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Best Holiday Cookie Recipes

Best Holiday Cookie Recipes

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Holiday Cookie Shopping Tips

Be sure to purchase the correct flour a recipe calls for – flours differ in gluten or protein content, making each suited for specific tasks.

Holiday Cookie Cooking Tips

Insert a toothpick into the center of cakes, bar cookies, and quick breads to test for doneness – it should come out clean or only have a few crumbs clinging to it.

Wine Pairing

Milk is more traditional with cookies than wine in the U.S., but a few cookies and a glass of sweet wine make a simple, enjoyable dessert. Sweet chenin blanc, muscat, or amontillado sherry with nut-based cookies; sauternes or sweet German wines with sugar cookies; cabernet sauvignon or cabernet franc with chocolate desserts; Italian vin santo with biscotti.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies

The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party is a fun and cheeky modern holiday tradition that's really caught on. Instead of bringing a scented candle or bottle of wine, show up with a batch of these adorable, creative cookies "dressed" in ugly Christmas sweaters made of icing. They will be the hit of the party. And, since the theme is "ugly," you don't need to be a master cookie decorator—colored icings, holiday sprinkles, and candies are all you need to create an ugly sweater cookie.

Our Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes, from Biscotti to Gingerbread

It's the most magical time of the year&mdashChristmas bells are ringing, our hearts are merry, and we can't wait to bake our favorite Christmas cookie recipes. These are the very best and brightest of the bunch&mdashwe have all the classics like Peanut Butter Blossoms, Russian Tea Cakes, Thumbprint Cookies, and Lemony Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies as well as a few more unexpected options. From cookie swaps to holiday parties, there's no better time to make a festive batch of Christmas cookies.

If you're hosting a cookie decorating party for family, friends, or small children, there's no better recipe to prepare than our Ideal Sugar Cookies. Set out piping bags filled with icing and small bowls with a variety of sprinkles in various shapes and colors, and let everyone design their own festive bite. Looking for a way to upgrade the appearance of classic shortbread cookies? Have fun with food coloring and a large pastry tip and pipe a batch or two of our Shortbread Swirls. Choose red and green for Christmas, or divide the batter up and create every color of the rainbow. They're sure to go fast (who could eat just one?). How about a cookie that doesn't call for making cookie dough? The Sweet Snowflake Crisps seen here are made from wonton wrappers and dusted with powdered sugar.

Of course, you could also create treats made of meringue. If you're whipping up a batch, why not make a forest full of trees? Meringue Trees are stacked on top of each other to create the look of whimsical Christmas trees. Our version shows off shades of pink, brown, and white but feel free to use various shades of green for a more realistic effect. To display, nestle them between shredded coconut or cotton to create the allusion of freshly fallen snow.

These Christmas cookies not only taste spectacular, but they look picture perfect, too&mdashand they are sure to help you have a very sweet holiday season.

"I was looking for a recipe for authentic Melomakarona that I could make this holiday season as a nostalgic treat for my Greek husband, and this recipe really fit the bill! We ended up with DELICIOUS authentic Greek Christmas cookies! They really are very tasty. A great recipe that I feel will become an annual Christmas tradition in our family!"

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies

Per cookie: 89 calories, 7.3 g fat, 2.4 g saturated fat, 29 mg sodium, 1.4 g fiber, 2.3 g sugar, 2.1 g protein

We know exactly what you're thinking: grain-, dairy- and gluten-free cookies? They must be dry. Wrong! These upgraded classics are not only not crumbly, but they also crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. That's right, the perfect cookie combo. They're so good, in fact, you won't even miss the icing.

Get the recipe from The Roasted Root.

Butter Cookies

You know those blue tins of cookies that somehow appear in your house this time of year? Well, they're so much better if you make them yourself. We love this recipe for butter cookies.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies


  • ½ lb. butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt (pinch)
  1. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix thoroughly. Put dough in the refrigerator to chill for one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375° before removing dough from refrigerator. Cover work area with waxed paper and sprinkle with flour. Cover rolling pin in flour and roll out dough in batches, working very fast so dough is kept on the hard side. Keep remainder of dough in refrigerator until ready to roll it out.
  3. Use cookie cutters to cut different shapes. Add sprinkles, colored sugar, hearts, etc. to decorate (kids love this part!). Transfer cookies from wax paper to cookie sheet.
  4. Bake until hard, but not brown, about 6-8 minutes. Watch the first batch closely!
  5. Transfer from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool.

Holiday Cookies: Best Recipes for Shipping and Gifting

TINNING SALON There’s an art to packing up and mailing out holiday cookies. Here’s how the pros pull it off.

THIS SEASON, many of us are scaling back our holiday celebrations. But even if you can’t gather with everyone you love, you can still feed them. Spread holiday cheer—remotely—by baking and mailing packages of comforting cookies.

Sharing cookies is a longstanding holiday ritual. This time of year, kitchens turn into production facilities to supply cookie swaps, tree-trimming parties and holiday open houses. Even in normal times, some of those cookies would travel by mail. But in 2020, shipping cookies takes on new resonance. “I don’t know of a better gift than to bake for someone,” said Kelly Fields, author of “The Good Book of Southern Baking” (Lorena Jones Books) and owner of Willa Jean restaurant in New Orleans. “Baking is my love language.”

First, you need to choose your cookies. Ms. Fields ships baked goods from Willa Jean nationwide via the mail-order-food site Goldbelly. She recommends sticking with sturdy varieties for shipping—drop cookies, shortbreads, biscotti. Stay away from iced or filled cookies, or any that are brittle or tender. “I love pecan sandies enough that if somebody was to ship them to me, I would enjoy the crumbs as much as the cookie,” said Ms. Fields. “But not everybody is of that opinion.”

Picking durable cookies is a good excuse to forgo fussiness altogether. Put away the frosting tubes, rolling pins and cookie cutters, and let lower-maintenance flourishes—powdered sugar, sprinkles, sanding sugar—do the dazzling. “If I did the thing where I made cutout cookies with the sugars and royal icing decorations and piping bags, then you have to wait for them to dry,” said Claire Saffitz, author of “Dessert Person” (Clarkson Potter). “I don’t have time to do that anymore. I like cookies that don’t require decoration and look pretty on their own.” Her slice-and-bake pistachio pinwheels, with their hypnotic, swirly green pattern, are both stunning and surprisingly simple to make.

While some bakers feel compelled to churn out a smorgasbord, it’s OK to stick with one variety. “There are people who would be super pumped to get a dozen chocolate chip cookies, and equally excited to get a dozen of three or four different kinds,” said Ms. Fields. “Whatever you’re going to have the most fun with is the right number.”

The Ina Garten Christmas Cookies We’ll Be Making All Season Long

Need tips on entertaining? Turn to Barefoot Contessa host Ina Garten. Need a relatively easy recipe that’s sure to impress your S.O.? Look no further than the cookbook Garten wrote for and dedicated to her husband, Jeffrey. Need to simplify your life with cooking hacks you only wish you knew yesterday? Garten’s your gal.

Do you sense a theme here? When it comes to life in the kitchen, Garten knows all.

The author of 12 cookbooks&mdash she most recently released Modern Comfort Food this year&mdashGarten certainly knows her way around the kitchen. With likely hundreds of published recipes to choose from, we can’t say we have one favorite recipe, but we will say it’s her desserts we just can’t get enough of, especially with Christmas mere days away.

Whether you’re expecting guests this holiday season or you want to bake a batch of sweet treats to share with your friends, family and neighbors, ahead we’ve gathered all of Garten’s best Christmas cookie recipes.

Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you&rsquoll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.

Pecan Sandies

From roasted pecans to sugarcoated pecans, it’s hard to resist this nut during the holidays. And they’re the best on sandies. This pecan sandies recipe is from Garten’s 2012, New York Times best-selling cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof.

Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are the ultimate Christmas cookie, and these ginger cookies from Garten are to die for. This recipe makes 12 to 16 cookies and cooks in just 13 minutes. You’ll just need some pantry staples like ground cloves, ground ginger, and unsulphured molasses.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Straight from the pages of Garten’s 2010 cookbook, How Easy Is That?, Garten writes of these irresistible shortbread cookies: &ldquoI love the combination of shortbread, roasted hazelnuts, and chocolate. The shortbread can be baked in advance, wrapped with plastic, and then filled with Nutella just before serving.&rdquo This recipe makes 18 cookies and bakes in just 20 to 25 minutes.

Shortbread Cookies

Sure, you have to wait an hour and 15 minutes before you can chow down on these shortbread cookies, but they’re 100 percent worth the wait. This recipe makes 20 cookies and comes from the Barefoot Contessa episode titled “Impromptu Dinner.” These cookies call for vanilla extract, so make sure to use Garten’s favorite.

Fruitcake Cookies

I know, I know &mdash why would I ever include fruitcake in a list of tasty recipes? Believe it or not, Ina has found a way to make this infamous holiday dessert not only palatable but downright delicious. Just trust us on this one, OK? You’ll just need to pick up a few things, including candied cherries, dried apricots, and dried figs.

Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti

A cold day calls for a hot cup of joe and homemade biscotti &mdash and Garten’s cherry-pistachio biscotti will be gone before you know it. Considered an intermediate-level recipe, this makes 25 to 30 biscotti and was published in Garten’s 2016 cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

They’re the cookies your grandma always set out every Christmas, and Garten’s recipe might just be as good as Meemaw’s. Filled with your pick of raspberry or apricot jam (you can’t go wrong with Bonne Maman), this intermediate recipe makes 32 cookies.

Mini Linzer Cookies

Another Christmas classic dessert, these traditional Linzer cookies will hit you with a wave of nostalgia. Much like thumbprint cookies, these sugar-dusted, bite-size delights are filled with raspberry preserves. And this particular intermediate recipe yields 36 cookies.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

We’ve saved the best for last: good, old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies. You absolutely cannot go wrong with a freshly baked batch of chocolate chunk cookies, and of course, Garten’s recipe is a reliable one. Making 36 to 40 cookies, this recipe, pulled from Garten’s 2001 cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Parties, calls for walnuts, semisweet chocolate chunks, brown sugar and more.

A version of this article was originally published December 2018.

First Place, Cookie Man: Suzanne Whitbourne, Colleyville, with ‘The First Day of Christmas’

Dr. Suzanne Whitbourne crafted this year’s Cookie Man winner, a complex partridge-in-a-pear tree design she dubbed The First Day of Christmas. “I wanted a subject that would allow me to really stretch my imagination, use different elements and colors,” she said.

A neonatologist at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth and medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Texas Health Resources HEB (Hurst Euless Bedford), Dr. Whitbourne finds making decorated cookies to be an escape from stress. “I have colleagues who crochet, knit or quilt to relax. This is my crocheting,” she said.

She frequently makes cookies for gifts for family and friends. Not surprisingly, recipients often ask her to teach them how to decorate cookies, so she posts YouTube videos (access via @neocookiemom) to share the love. “I like the challenge and the science,” she said. “You have to have just the right cookie dough that doesn’t spread and has a flat surface. The icing recipe matters. Tinting is a process.”

Suzanne and her husband, Demetri, have a daughter Sienna, 13, and son Cameron, 15. Although Cookie Man is not required to be tasty, Suzanne’s version is, and the family celebrated her victory by eating some of the winning cookies.