Want to learn what to put on a cookie tray for the holidays? Here is my guide on How To Make The Best Christmas Cookie Tray, kicking off my Cookie Tray Series.
How was your Thanksgiving? Did you enjoy the biggest food day of the year? And if you’re not from the U.S., did you enjoy your weekend?
Now Thanksgiving is out of the way, time to focus on Christmas! Or if you celebrate another holiday, let’s focus on cookies. Do other holidays even have cookie trays? Regardless, everyone loves cookies, right?
As a Pittsburgher, we love our cookie trays. So much we even have cookie tables at weddings. It was only fitting to host a mini series about How To Make The Best Christmas Cookie Tray. I’ll be posting three brand new cookie recipes within the next two weeks. In today’s post, I’m sharing my top three tips for building the best cookie tray.
It’s probably ironic to talk about making the best Christmas cookie tray on a blog that focuses on small batch recipes, but hear me out.
The new recipes will focus on 1 dozen cookies, give or take a few. If there’s one thing I noticed in my years of baking, it’s cookie recipes make a few dozen. I wanted to scale them down, not only for you to make a small batch on a random Tuesday night, but also to make building a cookie tray more manageable.
Also the holidays are about seeing family and friends, so you won’t be alone eating these cookies. And if you’re stuck with leftovers, they do freeze well.
Are you ready to get this cookie party started? The cookies you see in the photo starting from the top and going clockwise are:
- Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies
- Gingersnap Cookies (based off of my Chocolate Gingersnap Cookies but without the chocolate)
- Red Velvet Cut Out Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cookie Cups
- Lemon White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Here are my three tips for making the best Christmas cookie tray:
1. Plan ahead.
The hardest part about making a holiday cookie tray is making all of the cookies at once. In the cookie tray I shot above, I made 5 recipes, which is roughly 5 dozen cookies total, give or take a few. I certainly couldn’t do it all in one day.
Luckily all of the dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer until ready to bake. Take a few days to make all of the dough. Once you’re ready to assemble, all you have to do is stick a few trays in the oven. Don’t forget to give the cookies time to cool completely before serving.
2. Choose a variety of flavors.
As much as it pains me to say this, not everyone loves chocolate (gasp!). Nor does everyone love (or can even eat) peanut butter. Try not to repeat too many flavors on the tray to help accommodate everyone. Some flavor ideas are:
- Chocolate and/or chocolate chip, such as Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies, Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bites
- Peanut butter, such as Peanut Butter Cookie Cups, Peanut Butter Gooey Butter Cookies, and Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies
- Citrus, such as Lemon White Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Dipped Orange Shortbread Cookies, and Lemon Crinkle Cookies
- Red velvet, such as Red Velvet Cut Out Cookies and Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars
- Peppermint, such as Peppermint Mocha Brownie Cookies
- Ginger, such as Gingersnap Cookies, Maple Gingersnap Cookies, and Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Coconut, such as Brown Sugar Cinnamon Coconut Cookies and Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies
3. Include a variety of shapes, colors, and textures.
In addition to flavor, you want to think about presentation. How boring would a cookie tray be if every cookie looked the same? That’s why I included cookie cups, cut out cookies, drop cookies, and balls served in festive paper liners. Here are some ideas for shapes:
- Drop cookies, such as Lemon White Chocolate Chip, Gingersnap Cookies, Cheesecake Cookies, and Carrot Cake Drop Cookies
- Balls, such as Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies, Cherry Coconut Snowball Cookies and Lemon Snowball Cookies
- Cookie cups, such as Peanut Butter Cookie Cups and Fudge Filled Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups
- Cut out cookies, such as Red Velvet Cut Out Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cut Out Cookies
- Cookie bars, such as Gingerbread Smores Cookie Bars and S’mores Cookie Crumb Bars
- Frosted, such as Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies and Soft Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
- Thumbprints, such as Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies and Chocolate M&M Thumbprint Cookies
In addition to shape, think about color. By default, there will be a lot of brown. Add sprinkles where they will stick, such as melted chocolate, frosting, or icing. You can also add color to the dough, such as red velvet.
Even though this is technically called a cookie tray, you can add candy to change things up, including:
- Fudge, such as Creamy Lemon Fudge, Oreo Fudge, and Vanilla Bean Fudge
- Buckeyes, such as Chocolate Hazelnut Buckeyes
- Bark, such as Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bark and Peanut Butter Banana Elvis Bark
Can’t see everyone in person? Think about shipping cookies instead! Check out my 8 tips for shipping cookies plus a recipe for Double Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies.
Got tips of your own? Want to share your family favorites? Comment below!