Three Easy Christmas Cookie Recipes That Will Have People Thinking You're a Professional Baker

A plate of cookies left out for Santa Claus—along with carrots for his reindeer and an onion for Rudolph, if you're nasty—is an integral part of the holiday. And they also provide much-needed energy for parents doing some last-minute wrapping and toy assembly on Christmas Eve.

Christmas cookies don't have to be complicated. Some of the most impressive ones just take a little preparation. Here are three recipes from our family kitchen that will keep St. Nick and his elves happy on their long sleigh ride.

Christmas cookies
A selection of Christmas cookies. Jenifoto / Getty Images

Sugar Cookies

The basic sugar cookie is one of the most durable and dependable Christmas treats. You can cut it into any number of shapes and decorate it with icing, sprinkles, melted chocolate and more. They're great for kids because the process is simple and hard to mess up.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Steps:

  1. Mix the first three ingredients thoroughly, then beat the butter and sugar in a separate bowl until creamy. Add the other liquid ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until combined. Make sure to scrape the sides of your bowl.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture and mix slowly until combined.
  3. Roll out the completed dough on parchment to one-quarter-inch thickness and chill it for at least an hour to make it hold together better when you cut it.
  4. After you cut your shapes, bake on a lined sheet at 350 F until the edges are browned, around 10 to 12 minutes.

Oatmeal Scotchies

These family favorites replace the dreaded raisins in oatmeal raisin cookies with delicious melted butterscotch chips, for a savory, sweet delight.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups instant oats
  • 2 cups butterscotch chips

Steps:

  1. Mix the first four ingredients until thoroughly incorporated, then beat the butter and sugars in a separate bowl until creamy. Add the liquid ingredients to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
  2. Add the mixed dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined, then mix in the oats and butterscotch chips evenly.
  3. With a one-quarter cup ice cream scoop, scoop the mixture onto lined baking sheets.
  4. Bake at 350 F until the edges brown. The tops should still be soft. Remove cookies from oven and let them sit on the pan for three minutes before moving to a rack to cool.

Make sure to remove the cookies from the oven while they are still a little soft, as they overbake easily.

Gingerbread

The spicy bite of gingerbread isn't just for building decorated houses. These are among the most iconic Christmas cookies, and they're great with a hot cup of tea in the morning too.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 1 egg

Steps:

  1. Mix the first eight ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined, then beat the butter, shortening and sugar in a separate bowl until creamy.
  2. Beat the molasses and egg into the butter mixture, then slowly fold in the flour mixture until the dough is stiff.
  3. Divide the dough and chill for at least three hours, or up to two days.
  4. When you're ready to roll out, let the dough stand at room temperature until you can work it without it cracking. Roll out to one-eighth of an inch for crisp gingerbread and one-quarter inch for softer cookies.
  5. Bake on a lined sheet at 350 F until the edges are crisp, around 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the baking tray once halfway through. Let cool on the baking sheet for a minute and then transfer to a rack.
Three Easy Christmas Cookie Recipes That Will Have People Thinking You're a Professional Baker | Culture