3 Classic European Christmas Cookies to Make at Home

Originally posted December 20, 2015. Revised and updated July 28, 2016.

Christmas is coming, and what could be better than having the smell of freshly baked cookies floating through the house, enticing everyone to sneak into the kitchen?

We've got three types of European Christmas cookies for your holiday baking pleasure - vanilla crescents, tender snowflakes, and black and white swirls and checkerboards. Get the recipes now: https://foodal.com/holidays/christmas/3-classic-european-christmas-cookies/

I enjoy preparing different kinds in larger quantities than I need, and giving some away as presents.

Besides, I think you can never actually have enough cookies in the house!

Here are three great recipes that are easy to prepare, and so delicious to eat.

One important aspect that unites all of these cookie recipes is the fact that the dough needs enough time to chill.

Half an hour is the minimum amount of time that you should let it rest in the fridge, to allow the ingredients to meld together and to attain the proper texture.

Don’t shy away from these treats due to the seemingly high amount of butter in the recipes. Keep in mind that you are going to make about 50-60 cookies with each of them, and you certainly won’t eat a full batch yourself.

3 Classic European Christmas Cookies | Foodal.com

Well, you probably won’t…

Plus, the butter helps them to become wonderfully tender and crumbly!

The preparation process itself can be finished quickly, and only a little patience is required to shape these tasty goodies.

Now there’s nothing left for you to do other than choose one of the tasty recipes below (or all three), and perform some magic in the kitchen!

Vanilla Crescents

Vanilla is and old standby, and this is a classic treat that you just have to try. Its gorgeous vanilla flavor and the cute look of these babies is delightful.

Vanilla Crescent cookies are a wonderful holiday treat that's simple to make. Get the recipe: https://foodal.com/holidays/christmas/3-classic-european-christmas-cookies/

The trickiest part is probably forming the cookies into small crescents.

In Germany, this problem has been solved by the producers of kitchen equipment who brought specifically shaped baking trays to the market just for this job, which can give your cookies a uniform crescent shape.

The Best Vanilla Crescent Cookies | Foodal.com

Vanilla Crescent Cookies – Get the Recipe Now

You may also be able to replicate the look by using a cookie cutter like this one:

Crescent Moon Cookie Cutter available on Amazon

Despite the availability of these useful gadgets, I enjoy rolling them by hand. In fact, I think this is what cookie baking is all about.

Your holiday guests will love these Vanilla Crescent Cookies. We share the recipe: https://foodal.com/holidays/christmas/3-classic-european-christmas-cookies/

Some additional tips for the preparation:

  • If you don’t have vanilla beans on hand, use natural vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract.
  • Don’t like vanilla at all? Try making some cinnamon crescents instead – just replace the vanilla with a teaspoon of the warming spice.
  • Use blanched almonds for a brighter look, ground almonds with their skin on for a more rustic appearance. Or, skip the nuts altogether if you or your loved ones have a food allergy.

Tender Snowflakes

Well, these biscuits don’t actually look like little snowflakes. But I imagine this is what they would taste like if snowflakes were cookies, because they are so unbelievably tender and melt right on your tongue.

Snowflake Cookies for Christmas | Foodal.com

A great benefit to making these is that this easy-peasy recipe can be prepared quickly.

Made with just 5 ingredients that you probably keep in stock at home, you can bake them in less time than you would need to go to the grocery store and buy some.

How to Make Snowflake Cookies | Foodal.com

Snowflake Cookies – Get the Recipe Now

Let me tell you, as soon as they’re out of the oven, they’re irresistible.

Equipment needed:

Black & White Cookies

This one is another nice and easy recipe that gets the best out of just a few ingredients.

Homemade Black and White Cookie Recipe | Foodal.com

Especially when you’re busy doing lots of other holiday prep, it’s more practical to be able to make the dough one day in advance, and serve oven-fresh cookies the next day.

This way, the two different shades of dough will also stick together much better.

Homemade Black and White Cookies | Foodal.com

Black and White Cookies – Get the Recipe Now

You can even get creative and turn them into all kinds of fancy treats, besides the checkerboard and snail patterns.

Equipment needed:

Share the Holiday Baking Love

What are you waiting for? Now that you have three new recipes under your belt, you’re ready to head to the kitchen and get started!

Don’t forget to include the little ones during the holiday season. Not only will they love eating these sweet treets, they’ll enjoy helping to make them as well.

Black and White Cookies Recipe | Foodal.com

If you’re looking for even more fun recipes to try in the realm of holiday baking, check out our tips for making the best sugar cookies, and our Ultimate Guide to Royal Icing.

Are these three cookies not enough? Shhhh… I’ll throw in another recipe for you! Try my recipe for German-style cookie cakes

What will you whip up from scratch in your home kitchen during the holidays this year? Do you have any questions, or troubleshooting tips? Share with us in the comments!

And be sure to check out all of our Christmas food ideas, dessert recipes, and cookie recipes now!

Photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

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About Nina-Kristin Isensee

Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.

35 thoughts on “3 Classic European Christmas Cookies to Make at Home

  1. These look so good! I need to make them. I only have one problem, I’ve tried making checker cookies before and mine always come out looking like something from the crypt of terror. Any tips for how to make them keep their shape? Usually I just add more flour to them but I don’t want baked goods that look nice but taste like baby powder. I definitely have to try the others though. I have a thing for buttery cookies. It’s probably why I gain so much weight around the holiday season. Also can I sub the ground hazelnuts for something else? Like maybe chestnuts or dates?

    • Don’t say anything more – once there is a bowl of crumbly cookies standing on the table, I totally forget myself 😉 I just need a break after Christmas, I suppose.

      For the checkers: Well, I can tell you that I’ve made good experience with chilling the dough long enough before cutting the cookies. If they come right out of the fridge and you slice them while still cold and put them directly into the oven, they should keep their pattern better.

      You’re right about adding extra flour, the final result won’t be as tasty anymore. You should have a go with the “chilling” step. I hope it works out for you, next time you make the checkerboards ones 🙂
      For the crescents: From experience, you can use all kinds of ground nuts like hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts… But I’m not sure about dates or chestnuts as they have another consistency. I think that could be difficult. But you can replace the nuts with regular flour. This way, the cookies don’t have the nutty flavor, but they are free of the ingredient.

  2. Some great recipes, all of which look easy to make. The snowflakes look the best and if the recipe makes 55, that’s really good value too. As a chocolate lover, I would add a dash of cocoa powder as well as the vanilla for a nice twist. These are great gifts too, especially if you put them in a nice tin.

    • Thanks. I love these snowflakes cookies so much! Especially when they are fresh (maybe still a bit warm), they are so tender and melt right on your tongue. I think a dash of cocoa powder would be a nice addition. One could also divide the dough and make one half white/one dark. This could make a nice combination, too. I hope you’ll like them just as much as I do 🙂

  3. I’ve just made 4 batches of Vanilla Crescents last week. I didn’t know they have baking trays in Germany for making those moon shapes. It would have saved me a lot of time! I’ve only tried making them using ground walnuts. Next time, I’ll try your recipe and use ground almonds.

    I’ve always wondered why they are considered “Christmas cookies” since I like having them all year round. Perhaps it’s the sprinkle of powdered sugar that kind of looks like snow?

    • I believe you that it would have saved you some time 😉 4 batches are quite some work to do! I can imagine that they also taste great with walnuts. I think they have a more intense flavor than almonds and I love nuts.

      Well, maybe they are mainly referred to as “Christmas” goodies, because here in Germany (or rather Europe) cookie time is mostly winter (Christmas) time. Although there are certain biscuit-recipes for other seasons, too, this is THE peak time for baking. The powdered sugar on top might add that certain something, just like you suggest. This could have something to do with it, too.

      Happy Holidays and enjoy your Snowy Vanilla Crescents!

  4. All of these cookies look so simple to make! I feel more drawn towards the black and white cookies simply because I could see them being chocolate and vanilla. Though I have to wonder if you can use other flavors to make the cookies..I’m thinking having the white part flavored as coconut and the black part being chocolate mint…

    • Sure, why not? Your suggestion sounds definitely irresistible to me! These are fancy ideas for a new flavor. I mean, one could also try other colors, I suppose, but I would have to think about suitable ingredients for this. If someone has a creative idea, feel free to share! Either way, if you should try the coconut-choc-mint version, let us know how it turned out. Happy Holidays!

  5. I’m sorry Nina-Kristin but I just might eat all the batches all by myself in the privacy of my own closet, because I’m not sharing LOL. Seriously thought thanks for such great recipes. I absolutely love cookies and have non been very successful in the art of cookie baking, but you just make it look so easy! These cookies look DELISH! I am most definitely making them for Christmas.

    • I’m happy to hear that you like them (and could eat all of them yourself) 🙂 Just yesterday, I prepared lots of batches for my relatives and friends to give away at Christmas and it’s always hard to bake them, but not be able to nibble them away just like you want to! I wish you lots of success for your next cookie baking, I’m sure it’ll work out! Have a wonderful holiday season!

  6. I love the squares and snails cookies! Those are delicious. I always eat them on Christmas, and I recommend baking them to everyone!
    This year I’m gonna make the snowflakes too 🙂 They must be quite delicious, though they look simple.

    • Indeed, they are not too difficult to prepare. Especially at times like Christmas, when one might be in need of a huge number of homemade give-aways, I like recipes that do not require extensive lists of ingredients or difficult preparation steps. So I hope you will enjoy them, too.

  7. I’d love to make these! Thanks for sharing the recipes! I love how you put some tips and other options (e.g. if we don’t like vanilla…), it’s a really great help -and I’d love to try making both vanilla crescents and cinnamon crescents! I’m not really sure if I can make my cookies as pretty and neat-looking as yours do -especially the square one *w*

    • Thank you! I always try to include some useful tips and tricks, it’s nice to hear that you can make use of it 🙂

      By the way, I think the snail and checkerboard cookies always need a little luck for their nice appearance. When I keep them chilled before cutting, they will keep their shape much better than when I bake them directly after rolling. I wish you all the best for your next baking-session. Have fun and enjoy the treats!

  8. The black and white cookie seems to be the simplest to make compared to all the rest. I will probably try it out someday. I also love the slogan, ‘a cookie a day keeps the sorrows away’. It should be used in advertising all cookies since it is very catchy.

    • Haha, thank you! It suddenly came to my mind when I was writing, and I thought it’s the perfect way to describe the healing effect of cookies 😀 Glad to hear you like it and enjoyed reading the recipes.

  9. Thank you, I’ve tried the black and white square recipe before but a bit different, and that brings me back to the days that I’d try different cookie recipes for Christmas, so you definitely brought me back there. Simple to make and delicious! I will have to control myself so that there will be some left for the guests.

    • This is always the most difficult thing, isn’t it? Controlling oneself not to nibble them away! 😉 It’s nice that this article brought back some memories to you. I hope you will enjoy some cookie baking in the near future and treat yourself some tasty, crumbly goodies.

  10. These look delicious. I am looking forward to making these for or nye party. I don’t know if this is true but u find European cookies to have a lot less sugar them American cookies. I feel like they taste more like biscuits. When I travelled to Italy we would have “cookies” for breakfast. But they didn’t taste as sweet as the cookies I have in the U.S.

    • I haven’t been to America yet, but from recipes I’ve read or other peoples’ narrations, I’ve heard that the sugar-theory might be right. I also suppose that American cookies are usually softer and chewier than their overseas-varieties. I’ve heard of Italian breakfast-biscuits before, but I haven’t had one. But I can imagine you’re right about their flavor, too.

  11. The black and white checkerboard cookies look amazing, as if straight out of a baker’s store! I would never have imagined that making such an attractive looking pattern would be so easy.

  12. So I didn’t read this article before Christmas, however, it is not too late for me to bake with New Years around the corner. It is still the holidays, right? I love the vanilla crescent cookies, I have been making similar cookies for years, I wish I had seen this article a few days ago as my brother asked me for this recipe and I could not find my copy, now I can direct him here to this recipe. Perhaps, I will surprise him with a batch of these delicious cookie. Ido want to try the black and white spiral snails, but I must admit I have always been intimidated by these because I think that my cookies will not look as pretty 🙁 but I am going to attempt these anyhow. Thanks for the recipes 🙂

    • Sure, it’s always time for baking cookies, isn’t it? Hope you or your brother have been successful with the crescents? I always get the best results for cookies when I take enough time and don’t rush. And holidays are a perfect time to take things slowly, so good luck! 🙂
      For the snails: If you roll the dough firmly and chill it thoroughly before baking, they should stay in shape and turn out well.

  13. I recently tried the vanilla crescent cookies and my family really liked them. Most so my son who wanted more of it. I wonder if anyone in this forum has tried a different type so that i can know how they liked it.

  14. I have read all the recipes here. I have only managed to make the vanilla crescent shaped cookies. I would like to hear from anyone who has an idea about the tender showflake cookies. I’m kind of having troubles understanding the recipes.

    • I’m happy that your family liked the vanilla crescents. I would really like to help you out with the snowflake-recipe. I have been using it for lots of years, so what step do you need help with? 🙂

  15. The snowflakes are utterly delicious – thank you so much! They’re simple to make, which is just as well, because despite your comment about the quantity of butter and not eating them all yourself, unfortunately my husband didn;t read that and he went through a quarter of a tinful whilst I was out shopping! Fortunately I bought more butter so more cookies will be in the oven this weekend. But I think I might hide half of them!!

    • Wonderful, I’m glad you – and your husband, of course – liked them! 😀 Good idea to stock up with some more butter, so now you can start right into a fabulous cookie-weekend! Enjoy – and good luck hiding them 😉

  16. This list has me craving sweet goodies, unfortunately we have none at home at the moment. I’ll have to make some of these the next time I can, especially the snowflakes, I love simple recipes, and those fit the description perfectly.

    • Yeah, they are really not too difficult. Sometimes, it just has to be simple, right? There are some occasions that require rather quick preparing and baking. Those ones are a great choice then. Hope you enjoy them the next time you’ll need a batch of delicious goodies!

  17. Looking through the recipes, I wish I knew how to bake. OR at least, have the patience for it. I tried my hand at baking, and for some reason I just couldn’t get the hang of it. Nevertheless, I still keep on checking out cookie recipes in the hopes that I’ll have the courage to try it again. If I were to start my attempts again, I’ll probably go with the simplest first: Tender Snowflakes. I like the suggestion of the other commenter to add a bit of chocolate powder. Obviously, I love chocolates, hehe! Anyway, these recipes are not good for my hunger, haha. If this isn’t prayer and fasting week, I’ll probably be able to consume A WHOLE BATCH right NOW! Thank you very much for sharing not just one recipe in one article. I appreciate the generosity.

    • Haha, I’m sorry for all that cookie-indulgende 😀 But I will definitely encourage you to try out one or the other recipe. I suppose the snowflakes are a good choice! Take your time in the kitchen, put all the ingredients ready and have fun. I’m sure it’ll work out and you can enjoy some homemade goodies!

  18. Why did I open this page, why??? I was good and didn’t look at Christmastime, but here I am now drooling over these lovely treats. I like all of these, very much. I really want to make a batch of every kind. I’ve sworn off carbs though, so that’s not going to work.

    I knew I should have just made some for gifts (and sneaked a couple of samples), because these are going to continue to call to me. I can pass up a lot of treats, but freshly baked ones with real butter…. that’s a challenge!

    I think I’ll make some for a friend who is down. I can just make small batches and seal them up quickly (after stealing just a couple for myself!).

    • Oh no, that sounds cruel: the renunciation of carbs is definitely not compatible with these treats. I hope you keep these recipes in mind when you consider a cheating-day or something 😉 But baking some cookies for friends is a nice idea, too. I hope they will cheer your friend up at least a bit. Enjoy!

  19. I really loved the one with the snails, it looks pretty awesome! As we all know, Christmas time is coming and well, we have to think about what we’re going to cook! I will copy this down and save it for later, I surely will try these for my cousins and family, the cookies look really amazing, thank you for sharing this!

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