8 of Our Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipes

by Kristy Tolley
plate of star shaped Christmas cookies

Are you baking up sweet treats for your family? Maybe you’re looking for new cookies to bake for your neighborhood (or virtual) cookie swap this year. Whatever the reason, we’ve made it easy for you and rounded up our favorite holiday cookie recipes.

Happy baking!

Fruitcake Cookies

It’s the iconic holiday dessert everyone loves to hate. Even if you aren’t a fan of the fruitcake, you’ll love these cookies!

Ingredients:
  • 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c. chopped candied citrus (orange and lemon)
  • 1/3 c. chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another large bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, then vanilla.
  3. Fold in candied citrus, pistachios and dried cranberries.
  4. Shape dough into two 2-inch-thick logs. Wrap and flatten slightly to create an oval; freeze 20 minutes.
  5. Heat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice 1/2 inch thick and place on prepared sheets.
  6. Bake, rotating positions of baking sheets halfway through, until cookies are light golden brown around edges, 10 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe from Good Housekeeping Magazine

Spiced Shortbread

Here’s a delicious cinnamon spiced twist on the traditional Scottish cookies!

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut up, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Directions:
  1. Butter a 9-inch cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper; butter parchment. Place flour, sugar, salt, ginger and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine, 3 to 5 times. Add butter and pulse until mixture looks like wet sand, 40 to 50 times.
  2. Press mixture evenly into prepared pan. Prick dough, leaving a 1-inch border, with the tines of a fork; freeze 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake until set and just beginning to brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. Place pan on a wire rack and immediately use the handle of a wooden spoon to press a scallop pattern into the edge of shortbread and a sharp knife to score into 16 wedges. Cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the shortbread to loosen; invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut along scored lines using a sharp knife.

Recipe from Country Living Magazine

Rugelach Cookies

These delectable baked treats are a traditional Jewish delicacy and this recipe might be a staple for all your Hannukah festivities.

Ingredients:
  • 2cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4teaspoon salt
  • 8ounces cold cream cheese, cubed
  • 2sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1large egg yolk
  • 1batch filling (see ideas below)
  • Powdered sugar
Directions:
  1. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor.Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse several times to combine.
  2. Mix in the cream cheese and butter.Scatter the cubes of cream cheese and butter over the flour. Pulse until coarse crumbs form, 10 to 12 pulses.
  3. Mix in the yolk and vanilla.Place the vanilla and yolk in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle over the butter-flour mixture. Process until the dough starts to clump together and form large, curd-like pieces.
  4. Refrigerate the dough.Transfer the dough onto a work surface and gather the pieces into a ball. Divide into 4 portions and flatten each into 1-inch-thick disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months (thaw in the refrigerator before using).
  5. When ready to bake the rugelach, heat the oven to 375°F.Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Meanwhile, prepare the filling (ideas below).
  6. Roll out the dough.Sprinkle a work surface generously with powdered sugar. Take 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 1 to 2 minutes to warm up slightly. Unwrap and then sprinkle the surface of the dough and the rolling pin with more powdered sugar. Roll the dough from the center out into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Don’t worry if a few cracks form near the edges. Use more powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking.
  7. Spread with filling.Spread the filling in a thin layer evenly over the surface of the dough. Make sure it goes right up to the edge of the dough.
  8. Cut and roll the cookies.Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges, like a pizza. Beginning at the wide outer edge and moving towards the center, roll up each wedge. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Make sure the tip is tucked underneath.
  9. Refrigerate the cookies for 20 minutes.Refrigerate the cookies on the baking sheet for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, fill and roll a second disk of dough, filling up the second baking sheet.
  10. Bake the cookies 20 to 25 minutes.Bake the first tray of cookies until golden-brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Bake the second tray of cookies. While the second tray is baking, prepare the third disk of dough, using the same parchment paper from the first batch but making sure the baking sheet is cooled.
Ideas for Rugelach Fillings
  • Nut filling: In a food processor, pulse 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup pecans until they break into tiny crumbs, 30 to 40 pulses. (Be careful of over-processing and making nut butter.) Combine the ground nuts in a bowl with 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) melted butter, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Fruit and jam filling: Warm 1/4 cup marmalade, apricot jam, or raspberry jam in the microwave until it liquefies. Stir in 1 tablespoon sugar. Set aside to cool until no longer steaming, still liquidy. Pulse 2 cups (roughly 10 ounces) dried fruit, such as apricots, cranberries, cherries, or currants, in a food processor until it breaks down into tiny pieces. To assemble, spread the jam onto the rugelach dough and then sprinkle the dried fruit on top.
  • Peanut butter and chocolate filling: Warm 1/2 cup peanut butter in a microwave until it liquefies but isn’t boiling. Spread over the rugelach dough; sprinkle with 1 cup miniature chocolate chips.

Recipe from TheKitchn.com

Traditional Cutout Cookies

This recipe is perfect for cookie-baking sessions with the kiddos.  

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
Directions:
  1. On large sheet parchment paper, lightly flour half of dough. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2-inch cookie cutters, cut shapes into dough; gently remove excess dough from around cutters. Slide parchment with cookies onto cookie sheet; place in freezer. Reroll scraps once on another sheet parchment, then cut shapes; to same sheet in freezer, add cookies. Freeze until stiff, about 30 minutes. Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on 1 sheet parchment; place on cookie sheet.
  2. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden around edges. Slide parchment with baked cookies onto wire rack; cool completely. With remaining dough, repeat rolling, baking and cooling.
  3. Decorate cooled cookies withOrnamental Frosting, as desired.
Ornamental Frosting
Ingredients:
  • 16 oz. confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tbsp. meringue powder
  • warm water
Directions:
  1. In bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder and warm water until blended and mixture is very stiff, about 5 minutes.
  2. Tint frosting with food coloring as desired; keep surface covered with plastic wrap.
  3. With small spatula or decorating bags with small writing tips, decorate cookies with frosting (add warm water to thin as desired).

Recipe from Good Housekeeping Magazine

Peppermint Cookies

I mean, if you don’t bake something with peppermint, are you really even celebrating Christmas? You can also make the recipe after the holidays and use up all those extra candy canes!

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cupsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cupfirmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1large egg, room temperature
  • 3/4 cupall-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cupunsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoonbaking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoonsalt
  • 1 teaspoonpeppermint extract
  • 3/4 cupwhite chocolate chips
  • 7 ozhigh quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspooncoconut oil
  • 1/2 cupcrushed peppermint candies
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together until the mixture becomes light and airy (with a KitchenAid, about 2 minutes. with a manual whisk, about 5 minutes). Add in the egg and peppermint extract.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Next, add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, stirring until just combined. Gently fold in the white chocolate chips, being careful not to overmix the dough.
  4. Scoop roughly 1½ inch spheres of dough onto a cookie sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space in between each ball of dough. Bake for 10-12 minutes, being sure to keep an eye on the consistency of the baking cookies. Allow to come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
  5. To make the white chocolate, place chopped white chocolate and coconut oil over a double boiler and stir gently until melted. Dip each cookie into the white chocolate, sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies, then place back on cooling rack until the chocolate hardens.

Recipe from Broma Bakery

Easy Meringue Cookies

You’ll want to double (or triple) this recipe. They’re so light and tasty, they’ll disappear fast!

Ingredients:
  • 3large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoonvanilla extract*
  • 1/4 teaspooncream of tartar
  • Dash of salt
  • 2/3 cupgranulated sugar
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 250ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the vanilla extract, cream of tartar and salt. Turn the mixer on to high and mix until foamy. Start adding in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep beating the mixture until it forms very stiff, glossy peaks, 7-10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the meringue into small star cookies, about 1 1/4-inches in diameter. Sprinkle with holiday sprinkles, if desired.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, then turn the oven off, not opening the oven door, and let the cookies sit for at least an hour, or overnight.
  5. Store the cookies in an airtight container.

Recipe from Taste and Tell Blog

Santa’s Trash Cookies

Even Santa has a naughty side! These cookies are salty-sweet perfection!

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 c. crushed potato chips
  • 3/4 c. crushed pretzels
  • 1 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. red and green sprinkles
  • Flaky sea salt, for garnish
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350º and line two baking sheets with parchment. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt until combined. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined.
  4. Gently fold in most of the potato chips, pretzels, chocolate chips, and sprinkles (reserve some for pressing on tops of cookies).
  5. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop balls of dough (about 2 tablespoons each) onto prepared baking sheets. Press down lightly on each cookie to flatten, then press remaining potato chips, pretzels, chocolate chips, and sprinkles on top. Sprinkle with flaky salt.
  6. Bake until edges are just starting to get golden, 14 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Delish.com

M&M Christmas Cookies

The first time I ever had an M&M cookie was at a majorette Christmas party in 1984. It was magical. This festive version of the classic cookie is perfect for the holidays!

Ingredients:
  • 1cup butter room temperature
  • 3/4cup granulated sugar
  • 1cup brown sugar
  • 2eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 3cups flour
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 3/4tsp baking soda
  • 2bags mini holiday colored M&Ms
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Cream together the butter, both sugars, eggs and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients with the creamed mixture. Mix well.
  5. Scoop into balls and then roll in mini M&M’s. Press the M&M’s into the cookie dough ball.
  6. Bake at 350° for 9-11 minutes or until the tops are no longer glossy.
  7. Best if eaten the same day but will stay fresh for a couple of days in an air tight container.

Recipe from Cooking with Karli

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