How To Make The Best Christmas Cookie Tray
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 talk about How To Make The Best Christmas Cookie Tray where 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.
Most cookie recipes 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.
Plus it’s make a great dessert after you cook your Christmas dinner for two.
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 Sugar 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, Small Batch Chocolate Chip 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
- Spice, such as Snickerdoodles Without Cream of Tartar
- 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!
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Your cookie tray picture is stunning, can’t wait for the new cookie recipes!
Thank you! Happy Holidays!
love the tips and love how gorgeous all these pictures are!
Could you publish some of the fabulous Italian cookies on all wedding cookie trays?
Can you be more specific? I’m not sure which cookies you’re referring to.
Good day! I recently made your shortbread drop cookies. And they were delicious and so, so short, which is always the standard that shortbread is judged by in this home. But……my sister, our MASTER CLASS BAKER, would love to try this recipe and I cannot find it!! Could you possibly send it to me? I want to make another batch for my gift trays as well!
Are you referring to my snowball cookies? Either lemon: https://www.chocolatemoosey.com/2013/01/15/lemon-snowball-cookies/ or chocolate chip: https://www.chocolatemoosey.com/2017/11/28/chocolate-chip-snowball-cookies/ If those aren’t it, please describe it a little more. You can also browse my cookie recipes: https://www.chocolatemoosey.com/category/desserts/cookiesandbars/
These are great tips! I love the idea of adding some bright, fresh flavors like lemon to the mix to offset the more typical holiday cookie flavors. Thanks for great tips, and a comprehensive library of cookies to link to. I’m amazed by how many different types of cookie, bar, and candy recipes you have on your site. Happy holidays!
Happy Holidays! Let me know if you try anything.
Thank you for sharing your recipes. They all look delicious and I love the fact that they are small batch. It allows for more variety of cookies because you don’t have DOZENS of one or two types of cookies (I don’t have a lot of people to bake for, so the several dozen recipes are often too much). I made your mini pumpkin and mini apple pies for Thanksgiving. They were simple and delicious (best homemade pumpkin pie I’ve ever made).
Stay well and enjoy your holidays!!
Happy to hear you enjoyed the pies! And yes, I like to have a more variety of cookies because it’s so hard to choose just one flavor. Enjoy!
Great tips for cookie trays. They are popular in Ontario too!
Yea I bet they’re popular everywhere! If you make a cookie tray, I’d love to see it.
Your cookie tray is gorgeous. I’m trying a few of your recipes this week. Do you have a favorite tray you buy with giving away in mind? I’m trying to find something that is sturdy, large enough, but not too expensive, so I can give cookie gifts to multiple neighbors. Thanks!
Actually I’ve had some great luck at thrift stores! A lot of cookie trays get donated after the holidays. My back up plan is Walmart.