Holiday Cookie Baking with Kids

By Deanna F. Cook

As a kids’ cookbook author, cooking teacher, and mom, it’s a treat for me to watch children roll up their sleeves, measure flour, mix up dough and bake cookies from scratch.

When their baked goods come out of the oven smelling yummy, they are proud of what they’ve made and always happy to share their kitchen gifts with friends, teachers, grandparents—and me (thankfully!).

I’m a big advocate of teaching kids the important life skill of cooking. When kids cook or bake, they learn where food comes from—and practice math, science and reading. Baking from scratch is eye opening for kids. They get to see the fascinating transformation of a liquid into a batter into a solid and find out what ingredients make up their favorite desserts.

The holidays are an ideal time to get kids baking. Instead of shopping at the mall, stay home and spend the day together baking treats for teachers and coaches. Depending on their age, your kids can do most of the baking on their own with a little guidance from you. They’ll feel independent and proud of the treats they made all by themselves.

Try this Sweet & Simple Sugar Cookies recipe this holiday. Happy baking!

Sweet & Simple Sugar Cookies

This basic recipe can be rolled out and cut into lots of different shapes with cookie cutters. They are lots of fun to decorate with frosting, sprinkles, and candies. Look at the photos for creative ways to shape and design your cookies.

Makes: about 2 dozen

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour

Buttercream frosting (see recipe), optional


  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Beat in the egg. Then mix in vanilla.
  2. Slowly mix in the flour, and continue mixing until a soft dough forms.
  3. Turn the dough out onto the countertop, and pat into two balls. Flatten each into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1/2 hour (or up to 4 days).
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Working with one disk at a time, roll out the dough about 1/8 inch thick.
  5. Cut out cookies with cookie cutters, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  6. Cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Decorate with buttercream frosting, if desired. Store cooled cookies in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

Variation: Craving cocoa? Make chocolate cookies by adding 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder in Step 2.


Top your cookies with this sweet smooth frosting. Tint the whole batch a favorite color with food coloring, or divide the recipe into four batches and tint each a different color.

Makes: 3 cups

1 cup butter, at room temperature

3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoons milk

  1. Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until it’s nice and creamy.
  2. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, mixing at low speed.
  3. Add the vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the milk, and mix at low speed.
  4. Mix until the frosting is smooth and creamy. If it’s too thick, you can add more milk a bit at a time to make it more spreadable.

Use these tips to de-stress your holiday season

From a mom of SEVEN who knows

Deanna F. Cook is an award-winning author books for kids and has been the creative development director at FamilyFun and an editor at Scholastic, Disney and She is currently an acquisitions editor at Storey Publishing and lives in western Massachusetts.

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