It’s that most wonderful time of the year: time holiday cookie time! This year, don’t dread it, own it with these tips and tricks to salvage any baking quandary. Scroll on to get the goodies.

photo: iStock

1. Sub butter in your next boxed cake recipe for a super rich and luscious cake. You can even just melt it to make sure it incorporates easily.

2. You can also sub an avocado for butter if you want something dairy-free and heart-healthy. Use a one avo to one stick of butter ratio. And if you run out of butter (or avocado) you can use applesauce in its place.

3. When making pies, freeze your butter and then grate it into your flour mixture, instead of trying to crumble it with your fork. This will help integrate it more evenly and keeps the butter cool.


4. You can create a quick DIY brown sugar with white sugar and molasses (because you have leftover molasses, right?). Add a tsp of molasses to a ½ cup of brown sugar.

5. If you run out of food coloring, Use Jello to tint decorative icing.

6. Use a wine glass to measure out perfectly even biscuits or sugar cookies.

7. If you’ve “sorta” burned your cookies, use a box grater to shave off the darkest parts.

8. Holiday baking often calls for some pepperminty goodness, but who keeps peppermint syrup on hand for once-a-year baking? (No, schnapps doesn’t count). Use an ingredient that is abundant: peppermint candies. Just put them in a Ziploc bag and smash them to bits. A great stress reliever!

9. Use an ice cream scoop to assure level amounts of batter for cupcakes.

10. Also, measure out your cookie dough with an ice cream scoop. And then chill them on the pan for a bit before baking (you can even freeze them, which means you can do this all ahead of time, bake the cookies the morning-of and you actually get a better cookie). If you can’t afford the time (or space) just chill the bowl of dough for 20 minutes in the freezer before you start to scoop.

photo: iStock

11. Moisten the heck out of your boxed cake mix with a ½ cup of applesauce, yogurt or even...wait for it...mayonnaise. Try it! We swear it works.

12. Add ½ cup of oil and 2 eggs to any boxed cake mix and LEAVE OUT the water or other liquids...and voila! You’ve got cookie dough. (Mind. Blown.)

13. Easiest cookie ever? Hershey’s kiss in pretzel circle, melt on parchment paper covered cookie sheet in oven until just soft. Boom.

14. Put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven to give your bread a crisp, browned crust. You can also use a spray bottle with water and spritz the oven to create steam.

15. Add a marshmallow to the top of your cupcakes 5 minutes before you take them out of the oven for a gooey, perfect topping, no-frosting require

16. Dust your cookie cutters with flour or powdered sugar before you use them to help keep them from sticking.

17. Want soft gooey cookies? Under-bake them slightly. If the recipe says 12 minutes at 375 degrees, pull them out at 10.

18. Sprinkle just a little bit of sea salt on your chocolate chip cookies before baking for that sophisticated professional flavor.

19. Use a wine bottle as a rolling pin (no, it doesn’t have to be full!).

20. Use tongs to make an even crimping pattern along the edge of your pie crust

21. Soften too-hard butter by putting it between two piece of waxed paper and whacking it hard with a rolling pin. Once it’s been smacked a bit, roll it out (still between the waxed paper). The kids will love helping with this one.

22. Another method for softening too-cold butter without microwaving it to a puddle: set it on top of the stove while the oven is preheating. It will gradually soften: this works great if you are baking a cake and want to use the butter for no-fail frosting.

23. If your recipe calls for powdered sugar but you are plum out? Use a spice grinder or food processor and pulverize white granulated sugar’s powder.

24. Create a makeshift piping bag by snipping the very corner off of a ziplock bag. And be sure you fill that bag without a mess by placing it in a pint glass or mug (roll the bag over the edge of the cup, like you’re placing a garbage can liner in) before filling.

25. Use the other part of an eggshell to remove any errants bits of shell. Miraculously, this works and is way faster than struggling with a spoon or your fingers.

26. Use a muffin tin to make sure your cookies turn out uniform in size.

27. Slice your cheesecake with dental floss (but not the minty kind).

28. Sub a little of your water for vodka and your pie crust somehow comes out flakier. And now you have an almost-full bottle of vodka on hand. Just sayin…

29. If you want your chocolate chip cookies to have a more caramel flavor, sub out ½ cup of white sugar with additional brown sugar. If you want them with a more sugar-cookie like taste, leave out all the brown sugar and use only white (most recipes call for some of each).

30. Soften your butter BEFORE you mix it into your cookie dough batter, and try using salted butter instead of sweet cream.

Great! You've got the hacks. Now you need the recipes. Here are our favorite 38 insanely popular cookie recipes.

—Amber Guetebier


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