We asked a world-class baker for tips on how anyone can level up their holiday cookie game

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Boudewijn advises, “Put yourself in a great mood before baking. Equipment will sense your stress and will malfunction.”

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While the holidays make some people giddy with excitement over family traditions and putting up decorations, others dream about sprinkles, chocolate chips and cookie cutters. During the holidays, over-the-top sweet treats flow freely, diets are temporarily put on pause and kids eat more sugar than usually allowed. This time of year is also known to be stressful, especially for those tasked with the job of churning out a never-ending supply of holiday cookies. But, with the right tools and techniques, it doesn’t have to be.

We asked our baking expert, Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef Andrea Boudewijn, for her best tips for making holiday cookies more impressive and less stressful. Whether you’re a seasoned holiday baker or this is your first foray into making holiday cookies, these off-the-radar tips will help you take your cookie game up another level this year.

Tips to make holiday cookies like a pro

The first tip for kicking your holiday baking up a notch is easier said than done. Boudewijn advises, “Put yourself in a great mood before baking. Equipment will sense your stress and will malfunction.” Once you’re relaxed, it’s time to start preparing.

Prepare ahead of time

Home cooks don’t often consider all of the elements they can prepare ahead of time to make life easier. “Make your dough a day ahead,” Boudewijn says. “Batters do well a day ahead, too. Roll your balls a day ahead and store them in an airtight container, like a deli cup.” She also noted a few other preparations that can be done ahead of time, including mixing cinnamon sugar, toasting nuts, making glazes and simmering dried fruits in wine.

Use the right tools and ingredients

High up on the list of tips to take your holiday cookie game up another level is to use the right tools and ingredients. A few suggestions are no-brainers, like lining your baking sheets with parchment paper to reduce burning. It also makes cleanup a breeze.

Boudewijn also recommends using rimless cooking sheets. “It’s important to take cookies off the rack quickly, and it’s easier to slide them off on a rimless cookie sheet.”

One expert tool tip Boudewijn offers is to use an oven thermometer to ensure accurate temperatures since ovens start to cool as soon as they reach the desired temperature. “So, you open up the oven to put the cookies in, and it’s cooling at that point because it thinks it’s 350. It will drop down to 340, sometimes 330. If it does drop down a little bit, maybe you bump it up to 355 to keep it a little bit warmer.”

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of quality ingredients. “Splurge on high-end ingredients,” Boudewijn says, naming a few products like Madagascar vanilla or pistachios instead of peanuts. She also suggests not skimping on the full-fat milk. “You need that fat to make the cookie good.”

Our baking expert’s favorite kitchen tools for making holiday treats

The Sugar Lab Confectioner’s Sugar

The Sugar Lab Confectioner’s Sugar

Our baking expert recommends dusting sanding sugar on sugar cookies instead of granulated sugar because it creates a snow effect on cookies that makes them pretty.

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AcuRite Stainless Steel Oven Thermometer

AcuRite Stainless Steel Oven Thermometer

This oven thermometer sits inside the oven to help you keep the most accurate track of the oven temperature. 

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Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker

Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker

Making your own ice cream at home allows you to create flavors you can’t find in the grocery store. With this machine, you can make two quarts of ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt in 25 minutes.

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SUMO Ice Cream Scoop

SUMO Ice Cream Scoop

You don’t have to worry about bending spoons anymore with this ice cream scoop. It has an easy-grip handle with a chiseled tip to slice through any ice cream.

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Staub Ceramic 9-inch Pie Dish

Staub Ceramic 9-inch Pie Dish

This pie plate has a scratch- and stain-resistant finish with a polished rim that won’t scuff surfaces or cooktops. Andrea recommends putting your pie in the oven during dinner so it will be warm when you’re ready to eat dessert. 

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DuraHome Food Storage Containers

DuraHome Food Storage Containers

Deli cups are useful for storing any dough, batter or cookie balls that you make ahead of time. They come in three different sizes and are also dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe. 

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Lenox Serveware Cake Knife and Server

Lenox Serveware Cake Knife and Server

This cake knife and server are silver plated with a fancy cut pattern. Any pie or cake you made will be served in style.

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Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Large Cookie Sheet

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Large Cookie Sheet

With a nonstick coating, cookies will slide off this rimless baking sheet with ease. The aluminum will never rust and allows for superior heat conductivity.

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Salter Digital Kitchen Weighing Scale

Salter Digital Kitchen Weighing Scale

Weighing your ingredients will give the most accurate and consistent results every time. It can switch between metric grams and imperial ounces or pounds.

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Bre Richey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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