My wife and I make and hand out 30 to 40 dozen Christmas cookies every year. So to meet that goal, I cheat. I use some package cookie mixes. There are some cookies I would never look for shortcuts. There is a line between quality and quantity and the risk and rewards of taking shortcuts. Here are some of the mixes I use. Below I will give the reasoning and insight.
Now, I add extra baking powder or baking soda/cream of tartar to most mixes; who knows how old the stuff in the package is. I also add vanilla or other flavors to freshen up the cookies. The last thing I do is hand the cookies over to my wife to frost and decorate, so all evidence of their packaged origin is hidden forever. So, my secret weapons are extracts like vanilla, chocolate vodka, peppermint extract; dried fruit; chocolate chips including white and butterscotch; nuts, and lots of icing and sparkle sugars all gussying up the humble package cookies.
Chocolate chocolate cookie mixes – I add either more chocolate, peppermint, or caramel to these mixes to produce good cookies. Now, I don’t add leavening to these because the chocolate chunks provide structure, and lift isn’t needed. I do add flavor like candy canes and caramel.
Peanut butter mixes – Consistency is the big draw here. Speed too. Quality is good if you use Betty Crocker, so I use them every year for peanut butter blossoms or thumbprints. The best part is no one can tell I didn’t do it from scratch. This year I added jelly to do a pb & j cookies.
Sugar cookie mix – I use this for pinwheels and some quick sugar cookies. Now, if you are doing sugar cookies, add two tablespoons of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. For softer cookies, add 1 tablespoon of rice flour. The pinwheels recipe I have listed below.
Oatmeal mix – Now, I make oatmeal raisin without the raisins because I switch out for cranberry and orange zest. You can also use dry fruit with this mix to do a fruitcake cookie.
Gingerbread mixes – This one presents a problem because some boxes say “cookie and gingerbread mix;” these make good gingerbread, but bad cookies. Look for gingerbread cookie mix only. The gingerbread cookie mixes need more baking soda but make pretty good cookies.
I do not use snickerdoodles mixes because they always come out flat and don’t contain near enough cinnamon. If you insist on using the mix, use Crisco and not butter. Now, I have done chai tea snickerdoodles with a lot of spice and flavor; the recipe is on this blog. Another mix that has disappointed me is chocolate chip (they come out flat and lifeless). The fruit cookies like apple caramel have never come out well for me either.
I hope this guide gives you some ideas and saves you some time.