Easy Christmas Cookies for Kids to Make
Grab some store-bought cookie dough and plenty of candies and sprinkles, then cut straight to the fun
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At my home we love to make Christmas cookies as a family. To keep things easy and fun, we take full advantage of the great refrigerated cookie dough options that are available nowadays. Using store-bought dough means we can make a bunch of different cookie shapes and flavors and get straight to the best part: decorating!
With that in mind, I’ve created three festive cookie recipes that are just as fun to make as they are to eat. They all start with refrigerated cookie dough and are bedazzled with candy canes, coconut, or sparkly crushed candies.
I also wanted to share some hacks for how to make Christmas cookies with kids (including how to contain the chaos!), plus nine more kid-friendly cookie recipe ideas from Yummly contributors. You'll find plenty of tips mixed in for how to decorate Christmas cookies with kids, too.
Whether you make all or just one of the cookies this holiday season, I hope these easy DIY projects create joyful memories for your family. Happy holidays everybody, and warm wishes for a healthy and wonderful new year!
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How to make Christmas cookies with kids
Christmas baking with kids can be an adventure. If you have several little ones, the conclusion of this fun holiday activity will most likely resemble an explosion of the elves’ workshop with squirts of red and green frosting and a spattering of colorful sprinkles littering the countertops and table. Here’s how I (try to!) combat the chaos and ensure success.
• Kid-sized aprons are a must. Without fail, we end up with a plop of frosting down our chests, so kid-sized aprons (wipeable, if possible) are super helpful.
• Control cookie dough spread. Have you ever tried a cut-out cookie dough recipe only to discover that it spreads in the oven and those cute reindeer cookies now look like amoebas? It turns out you can prevent this with store-bought sugar cookie dough by firming it up with some flour and cornstarch, as I’ve done with my Stained Glass Cookie Stars and Lemon Coconut Snowmen Cookies. So, if your kiddo is set on using her Santa cookie cutter, follow those dough recipes.
• Contain the decor. I like to divide the decorations into small ramekins and prep bowls (silicone bowls are great); they’re far less tippy than the containers the decor comes in.
• Set up cookie decorating trays. I place one cookie on a sheet pan (aka a rimmed baking sheet) along with a tube of frosting and a bowl or two of sprinkles. That way if the sprinkles spill or the frosting gets messy, the tray contains it all. (And while homemade royal icing may set a high bar, store-bought icing is totally fine when you're trying to keep things easy with kids.)
• Turn leftover sugar cookie dough into candy canes. If you have scraps leftover from cut-out cookies, divide the dough in half. Tint one half with a few drops of red food coloring; leave the other plain. Roll each dough into ropes and twist them together. Then cut them into equal lengths and curl over the top of each to create candy canes. Bake them at 325° for 10 minutes, and you’ve got a few adorable extra holiday cookies with no leftover dough!
How to make Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies
If you're wondering what are some easy Christmas cookie recipes to make with kids, start with these luscious thumbprints featuring store-bought fudge brownie cookie dough.
Very intense, with rich, not-too-sweet chocolate flavor, this treat contrasts soft cookies with creamy peppermint ganache centers and a sprinkle of crunchy candy canes. You’ll definitely need to make Santa’s glass of milk a tall one.
Kids can help make the thumb craters, spoon the silky ganache (just melted chocolate, cream, and peppermint extract) into the baked cookies, and add as little or as much crushed candy cane as they’re in the mood for.
The brand of cookie dough suggested, Sweet Loren’s, may be sold in your store’s freezer case, and it happens to be gluten-free, in case you’re looking for that.
Whether you set out a few of these cookies for Santa, share them with neighbors, or keep them all for the family, they are sure to become a favorite Christmas cookie.
How to make Stained Glass Cookie Stars
This gorgeous sugar cookie recipe made with store-bought sugar cookie dough is a huge hit in our house. In addition to filling the cookies, my son loves sorting the candies into piles by color (we use fruit-flavored Lifesavers), and of course smashing the candies to smithereens.
Naturally, adults' efforts may be tidier and kids' may be messier here. I use my fingers or a toothpick to scoot spillover candies back into the cut-outs, but if they stay on the dough, it’s all good.
Another tip for these is to be careful with the green candies — they can turn brown the longer they bake.
To make the cookies as shown you’ll need two star-shaped cookie cutters, one 4 ½ to 5 inches and one 2 ½ inches wide. And it’s essential to have nonstick baking mats such as Silpat or parchment paper to keep the melted candy “stained glass” from sticking to the sheet pans.
The candy will be the most crisp if cookies are made and eaten the same day, but you can store them on sheet pans up to 1 day covered with foil.
How to make Lemon Coconut Snowmen Cookies
With a tangy lemon glaze and lemon-flavored dough, this next Christmas recipe appeals to both kids and kids at heart.
If your child doesn’t like coconut for the “snow,” trade it out on a couple of cookies for coarse sanding sugar instead. Thin pretzel sticks, orange slice candies, thin fruit roll candy (such as Fruit by the Foot), miniature chocolate chips, and small round sprinkles complete the snowman cookies decor.
Since the decorating is a little intricate, that part is best for older kids or adults to do, but younger kids can still help glaze cookies and sprinkle coconut.
To make the cookies as shown you’ll need a 3 ½- to 4-inch snowman-shaped cookie cutter. Or, if you don’t have one, you can roll the dough into 3 balls for each cookie. Place the balls in a straight line and press down with the bottom of a glass to ¼-inch thickness.
Looking for more easy cookies for kids to make? Here are some of my favorites from the Yummly community. These all start with a convenience product — either pre-made cookie dough, or a package of cookie or cake mix.
4 more kids' Christmas cookies with store-bought dough
Prepared sugar cookie dough is incredibly versatile. Here’s how to turn it into some surprisingly diverse and delicious Christmas treats by adding just a few flavorings. They’re all simple enough that kids can help.
Nothing says the holidays more than a cute gingerbread boy or girl. These start with prepared sugar cookie dough and get jazzed up with the iconic gingerbread flavors of molasses and warm winter spices of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves.
These red and green crinkle cookies made from sugar cookie dough are a fun alternative to the chocolate ones.
The variety of toppings for these sugar cookies means everyone’s taste buds will be satisfied. Do you crave caramel, have a passion for peanut butter, or delight in dark chocolate? Set out a little decorating station, and let kids and adults create their own customized holiday treats.
I really love these tender Italian Christmas Cookies, and think you may want to add them to your repertoire, too. In addition to the cream cheese in the recipe, I like to mix in a few drops of either almond or anise extract. The kids can help by rolling the dough into balls, dipping them in the sweet glaze, and decorating with their favorite sprinkles on top.
5 Christmas cookie recipes for kids using cookie mix or cake mix
Store-bought cookie dough isn’t the only way to jump-start your Christmas baking for kids. Cookie and cake mixes are another easy way to get them involved.
Another iconic Christmas cookie to me is the crinkle cookie. These are great sweet treats for little ones to make. They’ll love to help roll the dough into balls and dunk them in confectioners sugar. Try the classic Chocolate Crinkle Cookies for the chocolate lover in your house.
Chocolate chip cookies take a dip in melted white or dark chocolate and get decorated with holiday sprinkles. They start with a pouch of chocolate chip cookie mix.
While the previous recipe is perfect for the chocolate chip cookie purist, if you’re feeling more adventurous, try embellishing the dough with candy-coated chocolate candies, mini marshmallows, peanuts, pretzels, and sprinkles.
These Red Velvet Cookies start with a cake mix and are studded with sweet white chocolate chips. If you like, go one step further and sandwich marshmallow cream or frosting in between two cookies to create decadent whoopie pies. You could even roll the edges in sprinkles to make them extra festive.
The possibilities are endless with these cookies. The recipe calls for devil’s food cake mix and candy cane-striped chocolate kisses, but substitute your favorite flavor combinations for your own unique twist. I sometimes use caramel- or cherry-filled kisses.
Dreaming about more holiday cookies
Whether or not you're holding a Christmas party or a cookie exchange this year, you're going to want to enjoy holiday baking more than once, right? Here are some more of our best Christmas cookies, including yummy gingersnaps, snowflakes, no-bake treats, ones with pecans, white chocolate cranberry biscotti and Oreo cheesecake cookies.