Yes, I’m Jewish and grew up celebrating Hanukkah. But my family also has a few beloved Christmas traditions too, like roasting chestnuts and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.” (There were even a couple years when my mom gave us the okay to hang stockings.) And yet, nothing beats my favorite holiday activity—making spritz cookies, those delicate, sugar-dusted, whimsically-shaped buttery biscuits.
I remember the day my mother found the spritz gun; she was digging around in the pantry and finally emerged with an ancient—okay, more like vintage—box in her hands. It had never been used and was still wrapped in kitschy, ‘60s-era packaging. I had no clue what it was, but she seemed unusually excited about it. “It’s a cookie press,” she told me.
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OXO Good Grips Cookie Press with Stainless Steel Disks and Storage Case, $29.95 on Amazon
You can still make charming and uniform cookies at home with this modern spritz cookie press.
We flipped through the accompanying recipe book together, whipped up a light buttery batter, loaded it into the press and practiced making flowers, hearts, and Christmas trees until we got them just right. (It’s almost like making shapes with a Play-Doh machine and takes some practice.) I think the best part was decorating them with pastel sprinkles and green sanding sugar. Okay, that’s a lie—the best part is eating them once they’ve cooled from the oven.
You know those big blue tins of Danish butter cookies? Spritz cookies are like those, but better, because they’re not sitting in a tin can for months on end. If you’re looking to do some easy baking but want to turn out the kind of aesthetically pleasing cookies that will make you look like a pro on Instagram, these are for you. Here’s how to get started with a spritz cookie press.
Since it’s the kind of gadget you’ll use over and over again, be sure to find a cookie press that’s easy-to-use and won’t fall apart. While vintage-design cookie presses can still be found online, there are several modern options sold by OXO and Valuetools that work well and are reasonably priced.
When you’re ready to start using your spritz, press the cookie directly onto an ungreased metal baking sheet that’s no warmer than room temperature (or you can even chill it in the refrigerator). Also, know that mixing is key for this type of cookie. It’s best to use either a stand mixer or electric mixer for these recipes.
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A boon to all your baking projects.
As tempted as you may be to try your favorite cookie recipe in a press, don’t—especially if it’s a refrigerated dough. Instead, stick to making a cookie recipe designed specifically for use in a cookie press.
Make sure your press is clean, since leftover dough can easily get stuck in the nooks and crannies. If you’re using a new press, gently wash it out with warm water and let it dry completely.
When you’re ready to use your cookie press, simply place a design disc on one end, fill the canister with dough, seal the other end, place the tip down against the baking sheet and either press the button or twist (depending on your press’s mechanics) to get the dough to come out through the disc-end.
It may take some practice to get it right but pretty soon, you’ll be making uniform cookies like a master.
Like most cookies, these will keep for several days in a sealed container placed in a cool, dry spot. To help them last longer, either refrigerate or freeze them.
With just seven ingredients, this recipe is easy to follow and a great place to start if you’ve never tried using a cookie press before. If you’re worried they’ll be boring, remember that you can bedazzle them with any combination of sprinkles, food coloring, and decorating sugar. Get the Classic Spritz Cookies recipe.
While this particular recipe was adapted to be made with a pastry bag and star tip, you can still use it in your cookie press. Cream cheese adds an addictive richness to the dough, and is the perfect accompaniment to the raspberry jam in each cookie’s center. Get our Cream Cheese Pinwheels recipe.
Basically, Christmas in cookie form. Made with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar and molasses, these tend to brown up quickly, so keep an eye on them to avoid burnt edges. Get the Cookie Press Gingersnap Cookies recipe.
Completely DeliciousWhile they’re often associated with Christmas, spritz cookies can be made any time of year. This recipe, made with lemon zest, lemon extract, and topped with a lemony glaze, could also work at a summer picnic. Get the Lemon Spritz Cookies recipe.
Looking for a lighter version of the beloved peanut butter kiss cookie? This recipe calls for similar ingredients—peanut butter, brown sugar and chocolate—but, once baked, offers a more tender, delicate crumb than the original. Get the Peanut Butter Spritz Cookie recipe.
Got a cookie-lover in your life who can’t eat gluten or dairy? Try making this version, which uses shortening, gluten-free flour, and gluten-free baking powder for a batter that’s soft and light. If you’re not a fan of almond extract, you can replace it with vanilla instead. Get the Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Almond Spritz Cookies recipe.
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If sprinkles aren’t your thing, try dipping your cookies in melted chocolate, instead. This recipe also calls for using yogurt to get a softer texture once the cookie is baked, and the flavor is brightened with the addition of orange zest. Get the Chocolate-Orange Yogurt Spritz Cookie recipe.
Related Video: How to Make Your Holiday Cookies Really Sparkle
Header image courtesy of Monica Fecke / Moment Open / Getty Images