You know what’s more important than football season or basketball season? Holiday season. Specifically, the holiday baking season. We’ve got a full roster: breads, cakes, pies, and cookies all crowding the bench, ready to play. And this year, we’ve scouted the field and analyzed the stats, and we’re ready to crown this season’s MVP: slice-and-bake cookies.
They’re not as flashy as Patrick Mahomes or as unique as Giannis; instead, they’re routinely, reliably there, year in and year out, so consistently great that we take them for granted. Call them the Lebron of cookie baking.
Why slice-and-bake cookies are the ideal holiday bake
Baking a lot this month? Whip up a big batch of slice-and-bake cookie dough, then slip the tightly wrapped log into the freezer. It will be there all month, ready whenever you are. Forgot about tomorrow’s holiday party? Need a last-minute gift? Have unexpected guests coming to town? Pull out that dough, slice off however many cookies you need, and bake.
But even beyond convenience, there’s something so quintessentially festive about slice-and-bake cookies. Studded with mix-ins, like these Pistachio-Crusted Icebox Cookies, they make a stunning addition to any cookie plate. They can be nostalgic and comforting, like Dorie Greenspan’s famous World Peace Cookies (widely considered the GOAT of slice-and-bakes). And seasonal flavors abound, from cranberry and rosemary to chocolate and peppermint. With a sturdy texture and flat shape, they can easily be packed into boxes to drop off across town or ship across the country.
The tool you need to make your cookies great
We love slice-and-bake cookies so much that we created a whole new product designed for them: this Slice-and-Bake Cookie Dough Keeper Set. This flexible silicone mold is designed to shape and store your favorite cookie dough in the refrigerator or freezer until you're ready to slice and bake.
To use, simply roll your cookie dough into an 11" long, approximately 1 1/4" thick log. Place the log into the base of the keeper and securely close the lid. For easy identification, label the lid with the recipe name and date, then refrigerate or freeze the dough for future use. When the time comes to bake, remove the log from the keeper and slice along the score marks (which ensure all cookies turn out uniform). Arrange the cookie slices on a baking sheet and bake according to your recipe's instructions.
Three new slice-and-bake cookie recipes
In anticipation of the busiest baking time of the year (and in celebration of the product that makes it even easier), our Test Kitchen developed three new seasonal slice-and-bake recipes:
Cranberry-Studded Melted Butter Shortbread: These crumbly cookies are fragrant with rosemary and pack a tart-sweet punch with dried cranberries, but what really makes them stand apart is the butter. Using melted butter in the dough provides all the tenderness of traditional shortbread, but there’s no waiting for your butter to reach room temperature or need to cream it with sugar.
Salty-Sweet Sablés: These French-inspired cookies are truly the best of both worlds: packed with savory umami from Parmesan and slightly sweet thanks to a dash of sugar. They straddle the line between salty and sweet effortlessly, making them the perfect accompaniment to a cheese plate or a cocktail.
Peppermint Bark Cookies: With their smooth meltaway texture and lingering minty finish, these slice-and-bake cookies feature all of the traditional components of peppermint bark: deep chocolate flavor, creamy white chocolate, and crunchy, refreshing peppermint.
Tips to bake the best slice-and-bake cookies
How can I get my cookie dough log to be circular, instead of square?
A key step to making slice-and-bake cookies is forming the dough into a round log. Except, sometimes that can be harder to achieve than it sounds, and you end up with a log that’s not round: It’s a square or a triangle or some unholy combination of curved and straight sides.
That’s where the Slice-and-Bake Cookie Dough Keeper comes in handy: The sturdy silicone mold shapes your cookie dough into an even circular shape and keeps it that way while chilling.
But if you don’t have this tool, you can achieve perfectly circular logs of dough with just some parchment paper and a bench knife. Test Kitchen Director Sarah Jampel explains how in her post on her go-to trick for perfectly round logs of cookie dough: Basically, you use a piece of parchment to gently smooth the dough log against the straight side of a bench knife, rounding out its edges.
And to keep your dough log round while chilling, you can slip it into a paper towel roll to give it some support and prevent it from getting malformed in the fridge or freezer. (If the dough log is fatter than the paper towel roll, you can just slice the cardboard roll down its side.)
My slice-and-bake cookies always crumble apart when I slice them — help!
This is the one true downside to slice-and-bake cookies — when you slice the chilled dough, it sometimes breaks apart, ruining your perfectly circular cookie. To ensure a clean cut, make sure to use a very sharp knife. Recipe Developer David Turner recommends a serrated knife and advises: “Apply even pressure while simultaneously pressing downward and drawing the knife blade through the dough in a single stroke. A back-and-forth sawing motion encourages crumbling and should be avoided.”
Senior Recipe Developer Molly Marzalek-Kelly adds, “Be firm when shaping your cookie log! If the dough isn't compacted evenly, then you're likely to see more air pockets, which can result in wonky, crumbly slices. Using the silicone cookie shaper is a great way to guarantee that your dough will be tightly packed.”
She also notes that temperature can cause a crumbly slice. “If you try and slice dough that is rock hard, it can be tricky to get consistent slices. Letting the dough sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes can be beneficial here; you don't want the dough to be too hard so you can't easily slice it, but you don't want the dough to be too soft so that it imprints on the cutting board and you get uneven circles.”
And if (when!) your cookie dough still inevitably breaks apart, simply use your hands to gently squish it back together into a cohesive circle. They’ll be just fine to bake — cookies are meant to be rustic, not perfect, after all.
My cookies always spread while they bake
“This usually comes down to temperature — both of the dough and the oven,” says David. “Ensure your oven is set to the temperature indicated in the recipe. The dial is not always right; an inexpensive oven thermometer is your friend!” As for the cookie dough: “If the recipe doesn't already call for a chilling step before baking, consider refrigerating sliced cookies for 20 to 30 minutes to help prevent spread while baking.”
Molly also says that too much sugar in the recipe can be the culprit. “If you’re consistently seeing too much cookie spread, try reducing the sugar by 10%. You'd be surprised what a small adjustment might do!” She also recommends baking on parchment paper, since an overly greased baking sheet can often be the cause of too much cookie spread.
Looking for more cookie inspiration? Check out our 43 classic holiday and Christmas cookies to bake.