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Ina Garten has some easy Christmas cookie decorating ideas that don’t require a lot of time. The Barefoot Contessa star simplifies her holiday cookies by keeping the decorations to a minimum and the result is so elegant.

Ina Garten wears a blue shirt while demonstrating a recipe with Savannah Guthrie on the 'Today' show
Ina Garten and Savannah Guthrie | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Christmas cookie decorating can become an all-day production and include a multitude of different colored frostings, pastry bags, sprinkles, sugars, and other toppings. Garten prefers the “less is more” approach and makes a variety of cookies, but doesn’t go overboard with the decorations.

During a 2020 appearance on the Today show, Garten shared her easy tricks for Christmas cookies and explained her approach to decorating.

After baking the cookies, she keeps the decorations specific to each shape. The Barefoot Contessa star combines confectioners’ sugar and water and dips star-shaped and wreath-shaped cookies in the glaze. She adds Christmas sprinkles to the stars and silver balls to the wreaths.

Garten makes heart-shaped cookies and dips half into melted chocolate. She also makes a beautiful linzer cookie that sandwiches jam between two cookies. A small cutout in the top cookie shows off the filling.

Ina Garten makes 1 easy dough for all of her cookies

Though she makes a variety of different cookies, Garten likes to make the process as easy as possible, so she uses just one cookie dough.

“So for Christmas, everybody wants to make lots of different cookies, but I don’t want to make a lot of different doughs,” Garten explained on the Today show.

The Barefoot Contessa star continued, “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.”

The Food Network host offered an easy pro-tip for the best cookie results: refrigerate the dough for 15 to 30 minutes before rolling it out. “You want it just chilled enough so the butter’s cold and then roll it out and it will be really easy,” she explained.


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The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ star uses every bit of the dough

Garten doesn’t let any of her delicious shortbread cookie dough go to waste. She forms the scraps together, rolls it out, and cuts it into rectangle-shaped cookies.

Of course, Garten has a simple decorating trick for these cookies as well. She puts a dab of melted chocolate on top of each cookie and then sticks a pecan to it.

The Barefoot Contessa star gives the nuts extra flavor by roasting them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 8 minutes.

Garten noted that if the dough becomes crumbly, you can add a teaspoon of warm water to moisten it.

The Barefoot Contessa star’s full shortbread cookies recipe is available on the Food Network website.