Beat the eggs into the butter mixture, one a time, then add vanilla.
- Add some of the flour to butter mixture, combine, and repeat until it’s all in there. The dough will be pretty dry/flour-y.
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper and knead it until all the bits have combined. Wrap tightly in wax paper and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. If you want to freeze it, do it here.
- When ready to bake: preheat the oven to 350°F and cut the dough into quarters.
- Roll out thinly, one quarter at a time. Cut cookies out with your favorite shapes, transfer to an ungreased baking sheet, and decorate!
- Cook for 7-10 minutes. They’re done when the edges are just starting to turn golden.
The dough is easy to roll out once it’s been chilled, so don’t skip that step. And a word of warning: if you don’t want to nibble on the dough a little every day until you bake the cookies, put it in the freezer. Seriously, I cut off slivers a couple times a day last year until I ended up with not much dough left to bake!
What are your Christmas traditions?? Share them in the comments below!!
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