Here's one way to avoid a stressful holiday time crunch: Start baking Christmas cookies now! That's what I do. Certain cookies lend themselves quite well to baking, freezing and thawing - the trick is just finding the right recipes. That's where we come in: Here are our 9 best Christmas cookie recipes for baking and freezing until the holiday, plus a few extra cookie-freezing tips I use in my own kitchen each year.
1. These go-to Gingerbread Cutouts get their signature spiced flavor from molasses, nutmeg, clove, ginger and cinnamon.
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
2. Spritz cookies are a Christmas classic! Don't have a cookie press? Transfer the dough to a resealable plastic bag, snip the corner and pipe shapes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, instead.
3. These two-toned Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Stick cookies look and taste like candy canes!
Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Stick Cookies
Related: 30 Best Christmas Cookie Recipes
4. Give the standard thumbprint cookie a sweet-tart twist with our Chocolate-Raspberry Thumbprints.Chocolate-Raspberry Thumbprints
5. Nutty Walnut Biscotti cookies are perfect for dunking in coffee or hot cocoa. Not a fan of white chocolate? Use dark chocolate or semisweet, instead.
6. We took inspiration from Italian Spumoni ice cream, a tri-colored treat studded with nuts and dried fruits, to make these festive Spumoni Icebox Cookies.Spumoni Icebox Cookies
Related: Cookie Decorating Tips
7. Buttery Sugar Cookies are a crowd favorite! Frost and decorate after the cookies are cool (as seen above) or sprinkle with sanding sugar before baking if you're short on time.
8. Crystalized ginger and dried cranberries give these Cranberry-Orange Spice Cookies a fabulous texture and flavor.
Cranberry-Orange Spice Cookies
9. Dress up the classic chocolate chip cookie for the holiday and make Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies - they're loaded with walnuts, two kinds of chocolate and tart dried cranberries.
Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Once the dough is done, there are few extra tricks you can employ to make sure your cookies come out picture-perfect when you're ready to bake. Here are my top tips:
- Freeze your cookies in sturdy containers to protect them from breaking. I like to use stackable shallow plastic containers.
- Let cookies cool completely before wrapping and freezing. If you don't, condensation will form inside of the packaging causing freezer burn and damp cookies later on.
- It's 100% okay to decorate cookies with royal icing before freezing. Arrange them on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze (uncovered) at least 1 hour or until the icing's hard, then gently stack the frozen cookies between layers of wax or parchment paper in a tightly sealed container. For extra protection, put each cookie in its own resealable plastic bag or wrap with plastic wrap before stacking in the container.
- If you're freezing a few different types of cookies, freeze them in separate containers to keep their flavors from blending together during storage.
- Store the cookies in the back or middle of the freezer, not the door. You want to make sure they stay as cold as possible to maintain freshness. They'll keep for 1 to 3 months this way.
- Let the cookies defrost at room temperature without unwrapping - condensation will form on the container/wrap and not directly on the cookies.
- Can't wait for the cookies to defrost at room temperature? Warm unwrapped cookies in a 350˚ oven for 3 to 5 minutes (but do not do this if the cookies have been iced or drizzled/dipped in chocolate).
What are some easy make-ahead cookie recipes that you make during the holidays? Let me know in the comments!
-by Erin Phraner
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