an easier way to make cookies

Pretty much everything terrible about making cookies comes down to one thing: deciding you want a cookie and realizing that the expanse between now and when you get to eat said is unfairly wide.

For example:
• Butter needs to be softened. Is your kitchen really cold today? Have fun with that.
• The butter needs to be “creamed” with sugar until “light and fluffy.” Some recipes want you to do this for many, many minutes. Some recipes think you are bored.
• Once your dough is made, it needs to be formed into packets and chilled in the fridge for “at least two hours” but “preferably overnight.” Remember when you said you wanted a cookie? You meant tomorrow, right?

• The next day, you get to flour your counter and remove a brick of dough and fight, fight, fight it flat. It’s going to crack at the edges. It’s going to stick to the counter, something I usually don’t realize until I’ve already cut out all my cookie shapes. It’s often mush by the time the dough is even and flat, which leads to less sharp cookie shapes that are harder to transfer.
• Oh, and cookie cutters! Maybe you have a tesselated (hat tip) cookie cutter? Fantastic idea, but I do not. Maybe you have one of these and want a cute grid of cookies? Also good thinking. But for most of us, there’s a specific shape we want or need and it always leaves negative spaces. So, when you’re done with the first layer of dough you get to re-gather the scraps except they’re soft now and need to be chilled again so you can roll them out again. The second batch of cookies has absorbed a lot more flour and is usually not as great. Plus, more scraps to re-chill and roll. At some point — we all do this, right? — I either bake an misshapen last blob of cookie dough or drop the last piece in the garbage because the though of rolling another cookie no longer sparks any joy.

And guys, we do all this before we even get to the fun stuff: icing and sprinkles.

There’s an easier way. I’ve been talking about it in bits and pieces over the last year or so (see: Rugelach, Icebox Cake and Confetti Cookies) but I’ve never gathered this information in one bossy post that I think we should tell everyone we know that has ever made a cookie before (or decided not to because of the above) about.

3 Steps To Easier Cookies [Thus, More Cookies In Your Life]

cold butter cookie doughcold butter cookie doughcold butter cookie doughgather dough scraps into a pile

You can skip softening your butter. Whether you make cookie dough in a stand mixer, with a hand-mixer or (my favorite) in a food processor, you can save time by cutting your cold butter into chunks and letting the machine bang it together with the sugar until soft. It will be bumpy at first and you’ll need to scrape a few times to make sure no nubby cold bits remain but within a minute or two, the butter just right for the rest of the ingredients. It doesn’t just save time, it makes for a cooler, firmer dough that’s going to take less time to chill.

You can skip the refrigerator chill. And…

You can skip flouring your counter. As soon as my cookie dough is made, I roll it out between two large sheets of parchment paper to the desired thickness and it’s a total breeze. No flouring (which can toughen the dough). No pre-chilling (which takes so much more time). No fighting the cold dough flat (which makes us grumpy). Then, I slide this onto a baking sheet and pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes (or a day, or a week, or months until needed), until firm and cut the cookies in clean, sharp shapes from this. I then use these parchment sheets to line my baking sheets. (No waste!) Extra dough scraps can be easily rerolled and re-chilled the same way, with no erosion in dough quality because it doesn’t absorb extra flour. Bonus: No floury mess to clean up.

A couple extra tips: As you roll your dough between parchment sheets, some creases will form; pull the sheet loose so they don’t etch into the dough. When you remove your “board” of dough from the freezer, gently loosen/peel the sheet that will be the underside of the dough before placing the dough back on it. This bit of air ensures that your cookies, once cut, will come right off with no “peeling” needed. (Although even if peeling is needed, it too is a cinch with cold dough on parchment.)

so much easier to rollthis took 30 secondscrisp, easy shapesready to bake

The giant caveat: Does this mean all cookie recipes can be hacked with the above methods and work the same? Haha, no, I do not have a test kitchen where I have checked all cookie recipes, ever. (But what a magical place it would be!) I can tell you that this has worked with every cookie I’ve tried it with. If you’re curious and you want a cookie (of course you do), I think it’s worth finding out.

golden sables

Today’s starring cookie: Eleven years ago (does this blog make me look old?) we talked on this site about the great Poilâne bakery in Paris and their way-less-famous but, in my opinion, equally worthy of adoration sable cookies called Punitions. These crisp and sandy, buttery, mildly sweet, golden-edged cookies are about as far as you can get from the ‘punishment’ they translate to. [Apparently, grandmothers would give them to grandchildren for their goûter (after-school snack), luring them in by teasing, “come and get your punishment!”] I was reading about them this week and decided it had been way too long since I last made them. Note the color: If you watch the oven like a hawk in the last minute or two while baking cookies, you can get just the right golden edge on them that will give the cookies so much more flavor. The pale cookies I showed in 2006 just don’t have the same nuance to them. Oh, and if you’re ever going to splurge on European-style salted butter for a recipe, it should be this one, because the flavor is all about the butter. [Punition recipe in the archives]

A more traditional cookie suggestion for this method: Unfussy Sugar Cookies.

And a big thank-you: While I’ve used the cold butter method in bits and pieces over the years, it wasn’t until I spent a day with my favorite insanely talented cookie-baker and decorator, Gail Dosik a couple years ago that I saw her freezer full of cookie dough sheets and begged her to tell me all of her secrets that I began rolling my doughs warm and cutting them extra-cold. Making shaped cookies has never been easier. I am grateful for smart friends who share.

easier cookies = more cookies

And another thank you: For all of your good cheer and great feedback on this week’s new big thing. We are all listening to you and will go forward with your ideas in mind.


One year ago: Leek, Ham and Cheese Egg Bake and Spaghetti Pie with Pecorino and Black Pepper
Two years ago: Make Your Own Vanilla Extract and Fried Egg Salad
Three years ago: Warm Lentil and Potato Salad
Four years ago: Lentil Soup with Sausage Chard and Garlic
Five years ago: Buttermilk Roast Chicken
Six years ago: Chocolate Peanut Spread [Peanutella]
Seven years ago: Cranberry Syrup + The Best Almond Cake and Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions
Eight years ago: Clementine Cake and Mushroom Bourguignon
Nine years ago: Leek and Swiss Chard Tart
Ten! years ago: Grapefruit Yogurt Cake

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Eggplant with Yogurt and Tomato Relish
1.5 Years Ago: Tomato and Fried Provolone Sandwich
2.5 Years Ago: Grilled Peach Splits
3.5 Years Ago: Avocado Shrimp Salsa
4.5 Years Ago: Peach Pie

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260 comments on an easier way to make cookies

  1. SallyT

    I just saw Dorie Greenspan speak (love her new book) and she made the same suggestion – roll dough out when it’s warm and then freeze/refrigerate, and cut when it’s cold. SO much easier than rolling out cold dough. Thanks!

    1. Doris Greenspan is like one of the most gracious people ever. I asked a few questions on her blog about her recipes (she does challenge me and I’m not the best baker) and she actually answered and was so nice! And she didn’t make me feel like a loser for making pretty basic mistakes. Just saw her featured in a mag for Christmas cookies and honestly, once again, her recipes were mind blowing!

      1. Margy

        Plus – this is ridiculous but I just have to say it – I once saw her on a bus and she spent the whole ride up Broadway not only talking with but listening to me (holding forth on that N. Ephron movie Julie and Julia as I remember.) I wish I were as nice a person as she is. Also, all this cookie stuff is genius. I am a happy reader.

  2. Deb, I love you for this.

    And I know you said you said you had not the time to test everything, but it anyone wanted to know, at least the part where you roll the cold dough out between pieces of baking parchment and then transfer it to the cookie tray works for the (awesome) Brownie Cookies in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I hacked this years ago to save on the clean up!

  3. Lisa

    Ah this is so exciting! We have a family cookie recipe that I use for holidays but is SUCH a hassle. I can’t wait to try this. As always, thanks Deb for all of your research!

  4. Erica

    I often roll and cut the cookies on the parchment – on the cookie baking pan – and remove the dough that is NOT the cookies – so I don’t have to lift and transfer the cookies. It works really well.

  5. I love allof these tips.I skip cookies that require rolling out because of mess but rolling between two sheets of parchment is much better. Which cookies would benefit from being made in a food processor?

  6. I roll my dough between parchment too and it’s brilliant. However: do you have a trick from keeping the parchment from moving around on the counter? I haven’t sorted that out yet and it drives me crazy every time.

    1. I do basically the same thing, but with saran wrap. I lightly moisten the counter so it sticks well, put down one sheet, put another sheet on top and roll. No slipping, no wrinkle lines and it seals better in the freezer to keep away drying out and icky smells.

      1. sparkgrrl658

        i use saran wrap too. truthfully i did it because parchment is not something i keep in the house as i don’t have a use for it and it scares me to put in the oven because it always browns. but now i’m going to pretend i use saran wrap on purpose ;)

    2. Jess

      Two things to try:
      Push down rather than accross, putting your strengh directly down through the rolling pin can prevent the paper from moving.
      Or the complete opposite, just go with it! I give the paper a 1/4 turn each roll, the thickness of the dough end up being quite even (otherwise I get thin and thick patches if I roll all in one direction).

  7. rachelbbbbb

    I feel like every time I’ve tried this the parchment is too slippery against the table/counter and the rolling pin. Is there something else I’m missing? I have always wondered about refrigerating dough before you roll (or scoop) when you could just do it after that but before baking (assuming that step is just to prevent spreading). I usually stick the sheets in the fridge for a few minutes before baking regardless.

    Also, pretty sure I walked past you outside of Westside again this morning, so a belated hello :)

    1. deb

      I like the silpat suggestion below another comment. I would avoid a damp towel (as you’d use for a cutting board) because you don’t want to wet then wrinkle the paper.

      Did you see the trail of lettuce? Someone (not naming names) wouldn’t let go of the lettuce I bought and when I got home I realize she’d been shredding it under the plastic cover her whole way home. To be fair, I bet it’s kind of fun.

      1. sparkgrrl658

        omg…too funny! i feel like it’s like cats breaking things. sure, you can have one whole thing, but it can become many things! which is obviously infinitely more fun.

  8. That’s a smashing great idea, letting the machine soften the butter. I’ve done it in the microwave when we had one, now in the oven – not such a great plan when it slips your mind that its in there… We sometimes roll dough between parchment, other times between cling film depending on dough and sometimes use sugar instead of flour (when recipe calls for that but I’ll reduce the sugar amount in the recipe before).

  9. Sue

    I have a favourite cookie recipe that I make over & over with minor variations*. I pre-measure all the dry ingriedients and bag them. Then all I need to do is mix up the wet ingriedients and add my bag of dry. Cuts the desire to cookie time by several minutes (per batch).

    *Variations such as adding chocolate chips, dried fruits, nuts, etc.

  10. Meredith

    This is genius! My waistline will hate you for making more cookies doable but heart and those of my daughters and husband will love you even more!

    1. deb

      I have a Cuisinart. I love it. It’s 12 years old. I was looking to update it (mostly just curious, they really last forever) this fall and was very overwhelmed by their newer options; things have gotten much more complicated. The size you need relates to how much cookie dough you’re making but I have an 11-cup and it works for most recipes.

      1. Carey Storan

        Just wanted to say we have a DLC-11 from 1999 and it was included in the blade recall. Everyone with older cuisinarts should check the cuisinart website because if your blade has rivets, you can get a new blade under the recall. Took about a month from the time I registered it – you just put in your name/address/model number from the bottom of your machine, and they send you a new one.

      2. Ginny Harger

        Had my original Cuisinart until a couple of months ago when I had to replace the base — found the exact one I needed on ebay for a great price. Also went through the blade recall without any problems. But I digress! Will try the food processor method for sure!

      3. June2

        I am single and have one they no longer make but should re-release! It is the best! Cuisinart Little Pro Plus. Though tiny, it is built with the same solid quality and blade as the large models and is of much higher quality than their current mini – worth every penny! REALLY wish they would bring it back to replace that cheap mini…

        1. Ann

          I know this is a year old post… but just HAD to chime in and say how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Little Pro Plus, too! I’m actually on my 2nd one over approximately 30 years – pretty good, right?! I’ve never been able to wrap my brain around owning one of the giant – OK, full-size – ones, when this one does everything sooo well!

  11. Cheryl

    Hi Deb, Thanks once again for great ideas in baking. There is always a way to spend extra time and keeping frustration to a minimum is also a plus. …. This is a trick I learned from Mary Berry ….. to get room temp butter just put the amount you need in
    a bowl with lukewarm water. I
    usually cut it in chunks first and
    in about 3 minutes it has
    become room temp.. I even do
    this with butter that’s come
    straight from the freezer. You will
    love it! Thanks again!

  12. Amanda

    These tips are great! I have another parchment paper tip — I use cookie sheets that don’t have a lip, they’re just flat. So when I am ready to move the baked cookies from the baking sheet to the cooling rack, I just slide the whole thing (parchment paper with cookies on top, really quickly, onto the rack. It’s faster, the rack stays clean, and if I’m icing the cookies, the icing doesn’t drip below the rack.

  13. britiney

    Okay. In spite of the mountain of delectable recipes on your site, it’s your daughter I most want a nibble of! (In a totally mom-ish non creepy way. I have 3 stinky teenage boys at the moment.) She’s spectacular! And those curls? *sigh* As always, can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks, Deb.

  14. Oh, Deb, how I love thee…. I was literally googling up recipes for cookie cutter cookies when I decided to take a break and look at my RSS feed and there you are, rescuing me from my future frustrations!!! Can’t wait to try this out tonight.

  15. Kelsey Lane

    I want to thank you, Deb, because you are hilarious! Reading your instructions for the cookies made me laugh and I am thankful for that, especially this week.

  16. Yes! Love the roll warm, cut cold trick. I can’t remember where I learned this but it makes such a huge difference. So much easier to pull off the scraps when the dough is cold too. Plus I find the cold dough holds it’s shape better.

    I roll my dough between a silpat and a piece of parchment. I also use a bit of powdered sugar to prevent sticking. The powdered sugar works like a charm without adding too much sweetness to the dough and eliminates the flour problem!

  17. Jane M

    I can’t take my parchment paper getting stuck in my cookie dough, but I’ll give it a go again. I do enjoy baking sugar cookies A LOT! They taste great and LOOK great! I loved your spaghetti pie video by the way! I did a FaceTime Live baking that sunflower bread back in December for a New Year’s eve party with my daughter. Your filming tho was masterful!

  18. The only thing I would disagree with here is using salted butter. There is a distinct taste difference between UK and French salted butter but I like to use unsalted for all my baking. UK butter, even unsalted can have a slightly rancid tang which isn’t appropriate for sweet baking. There are a few brands (like Rachel’s) that seem to be different – maybe because they are made in small quantities and not industrially, or maybe it’s because the cows are mostly out to pasture rather than kept indoors.
    In restaurants, unsalted seems to be the rule, except with the cheese course.
    If I want to add salt to a recipe for any reason, then better to add sea salt when mixing. I’m lucky to be near enough to the South of England to do regular trips over to France for wine buying and food speciality shopping. Normandy or Breton unsalted butter is ALWAYS on my list and I freeze it, if I don’t expect to use it within a month to stop it picking up flavours in the fridge.
    In all other respects, the ideas here are really good for speeding up cookie production.

  19. june

    I made alfajores this weekend and wish this post was around during my panicked scramble in the AM to get the cookies looking uniform. I ended up enlisting help from my 2 yr old which i happily blamed my wonky cookies on.

  20. You kick up a notch some things I already do.
    When I make Christmas cookies, I roll out the dough between parchment sheets right after mixing, while it’s still soft. I wrap it in plastic film and freeze until I’m ready to bake. I just take the planks of dough out (they thaw quickly because they’re thin), cut with the cookie cutter and bake.
    If I just want round sugar cookies, I do the same thing but with logs. This is great when guests show up–having cookies straight out of the oven is nice to serve and makes the house smell great.
    The logs of dough sometimes get eaten raw, however.

  21. Emily

    This post gave me flashbacks to earlier this week, when I wrestled with a fiddly batch of cookie dough which made me remember why I never make cookies. My kids looked at me strangely when I put my hands in the air and said, “Yes! This is a revelation!” I guess now I can finish baking the second blob of dough that’s been waiting accusingly in my fridge.

  22. Mom24

    I tried this with the rugelach and almost burned up my food processor’s motor. (Cuisinart, not a base model.) Fortunately the machine just quit on me, refusing to work and seemed fine once it cooled off. I’ve learned my lesson though.

  23. onetoughcookienyc

    I’m all for sharing tips to make cookie making easier. You’ve got the cookie thing DOWN, Deb! Thank you for including my little tip!

  24. Robert


    Can I just take the square rolled out sheet at cut a vertical/horizontal grid of cookie shapes to maximize the TTC (Time To Cookie?)

  25. CJ

    Your children are so beautiful. The little one’s hair makes me want to cry, I don’t know why, but it does.

    And these cookies look exactly like the ones my grandmother in Tel Aviv would make for us… sometimes she’d sprinkle powdered sugar on top; or sandwich with apricot jam (she’d cut some rounds into ring shapes to be the tops.) I will try them and see if they’re the same.

  26. NJ cook

    Large Silpat sheets (too large for oven) are ideal for cookie rolling (one on top, one on bottom). They’ll never rip and they won’t create any creases to straighten out. As for softening butter, Julia Child hit it with a rolling pin.

  27. Amy G.

    I usually opt for drop cookies because the rolling/chilling/cutting aspect is just too much to bear most of the time, but this is the perfect solution! Sadly, my food processor is out of commission until I get the replacement for the recalled Cuisinart blade, though… sigh.

  28. Alicia

    Now you’ve got me thinking that if you divided the dough you could probably roll it inside some gallon ziplock freezer bags and seal it tight for storage. Might need to try it!

  29. Carmen

    This is very similar to how I adapt recipes for Gluten Free cookies. You have to use different methods because you can’t flour the counter and such.

  30. I have NEVER in my life been able to make sweet cookies so I might try your suggestions. I did successfully make savory cookies a few times (with Parmesan cheese and peppers once, and Parmesan and thyme the second time, yummy!!!!!) but I don’t know why, the sweet things never worked out. Cross your fingers ;)

  31. Patricia

    Dorie Greenspan is also a huge advocate of rolling the dough out first before refrigerating. Going to make her World Peace cookies this weekend. Punitions are wonderful, bought some at Poilane when I was in Paris a couple of years ago.

  32. shuna lydon

    I always love your humour, m’lady. A few things of note, to add ~

    1. Butter cut in slivers will always “room temperature-ify” (my word, not a real word) wayyyy faster than cubes. {I am on a campaign to discourage butter from being cut into cubes!).
    2. Most cookies should *not* require one to cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This is generally an instruction for cakes, as “fluffy” indicates aeration, and air is no good for most cookie doughs.
    3. Doughs that need to be refrigerated should never be wrapped as a ball. Balls are impossible to flatten when cold. Always flatten dough that needs to be rolled into a thin disk. I like to wrap dough, then flatten it through the wrapper – this way my hands don’t melt the butter.
    4. Thank you for showing folks the rolling-dough-between-parchment paper trick. I’ve been teaching this for two decades, and no one has gone back to rolling dough in flour!

  33. Rani

    Deb this cracks me up because literally last weekend I declared to my fiance that i wanted to bake biscuits (as we call them in Aus) and he came out to the kitchen and found me looking despondently at my cookbooks once I’d reacquainted myself with all of the hurdles you name above which meant no weekend biscuits. I couldn’t shake the cravings so discovered some patience somewhere and am baking off some crunchy peanut butter and salt biscuits as I type…can’t wait to try your rejigged method!

  34. Thanks for all the suggestions: as someone else said, even if you talk about something I have already been doing, you always take it to the next level with some other genius tips :)
    On another note, but always on the making-baking-cookies-easier issue, may I suggest making spritz cookies more often? NO rolling and NO re–rolling at all, and chilling of the completed, sprizted-out batch only.

  35. Amanda

    I often roll out sugar/shortbread cookies with powdered sugar instead of flour to keep them from drying out or getting tough. Do you ever do this?

  36. Another slap my forehead moment!! Why didn’t I think of it?? I guess it’s because I was waiting for my baking Muse – Deb to tell me deep dark secrets.:-) It is so logical – the directions tell you to chill the dough, then you have to spend valuable time warming it up just so you can roll it out. What sadist thought of that? I can’t wait to try you and your friend’s method. Now, why do you like salted butter? I must have missed that post :-( Have a great weekend.

  37. Sharon Brautigam

    You can reuse parchment sheets for a long time if you just swipe then off with a damp paper towel or damp, clean cloth after baking on them. I fold them in quarters and store in a ziplock and mine last for many bakes. I read this on a King Arthur Flour blog, where it said they reuse their parchment sheets until they were “ragged shreds” and I’ve done it ever since, works great. King Arthur is a great source for precut parchment sheets btw. And, my solution to roll out cookies is to let my daughter-in-law do them, she loves to and I hate to for all the reasons you listed. Maybe this post will change my mind!

  38. Jen

    I never remember to put butter out to soften. Instead my relatively quick solution is to put a fill a bowl with very hot to almost boiling water, set a plate on top of that, put the butter on the plate and cover it with an upside down bowl to trap the heat. Usually in less than ten minutes I have softened butter.

  39. Shari Giarraputo

    I struggle with the same issues. Thanks for posting. My family asks for cookies all the time. But the thought of dealing with the whole process is time consuming. Going to try your recipe and suggestions.

    Thank you so much for sharing

  40. Kelly Haag

    Damn. I had just sworn off cut-out cookies for life after the holiday season but now you’ve given me a new reason to try again. Thanks a lot. ;-)

  41. SarahJess

    Yes, and yes! Many years ago I was gifted a (huge) box of full-pan sized parchment sheets – and have been doing just this ever since. Also, for those times when I *do* need softened butter my favorite trick is to put the (still wrapped) sticks in my pockets as I putter around getting everything else ready. (We keep our house very cold in winter, so I’m usually wearing a fleece with pockets anyway.) Works like a charm – but only if you need a pound or less! (I have been known to conscript my older children’s pockets on occasion.)

  42. Barbara

    Thank you for this little ray of cookie light in an otherwise gloomy season. Your writing always makes me smile, whether or not I try the recipe!

  43. Sarah A in NF, CT

    Deb, this is going to be life changing!!!!! I really did not need to know this right now when I am trying to lose weight. I think my darling granddaughter, she’s a month or two older than your wee one, is going to make cookies with NanaMama tonight after work. Really roll out cookies whenever I want them? You are an enabler. Homemade cookies are my desert island food. They are a food group, right?

  44. Jetagain

    Why didn’t you publish this post 2 days ago? That was when I made the maple syrup/nutmeg cookies you posted several months ago. They are amazingly delicious and a new family favorite. BUT, they were a pain to make because of all the reasons you list in today’s post. Last night I was even wondering if they were worth doing again. After all, I could just stick to drop cookies (Tollhouse with high quality chocolate chips are my specialty.). With your new advice, I see no reason not to make the maple syrup/nutmeg cookies a permanent part of my repertoire.

  45. I was definitely nodding my head in agreement to all your reasons to avoid making cookies, but my favourite part of the post was the ‘hat tip’ link that opens a page featuring a vase with breasts and a pot with butt cheeks. A great laugh for a Friday morning :).

    1. sparkgrrl658

      okay, i usually don’t click through onto links (i’m just lazy is all, and hover for pictures) but…this comment got me to go read that post, lol. excellent. and really that cookie cutter is genius.

  46. Love the idea of making rolled cookies in this fashion. One step from rolling the dough and cutting out shapes though is to shape your log into simple shapes, like hearts by pinching one side (like the bottom of a heart) and indenting the opposite (like the center top of the heart)… freeze for 15 minutes and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices. Bake as you normally would.

  47. sparkgrrl658

    let’s talk about how 11 years ago was not only a.) not the 90s but b.) not even close to being the 90s. just kidding, let’s never talk about that again.

    instead let’s talk about how i discovered last year that i can make chocolate chip cookies with melted butter using this recipe but just microwaving the butter and not bothering with browning and they’re just as good as my beloved toll house recipe. (yes, i know brown butter is great and all but this is a post about eating cookies sooner than later with minimal effort.) the dough isn’t runny, the cookies don’t spread all over and basically everything i used to think about why you can never make chocolate chip cookies with melted butter was a total lie. but if you’re into puffy ball-like cookies you can just throw the dough in the fridge between batches. anyway, between that and this post, never worrying about softening butter again.

  48. Rose Parker

    YES,YES, a thousand times YES!! Deb, thank you for so clearly laying all of this out. When someone shared this sequence with me (mix-roll-freeze-bake) and the wonders of parchment paper, it revolutionized my cookie baking and opened up a world of decorated sugar cookies, a hobby I now love. Before, it was always, “Sugar cookies, why must you break my heart?” I wanted to enjoy baking cookies so badly, but to follow most cookie recipes is to suffer a thousand tiny deaths. Now it’s easy-peasy and I get to spend my time making (delicious) little works of art. On behalf of all the initiated who just had their minds blown, thank you!!

  49. Dorie Greenspan’s Cookie book goes into all this in some depth, makes sense, and explains when you can/cannot use this technique. It’s a brilliant book, and worth the investment for anyone who likes to bake cookies.

    1. deb

      I have the book and it’s wonderful but I just marked off the recipes I want to make. (Mostly: all of them.) I am not surprised she’s come to the same conclusions over the years!

  50. sparkgrrl658

    ps, i always use regular salted butter. i have never come across a single recipe that “needed” unsalted butter, for me or anyone i’ve served to over the years. i almost never scale back the salt in the recipe, either. and i just use regular store brand butter. with all the sweet stuff in baked goods i think it gives a nice balance, without calling it “salted” or whatever. (i.e. ‘salted caramel’ etc.) never had a complaint or someone not go back for seconds. unsalted butter (at least within the brand i buy here in the US) is just a gimmick to me. and one less thing to worry about when you want cookies!

    1. JP

      I have always used salted butter (never even bought unsalted in 40 years). Now I see even Christopher Kimball suggests using it too. It has come around to being popular again! Yay!

      1. Panya

        Ditto. I only used unsalted butter when my mom bought it on sale once. I had to add *so* much butter to make things taste “right” when using it! I told her never to buy it again. I’ll keep the cheap, easy-to-find, store-brand salted butter.

  51. Lisa

    I always do this too. I currently have a lovely butter pecan sandy cookie in my freezer just waiting for an occasion. I also scoop and freeze drop cookie dough on a 1/4 sheet pan covered in plastic wrap. Once frozen they can go in ziplock bags for the next time a cookie craving comes. My freezer is a very sweet place.

  52. Candace Daly

    People!!!! Who doesn’t have a microwave? Butter softens in 10 seconds and does not melt. I also have been rolling warm dough for years but I use WAXED paper instead of parchment…much cheaper!
    Another trick you might like is when you take the slabs of dough out of the fridge,
    strip the paper off both sides and lay the dough back down…cookies won’t stick to the paper after you do this.

    1. Jessica

      Deb already mentioned peeling the dough off of the paper before cutting the cookies.

      And lots of people avoid the microwave because of the wild variance in results, especially if your butter is just a little colder or warmer than the last time you tried to soften it. She’s giving us a foolproof way here.

    2. jill palumbo

      Not everyone has a microwave (me) and I’ve heard not to use waxed paper in the oven, so I think it would be easier to start with parchment paper if you plan to use it for baking.

    3. sparkgrrl658

      i have a microwave, but even 5-10 seconds will melt butter in mine. and my microwave is teeny tiny. i have never been able to soften butter in a microwave.

  53. I love your shortcuts! If you’re like me and hate the re-roll portion of cut out cookies but don’t care about fancy shapes, use a pizza cutter. I roll out the dough once, cut into pieces with the pizza cutter wheel (squares, rectangles, diamonds, or oddly shaped with wavy sides because I’m lazy) then slide them apart enough to bake well. No tough second batch, and if you’re careful about it nice square cookies that fit well in containers. I also do it with biscuits, because I am a heathen like that.

  54. karen swann

    NOW you tell me! After wrestling Christmas cookies in all the ways you describe :) Now I’m actually looking forward to next Christmas–or. . . I could make some today!

  55. Maribel

    I roll the dough right after I mix it and then freeze or refrigerate. I use parchment on bottom and Stretch-Tite plastic wrap on top to roll. That Stretch-Tite plastic wrap is amazing. It is thick, it won’t stick, and it won’t wrinkle. I will never use another plastic wrap again. It’s what some professionals use for their amazing royal icing decorated cookies. Other times, I just use my Silpat on bottom and the Stretch-Tite on top. Both with rolling strips on the sides so that all my cookies are uniform. Sometimes I’ve used two strips of that Stretch-Tite, roll it out, put it on top of a cookie sheet and freeze, making sure it’s well covered on the sides.

  56. Violet

    Great tips! Here’s one I learned for rolling out sugar cookies sans parchment: Instead of using flour on the counter, use icing/confectioner’s sugar. It works just as well as flour without adding extra flour and the resulting toughness, and the finished cookies look and taste is not affected.

  57. Laurie

    You can make it even easier: split the dough and chill in logs (or freeze, then thaw when ready). Slice off rounds. If you’re making all round cookies, why bother to roll out and use cutters?! I finally got smart and did this this December and YES, now I have more cookies in my life. You could even make the logs thick in diameter, slice rounds, then use heart-shaped cutters on each round. That would still be easier. I think I will never roll out and cut cookies again!! Yippee!!

  58. Jen

    Deb, thanks for this incredibly helpful and beautifully articulated post! It is the epitome of what I love about this website – practical tips with zero compromise on quality, all written up in such a clear and entertaining way, and followed with a delicious sounding recipe on how to apply this new wisdom! With butter! You are a gem! Thanks so much!!!!

  59. Alene

    I don’t get it. I never think to take my butter out in advance. So I’ve always been chopping it up and then let the cuisinart do its job. I also always pop the dough in the freezer. If you bake alot, these kinds of things would occur to you after awhile. I guess it helps brand new bakers who cannot adlib. Not being snarky. Just surprised that people don’t already do these things.

    1. sparkgrrl658

      thing is, i’m not a brand new baker by any stretch, but i pretty much never have the luxury of time or money when i am baking to try out different techniques on a whim if it doesn’t turn out right. and google is often all over the map whether X or Y will work and what results it will produce.

      that’s where deb comes in for me, i can leave all the tried and true recipe testing to her and reap the benefits of the results with no fear when i try it in my own kitchen :) not saying i never try anything new on my own, but cooking is much easier to correct on the fly than baking if something doesn’t go as planned, heh. this is just one aspect of cooking where i prefer someone else do the work :p

  60. The parchment trick is such a handy trick! If I wanted to add an extra 1/4 cup of flour to the recipe, I would have done it at the beginning rather than incidentally through rolling/re-rolling in flour! Why mess up a perfectly good recipe with all that extra flour??? Love your other tips, too:)

  61. Peggy Sherry

    There once was a girl named Deb.
    Who made a small living from the web.
    She could make me smile, and
    All the while,
    Cooking and creating down to earth dinners.
    Make veggies taste like pasta.
    Who knew, oatmeal be a treat?
    While lentils can be considered an honest dinner.
    And give me, many reasons to cheat.
    Dessert of course, I mean!
    So, keep on going
    Striving, to make us happy
    And even, if our food,
    Sometimes turns out crappy.
    We know, tomorrow will be
    Another day.
    And, we can come here.
    For a small get a way.

  62. Already a great fan and user of parchment paper, I never thought of doing this with rolled cookies, which are my least favorite cookie to make. Thank you, thank you for posting this – a method I will most definitely try.

  63. Jenny

    The timing thing is why I love the crispy-chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe you developed. Plus, since the butter is melted, I can use a wooden spoon to stir it all together rather than an electric mixer, and my kids don’t catch me making cookies.

    I also discovered that if I made chocolate chip cookies in the food processor (cold butter), I ended up with tiny speckles of chocolate if I started with chips, but if I started with chunks of chocolate it came out just right.

    Yay for cookies ready at hand!

  64. Judy L

    I’ve been using this parchment paper trick ever since I discovered the “No Fail Sugar Cookies” recipe link on the Wilton forum years ago. The recipe makes a large batch of and the “hint” was to roll a glob of dough between two sheets of parchment paper, put it on a cookie sheet and pop it into the fridge. Continue with remaining globs (you can slide them off of another cookie sheet onto the top of the one on the fridge, By the time you’re finished rolling, the sheet of dough from the bottom I ready to cut out. Makes beautiful clean cut cookies every time.

    Can’t wait to try your quick dough prep method! I always forget to get the butter out to soften. No more!

    1. Judy L

      P.S. Forgot to mention that my cookie sheets don’t have sides on them. If yours do, put your parchment cookie dough envelope on the back of your sheet and slide onto the ones in the fridge. Doesn’t that make sense?

  65. Jb

    oh, I wish I’d need this post last week when I was making shortbread. Warm the butter, chill the butter, warm the dough. I don’t have that many hours in a day!

  66. deamlo

    i make cookies using this method all the time! basic amounts are 1 stick cold butter cut in cubes, 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, pinch salt. i have a version that is meyer lemon/lavender and it’s so easy, and delicious. and instead of rolling out i form a log and freeze – then just slice and bake!

  67. Sarah

    Deb, long time reader and admirer, first time commenter: I’m SO PSYCHED about the FN collaboration, you were amazing and your little was almost, not quite, too cute in the video. I’ve made A LOT of wonderful delicious things from the site and cookbook and at this point, we totally trust you (i.e., my husband says skeptically “what is this recipe/why are we buying Rosemary again/etc” and I reply, “it’s from SK!” and he’s like, “GREAT, CAN’T WAIT, CAN I GO OUT IN GROSS WEATHER TO PICK UP ANYTHING YOU’VE FORGOTTEN FOR DEB’S RECIPE?” So being inspired by your “how to host brunch and still sleep in” guide, we’re hosting brunch next weekend and I’d love some guidance on menu balance, as one guest is gluten free, two are pescatarians, one is vegan-but-for-cheese, one is vegetarian, and three eat anything. I have in mind winter fruit salad, a kale and roasted ginger salad, roasted potato dish, pork-free baked beans, and egg- free waffles (once I forgot to add egg to Bittman’s overnight waffles and they were still pretty good) but I’d love any advice you can offer. TY for all the things!

  68. I mean, brilliant! I’ve never been brave enough to try my hand at cookies in the food processor. I love, love, love my KitchenAid mixer, but since getting a nice processor I’ve been curious. Now I’m convinced, must try. Thanks for sharing.

    I’m new to your blog, so you may have already have this intel, but I must share a couple additional tips for the dilemma of wanting a cookie but not having one on hand yet…I’ve been known to toss half my batter formed as balls or a log for slicing in the freezer for later so that I can make a hot half dozen whenever I desire them. And I ALWAYS freeze leftover cookies in pairs–saran and foil wrapped and then all the pairs in a freezer bag. Great for grab-n-go cookies whenever the craving strikes! And automatic portion control for those of us who can eat all the dough and half the batch of cookies while baking them… ;)

  69. I feel like you’ve seen my posts about rolling dough and the potty mouth which is inexorably linked to that task. IMO parchment paper is the panacea for all things baking. I line every cake pan with it, use it on every cookie, wrap fish in those cute little pappillotes that make people think you know what the hell you’re doing in the kitchen… Oops, there’s that potty mouth again. Brilliant post, Deb – those cookies are my kind of punishment!

  70. Thea

    I love your cookie suggestions! I learned this trick too…get 2 square shaped dowels (home improvement store or craft store) in the thickness you want your cookies rolled out to be and put these on either side of your dough so that the rolling pin can rest on them. When you roll out your dough the dough will all be the same thickness, the thickness of your dowels!

  71. Daphne

    We use this parchment paper trick. It works wonderfully.

    **BUT** if you’ve pre-chilled the dough and roll it out on parchment, you can also peel away the ‘negative space’ dough around the cookie shapes, instead of lifting up the cookies. We do this without re-chilling the dough. You don’t risk denting the corners of your cookie, and then you just slide the parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and pop it in the oven. We do big batches of gingerbread this way.

    I like this method of rolling dough right away, right out of the food processor. I will try it, thanks!

    1. Panya

      That’s where I thought she was going when she started on about cutting them out! I’ve only made roll-out cookies a few times in my life but I did this each time. I despise all of the extra work roll-out cookies require — especially when I don’t even like crispy cookies [give me soft/chewy drop cookies any time] — so I’m all about efficiency.

    1. sparkgrrl658

      actually, it was! the “cookie cutter” part of the sentence links to a cutter on amazon that isn’t really tessellated, but it is a no-waste producing one so sort of the same idea for this purpose. and the “hat tip” portion of the link goes to a gift idea post, in which a tessellated cutter is one of the items. here’s the direct link if you don’t want to read through the whole post:

      it’s snowflakes :) such a good idea.

    2. sparkgrrl658

      oh man, i just realized that one is sold out :( they make another one with hearts but that one seems to be out of stock as well. (“ships in 1 to 2 months.”) boo! sorry to get your (and my) hopes up! :(

  72. Laura

    Another tip: instead of using cookie cutters (and having to re-roll the scraps), get out a pizza cutter and make squares. It’s so much easier.

    1. sparkgrrl658

      i do this whenever i make biscuits, so you don’t get any that are less tender. i use it for breadsticks too, but that’s more about the pizza wheel just making it easier to divide up i guess :)

      or you can just cook the scraps as is, and have some ‘freeform’ shapes :) esp if you decorate them, they’ll still be pretty imho! and really, as long as they’re delicious i don’t care what shape they are.

      i watched two girls bake cookies the other day on tv, cringing the whole time as the dough got soft because they overworked it and played with it too much, and then dumped on tons of flour again and again to compensate instead of just putting it back in the fridge. but the looks on their face when they tasted one at the end…i hope they learned their lesson lol! they looked pretty but… ;)

  73. Christine

    This is fairly off topic, anywho, I got a Kitchenaid pro stand mixer a year or two ago. I bake quite regularly and always thought it would be a great addition to my kitchen. I don’t love it. I find it kind of a pain. The butter/batter always sticks to the sides and bottom and I find I have to constantly stop and scrap. I honestly prefer a handheld electric mixer. I still use it occasionally as I feel guilty at the expense. Works well for pizza dough. What am I missing? Why do people love them?

    1. JP

      There are several areas that I think make having a Kitchenaid worth it:
      ~Heavy thick batters or doughs that would make most hand mixers burn out.
      ~Bread dough kneading.
      ~Whipping something like egg whites for many minutes- you can walk away.
      ~Doubling or tripling recipes easily.
      ~Attachments-I use mine to grind wheat, grind meat, etc.

      Although using a hand mixer (and the best I have ever owned is Kitchenaid, too) is easier than dragging out the stand mixer, I use them both a lot.

    2. Gwen Daniels

      Christine: I’m right there with you! I wish I’d gotten the standard Kitchenaid stand mixer instead of the pro version, which is much too big for most of my baking projects. I do like the ice cream freezer attachment, and it’s a cinch to mix dough.

    3. Leti

      Christine: My 13 year old Artisan Kitchen Aid just stopped working after lots of use. I bake a lot too and I am trying to decide whether to go for the Pro series for the motor or just stay with the Artisan or just save my money and go back to a hand held mixer. Both standing mixers are expensive- with the Pro being a bit over the top in price!

    4. S.

      Christine, did you know that it’s possible to adjust the clearance of your paddle/beaters so that they get closer to the bowl? Once I found this trick, it vastly reduced my scraping. More info here:

      I love my stand mixer for one simple reason: I can turn on the mixer and let it do its thing while I measure ingredients for the next step or tidy up the counters. Shortening prep and clean-up time is way more important to me than the actual savings in mixing time.

  74. Cecilia Vanisky

    I tried your idea and am thrilled with the ease of both rolling out dough and using the cookie cutters with the frozen dough.
    Thank you!

  75. Evelyn Gubitosi

    I love that you posted this. Have always thought you could use cold butter and should avoid the roll-out flour but never took the time to try it. I like the idea of having those “Cookie Boards” on hand. I used your recipe for punitions and they are excellent in their taste and simplicity.

  76. Wow! There are a load of great suggestions in this post and in the comments. I was a pastry chef for many years( before my knees turned to chalk dust from all the standing and lifting), so I thought I’d throw my two cents in the ring too.
    Butter temp: I never bother to bring butter to room temp. Slices of cold butter will quickly soften with any decent stand mixer, chunks tend to bunch up in the beaters. For beginner bakers, it pays to know that there’s a difference between ” mix the butter and sugar” and “cream the butter and sugar”. Mixing till the two are just incorporated is usual for cookie, especially rolled and cut ones. Creaming is for cakes, where you’re trying to beat as much air into the butter/sugar. If fact, when you bake cookies from dough that has been creamed, they tend to puff and lose their crisp outline from all that air. On that note, if I’m making cookies where I want a very presice shape, I avoid recipes that have baking powder or soda in the dough. Same reasons, air bubbles equal puffy mis-shapen cookies. There are great rolled cookie recipes on She’s the queen of decorated cookies!
    Square-edge dowels or rulers can be used to roll to an even thickness, but they tend to side around, even better are thickness rings. Not sure if that’s exactly what they’re called, they’re rubber bands that slide over the ends of your rolling pin and usually come in sets of four different thicknesses. Could not live without these, and they’re as cheap as chips.
    My final suggestion, if you’re going to bake rolled cookies more than once or twice a year, get a decent rolling pin. Dinky little June Cleaver style with 8″ of pin and teeny little handles is just an exercise in frustration! A good pin is just a long (at least 20″) straight piece ,with no handles.
    Apologies for this long-winded comment, but if this encourages folk to try baking more cookies, the world will be a little sweeter. Cheers from the South Seas, Karen

      1. Doris

        I think all the cookie rolling problems would be solved with just one thing: Dough EZ Pastry Mat. It comes with the perfection strips and it’s pretty amazing. If you go to lilaloa(dot com) blog and search for “dough EZ pastry mat”, she has a video of how to use it. No flour. Everything perfectly even. A minute or two to clean up. Sometimes those rubber bands don’t fit all the rolling pins. I have tried the Perfection Strips, the Dough EZ Pastry Mat, and also the rings. And of course, check out amazon for reviews and problems other people might have with any of these.

  77. I feel like I would now love to see a picture of your freezer so that I can more fully understand how one would arrange things to both provide perfect cookies and yet also have your regular rotation of leftovers and nuts and popsicles.

    1. deb

      My freezer is a mess. I’ve shown it from time to time, can’t find a picture right now. Generally I open it slowly in case something is about to attack. More accurate would be that there is sometimes cookie dough or nuts or popsicles or leftovers (and bread, so much bread) but rarely all of those things at once. :)

  78. Jen

    I don’t do cookies much, preferring cakes, because I sorta hate anything I have to shape/portion and/or decorate individually (I hate making drop cookies and cupcakes, too,) but I did get a couple of friends to help me make Martha-Stewart-inspired wedding-cake-shaped shortbread stacks as wedding favours almost 10 years ago. And your tips are pretty much exactly what we figured out after the first misshapen tray! Though I don’t think we’d have every articulated it in a step by step like this. Good to know it seems generalize-able to all rolled cookies.

  79. Anna

    this is great! thank you. Not to be greedy, but since we’re all going to be baking a lot of cookies, how about a recipe for the frosting (which I consider to be the best part)

  80. kslotsve

    Thanks for such great tips! I literally just made the brownie cookies from your cookbook last night and I can’t wait to make extra batches using the tips above – GENIUS!

  81. Jeanne

    Throw away cookie dough! That IS tragic. I know you cannot tell people it is ok to eat anything with raw eggs in it, but it is delicious, and in my book eating some of the cookie dough is one of the pleasures of making the cookies!
    I make my grandmother’s super thin, super crisp, sugar cookies every year at the holidays and let me tell you there is absolutely nothing wrong with the second rolling, or even the third. Nobody can tell once they are baked. I don’t know if this will help anyone, but here goes:
    First I should say I prefer to clean up the flour mess than use all the parchment paper as I bake straight on the sheet. That being said, I cut my chilled ball of dough into manageable pieces (usually 4 -5 chunks – her recipe is rather huge, making several dozen cookies) and roll these out individually leaving the remaining in the fridge. I use a lightly floured pastry cloth for rolling and rarely have stick on – yes, I do add flour as I roll but as little as possible, often only to the rolling pin. Aways add only the barest amount of flour needed, you can flip the dough while it is still small enough, adding flour under it will help the center not stick. I roll the dough to an 1/8″ or less, but this is completely dependent on your recipe, then cut them out as close together as humanly possible so there is little dough left over for a second rolling.
    I think part of the key is patience, I roll and roll and roll again, lightly pushing at the dough until I coax it to the desired thickness – trying to force it just cracks the dough at the edges. It rather turns into a zen thing…rolling out from the center, across, backward, forward, around the edges, feeling the dough, getting it to an even thinness.
    Use a spatula to transfer the cut-out cookies to the baking sheet. Mash the extra together to make a disc, I don’t work it too much, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill while you do the next batch of fresh dough. At the end you have a small amount of extra dough, that will probably be chilled enough by the time you cookies are done baking, to be rolled. NOTE: My sister uses a marble rolling pin that she chills, though I have to say I just use a plain old french rolling pin for everything.

  82. Christian

    For those of us (like students, or just people without the means) who don’t have a food processor: if you don’t have time/don’t want to soften your butter, if you cut it into smaller chunks than you usually would then it mixes in way easier. I usually have cold butter, cold kitchen, cold hands and no food processor or electric mixer so you know … little chunks is the way to go.

    1. Katie

      This is somewhat belated but I hope it’s helpful – grating your butter works very well too! Same basic principle as what you suggested. :)

  83. Carol

    Boom! Looking for delicious, easily done cut-out cookies for Valentine’s Day– and there you are! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  84. Thank you, Deb. The only cookies I ever bake are Toll house and oatmeal-raisin because… well, everything you wrote about in your ‘what a hassle cookies are’ rant. I’m going to bake cookies this weekend!

    Ok, i can’t believe I just wrote that, because dammit, Jim! I’m a cook, not a baker. But I’m going to do it. Thanks to you and your easy-peasy technique.

    BTW, let me just add that I really appreciate the font you use here. It is easy on the eyes.

  85. I love your writing, what a joy to read! I too use the parchment paper method placing the dough in between to roll! Generally speaking, parchment paper and me are best friends during the holiday baking season!

  86. Rebecca

    This is a great tip! I just made your Intensely Dark Sables using this method, all in food processor and out on the porch on the cookie sheets (love winter for this). They came out great and were waaaay less time consuming than last time I made them.
    Thank you!

  87. This is exactly the method I finally discovered back when I owned a bakery. Though I must say it’s much easier when you have a big walk-in freezer with a bakers’ rack in it to hold all the pans!

  88. Susan

    I used your tips to make my famous superbowl football sugar cookies today, you saved me a lot of time and there was no flour-filled counter to clean, yay! Thanks for bailing me out yet again.

  89. Rachel

    I now roll the dough warm too and it is so much easier. I use a thin flexible plastic cutting board on bottom with plastic wrap on top. I will try the food processor tip!

  90. Megan

    This really helped! The kid loves cutout cookies, I have always hated to make them, but now we’ll definitely be making them more often. I made the Punitions (R), and the recipe made about 30-35 cookies. I also tried using this for a pie crust, but I think the parchment didn’t have enough friction, because I couldn’t get it thin enough until I removed the top piece of parchment. Thanks for the tips!

  91. Marsha Rosenberg

    This is the best method for making cut out cookies that I have ever used and I have been making cookies for a very long time!! Thanks so much! I made the Punitions for Valentine’s day and they are PERFECT!!

  92. Nicole

    These amazing tips allowed me to make cookies at the last minute for my daughter to give away as Valentines. We typically make gingerbread hearts together but there was no time for the chilling and such of dough this year. Thanks for the save.

  93. Francia

    Ok, so I have two questions:

    First, do this method works only with cookies that you’re cutting or it also works with the cookies you put into a little ball and bake?

    Second, for some reason the last time I tried baking cookies (I used a recipe of yours) they came out like a mess- the dough was sort of like really soft, it never seemed to harden and the texture was too greasy and off. I don’t know if the problem was the butter/margarine I was using because it was a new kind, or that I over/under creamed it with the sugar.
    Having seen the picture above, I would say the texture was kind of like the photo number two, so was that the problem? I didn’t beat enough? Because I have to say it looked like the more I beat it, the more liquid it became.

  94. victoria stanley rsr

    Ms.stewart, what are your favorite food processors especially for making dough ? I want to buy my first one but so many to choose from.

  95. Rachel Smolen

    Love these hacks!!! Fabulous!! I’ve been rolling the dough between parchment since it’s so much neater and I am therefore much less frustrated with the dough sticking and misbehaving! Can’t wait to try them on MANY of your cookie recipes!
    Just FYI theres a slight typo here: “The giant caveat: Does this mean all cookie recipes can back hacked” I think you meant; “The giant caveat: Does this mean all cookie recipes can BE hacked”.

    Ps was great seeing you and Joy at her book signing you both were excellent!

  96. Sam

    I really love any sort of tips that makes life easier! These are brilliant and I’ve already taken note of some to try out next time around, thanks!

  97. Katie

    One last idea to add for making-ahead (Christmas!) purposes, or for those days where you just want a couple of cookies to go with your tea :

    Chill and cut out your cookies, then freeze the cut shapes completely, stack and double-wrap or stash them in a container. Grab as many as you want and throw them in the oven at a moment’s notice! This is great for avoiding misshapen blobs too.

  98. Gina

    This is fantastic! I’m so glad I saw this before starting on my Christmas baking. I only wish my freezer was wider/bigger. Those darn side by side freezers are so skinny!!!

  99. Lauren

    Did this yesterday when I realized 3 sugar cookies each was not enough at a cookie decorating party. Worked perfectly, all 3 cups flour fit in my food processor, and we had another batch of sugar cookies in under an hour.

    Also, cause I’m sure you don’t get enough try-this-cookie recommendations, you should check out Ina Garten’s fruitcake cookies. Easy to make for a crowd and so good!!

  100. K Peterson

    Just read your secret method for saving time with roll-out cookie dough!! YOU DESERVE AN HONORARY DOCTORATE FROM HARVARD!!!! (Doesn’t matter that you learned it from another, that’s what education usually is!)
    If I was on Harvard’s Committee to Award Honorary Doctorates I would nominate you, (disclaimer: Sorry, Deb, I am not.) because I have spent DECADES making roll-out cookies for our family’s Christmas Cookie Day tradition. (We make hundreds of Christmas cookies & invite others to come decorate the 2 dozen we made for them to home. Only “rules” are 1)no frosting fights & 2) during the party, you can only eat broken cookies(& other snacks;) hence, I purposely break a number of perfect cookies that they can eat w/frosting, while decorating. YOU HAVE JUST EXTENDED MY LIFE BY HOURS, WEEKS, MONTHS, Etc.!! Bless you!! ❤️❤️❤️

  101. Maryna Fontenoy

    Hey Deb!
    I am not very Martha S but i beeded to make and store(for a week) this cookie dough so my kitchen challenged 16 year old could make cookies for xmas gift bags when I’m out if town next week. I dont have spare baking sheets nor excessive freezer space. Solution- substituted some foil wrapped and cut to size cardboard and sandwiched the rolled out and neatly wrapped dough between them. Slid them in the top of the freezer and all done! 16 year old just has to cut shapes and bake. And decorate. And clean up afterwards. Or her dad has to do that part. Thanks for this cookie hack. I can skip a lot of guilt! Xoxo M

  102. Ila

    Thank you! Your foodprocessor method and parchment-rolling reminders will save me loads of cookie-making time. The only problem is the chilling-in-the- freezer. Hands up those who have spare freezer space for a cookie sheet, even just for 15 minutes?? Luckily in December it’s cold in many places and outdoors will have to do (but watch out for squirrels, they love nut and butter dough!).

  103. My cookies always seem to come out like cake, kinda of fluffy, not crispy or crunchy or chewy, just and odd cakeish texture. and they just arent very good. I always make sure I measure very precisely… but they continue to come out like this, which isnt good. help please :)

    1. Panya

      I’ve noticed that this happens when my husband over-mixes batter, which incorporates more air [brownies turn out cake-like instead of chewy, and actual cakes just fall apart into crumbs]. Usually the goal is to try to mix batters as little as possible.

  104. JILL Q.

    This didn’t work out quite as well as I hoped for America’s Test Kitchen Sugar Cookies (which require multiple chilling periods). I shouldn’t have been surprised.
    Their recipes are often fussy.
    The cookie dough was just too stiff to cut right out of the freezer. But once they warmed up a bit, it worked slightly better. It still saved me the annoyance of a double chill time.

  105. Susie

    the cookies in your photo looks perfect for a base cookie for Valentine’s Day decorations. Are the cookies in your photos using the “punitions” recipe that you had posted? Thank you!

  106. Jill

    Great tips. My mom used to roll her sugar cookies on powdered sugar instead of flour to avoid the toughness issue of picking up extra flour. This is even easier!

  107. Nancy

    Question: Do you have any good tips for keeping the bottom piece of parchment from moving around? I tried this method with pie crust, and the parchment kept rolling up. So I tried taping it to the counter which was not too successful. I love the idea of rolling on parchment but need a hack to keep the parchment from rolling up! Thanks!

  108. andreefriedman

    Dearest Deb,

    Thank you for your incredible posts, for sharing your recipes and tips, for adding grace and humor to your home and dinner table. In this post, the cookie looks more golden than the Punition recipe in your archive shows (white and not golden). Is there another recipe you used for this photo? Many Thanks, Andree

    1. deb

      Nope, same, but I’ve gotten better at baking my cookies over the years. At Poilane, they always have a nice golden ring around the pale cookie.

  109. Sarah Miller

    My life is forever better because of this trick!!!! I make my grandmother’s brown sugar cookies every year for Christmas and deal with crumbly dough that has to be chilled,re-rolled out with way too much flour and at the end of the day it always makes me frustrated, not joyous. But Deb, this method is life changing! I can’t thank you enough for making my Christmas cookie journey so much better.

    1. Nancy T. H.

      I completely agree with Sarah. Everything about making Christmas cookies this year was more joyous, without the frustration of trying to roll out chilled dough. Thank you, Deb, for sharing this tip as well as the many other fabulous recipes throughout the year.

    1. I should note as well that, because I have a side-by-side freezer/fridge with a narrow freezer, I just measured out the shelf space available on one shelf of the freezer (12″x14″), and then cut a piece of parchment paper to be only slightly bigger than that so I’d know how big to roll. Pro tip: Reynolds parchment paper comes marked with 2″ squares, so it’s really easy to do this measurement. I then transferred the rolled sheets to the freezer via a cookie sheet, but froze them directly on the freezer shelf (since a cookie tray doesn’t fit in my freezer).

  110. Nada

    Hi Deb, do you have a go-to classic sugar cookie recipe (e.g. for roll-out Christmas cookies)? I usually use the sugar cookie recipe from America’s Test Kitchen but am curious if you have a favorite. Thanks!

  111. Susan

    Tried this recipe over the weekend with my kids for their Christmas cookies. Mine came out kinda crumbly even after it comes out of the food processor. Should I just add milk to moisten it? More egg? Also, after cutting the shapes from the cold flatten sheet of dough, any suggestions on how to roll out the remaining scraps? They are kinda too hard to roll out and recut into shapes… thanks, Deb!!

    1. deb

      The punition cookie isn’t necessary ideal for Christmas cookies; it’s a sable and is best when baked until fairly golden. It has a sandy texture. Since you’re starting with cold butter, you need to run the machine longer than seems normal to break it up enough that it warms up a bit in the dough — easily 30 seconds beyond what you’d expect. No extra ingredients should be needed. Scraps can be rerolled easily (or should be) because no flour has been added. I just toss them back between my two sheets of parchment paper and the rolling pin makes them one with the existing dough.

  112. Sharon Grimshaw

    Thank you for this ingenious approach for making cookies! I use a butter cookie recipe from a 1996 Good Housekeeping special article on holiday cookies. I prepared the dough as usual. Then I followed your instructions for rolling and freezing the dough. Soooo much easier! The results are great! I’m never going back to the old way. Thank you!

  113. Betsy Gallo

    Rolling the dough between parchment paper is the way to go! Made linzer torte recipe this way and so much easier to handle the dough. The best batch ever. Thanks Deb.

  114. Katherine

    I just tried this method with your spicy gingerbread cookie recipe and it worked beautifully! I live in TX and the warm climate has always led to cut-out cookie disasters, this time they were a total breeze. My cookies spread a tiiiiny bit which was fine for the bigger cookies but not so great for the tiny, mug topper gingerbread houses I made. Maybe I will try chilling longer next time or trimming them straight out of the oven?

  115. Carolyn

    YES, YES, YES!! (Channeling Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. My apologies.) FINALLY, an easy way to put my approximately hundred million cookie cutters to good use! Thank you for this humorous, wonderfully informative, and accurate post. Not only did I use this method successfully for gingerbread cookies at Christmas, but also life got in the way and my butter-cookie dough has been in the freezer since then . . . and with a special houseguest arriving this afternoon, I made butter cutouts early today (allowing time for the cookies to fail, because after all, the dough has been frozen for three months). The cookies are perfect and the process was easy, just as you described. I had time to make a different sweet today just in case, but your method produced a true “moment’s notice” cookie with no decrease in quality, and a heck of a big increase in fun. I did wrap my half-sheet pan (loaded with cookie-dough planks) in plastic wrap back in December; I’m not sure how long it would last w/o that protection but the rest of the dough is there now, awaiting the next time I’ve just got to have rolled-out cookies at the drop of a hat. Many thanks!

  116. Brittany

    Wow this is the bomb!! I have never made roll out cookies before except the brownie ones from your first book simply because they seemed so messy and time consuming and I finally worked up the energy to give this an audition for the gifting season. I added a tea bag’s worth of earl grey to the punitions recipe mmmm. Now to perfect the icing and sprinkles phase…

  117. Julie Hood

    THIS IS BRILLIANT!!!! I plan on making Christmas sugar cookies with my kids and nephew this week, and last year our attempt was 100% a flour-coated mess as we tried to get small people and grownups alike to be able to peeeeeeel a cookie-cutter-ed dough shape off the floured table. Thanks for these tips!!!

  118. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I’ve tried this FP method twice now and it hasn’t worked for me. The first time I just gave up because my cold butter blobs just kept getting stuck and refused to cream. The second time, I fought my impatience and stuck with it, stopping the FP and scraping down the bowl and blade about 20 times, until it finally came together, but by that point, the machine was so warm with friction, the butter/sugar was on the verge of being a melty mess. I transferred it all to my stand mixer to continue, and the cookies (snickerdoodles) came out fine, but then I had a mess of dishes to wash. FYI, I have a relatively new 8-cup Cuisinart FP. Do you add your dry ingredients to the FP too, after you’ve creamed the butter/sugar? Maybe this just isn’t the method for me, but all your recommendations usually work so flawlessly (and save time, and dishes!) so I’m stumped why it’s not working for me.

    1. deb

      Depending on the cookie recipe — obviously it works for some, not all — I will sometimes even start by pulsing the dry ingredients first, including the sugar, then adding the butter and running it until it creams. You might find this a little easier for the snickerdoodles.

    2. Shary

      It works much better if you do soften the butter and cut each stick into chunks. I use the microwave to soften butter that I’ve taken straight from the freezer. Low power, about 6 seconds at a time, just until you can easily squeeze the butter with your fingers. Creaming actually isn’t necessary with softened butter. The food processor does that for you. Just put your dry ingredients in first, then add the softened, cubed butter on top. Any extract or egg can be pour through the tube with the processor running. The ingredients should quickly come together and form a soft dough. Don’t over-process it. I make shortbread like this all the time. It works beautifully for many types of cookies.

  119. Denise Cormaney

    If, for some reason, you cannot use this brilliant method and need to roll out your dough (not enough space in your freezer for a large rectangle, for example), sprinkle powdered sugar on your counter instead of flour. No gummy flour sticking to your cookies, no burned edges!

  120. Lee R

    Deb: I love your blog and books. Can you do a collection of bars that are not brownies, in honor of the business of this time of year? It’s a faster alternative to cookies. Many thanks.

  121. Rhonda Vang

    And if you sprinkle a little water on your benchtop before putting your first piece of parchment paper down, the paper doesn’t slip and slide all over the benchtop. 😉

  122. jklappenbach

    Also: I hate sugar cookie recipes that flatten out as the cookie is baking. No matter how cold the batter was, nor how tall I would roll the dough, they always came out flat.

    Until I discovered a recipe with more eggs. And specifically, egg yolks. If you’re in the same position I was, try experimenting with adding more eggs, or just egg yolks to the recipe.

    I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If done right, the cookies barely flatten out. So, you can cut them just the size you want, and they’ll come out perfect.

  123. Michelle

    I have always hated sugar cookies because of all of the work involved – soften, chill, flour, roll, repeat. My children will thank you for this!

  124. Wendy

    I tried this method with the intensely chocolate sables. Since I was using the food processor for the chocolate, I followed through with the other ingredients as well. Genius! And in a lazy move, I rolled the dough into a log (a la World Peace cookies) and sliced/baked to perfection. Thank you, Deb!

  125. Jenny

    Thanks to this post, I made sugar cookies using a food processor for the very first time earlier this week. Using the food processor and the roll it warm between parchment method–as promised–made the process easier and the cut outs sharper. This after many years of frustrating, blob-like cookies (that were intended to be Christmas trees, etc.)! Thanks Smitten Kitchen!

  126. Michele

    First time using this method and it has changed the way I’ll make rolled out cookies for life. I’m going to show my kids how to do this so that they can continue the Christmas Cookie tradition. Thanks and Happy Holidays.

  127. Michelle Windmueller

    I am sooo looking forward to making the punitions this week. (And I sooo miss Poilâne). I always roll between parchment, but the tip to the freeze and cut cold is genius. One question, though: cut this also be done by rolling into a log of the right diameter and thin slicing?

  128. Shary

    I make most of my cookie dough in my food processor. It’s great for shortbread, sugar cookies, snowballs, pecan sandies–almost any kind. There’s none of the busywork that was necessary 100 years ago. I throw everything in at once and process it until a soft, smooth dough has formed. It really is that easy! Even the most crumbly dough will come together beautifully. One caveat: things like nuts and chocolate chips need to be added manually unless you want them to be finely ground. I never roll cookies out anymore either. We are all adults, so I just use plastic wrap to form the dough into logs and chill them prior to slicing and baking. SO much faster for us busy cooks.

  129. geekgirl

    I had forgotten about this post but came across it again last night while searching for the nutmeg maple butter cookies. I tried it today and it worked really well with these cookies. I especially loved it because I was having to do other things in between cutting out cookies so I just kept the slabs in the freezer and did one sheet at a time. Thank you!

  130. Julie

    I feel like you explained the tredful task in words as it is in my mind of rolling dough haha. I have 2 small children that love to decorate and cut cookies with icing, sprinkles, the works. Rolling the dough is daunting to me since I was a kid myself. It has always been my least favorite part. I am SO excited to try this and hopefully want to do it more often than I do now.

  131. Lyndal Gibbs

    Deb, this recipe is a miracle! I have made it twice now, and the only complaint is that they got eaten so quickly we didn’t have a chance to decorate them! I added some spices for my Christmas cookies, and they were perfection. This is a really great recipe for a hot South African Christmas – no melty, icky dough.
    Thank you sooooo much!

  132. Marilyn

    I haven’t made sugar cookies in years, because they’re such a pain. After reading your post, I just might make some this winter!