Family, Kids & Relationships

One easy recipe with endless flavors to try with kids on Bake Cookies Day

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It’s always a great time for cookies, but since December 18 is Bake Cookies Day worldwide, there’s even more reason to make some sweet treats!

Baking with kids is great for bonding, and helps with practical math skills like measuring—so be sure to get the whole family in on the fun. It’s easy to get started with this simple, basic cookie recipe—then keep reading to discover great ways to personalize them and take your cookie creations to the next level!

Getting started

Baking with kids can have its challenges, but with a little planning you can skip the stress and focus on the fun!

  • If you don’t have cookie cutters, you can use a drinking glass for round cookies, or fold a piece of aluminum foil into a long, sturdy strip and bend it into any shape you like.
  • Use big bowls for mixing, so there are fewer chances for spills.
  • Have damp cloths on hand to wipe up small messes as they happen, so they don’t spread.
  • Appreciate the imperfections—kids’ cookies are unlikely to be perfect, but resist the urge to “fix” their designs and let their creativity run free!

Our favorite basic cookie recipe

More on dressing these cookies up in just a minute, but start by gathering these ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Use those ingredients to make this simple dough:

  • Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes, with an electric mixer). Mix in the egg and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the flour and salt together.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir them together.
  • Now, pick your fancy flavors!

Make each batch unique with these mix-ins—if you have more than one child, give them each a portion of the dough to add their favorites:

  • S’mores (mini marshmallows + chocolate chips)
  • Sprinkles
  • Crushed candy canes
  • M&Ms or chopped up candy bars
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Pretzels or potato chips
  • A few spoonfuls of peanut butter

Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a well-floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out your shapes with cookie cutters (chill the dough again if it starts to get too soft). You can combine the scraps and reroll to make more cookies.

Arrange cookies 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and chill again for 15 minutes. 

Bake cookies until golden brown at edges, 16-18 minutes.

Bonus ideas!

Ready to take it to the next level? Try one of these ideas to make the next batch extra special.

  • Use another, smaller cookie cutter in the center of half your cookies. After baking, put icing on the whole cookies and add a cookie with a “window” cut out on top.
  • Mix up icing (powdered sugar + just a splash of milk), tint it with food coloring, and brush or drip it on cooled cookies.
  • Dip one end of baked and cooled cookies in melted white chocolate.
  • Flatten cookie dough into a rectangle, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and then roll into a log. Chill the cookie log until firm, slice 1/4-inch thick and bake into cinnamon pinwheels.

Dealing with school closures, childcare issues, or other challenges related to coronavirus? Find support, advice, activities to keep kids entertained, learning opportunities and more in our Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic Facebook Group.

For ongoing updates on coronavirus-related issues and questions that impact children and families, please find additional resources here.