Cookie Baking and Decorating Tips and Ideas

Decorating cookies.
Piping decorative icing on the outside of a cookie. marisanc / Getty Images

Cookie Baking Tips

  • Use shiny aluminum pans for the most evenly baked and browned cookies. If the pans are thin, stack two to give the cookies some "insulation."
  • To prevent the dough from sticking to cutters, dip cookie cutters in confectioners' sugar or flour between cutting cookies.
  • Roll cookies out on waxed paper covered countertop. To keep the paper from slipping, sprinkle a little water on the countertop first.
  • Freeze cookie dough for up to a year in airtight freezer bags or foil. Drop cookies (unbaked) may be frozen on cookie sheets and transferred to freezer bags; let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.
  • Always cool the pan before using it for the next batch. Run cold water over it and dry to speed things along.
  • If freezing frosted cookies, freeze them individually on an uncovered tray or baking sheet, then transfer to labeled freezer bags. Baked cookies may be kept frozen for 4 to 6 months.

Decorating Ideas

  • Stained Glass Cut rolled cookie dough into desired shapes about 1/4" thick. Remove the center of the cut out cookie in the same shape, leaving a border of about 1/2" or a little more. Place cookies on foil lined cookie sheets and fill the cut-out centers with crushed lifesavers. Bake until candy is melted and cookies are slightly browned. Cool before removing from the pan.

  • Dough Frosting Color a little of the cookie dough with food coloring and pipe onto cut out cookies. The colored dough will bake into the cookies, and look like frosting.

  • Colored Sugar Use a paintbrush to paint patterns on baked cookies with light corn syrup, then dip in colored sugar or sprinkles. To color sugar, mix 1 drop of liquid food coloring into 1/2 cup of sugar.
  • Stencils Fold a small piece of waxed paper into quarters, then in half, making a triangle. Cut shapes out of the folds and point, then put on the cookie and sprinkle with colored or powdered sugars.
  • Piping Use a sandwich bag as a decorator bag. Just cut off the tip of a corner, fill the bag with icing, and squeeze to decorate.
  • Chocolate Dip To make a plain cookie fancy and tastier, dip in melted semi sweet chocolate. Dip half the cookie into the melted chocolate, sprinkle with or roll in finely chopped nuts, toasted coconut, crushed peppermint sticks, or jimmies, and place on waxed paper until coating is firm.

    Gift Ideas 

    • Use cookie cutters to trace patterns on heavy, bright paper to make gift tags.
    • Stencil and decorate brown paper lunch bags to make unique gift packages.
    • Write the recipe(s) on a homemade cards and include with your cookie gift package.

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