How to Successfully Bake Cut-Out Christmas Cookies With Your Kids

Last Friday afternoon, I got this text from my 16-year-old:

Mom, can I have friends over after school to make Christmas cookies?

Now that is a big request.  Making cut-out Christmas cookies is a big undertaking…but how could I say no? My 16-year-old wanted to bring his friends home to make cookies! I immediately adjusted my plans for the late afternoon and early evening and texted back:

Sure. Who and how many?

He responded:  6 including me. 

I immediately went to work.  I’ve been baking Christmas cookies with my kids for 27 years.  Through many disappointments and trials and errors, I’ve finally learned how to do it well at every stage of mothering.  Let me share my secrets with you!

Here’s the recipe I use:

Christmas Cut-Out Cookies

1/2 c. Crisco
1 stick butter
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
3-1/2 c. of flour  (I usually add more until the dough isn’t sticky)

Chill 1 hour.  Roll 1/4″ thick with rolling pin. (I disinfect my kitchen island and roll the dough right on the counter top. Make sure and flour the surface you are rolling on and flour the rolling pin–just rub flour all over it–so the dough doesn’t stick)

Use cookie cutters for shapes.  Bake 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes until shine is off (do not overcook–you don’t want them brown on the edges).

Icing

2 sticks butter (softened–I leave the sticks on the counter for about 30 min)
4-1/2 – 4-3/4 c. powdered sugar (I usually add more until it peaks when you mix it)
1/2 c. milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla or peppermint (we use peppermint!)

Beat butter to fluffy and add 1/2 of the powdered sugar. Add milk and vanilla and rest of sugar.  Divide into smaller bowls and add food coloring as desired (we usually do red, green, blue, yellow, and white)

Note: Cookies can be frozen either before icing or after icing, if you want to decorate or eat at a later time.

Here’s how to successfully make cut-out cookies with kids of any age:

Preschool Years: 
1) Day 1: You make and chill dough while they are napping.
2) Day 2: You cut out and bake cookies while they are napping.
3) Day 2 or 3: You make icing and ice the cookies
4) Your preschooler can put sprinkles on while the icing is still wet.
5) Enjoy eating, giving away, and sharing the yummy cookies you made!

Grade School Years 
1) You make and chill the dough
2) You roll out the dough and let them use the cookie cutters to cut out the shapes
3) You put them in the oven.
4) Once all the cookies are cool, the kids and you can ice them and decorate with sprinkles.  (this can also be done on the next day if cookies are stored in an airtight container.)
5) Enjoy!

Note: Grade school years is a great time to teach your kids to make cookies from scratch. Since Christmas cookies have five parts to them–1) making the recipe  2) chilling the dough  3) rolling the dough and cutting the cookies  4) baking the cookies  5) decorating the cookies—I find this isn’t the best time to teach them to bake.  The process is too long and they are impatient to get to the cutting out and decorating.  Teach them to follow a recipe some other time with something like Chocolate Chip cookies or Oatmeal Raisin Cookies that you just mix up, bake, and eat!

Junior High/High School Years
1) You make and chill the dough (if you have a teen that wants to do that, let them!)
2) You show them how to roll out the dough and cut out the cookies, then let them do it themselves!
3) You help with the baking.
4) Enjoy decorating the cookies with your family!

Note: I had a double recipe of the dough made and chilled by the time the six teens arrived at my house last Friday.  They jumped in with rolling out the dough and cutting out cookies, I oversaw the baking, and they decorated  and it was still a 3 hour process! That’s why I’m a believer in already having the dough made and chilled no matter the age of the kids! 

Here are pictures from our spontaneous Christmas Cookie party on Friday!

Cutting out the cookies!

Cookies are cooling!

Icing colors!

Decorating fun!

Mmmm...the finished cookies!

Easy clean up! I put my cookie cutters in a laundry lingerie bag in the dishwasher!

Photobucket

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11 Responses to How to Successfully Bake Cut-Out Christmas Cookies With Your Kids

  1. Lisa M says:

    Fun stuff! But my kids (as preschoolers) have always loved helping to make the dough. We make the dough in the morning, and then cut out in the afternoon. My 5 year old has been good at cutting out! Last year, the ones he made we reserved special for immediate family. lol I often make 5 or 6 batches, tho. So some of them I do without them. 😉 Then I pop them in the freezer until the day we are ready to decorate. What fun to have the teens do that! My teens tend to prefer the eating stage best. 🙂

  2. Amanda Teske says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I love your blog and have been following it for a few months. I appreciate your candor and the practical Christ centered marriage and parenting advice! I also really appreciate a post like this! I have been struggling unsuccessfully with making “Christmas” cookies with my kids for a few years now and I’m super encouraged by all of your advice! Thank you!

  3. Paula Lloyd says:

    My recipe is a lot longer and more indepth! I am definitely going to try yours! Instead of flour when rolling out I use powdered sugar…this makes it a little sweeter.

  4. Ashley Graber says:

    So much fun, Jill! My daughter and I just love to make cookies. This is another fun cut out cookie recipe for Christmas. It’s my Great-Great Grandma’s recipe. Hope you guys are having a very blessed holiday together!

    Gingerbread Cookies
    1 cup dark molasses
    1 cup sugar
    2 sticks butter
    1 tsp ginger
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla
    6 cups flour
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 cup hot coffee
    2 tsp baking soda

    Mix molasses, sugar, and butter well. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix ginger, salt, cinnamon and flour in a separate bowl and then add to wet ingredients. Mix coffee and baking soda separately and then add last. Chill dough 1 hour or overnight. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 375 for 7 minutes. Decorate with frosting or colored sugar and eat!

  5. Theresa says:

    This is a helpful post! I thought it might be fun to do cookies with my 2-yr olds, but didn’t want their “help” with the prep part….thanks for the break-down of ages and what may work best! :~)

  6. Robin Schick says:

    Jill, I have found that when making other Christmas cookies beside cut-puts are great with children less than 6th grade. Hershey Kiss Blossoms. Yes I make up the dough ahead of time, but I scoop the dough into the right size, 2 boys roll them into balls and drop them into the sugar, while 2 others are taking the papers off the kisses. I do put the kisses on after they are partially baked. We also make a drop cookie that you use a glass dipped in colored sugar and we let the kids press those cookies. I watch and tell them when to stop or they would be as thinner than a pancake. Lots of fun when they all what to help!!!

  7. Jennie says:

    This is great, thank you!! We are leaving on vacation, so it’s too late for this year. Hmm, but maybe for the week we get back! A great way to get all the kids together!

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