It’s time to preheat the oven and roll up those sleeves because we’re baking Christmas cookies!
I always look forward to this time of year with eager anticipation, embarking on an annual ritual of weighing the old against the new. Which time-treasured classics passed down through the generations in my family will appear on a plate for Santa alongside a tall glass of milk this year? And which recipes will send me down a new path towards cookie-dunking nirvana?
Whether you make a single recipe at a time, or you do what I like to – setting up a massive production line that stretches from the kitchen into the dining room, with countertops and tables crammed with cooling racks and timers going off every 12 minutes or so as the assembled friends and family chip in to mix up a bunch of batches in a single night, marathon-style, to share with neighbors and loved ones – quality is the key.
These handpicked selections provide the perfect combination of taste and texture, in a range of flavor options. From dolloped and dipped to rolled and sliced, twice-baked to carefully cut and decorated with icing, chocolate, lemon, pistachio, anise, almond, peanut butter, and more – the holiday cookies in our roundup are sure to make your mouth water.
Ready to dive in? Here’s a quick preview of all the delicious recipes we’ll share up ahead:
29 of the Best Cookies for Holiday Baking
- Absolutely Perfect Dark Chocolate
- Anise Biscotti
- Big and Soft Ginger
- Brown Butter with Almonds
- Brown Butter Shortbread
- Brownie Roll-Outs
- Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter
- Chocolate Truffle
- Coconut Macaroons
- Coconut Pecan Cowboy
- Death By Chocolate
- Double Chocolate Biscotti
- Earl Grey Orange Slice-and-Bake
- Einkorn Snickerdoodle
- Fluffy Lemon
- Flourless Almond Thumbprints
- Gingerbread Men Cut-Outs
- Lemon Almond Coconut Macaroons
- Lemon Cornmeal
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
- Old-Fashioned Sugar
- Salted White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal
- Slice-and-Bake Vanilla Spice
- Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip
- Sweet and Crunchy Cardamom Saffron
- Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs Decorated with Royal Icing
- Tender Snowflakes
- Tri-Color Slice-and-Bake
1. Absolutely Perfect Dark Chocolate
Milk chocolate has its place, but I’m a dark chocolate girl, all the way. These cookies are made with cocoa powder instead of bars or chips, an excellent option for those gray winter days when you’re eager to bake with ingredients that you likely already have in the pantry and fridge, no trip to the store required.
Just mix and chill the dough, shape it into balls, roll them in sugar, and bake. You’ll love these deep, dark chocolate treats with their perfectly crinkly tops – and they’re excellent for dunking.
2. Anise Biscotti
Anise biscotti is a perennial favorite with most of my family, though my husband Sonny is not an anise fan – and that’s totally fine, more for the rest of us!
Studded with slivered almonds and sprinkled with sugar, all fans of the licoricey flavor of anise will love dipping these crisp treats in a warm cup of coffee.
3. Big and Soft Ginger
There are plenty of crisp gingersnap aficionados out there, and I count myself among them. But my mom loves a softer, more cakelike ginger cookie and this is the perfect recipe if you stan too.
Paired with additional warming spices like cinnamon and allspice, and a few big glugs of molasses, these cookies bring all the warm and cozy feels.
4. Brown Butter with Almonds
Brown butter is a god among easy cookie add-ins, since it’s so simple to toss a stick into a saucepan and let it do its thing, quickly attaining golden-brown perfection. And the roasty-toasty flavor of this tasty treat need not be relegated entirely to the savory side of one’s cooking and baking repertoire.
Paired with a slightly sweet, crunchy almond at the center of each dollop of dough, the grandkids without a doubt will be asking for “one more, please!” when you make a batch of these cookies.
5. Brown Butter Shortbread
Nothing says “holiday cookies” like shortbread. But skip the pre-made tin from the grocery store this year and whip up a batch of these babies at home.
Oh, and what’s that? I hear you whispering that you just can’t get enough brown butter? Well, you’re in luck because you’ll find it in this delectable recipe as well!
Make these decadent, buttery wedges at home with our recipe.
6. Brownie Roll-Outs
One of our most popular cookie recipes of all time on Foodal, we think these are like a chocolate brownie and a cookie in one, rolled out and shaped into snowflakes – or whatever shape you choose! –and decorated to perfection.
They’re easy to make, whether with the kids or on your own during a relaxing afternoon baking session, and they’re so much fun to adorn with icing.
7. Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter
Fans of peanut butter cups will rejoice to find these cookies on offer when they visit the holiday treats table at your next party. And don’t be surprised if they ask to take a few home with them, too!
Crunchy honey-roasted peanuts are the secret here, sprinkled onto the chocolate before it hardens.
8. Chocolate Truffle
Holiday candy-lovers will swoon over our rendition of chocolate truffles in cookie form.
Rich and buttery, these cookies are made with cocoa powder and dark chocolate for the ultimate chocolatey bite. And they’re fantastic rolled in finely chopped walnuts, too.
9. Coconut Macaroons
Classic coconut macaroons are an underappreciated contender among the best of the best sweet treats, and they also serve as the perfect vehicle to use up extra egg whites if you’re doing some other baking that only requires the yolks.
Drizzled in dark chocolate, what could be better? Soft and chewy on the inside, crisp and crunchy on the outside, these macaroons will beat the store-bought version every single time.
10. Coconut Pecan Cowboy
Howdy, pardner! I’m not entirely sure why the combination of coconut and pecan is a cowboy’s delight, but I’ll take it!
Some claim these cookies come from Texas originally, some say they’re able to withstand long periods of rough travel. Either way, they taste great, and they’re suitable for mailing to loved ones, too.
Fill up your saddlebags with these cookies, and you can ride off into the sunset…
Looking for the recipe? Find it here!
11. Death by Chocolate
Death was a topic that weighed heavily on Ebenezer Scrooge’s mind on Christmas Eve, as the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future came to visit in his dreams. To stave off any nightmares of your own, sit down in front of your favorite jolly-holiday Hallmark movie with a plate piled high with these Death by Chocolate cookies.
You won’t be sorry you did. But you may be haunted if you don’t – can’t say we didn’t warn you!
Run, don’t walk, to find out how to make these now.
12. Double Chocolate Biscotti
You might think you’re seeing double, but there’s no need to adjust the settings on your monitor or cell phone. With chocolate both in the dough and studded throughout these crisp homemade biscotti, twice-baked in the traditional way, they’re doubly delicious.
And of course, there’s no rule that says you can’t go back for a second one!
13. Earl Grey Orange Slice-and-Bake
A must-bake for tea-lovers, Earl Grey orange cookies are flavored with the classic bergamot-scented black tea, orange essence, and fresh orange zest for an extra-citrusy punch.
Your cozy winter teatime ritual will never be the same with this recipe up your sleeve!
14. Einkorn Snickerdoodle
Slightly soft and chewy with crisp edges, a touch of almond flavor, and a sweet sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar, snickerdoodles are a bakery favorite among cinnamon-lovers that’s even better when you make your own at home.
These are made with einkorn flour, which absorbs less fat and absorbs liquids a bit more slowly than all-purpose wheat flour, for the perfect bake. You could substitute regular all-purpose here, but it’s best to stick with einkorn flour to achieve the best results as our recipe tester intended.
15. Fluffy Lemon
My mother-in-law loves lemon and I somehow failed to realize this about her for nearly 15 years. But I’m making up for lost time – and you can too if a citrus-lover in your life is eager to enjoy some homemade goodness!
These cookies are the perfect place to start. A little sweet, a little tart, perfectly fluffy and butter-rich with a melt-in-your mouth texture, a batch of these is sure to satisfy.
Ready to mix some up at home? Find out exactly what you need to do right here.
16. Flourless Almond Thumbprints
Thumbprint cookies filled with jam are another classic must-make in my book, and even those with a gluten intolerance can enjoy them when they’re made with almond meal instead of wheat flour.
The moist, tender results are truly a delight, and you can fill them with your favorite types of jelly or jam. Apricot and seedless raspberry are favorites in my family, with a few apple cinnamon thumbprints thrown in, made specially for my sister-in-law Erin.
What tasty flavors will you add when you bake these? Find the recipe here!
17. Gingerbread Men Cut-Outs
Sweet and simple, if you’ve never cut out and decorated gingerbread cookies at home before, now’s the time! It’s a fantastic activity when the snow’s quietly flurrying down outside (or if you’re imagining it, in warmer climes), with your favorite holiday jams playing on the stereo.
Whether you opt to make each one look the same or go rogue with wildly unique decorations that allow the personality of each gingerbread being shine through, they’re all sure to taste wonderful. Just don’t get too attached – each one of those cute little guys is going to have their head bitten off eventually.
Get your cookie cutters ready and print out a copy of our recipe.
Lace cookies are an elegant and refined confection, often found gracing the shelves of the finest bakeries. And yes, dear baker, you can make these at home too!
If something homemade is on their wish list this season, I can’t think of anything more special to give your loved one than a dozen or so of these delicate, chocolate-coated, caramelized delights.
19. Lemon Almond Coconut Macaroons
Maybe you’ve already made plenty of plain or chocolate macaroons. Maybe you could relate to my lemon story above (and if so, I’ve got yet another treat for you up ahead as well, so keep reading!). Or maybe you’re just intrigued, like I was, by the combination of lemon, almond, and coconut.
The truth is, you don’t have to have any particular reason for making these slightly unconventional macaroons, except for the fact that they are oh so good, and a bit unexpected. They’re gluten free, too.
20. Lemon Cornmeal
Cornmeal cookies have a texture that’s a little different from all the other options on the plate, and these just might be the ones Santa goes for when he finally arrives at your house, midway through a long night of dropping off deliveries and sampling cookies.
Lemon zest and juice offer a hint of citrusy tartness that contrasts so nicely with the rich base of these buttery biscuits.
21. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
I always loved chocolate chip oatmeal cookies the way my grandma made them, with Toll House morsels, old fashioned oats, raisins, and walnuts. That’s what we’ve got for you here. And if the mere thought of these treats made you feel like you were snuggled up in a warm hug, then these are definitely the cookies for you.
Hot chocolate made from scratch makes an excellent pairing, or serve these in my grandma’s style after a brisk, chilly couple of hours spent sledding at the park with piping-hot mugs of Ovaltine.
22. Old-Fashioned Sugar
Soft, chewy, and shimmering with a light coating of sanding sugar on top, old-fashioned sugar cookies are a happy handful that’s not to be missed.
Baked to perfection, you’ll adore these bakery-quality treats that are so simple to make at home.
23. Salted White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal
Another twist on a classic, semi-sweet chocolate chips are swapped for white chocolate with no other add-ins required in these oatmeal cookies, with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt on top of each one for a little savory-sweet combo that hits the spot in the best possible way.
White chocolate isn’t for everyone… But if you love it, make yourself a batch of these chewy, crunchy, can-I-have-another goodies ASAP!
24. Slice-and-Bake Vanilla Spice
Vanilla, warming spice, and everything nice goes into each and every one of these slice-and-bake treats. Serve them with tea or coffee for a little afternoon snack… Heck, have a handful for breakfast on Christmas morning if you like, we won’t tell!
Adding chopped pecans is totally optional here, but we think the nuts pair so beautifully with the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg in these cookies.
25. Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip
Some like ‘em crisp, and that’s okay. We get it. But for those who prefer a soft and chewy chocolate chip, we hear you and we see you. There’s no need for tinkering to reach your goal when you have this recipe at the ready.
You can thank us later.
26. Sweet and Crunchy Cardamom Saffron
So dignified… elegant… and downright fancy! The not-too-sweet simplicity of these crisp spiced biscuits with chopped pistachios and flaky sea salt on top will leave them asking, “What were those?!” and begging for the recipe.
And if you’re like me and you started growing your own saffron crocuses last year, harvesting and drying the precious threads when the blooms pop their purple heads out of the ground in the fall, you can even add a little note for each recipient in your cookie exchange to let them know that these were homemade and in part homegrown.
Don’t have any homegrown saffron on hand? Store bought is fine! But maybe you want to whip up a batch of these and then mosey on over to our sister site, Gardener’s Path, to learn a little bit about the fine art of crocus-growing…
27. Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs Decorated with Royal Icing
I will not tell a lie – when I first made these myself at home with friends, our decorating skills were quickly proven to be a little… inexpert. But the truth is, with some practice and a steady hand, our royal icing tutorial will have you decorating holiday cookies like a pro in no time.
Sugar cookie cut-outs provide the perfect base to make all your holiday confectionary dreams come true, whether you create a batch of merry elves, pudgy penguins, or ornament-studded Christmas trees.
Ready to let your imagination run wild? Take a look at the cookie recipe now.
28. Tender Snowflakes
So simple, so tender, like sweet little snowflakes that melt on your tongue, these cookies are a delight. What they lack in complexity is truly made up for in the sweet satisfaction of eating them – and you just might have to go back for more.
Cornstarch and powdered sugar are the secrets here. Make a little magic in your kitchen with a few cooling-racks-worth of these, and mix up a second batch of dough to keep in the freezer for later.
29. Tri-Color Slice and Bake
Last but not least, these colorful wonders practically scream, “Look at me!” But there’s no artificial dye here.
A little natural food coloring in the form of ground turmeric, matcha powder, and beet juice is all is takes to make these yellow, green, and pink cookies stand out. Just roll, chill, slice, and bake!
The recipe’s right here, if you’re ready to take a peek!
Bake Christmas Magic
For me, holiday baking is about reliving Christmas memories while making new ones. There’s always room for something fresh and exciting alongside the old standbys, always time to spend at least one night a year baking into the wee hours – preferably with my brother Steve by my side.
Friends and neighbors love receiving a plateful of whatever I’ve baked up each year, and at this point I don’t think Sonny’s family would let me walk in the door on Christmas morning without multiple cookie tins in tow, filled to the brim.
One year, in fact, we pulled up to the house dressed in full-body Christmas tree costumes that my aunt Liz made, complete with twinkling lights. What can I say? I like to go big.
Maybe you’ve learned your loved ones’ favorites over time like I did, eagerly baking something special just for them, and adjusting to new tastes and dietary changes as the years go by. Or maybe you’re baking just for yourself, whipping up the perfect batch of whatever treat makes your heart sing.
Whatever you make, and whichever recipes you choose, the results are sure to be perfect if they’re baked with love.
Is there a special cookie recipe that brings you joy at this time of year? Which are your favorites on our list? Share with us in the comments below!
And for a little more Christmas deliciousness, check out these recipes next:
- Warm Up with a Mug of Chestnut Hot Chocolate
- 15 of the Very Best Vegan Cookie Recipes You Can Make at Home
- Celebrate with a Festive and Bubbly Sugar Plum Cocktail
Photos by Meghan Yager, Nikki Cervone, Mike Quinn, and Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Allison Sidhu
Allison M. Sidhu is a culinary enthusiast from southeastern Pennsylvania who has returned to Philly after a seven-year sojourn to sunny LA. She loves exploring the local restaurant and bar scene with her best buds. She holds a BA in English literature from Swarthmore College and an MA in gastronomy from Boston University. When she’s not in the kitchen whipping up something tasty (or listening to the latest food podcasts while she does the dishes!) you’ll probably find Allison tapping away at her keyboard, chilling in the garden, curled up with a good book (or ready to dominate with controller in hand in front of the latest video game) on the couch, or devouring a dollar dog and crab fries at the Phillies game.