Holiday cookie baking definitely dominates at my house. But there’s something to be said for the joy of being presented with a plate of tasty candy treats at winter parties and get-togethers.
It’s easy enough to grab a package of your standard miniature candy bars, wrapped in snowflake-bedecked foil, or dyed red and green for a limited time only. But these Christmastime convenience foods can’t hold a balsam-scented candle to the real deal.
I present to you the following roundup – Foodal’s list of our favorite holiday candy recipes that you can make at home.
You’ll find something to satisfy every taste, and these range in difficulty from a quick mix and shape to more complicated multi-step masterpieces.
So strap on those ruffled red and white aprons and roll up your ugly Christmas sweater sleeves. It’s time to whip up some sweet holiday goodies!
1. White Chocolate Coconut
Creamy, sweet, and delicious, these truffles from Nina-Kristin Isensee look like miniature snowballs. Sure, we know – white chocolate and coconut aren’t everybody’s favorite…
But do you love this special flavor combo?
’Tis the season for sharing and all that, but it couldn’t hurt to make a treat that gives you a guaranteed shot at hoarding them all for yourself, right? If there aren’t any other white chocolate coconut lovers in your crew, that is.
No, no, just kidding. Don’t be a Grinch. Sharing is caring (just make two batches)!
But speaking of that shot… you can also make these boozy if you like!
2. Dark Chocolate
Georgeous, buttery, and smooth ganache-filled truffles, coated with more dark chocolate and a drizzle of white for contrast. Wow!
The beauty of this recipe from Michelle Lettrich is that it’s so easily customizable. Roll them in cocoa powder or sugar, nuts or coconut, or even add a glug of your favorite holiday spirit to the mix for some more adult sweets.
Make a few batches, change up the flavor and coating combos, and you’ve got a whole sampler box to share from just one basic set of instructions.
And wouldn’t that make an awesome gift, packed into little paper wrappers and boxed up, tied with a big ol’ bow? You could even make your own key inside the lid, to clue the recipient in to the flavors they’re about to enjoy. How thoughtful!
You’ll find the recipe on Brown Eyed Baker.
3. Whiskey Chocolate
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a whiskey girl.
Sure, there were a few years in college when nights of revelry fueled by this particular liquor led to vows the next morning to never drink again, more than once. And this was eventually followed by a few more years when I actually did swear off this brown elixir of the devil completely.
But that eventually changed. Moving up from the bottom shelf options and drinking out of something other than red plastic cups helped.
If you’ve got a whiskey connoisseur in your life, make them a batch of these rich, deep, earthy chocolates. And save a few for yourself.
Deborah Harroun’s eggnog truffles are made with a white chocolate and cream cheese base, flavored with rum and nutmeg. It’s the perfect comforting combo.
I plan to make a batch of these and take them with me on the long plane ride home for the holidays, to get in the mood for the wintry scene that awaits me.
Well, hopefully. This will be the fourth time that I head back East for Christmas from southern California, and so far I think I’m three for three on being greeted with weather that barely warranted the zipping up of a coat, let alone donning a scarf or mittens.
You hear me, Santa? Please send snow! I’ll make extra truffles as payment if you do! And roasted rosemary carrots for the reindeer!
Find the recipe for these sweets now on Taste and Tell.
5. Sugar Cookie
Yes, these truffles from Haley Williams are actually made with cookies. Kind of like the whole cake pop trend, but swap out the dense cake inside for a delightful cookie and cream cheese filling.
And yeah, I hear you, white chocolate haters. But don’t skip ahead just yet! You can swap out the coating for dark chocolate, crushed peppermint candy canes, or whatever strikes your fancy.
Start out with store-bought cookies for a quick fix, or make a batch of our super scrumptious sugar cookie cutouts to go the made-from-scratch route.
Get the recipe on If You Give a Blonde a Kitchen.
6. Cinnamon Almond
Yes, Virginia. You can in fact make your own toffee at home.
And with these step-by-step instructions from Sally Quinn, it’s going to be a breeze!
The combo of warming spices and nuts is a real treat that the whole family will enjoy. And Sally says this sweet indulgence is all about pure flavors, with a satisfying crunch that’s still easy to chew.
You’ll find the recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction.
7. Easy Christmas
Easy is right there in the name, and we wouldn’t lie to you.
Beth Baumgartner’s Christmas toffee is chocolate coated, decorated with festive drizzles of red and green, and it makes the perfect treat to wrap up and dole out to the neighbors. They don’t need to know how simple it was to make!
You worked like a good little elf “all day in a hot kitchen” (wink, wink)! Just turn the oven on and grab a magazine and a glass of wine, and you won’t be telling a lie! (Santa’s watching, after all…)
Made with honey, almonds, and vanilla, this is a flavor combination that can’t be beat.
Check out the recipe on The First Year.
Make Mine Mint
8. Oreo Chocolate
My baby brother and I are both into maintaining family holiday traditions, and starting new ones.
Since he turned 21 a few years ago, we have practiced the annual ritual of hitting up the liquor store at the beginning of our holiday visits to pick up something festive to stash at my mom’s house, a largely alcohol-free zone.
Are you sensing a pattern here? Is it just me? Anyway…
Entering the store one year just before it closed and discovering that peppermint vodka was on sale, we knew someone was smiling down on us, and an angel got its wings for sure when the cashier rang up our purchase. Whether served in the form of icy shots from the freezer, or mixed with hot cups of cocoa, it was a delight.
Until we got sick of it, of course. You can only drink so much peppermint vodka (though it’s especially delicious in a steaming cup of chestnut hot chocolate!)
The point that I’m trying to get at with this long-winded story is that mint is a standby winter holiday flavor, and it comes in many forms. My favorite by far is probably that combo of creamy chocolate with a hint of cooling freshness.
So, here you go: you’ll love this mint and chocolate extravaganza from Kara Cook. And unlike my own mint and chocolate combo of that aforementioned Christmas past, this is a perfect recipe to get the kids involved in the holiday food and gift prep.
Start with Andes Mints and Oreos, green chips and chocolate, and make these right in a muffin tin lined with mini cupcake papers. Festive, simple, and super yummy.
Get step-by-step directions on Creations by Kara.
9. Cream Cheese
If you’ve never had cream cheese mints before, these treats from Mandy Bird are not to be missed!
Not only are they absolutely adorable, they’re made with just three ingredients, plus whatever shade of food coloring strikes your fancy.
Make some in pastel pink, some in green, and you’ll have your bases covered. Or try blue and white for Hanukkah. Or maybe yellow, black, and white for a NYE bash.
A little breath-freshening burst of mint before the stroke of midnight couldn’t hurt!
Visit Mandy’s Recipe Box to learn how to make your own.
Here’s another fun one to make with the kids, from Kelly Dixon. Roll your candy dough into balls, and press mint M&Ms in holiday colors into each one.
To give holiday revelers a taste of the unexpected, plate these with a mix of buttery thumbprint cookies filled with a variety of fruit jams. Is it a cookie, or a candy? Pop one in your mouth to find out!
Head over to Smart School House for the recipe.
11. Marzipan Hazelnut
Sweet marzipan coated with chocolate, with a surprise within – a whole hazelnut is hidden inside each one.
This recipe from Nina-Kristen Isensee is easy to follow. Plus, you’ll get the rundown on the history of marzipan and understanding variations in quality, determined by the ratio of almond paste to sugar.
For something a little different, try stuffing a homemade candied cherry inside each one instead.
12. Chickpea Gingerbread Buckeyes
“Healthy candy” might sound like an oxymoron, and to some degree, it is. To qualify as candy, the sugar content is going to be high.
But you’ll find several healthier options on this list, including these chickpea gingerbread buckeyes from Jamie Vespa.
If you’re not familiar with this sweet treat, it’s usually a peanut butter ball that’s dipped in chocolate, particularly popular in Ohio.
These cross the traditional recipe with a classic holiday flavor: gingerbread. Adding molasses, cinnamon, and ground ginger to the mix works like Christmas magic, and your taste buds won’t need much convincing to believe this is the real deal.
And the kiddies won’t give the secret base ingredient a second thought. Chickpeas bump up the health factor, adding a boost of dietary fiber and protein that won’t detract from the flavor at all.
Sounds like these would make the perfect snacking fuel to get you through all of that holiday baking (or those stacks of dishes)! Better make a batch of buckeyes before you get started.
Dishing Out Health has the recipe.
Torrone is an Italian Christmas tradition, and the chocolate version is my favorite. Make your own at home with Rosemary Molloy’s fantastic recipe, with three kinds of chocolate, Nutella (maybe try making a version of that from scratch as well?), and toasted hazelnuts. (Swooning over here just thinking about it!)
After chilling, slice this baby up and add the pieces to the mix on your candy platters for giveaways, or bag it up in holiday-patterned cellophane bags, tied with pretty bows.
This version is super simple, made sans the edible rice paper that usually lines the top and bottom to keep the gooey, thick nougat that torrone is often made with from sticking to the pan.
Purists may scoff. Just give them a taste, and they’ll come around.
Check out the recipe on An Italian in My Kitchen.
14. Jelly Squares
So, chocolate isn’t your thing?
That’s forgivable… I guess. More for me!
Fortunately, you still have options. Like these delightful jewel-toned jelly candies from Nina-Kristin Isensee, made with real fruit juice.
They’re gelatin-based, with just a little bit of added sugar. Bonus points if you make these with fresh, homemade juices. Even fruit and veggie blends can make delightful treats (like you’ll find in the next item on our list)!
You could just stick with traditional classics like cherry and grape. But if unexpected flavors are your thing, this is the perfect recipe for you. Maybe beet and fennel candy will become a new holiday tradition!
15. Orange Gummy Bears
Though they’re not strictly for Christmas, these dancing bear candies were first invented in Germany in 1922, and they’re been popular ever since.
Another healthier option that’s free of artificial dyes, this recipe for a homemade version from Jessica Stier is made with fresh and brightly hued fruit and veggie juices, stevia for a touch of added sweetness, and a splash of orange flavoring.
Oh, and if you are in the chocolate-loving camp with me, these are DELICIOUS if you want to give them a quick dunk in melted dark chocolate. They’ll taste just like those foil-wrapped chocolate oranges that you used to get in your stocking as a kid.
Check out the recipe on Desserts with Benefits.
16. Pomegranate Gumdrops
Made with just three ingredients, you’ll love the bright red color and sweet flavor of these gummy delights from Sue Moran.
Try making these in gumdrop-shaped molds instead of slicing up a slab, to line the walkway of a carefully crafted gingerbread house. Or go old school with spice gum flavors like anise, cinnamon, and clove.
You’ll find the recipe on The View from Great Island.
17. Sweet and Sour Citrus
Have you ever made candied citrus peel before? Start saving those rinds, because now’s the time!
This special homemade confection requires a bit of effort to pull together, but it’s a wonderful way to use up those fruit peels – and winter is citrus season after all.
Whatever your pleasure, orange and lemon, lime and grapefruit, or any other type of citrus fruit that strikes your fancy, you can candy those peels.
Go sweet with granulated sugar, take the sour route with citric acid powder, or you could even give these fruity sugar-soaked strips a dip in dark chocolate. They’re perfect for gifting, or (like most candy) keeping all to yourself.
18. Maple Chocolate
The first time I visited Vermont, I was in heaven. Not only was the landscape dotted with moose mailboxes and lawn decorations (and supposedly real moose too, though I have yet to see one to date), it was a foodie wonderland of all things maple.
You’ll find REAL maple syrup everywhere, from the fanciest hotel restaurant to the lowliest roadside diner, and you’ll find it IN everything. Over the course of just two days, when I wasn’t dousing my pancakes in what may in fact be the true nectar of the gods, I was scarfing it down in sugar candy form, sausage, soda, ice cream – you name it.
Maybe you’re not as into this particularly variety of sweet, sweet boiled down tree juice as I am. But even if you’re an infrequent and casual but nonetheless enthusiastic consumer of that particular square in the Russell Stover sampler box a few times a year, this recipe from Trish Rosenquist is a must make.
Whether you’re a pecan fan or more of a walnut enthusiast, these can be made with either. But we’re wondering if some experimentation might be called for – if anybody tries a batch with roasted chestnuts, let us know how they turn out! And for something extra special, you can make these with homemade sweetened condensed milk.
Mom on Timeout has the recipe.
19. Dark Chocolate Peanut Clusters
Whoever first decided that chocolate and peanuts should be best friends was clearly a genius. And for those who aren’t into the particulars of perfect presentation or painstaking decoration (that’s me!), you’ll do well with this foolproof recipe from Rose Atwater.
The beauty of clusters is that each one is wonderful in its own weird, snowflake-special way (not unlike these tender snowflake cookies). No need for candy molds, a steady hand, or a boatload of patience.
Did I mention you only need three ingredients to make a batch of these? There’s really nothing to hold you back from creating amazing homemade candy in your own kitchen with this one.
You’ll find it on Rose Bakes.
20. Salted Caramel Brittle
In case you haven’t heard, when making certain forms of sugary delights, baking soda equals fluffy, bubbly, awesome goodness.
You might find the idea of adding this ingredient to your homemade confections a bit strange, but really, the magic is in the baking soda. And this isn’t the only recipe on our list that includes it.
Once you’ve gotten used to that idea, you need to know that this brittle shatters into beautiful shards of nutty, salted caramel delight. And you can use as many different kinds of nuts as you like. The more, the merrier!
Annalise Sandberg shares her recipe on Completely Delicious.
21. Melted Snowman Bark
You’d be hard pressed to find another holiday bark recipe that even approaches the clever cuteness level of this offering from Kara Cook.
Remember the part of the song when Frosty melts into a puddle? No?
OK, we checked, and that’s not really part of the classic Christmas song at all, though I could have sworn I remembered this happening very vividly. Looks like this was actually part of the Frosty cartoon movie, which was most definitely not a perennial favorite in my household…
At any rate, these are super simple to make. All you need are some orange Starburst (or orange chocolate melts) cut into triangles for noses, chocolate chips for eyes made out of coal, some pretzel stick arms, mini peanut butter cup hats, and M&M buttons. Or, get creative and go your own way with your favorite candies and adornments.
You’ll find the recipe on Creations by Kara.
22. Seafoam Candy
Whether you call it honeycomb, seafoam, puff, or sponge candy, it’s fantastic dipped in chocolate.
If you’ve made it this far, you probably realize that I think this about everything.
But it’s true! And if you’ve never tried this before, you’ve got to make it at least once.
In fact, my brother and I tried this exactly once, in my second post-college apartment in West Philadelphia after a lovely morning of holiday shopping.
It fluffed up beautifully! And broke my plastic spatula. Or maybe that was the nougat that we also made… Eh, details.
Either way, we still haven’t tried either of those recipes at home again, but the results were super delicious. Maybe this will be the year that we give it another shot (sans foreign objects in an unlucky holiday visitor’s portion)!
Heather Schmitt-González shares the recipe on All Roads Lead to the Kitchen.
Some will say we saved the best for last, while others will nod knowingly and think to themselves, “Uh huh… this one’s the kicker!”
Homemade caramel can be difficult to pull off, to say the least. But with these detailed directions from Kendall Vanderslice, you’ll be fine!
Kendall includes instructions for adding the flavorings of your choosing, mixing things up a bit in terms of texture, and even how to stop the process early to make a delicious sauce that’s perfect for topping holiday pies, ice cream, or warm-from-the-oven caramel apple scones.
So Much Candy, So Little Time…
Quick! What are you waiting for? Your family, friends, and neighbors are eagerly anticipating the arrival of these delicious homemade candies, so don’t let them down.
And if you’re a little short on time, trust us – these make welcome additions to a gathering between holidays or New Year’s Eve feast as well.
Just don’t blame us when you become the automatic candy maker from now on. With great power comes great responsibility.
Which recipes will you make this year? What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
Photos by Nina-Kristen Isensee, Felicia Lim, Kendall Vanderslice, and Allison Sidhu © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. All other photography in this article is owned and copyrighted by their respective owners as identified. Reprinted with permission by Ask the Experts, LLC. All rights reserved by all parties. Additional link contributions by Janice Alian. Originally published December 16, 2016.
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.