The 7 Elements of a Successful Cookie Plate

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

How hard can assembling a successful cookie platter really be? Aren’t you just putting cookies onto a plate and calling it a day? Well, there are more things to consider than you might think.

Luckily, these tricks and tips will help you create the perfect, most stunning and well-thought-out cookie platter. And with the holidays right around the corner, there is no better time to learn and be inspired than now!

1. There’s plenty of variety.

Just like a cheese board, cookie plates need a variety of textures, flavors, and shapes to create a balanced cookie experience that will not be forgotten. You want each cookie to stand out and live a story of its own. Include cookies that are crispy, chewy, shaped into balls, cut out into snowmen, filled with frosting or ganache — there are endless possibilities. Just make sure you mix it up and let each cookie step up to the plate!

Some suggestions:

2. The cookies are familiar and nostalgic.

The platter should feel approachable and familiar to guests or recipients, with the goal to make people feel warm and fuzzy when they go to reach for a treat. How do you do that? By filling it with (mostly) recognizable cookies that people know and love. With that said, strike the balance of what’s familiar to you, too. Got a family cookie tradition? Showcase it here! Are you known for your rugelach? Bake up a batch! These inclusions can add a nice personal touch.

3. There are five types.

How do you choose between thumbprints and sandwich cookies? Or snickerdoodles and gingerbread cookies? These are hard decisions! But they must be made. More than five options on a single plate and each cookie is stealing the other’s thunder. Plus, this will make your life easier when it comes down to the actual baking.

4. You’re mindful of allergies.

Not to be a buzzkill, but there’s one very important thing when it comes to assembling a cookie platter: People are allergic to lots of things these days. You’re not expected to cater to everyone — that’s impossible! — but with the rise of allergies, it’s crucial to take this into consideration. Some of the best cookies are made with nuts — peanut butter cookies, white chocolate macadamia, Mexican wedding cookies, the list goes on. And almost all of the most well-known cookies are far from being gluten-free.

Nonetheless, the ideal cookie plate could have a nut-free option, as well as a gluten-free option (arranged slightly separate from the others to avoid cross-contamination if possible). No can do? Just make sure you label those with nuts. Which leads us to the next tip …

5. You’ve labeled everything.

People want to know what they’re looking at and what they’re eating. Don’t keep them guessing! Plus, including labels or a little key will keep you from repeating the list many times over. This is another opportunity to be creative and add flair to the cookie experience, so have fun with it. And don’t forget to include specific allergy notes. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Cookies are the definition of joy! Let’s keep it that way.

6. You’ve properly packaged or displayed them.

Now that you have your cookies ready to go, the cherry on top is how you present said cookies. Don’t have an insanely cute holiday plate or a festive platter? That’s okay! Cake stands, wood cutting boards, and shallow wooden crates work wonderfully, too! Or you can add a bit of je ne sais quoi to any vessel by lining it with brown parchment or butcher paper. If using a rectangular platter, stack the cookies by type in straight lines. If you have a round platter on hand, stack from the center out like rays of sunlight.

If you’re packing up your cookies as gifts to go, consider cardboard treat boxes instead of tins, so that people don’t feel obligated to return the container.

7. You have a way to make the cookies extra merry.

Having options to wash all those cookies down with is a major bonus! Serve milk for the traditionalists (and any kids), and booze for other folks. Mulled wine or cider is always a nice, festive option. Hot toddies, light-bodied wine, and bubbly work, too.

Get on board with mulled wine: Why Mulled Wine Is the Sangria of Winter

Now that you’ve set yourself up for success, find as many reasons this holiday season to make a show-stopper cookie platter! No time to bake? Store-bought cookies are just fine. Don’t even think twice about it!