Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s top baking tips for the holidays

(Sarah Lim / )
The Daily Meal

Ree Drummond is not afraid to use premade doughs and shortcuts to help with her holiday baking. That’s what makes her such a great choice to be partner with the Pillsbury Bake-Off this year. The Pioneer Woman has built an empire based on being a relatable home cook, and there’s nothing we can relate to more than knowing that sometimes you need to step away from the kitchen, stop trying to have a picture-perfect holiday, and spend time with your loved ones building memories.

In the middle of the Bake-Off contest, we caught up with Drummond to see how she handles holiday baking and what the Drummond family does on Christmas. Hint: It sounds wonderful.

The Daily Meal: Can you tell me how you got involved with the Pillsbury Bake-Off and what appealed to you about this partnership?

Ree Drummond: I’m working with Pillsbury to spread the news about the Bake-Off this year. The Bake-Off has been on hiatus for three years, and it’s back. It’s really exciting this year because they’re bringing it all back to the kitchen and the home cooks that have made the Bake-Off what it is. In more recent years, it was a really big competition, an in-person event based on finalists and entries that had been submitted. Now this year, it’s going to be a recipe plus story and memory behind it. I wanted to work with Pillsbury because I’ve been a fan of the Bake-Off for years and years, being a child of the ‘70s and ‘80s; I just remember it all of those years and trying those winning recipes. Also, what Pillsbury is all about is reflected in this year’s Bake-Off, which is family, building memories in the kitchen around baking. I just think it’s exciting to celebrate home cooks. I happen to be one myself, so it really was a fit!


With the holiday season quickly approaching, what are your top tips and tricks for baking for people who may be intimidated to get into the kitchen?

Baking, probably more so than cooking, can be a little intimidating and daunting. One piece of advice I give is just to keep in mind what the holidays are all about. They’re all about the thought and feeling behind things. It’s not about impressing people. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make a 37-layer torte for your neighbors. One other thing I love about Pillsbury and how they support home baking and home cooking is that their products are so helpful as a foundation. In the Bake-Off, it’s all about using a Pillsbury refrigerated dough. So the opportunities and possibilities those introduce are so endless. You can make savory things or sweet things.

If you want to make cinnamon rolls, you can focus more on the flavorings of the cinnamon rolls themselves and then use the prepared dough. If you want to do some creative cookie ideas, instead of spending the time building the dough, you can use something that’s already done and build upon that. You can let your creativity be used with flavors and decorations.

On a practical note, my best advice for baking or cooking during a busy time like the holidays is to prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Don’t save it for the big day. Even if it’s just chopping nuts and having a big baggie full of chopped nuts, that can save so much time when you’re making a slew of baked goods. I try always to think of what I can possibly do ahead of time, a day or two before, to make that day much smoother.


What are some of your favorite things to get in the kitchen and bake for the holiday season?

Cinnamon rolls are my favorite example. That’s what my mother and I baked together growing up. Of course, sugar cookie Christmas cookies. Having fun with the shapes and decorating in that category of baked goods. Our Christmas Day tradition is biscuits and gravy. That’s something I look forward to all year. Basically, I love the whole vibe of the house being filled with the smell of baking around the holidays. I think so many people can relate to that. It’s such a great time of year to try new things in the baking realm. Even accidents are happy accidents when it comes to baking.

Beyond biscuits and gravy, what are some other Drummond holiday traditions both in and out of the kitchen?

One funny tradition is that on Christmas Day, the guys don’t work. So there’s no ranch work going on, which is a fun tradition because we know the boots are going to stay by the door. Our holiday traditions are very casual. Surrounding the holidays, we love old Christmas music. I particularly love Bing Crosby and Andy Williams and all of the old music. We always have a Christmas pajama tradition. On Christmas Eve when we get home from our church service, even the dogs get Christmas pajamas. It’s the only time of year I can get my husband into plaid pants. So after we get home, we unwrap our Christmas pajamas and dress up the dogs, and it’s a memory.


Those always make for great photos. Do all of the pajamas match?

Pretty much. We always go for things that go with one another. I’m thinking of going a little crazy this year and getting in to the embarrassing realm. I haven’t figured out what that looks like.

I think for Christmas you’re going to have a lot of options.

I think so, too.