Christmas is all about family, friends... and baking. Discover the recipes, tips, and techniques you need for your best holiday baking ever.
The complete guide:

Christmas Baking

It's beginning to look a lot like... holiday baking!

Ah, Christmas! Cookie exchanges and holiday luncheons, gift shopping and party hopping, trimming the tree, putting up lights — it's no wonder you find yourself running short on both time and energy.

Here's rule #1: Take the time to enjoy it. At the end of the day, Christmas is all about love, and family, and glowing lights brightening the darkest month of the year. And baking — boy, is Christmas ever about baking!

Whether you're putting together 22 beribboned cookie gift plates for your nearest and dearest, or making your mom's treasured fruitcake recipe (yes, fruitcake!), you'll need to be on top of your game throughout this special season. So hang the wreath, and jingle those bells — Christmas baking season's here!

...hang the wreath, and jingle those bells — Christmas baking season's here!

Shipping baked treats

Planning on shipping your cookies, brownies, and candy to far-away friends and family this holiday season? Read our tips for packing and shipping holiday treats.

Bake and freeze

When your baking list is long but time is short, the freezer is your best friend. Plan ahead, and you can have cookies, breakfast treats, party appetizers, even dinner rolls ready to go well ahead of time. Check our blog for freeze & bake tips, and freeze & bake rolls tips.

On the first day of Christmas...

Holiday baking preparations can start as early as 6 to 8 weeks or more before Christmas Day. Recipes can be chosen, supplies checked, and even some of the actual food — for instance, cookie dough and pie — can be made ahead and frozen. Here are some tips for getting a head start on the holidays.

  • Make a baking timeline; post it on your fridge.
  • Select your recipes; buy or order any specialty ingredients. We've got you covered.
  • Make a gift list — who's getting what?
  • For best selection, shop early for gift packaging and delivery supplies.
  • Bake your fruitcake; brush it with syrup every few weeks.
  • Clean out your freezer to make room for freeze-and-bake treats.
  • Check the freshness of your baking supplies (yeast and baking powder especially).

Christmas cookies: the star of the show

The most universally observed Christmas baking tradition? Cookies, of course. Be they simple ginger cookies or beautifully crafted works of edible art, cookies take center stage.

Here's everything you need to know to make pretty cookie-cutter Christmas cookies, from the perfect recipes to icing and decorating techniques. Read our guide to cookie decorating.

Favorites for the cookie swap

Beyond cookies —

Candy

Homemade candy is the perfect complement to cookies on a holiday gift plate. Or wrap candies in their own pretty little gift boxes; either way, no one says no to candy!

Plan-ahead breakfasts

No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is gathered around the tree opening presents. Thankfully, there are plenty of special breakfast dishes that can be prepared ahead of time, then simply baked to order on Christmas morning. Plan and prep now — relax later!

We're not the only ones planning to relax on Christmas Day. Check out the prep-ahead holiday breakfasts on our blog recommended by some of our blogger friends around the country.

Holiday breads

Many cultures feature bread as the centerpiece of their holiday celebrations. But you don't have to be Italian to enjoy panettone; bread is a welcome addition to any table. Here are some of our Christmas favorites.

And finally... fruitcake!

The undeserved subject of many a joke, homemade fruitcake — moist, sweet, and stuffed with your favorite fruits and nuts — is a cake worth making and sharing.

Why do people make fruitcakes months in advance — don't they go stale? No, not at all. That's the lovely thing about fruitcake: the longer it sits, the better it gets. Brushed with a simple syrup (flavored, plain, or touched with rum or brandy), fruitcake stays moist and delicious for months. For those not afraid to take it seriously, fruitcake is the perfect make-ahead gift.

Troubleshooting

Once the Christmas countdown begins, there's no room for error. Those cookies and cakes, breads and candy simply have to turn out perfectly first time out — no do-overs. Experiencing a baking "challenge"? Contact our Baker's Hotline: we can help, right on up to December 24.

While we're a wealth of holiday baking knowledge, we're here for you year-round. Our seasoned staff of bakers knows bread and pizza, cookies and cake, scones and biscuits and muffins. If you can't figure out why your cupcakes crumble or your sourdough isn't sour enough, we can help. We're available via phone, email, or live chat 7 days a week.