14 Cookie Baking and Decorating Essentials You Need This Holiday Season

Before you start mixing, rolling, and decorating, make sure you have the right gear on hand.

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ideal sugar cookies
Photo: Alpha Smoot

Sugar cookies, shortbread, gingerbread, peanut butter blossoms, and macaroons—no matter what kind of holiday cookies you're famous for, they'll turn out better (and be easier to make) if you have the correct tools. Martha's mantra has long been "the right tool for the job," so we've gathered all the proper equipment you need for Christmas cookie baking and decorating.

This is the gear you'll need for measuring ingredients accurately, mixing your dough with ease, scooping it up or rolling it out, spacing it evenly, stopping it from sticking when you bake, and decorating your finished cookies like a pro. Know someone who loves to bake? These items make great gifts, too.

The Best Baking Essentials For Holiday Baking

Best Stand Mixer: KitchenAid Artisan Design Series Blossom Stand Mixer

KitchenAid® Artisan Design Series Blossom Stand Mixer
Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

The KitchenAid stand mixer is a classic for a reason: No other countertop model is as durable or user-friendly. Baking with it makes sweets faster and easier to pull off—no more aching arms from whipping egg whites for meringues or marshmallows or combining sugar and butter for cookie dough. This soft gray-green version with its hammered copper bowl would look right at home in Martha's own kitchen.

Best Hand Mixer: Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed Hand Mixer with Storage Case

Cuisinart HM-90S Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed Handheld Mixer with Storage Case
Courtesy of Amazon

Everyone needs a reliable hand mixer, even if you already have a stand iteration. Cuisinart's offerings give you more power for beating, combining, and fluffing, and they last for years. (One of our editor's is somehow over a decade old and still going strong.) The clear cover that snaps onto this model's housing holds the beaters, ensuring you'll never lose valuable kitchen time looking for them again.

Best Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls: OXO Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls Nesting 3-Piece Set in Grey/Blue

OXO Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls Nesting 3-Piece Set in Grey/Blue
Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

Some recipes, like meringues, call for stainless steel mixing bowls. They just won't get the same height or heft if you use ceramic or silicon, which can hold onto residual oils. This trusty nesting set from Oxo is easier to grip than the shallower, wider restaurant-style version, with a wider rim and nonslip base. They're the perfect partners to your hand mixer and can even be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Best Dry Measuring Cups: King Arthur Baking Measuring Cups

Measuring Cups
Courtesy of King Arthur Baking

For flour, sugar, and other dry ingredients, you need accurate measuring cups. Trust the experts at King Arthur Baking to master the form. These stainless steel beauties have heavy-duty handles that are rounded for easier gripping and have deeply engraved numbers that won't rub off. They're designed to nestle snugly inside each other so none go astray and the handles won't stick up and get stuck in your drawer—genius.

Best Liquid Measuring Cups: Pyrex 3-Piece Glass Measuring Cup Set

Pyrex 3 Piece Glass Measuring Cup Set, Includes 1-Cup, 2-Cup, and 4-Cup Tempered Glass Liquid Measuring Cups, Dishwasher, Freezer, Microwave, and Preheated Oven Safe, Essential Kitchen Tools
Courtesy of Amazon

Count this Pyrex trio among your forever gear. Right now, you'll use them for measuring milk, buttermilk, cream, and oil for cookie dough. And after your cookie marathon, you'll turn to them all the time, not just for baking but for daily cooking.

The red marks read clearly, and the spout pours neatly for fewer spills. The set has 1-cup, 2-cup, and 4-cup tempered glass measuring cups. They are dishwasher safe and so indestructible, you'll wonder how you ever managed without them.

Best Measuring Spoons: Sur La Table Spice Measuring Spoons, Set of 6

Sur La Table Spice Measuring Spoons, Set Of 6
Courtesy of Sur La Table

Pro tip: Look for rectangular, not round, measuring spoons. They'll fit inside even the narrowest-necked spice jars with nary a snag, and they're a bit deeper so you're less likely to spill precious ingredients like pure vanilla extract or maple syrup.

We prefer stainless steel to plastic or silicon because the metal won't take on colors (hello, turmeric) and tends to last longer. This dishwasher-safe set comes on a ring that makes it especially easy to take off the sizes you need.

Best Cookie Dough Scoops: Crate & Barrel Cookie Dough Scoops, Set of 3

Cookie Dough Scoops, Set of 3
Courtesy of Crate & Barrel

You may not be competing on any internationally-acclaimed baking shows, but you'll feel proud if the cookies you share this holiday season are exactly the same shape and size. A cookie scoop makes this effortless.

This set is made of highly polished stainless steel and includes three sizes. They make a very satisfying sound when you release the spring-loaded handle and clean up easily in the dishwasher.

Best Rolling Pin: JK Adams French Rolling Dowel

French Rolling Dowel, 20.5" x 3/4"
Courtesy of Martha

We like solid wood for rolling out our dough and crusts. When you condition it regularly with food-grade mineral oil or beeswax, even the stickiest pastry and cookie doughs come right off. This classic, award-winning JK Adams tapered dowel version is as beautiful as the company's cutting boards. It's an affordable heirloom-worthy piece you'll appreciate every time you roll out a batch of sugar cookie dough.

Best Cookie Cutters: Ateco Rounded Stainless Steel Cookie Cutter Set

Rounded Stainless Steel Cookie Cutter Set
Courtesy of Martha

Invite the whole gang over to bake—and tell them you'll provide the cookie cutters. This 33-piece set has cutters that are smooth and fluted or round and oval, and includes all the standard sizes. You'll get crisp edges every time, which is super satisfying if you've been using a glass to punch out your cookies. Wash them by hand as directed, and they'll last you a lifetime.

Best Nonstick Baking Mat: Silpat Perfect Cookie Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat

Silpat Perfect Cookie Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat, 11-5/8" x 16-1/2"
Courtesy of Amazon

Every home baker need to have at least one of these silicone mats in their arsenal. More sustainable and even easier to use than parchment paper and butter or oil for prepping a baking sheet, they ensure every batch slides right off with a perfectly crisp and browned bottom. We like this version for holiday baking because it has rings to help you space cookies just right (and to ensure you don't waste any space on the pan). Any residual baked-on batter slides off too—just give it a quick wash and rinse by hand, and it's ready for the next batch.

Best Cookie Sheet: Great Jones Sheet Show in Broccoli, Set of 3

Sheet Show Green Cookie Sheets
Courtesy of Great Jones Goods

The fun, festive green isn't the only great thing about these Great Jones cookie sheets. They have a nonstick coating baked right in. That means you don't need parchment, butter, or oil to prep. We always opt for rimmed baking sheets so we don't lose any cookies when we turn away from the oven. This set of three includes one half-size and two quarter-size pans—enough for a couple of batches of cookies.

Best Cooling Rack: Nordic Ware Oven-Safe Nonstick Baking & Cooling Grid

Nordic Ware 43343 Oven Safe Nonstick Baking & Cooling Grid (1/2 Sheet), One Size, Steel
Courtesy of Amazon

Depending on how many batches of cookies you're baking this year, you might want to invest in more than one of these handy cooling racks. They are truly essential for cooling baked goods and can come in handy when you're decorating cookies, too.

Best Piping Tips: Wilton 22pc Decorating Piping Tip Set

Wilton 22pc Decorating Piping Tip Set
Courtesy of Target

Whether you're a pro at piping or planning to give it a try for the first time this year, this dishwasher-safe set has what you need to succeed. It includes all the basic tips—round, star, petal, and leaf tips—plus specialty ones and an easy-to-use universal coupler to connect them to your decorating bag. Your gingerbread men just got an upgrade.

Best Decorating Bag: Wilton Professional Decorating Bag, 16-Inch

Wilton Professional Decorating Bag, 16-Inch
Courtesy of Amazon

You can go through a lot of disposable plastic icing bags in one holiday season. Why not give a reusable one a try? This one from Wilton fits most tips and is dishwasher safe or easy to rinse in the sink. And you just might find that you get a better grip on its polyester surface, which means you have more control for precise decorating. Get your gingerbread house ready! We're coming over.

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