I’m always hunting for a Christmas cookie recipe that doesn’t require huge amounts of time for prep, execution, and decoration. This is one of the best I’ve found. The cookies are more like shortbread (hence the name) than a classic iced sugar cookie. The dough does have to be chilled for at least 2 hours, so some time management is required. Be sure to have a ruler handy when it’s time to roll and slice the dough.
Printer-friendly PDF: Roll Slice and Bake Christmas Shorties
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Decorations of your choice – sprinkles, cinnamon sugar, mini chocolate chips, etc. Probably about a quarter cup of each depending on how you decide to decorate. (The cinnamon-sugar coating makes a nice snickerdoodleish cookie.)
1. Beat the butter and sugar with a stand mixer using the paddle attachment on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy – about 2 minutes.
2. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Beat until fully incorporated – about 1 minute.
3. Gradually add the flour and salt, beating on low speed, until combined – about 2 minutes. Beware of overbeating at this stage of the game.
4. Divide the dough evenly into four portions and shape it into four logs. Aim for a diameter of 1 inch. Each log will be roughly six inches long. The diameter is more important than length, and the logs don’t have to be perfectly identical. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours up to overnight.
NOTE: If you use mini chocolate chips and/or finely chopped nuts, fold them into the dough BEFORE you roll it into a log. Be careful not to overwork the dough. It’s okay if the chips and nuts aren’t evenly distributed. I use about 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips per log. You could probably do finely chopped dried fruit, too. It’s a very versatile dough. If you go this route, you will not roll the logs in sprinkles – unless you’re just feeling wild. There’s no law against it!
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fill a shallow dish or pan the width of a log with the sprinkles of your choice. (I use old tin pie pans because they’re lightweight and easy to clean.) Estimate 1/4 cup of sprinkles per log. If you need more, use more.
6. Unwrap one of the logs (leaving the others in the fridge) and roll it in the sprinkles until it’s thoroughly coated. Roll gently to avoid stretching the dough or working it further. You can press the decorations onto the dough to cover any missed spots. Work as quickly as you can so the dough doesn’t get too warm.
7. Slice the decorated dough into 1/4 inch thick rounds. You’ll get about 12-16 cookies per log depending on its length. Place on the baking sheet. They don’t spread much, so they can be fairly close together. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Take care not to overbake. Remove and let cool on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
8. Repeat the process for each log using different decorations. Bake one sheet of cookies at a time, making sure the sheet is cool before you place the raw cookies on it. I learned the hard way not to cut corners and double up. Each log should require one baking sheet, so you’re looking at around an hour of prep and bake time for the whole project. The nice thing is, when it’s done, it’s done! Unless…
I haven’t tried this yet, but at some point, I’ll bake the cookies without any decorations and either drizzle or dip them in something. These cookies are firm, so they would handle melted chocolate or a powdered-sugar glaze (after they’re cooled).
Cut them thinner and cook them for less time. Then you can do a sandwich cookie with chocolate, Nutella, jam, lemon curd… You could even cut the center out of half a sheet of cookies and do a modified Linzer tart. So many options!
That’s why I love this recipe. It looks like I’ve spent a whole day in the kitchen even though the process takes about an hour and a half plus chill time. It’s a Christmas baking miracle!