Ina Garten’s Favorite Christmas Cookie Is Made With This Simple Dough: Just 5 Ingredients for a Variety of Cookies

Ina Garten has the perfect fix for anyone looking to make a variety of Christmas cookies. She uses one simple dough with a limited number of ingredients to create a tray full of options, including her favorite holiday treat, a linzer cookie.

Ina Garten speaks onstage during a talk with Helen Rosner at the 2019 New Yorker Festival
Ina Garten | Brad Barket/Getty Images for The New Yorker

Ina Garten’s shortbread cookie recipe is all you need

During a Dec. 11 chat with Katie Couric, Garten was asked what her favorite Christmas cookie is. She shared that she loves thumbprint and linzer cookies because of the combination of raspberry jam and shortbread together.

The Barefoot Contessa also explained how to make her basic shortbread dough recipe, roll it out, and cut it in different shapes. Linzer cookies use two shortbreads with a little cut-out window, which are sandwiched with jam between them. Garten said thumbprint cookies can also use the same dough.

“I make these linzer cookies that are shortbread with raspberry jam in the middle, I make thumbprint cookies that have jam in the thumbprint … that’s my favorite combination.” she told Couric.

Garten added, “Actually what I do is I take that one basic dough, the shortbread cookies” and it makes everything she could want. “From one dough, you can make all different kinds of cookies.”

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Barefoot Contessa’s cookie dough can make a variety of cookies

During a Dec. 14 appearance on the Today show, Garten had some extra tips for making holiday cookies, explaining again that a simple shortbread cookie dough is the perfect recipe.

“So for Christmas, everybody wants to make lots of different kinds of cookies, but I don’t want to make a lot of different doughs,” she explained. “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.”

After rolling out the dough, Garten said that she cuts out stars that she adds a glaze and sugar sprinkles to, wreaths that she drizzles and adds silver balls, and hearts that she dips in chocolate. She cuts a rectangle shape that she tops with pecan as well.

She showed off the beautiful linzer cookie, noting, “That’s my particular favorite. There’s something about shortbread and raspberries together that I just think is incredibly delicious. Simple but really good.”

Barefoot Contessa shared some cookie baking tips

As for baking tips, Garten said she will keep the cookies cut out in a container and stored in the refrigerator so they can be baked in small batches. They also freeze well and can be baked at a later date.

She also shared the sweet spot for how long to refrigerate cookie dough for the best results. Dough should be chilled for 15 minutes. “15 to 30 minutes, tops,” Garten shared. “You want it just chilled enough that the butter’s cold and then roll it out and it will be really easy.”

“And it’s better if you cut them out and then chill them and bake them” for “sharper edges” that are “a little more professional looking,” she added.

The cookies also make a great homemade gift because they’re “sturdy,” so they can be packaged in a box and shipped to a loved one or placed in a clear bag and tied up with a bow.

As for her husband’s favorite cookie of the bunch, Garten picked the heart, saying, “I think chocolate hearts because his heart is so good.” Aw.