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Ina Garten’s Best Christmas Cookie Tips and Secrets for Perfect Holiday Cookies Every Time

Ina Garten has some easy tips for the best Christmas cookies, from how long to chill the dough, to how to store them. The 'Barefoot Contessa' star also uses one dough to make a variety of cookie shapes, each with unique decorations. She uses leftover cookie dough scraps so nothing goes to waste.

Ina Garten has mastered all areas of baking and her Christmas cookie tips and secrets guarantee perfect cookies every time. The Barefoot Contessa star shared some of her tricks for making holiday cookies and they’re so easy.

Ina Garten wears a blue shirt and stands with her hands out the side while talking with Hoda Kotb on the 'Today' show
Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Garten shared some of her easiest Christmas cookie tips and tricks during a 2020 appearance on the Today show.

When making cookies, Garten explained that it’s best to refrigerate the dough before working with it, for “15 to 30 minutes, tops. You want it just chilled enough so the butter’s cold and then roll it out and it will be really easy.”

The Barefoot Contessa star also explained, “It’s better if you cut them out and then chill them and bake them” for “sharper edges” so they are “a little more professional-looking.”

Garten also recommended keeping the cookies in a container in the refrigerator so they’re ready to be baked off and decorated in small batches at a moment’s notice. The dough can also be frozen for several months.

She shared an easy tip for packing the cookies to ship them — place each cookie on a muffin cup before putting them into a box. Garten recommended adding crinkled parchment paper in the box to keep the cookies from shifting.


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The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ star makes one dough for a lot of different Christmas cookies

Garten also shared an easy idea for cutting down on prepping and baking time — she uses the same dough to make a multitude of different cookies. “So for Christmas, everybody wants to make lots of different cookies, but I don’t want to make a lot of different doughs,” she explained.

She added, “So what I do is I take shortbread dough, which is basically four ingredients plus salt — butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, you’ve probably got it at home — and I make shortbread dough and I then I make lots of different cookies out of it.”

Garten rolls out the dough and cuts different shapes and each type of cutout gets a different decoration. For the stars, she adds a glaze and sugar Christmas sprinkles, the wreath-shaped cookies get a drizzle of glaze and silver balls, and she dips the heart cookies into chocolate. The Food Network host uses the scraps of dough to make rectangle-shaped cookies, so nothing is wasted.

Her linzer cookies have a beautiful “window” that shows off the jam filling. “That’s my particular favorite,” Garten noted. “There’s something about shortbread and raspberries together that I just think is incredibly delicious. Simple but really good.”

Garten has an easy trick for leftover cookie dough

After rolling the dough and using cookie cutters, there’s usually leftover cookie dough. Garten has the perfect trick for that — she makes an easy rectangular shape and tops it with chocolate and a pecan.

The Barefoot Contessa star recommends roasting the pecans on a baking sheet in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 8 minutes for extra flavor. Additionally, Garten shared that if the dough becomes crumbly, simply add a teaspoon of warm water.