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63 Christmas cookie recipes to bake this holiday season

Time old favorites and twists on the classics.
Courtesy William Dickey
/ Source: TODAY

Of all my holiday memories throughout the years, it’s the ones spent baking cookies that are the strongest. I remember making a huge mess with my cousins in my grandmother’s kitchen, blasting Mariah Carey’s Christmas album on loop. The resulting cookies were always…edible, at the very least. We’d pack them into tins where they’d sit and get stale until we presented them to our parents who tried their best to gulp them down on Christmas Eve. Eventually, my sister and I were recruited to bake cookies with a family friend who taught us how to make cookies that actually tasted as good as they looked.

Then during my teen years, my high school friends organized a secret Santa, which always culminated in a gift exchange at one friend’s house. For weeks, her mom turned her house into a cookie factory, making dozens of varieties and arranging them into platters for us to take home to enjoy with our families. If I close my eyes, I can taste her famous citrus-glazed shortbread.

When I got my first grown-up job in food media after graduation, the annual holiday cookie swap was the pinnacle of the year. It was like the Olympics — the moment everyone had been working towards. Each staffer brought in one cookie to exchange, every single selection more impressive and elaborate than the last. Of course, I ran out of time and used slice and bake, hoping no one would notice. I’m sure they did.

You see, holiday cookies are a constant thread that run through the decades. Your dessert table might be full of the same repeat offenders year after year, or you might be the type to try a brand new recipe every year, searching for the holy grail of Christmas cookies. Either way, cookies bring people together to form lasting memories. Here are 63 Christmas cookie recipes to help you form some of your own this holiday season.

A hallmark of cookie season, Linzer cookies are the crown jewel of any dessert spread. It’s the cookie dough that sets them apart, which is made with roasted almonds that lend them their signature crumbly texture. Of course, they’d be nothing without the shiny jam-filled windowpane that steals the show.

Ree Drummond gives the classic thumbprint cookie recipe a chocolate-y makeover. In addition to adding cocoa powder to the cookie dough, this version reimagines the standard jam-filling, swapping it for melted chocolate and crushed peppermints.

Spiced Cookie Christmas Trees

Skip the gingerbread house decorating contest this year and assemble a cookie Christmas tree instead. Start by making the tree-shaped cookie branches, then decorate with buttercream, which acts as the “glue.” Dust with powdered sugar to create a snowy scene with this edible centerpiece.

Spicy Molasses Cookies
Shortbread Cookies

Here’s another winning cookie recipe from The Pioneer Woman herself. These chewy molasses cookies will be the star of your cookie swap. Plus, with just 15 minutes of prep and 10 minutes of baking, you’ll find yourself with plenty of extra time to get your holiday shopping and gift wrapping done.

If you’re the kind of person that goes for the corner of the pan every time, this brownie cookie recipe is for you. As it bakes, this brownie-batter style cookie gets crisp around all the edges. Drizzle with melted chocolate, flavored with peppermint extract and dusted with crushed peppermints, it’s the ultimate holiday treat.

Dylan's Aunt Tillie's Christmas Cookies

Whatever you call these treats, there’s no denying that they’re a holiday staple. An Aunt Tillie’s Christmas cookie by any other name is just as sweet! The nostalgic anise-flavored cookies are gently dipped in a simple confectioners’ sugar glaze and topped with rainbow sprinkle balls for a slightly sweet treat that’s perfect for dunking in coffee.

Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread cookies can be a hit or a miss, but this exacting recipe takes the cake. (I mean cookie.) Delicate and buttery thanks to a combination of cake flour, confectioner’s sugar and butter, these shortbread cookies will melt in your mouth — and your cup of tea, too.

Maple-Raisin Holiday Cookies

Zoë François is the queen of baking, so take her word for it when she tells you to make these maple-raisin holiday cookies. Studded with raisins and glazed with maple-vanilla icing, these whole-wheat Christmas trees are the hearty treat you’ve been searching for.

The makings of a perfect chocolate chip cookie depend on who you ask. If your personal preference is a balance of chewy and fluffy, give these a try. This recipe calls for both butter and shortening, all-purpose flour and cake flour, light brown sugar and white sugar, to create the ideal formula. It’s a little fussy but once you taste them, you won’t care.

Legendary chef Lidia Bastianich has used this traditional cookie recipe to decorate her Christmas tree over the years. Roll out the deep chocolate-y dough and use a cookie cutter to create the stars. To avoid waste, roll the scraps back together to cut as many stars as you can before baking and icing. They’re crisp enough to hang as ornaments and, of course, good enough to eat.

Leave it to Ree Drummond to create a cookie recipe with an ingredients list that includes almost everything but the kitchen sink. In this sweet-and-savory cookie, both the doughy base and the iced topping are flecked with white chocolate chips, dried cherries and crushed pretzels.

Pro-tip: keep a log of this simple sugar cookie dough in your freezer so you can make them on demand. Then crank up the Christmas music and set up your own cookie-decorating workshop. To frost them like a true baking expert, create two different icings: one that’s a bit thicker to outline the cookie and one that’s thinner to “flood” the cookie.

Donna Kelce has had her fair share of the spotlight this year — and so has her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Made with white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, cinnamon and pecans, there are layers of flavor. These treats are said to be “game-changing” and have the power to bring together even the biggest rivals.

Crinkle (or crackle) cookies’ signature powdered sugar surface will have you dreaming of a white Christmas. This version by Jocelyn Delk Adams is flavored with sweet ginger, molasses and lemon for a spiced — yet bright — taste.

If you don’t want to bother with baking — don’t! Make these cookies, which are packed with oats and chocolate-hazelnut spread, in just 20 minutes without having to turn on your oven. Just make the egg-free batter then scoop and set on parchment until firm.

Pine Cone Gingerbread Cookie Sandwiches

Christmas cookies come in all shapes and sizes: trees, wreaths, bells, stars, crescents, snowflakes, gingerbread men… and now pinecones! These soft and chewy pinecone-shaped gingerbread cookies are the foundation of a sandwich cookie. Inside, they’re stuffed with chai cream cheese frosting and flavored with a festive combination of vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves.

Snickerdoodle Thumbprint Cookies

Snickerdoodles meet thumbprints in this sweet mashup. The cookie base is rolled in cinnamon-sugar and filled with your favorite jam. Use a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour to make this recipe slightly more virtuous.

Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame is the mind behind these Strawberry Shortcake Caramel Snaps, which are topped with freeze-dried strawberry crumbles. The cookie recipe follows her typical formula: “a crunchy cookie base, layered with a flavor center… a crunchy/sandy layer, chocolate coating and a textural topping.” Prep all the components and assemble for a cookie like you’ve never tasted before.


According to TODAY Food contributor Alejandra Ramos, “it seems like just about every country has their own version of this sweet treat.” You may have heard them called Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes, but this variety is called polvorones, after the Spanish word “polvo” which means dust. It, of course, refers to the powdered sugar that coats each cookie ball like a light snowfall.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone’s favorite cookie just got a makeover. Instead of using regular butter, take some extra time to brown it on the stovetop before cooling to room temperature and adding it to the batter. The nutty, rich flavor adds a whole new dimension to chocolate chip cookies. Top with flaky sea salt to bring out the flavors even more.

Fudgy Brownie Cookies

This cookie recipe has everything you love about a brownie: three types of chocolate, a fudgy center, crinkly top and a chewy bite. Portion the batter out using cookie scoops, then bake right away for perfectly glossy tops. You can also prep this dough ahead of time and store it in the freezer to bake off whenever that chocolate craving strikes.

A departure from Tosi’s typical dessert recipes, this cut-out cookie recipe only requires 4 ingredients: butter, light brown sugar, all-purpose flour and salt. There’s nostalgia in the simplicity of this pantry cookie. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the flour and salt before refrigerating. Roll out, cut into shapes with your favorite cookie cutters, then bake and decorate.

Chocolate Toffee Hobnobs

A trip to England inspired this Hobnob recipe — also in Tosi’s cookbook, All About Cookies. The base of this cookie uses oats for a granola bar-style texture. Covered with chocolate and coated with toffee bits, these cookies are just begging for you to bake them.

Leave it to Martha Stewart to elevate classic shortbread into a work of art that’s fit for the holidays. These wreath-shaped rounds are infused with both Meyer lemon juice and zest. The simple royal icing glaze is infused with thyme and rosemary, which give these cookies another layer of sophistication.

Candy Bar Pie Snaps

According to Christina Tosi, these cookies pay homage to the Take 5 candy bar. The flavor combo is simple: sugar, peanut butter, honey, chocolate and caramel. It’s salty, sweet, nutty and will give you everything you love about the Halloween treat in the form of a Christmas cookie.

Jelly Doughnut Cookie Sammies

Like most great inventions, this cookie discovery was an accident. Christina Tosi realized that using leftover fryer oil from cannoli and funnel cakes would make this cookie taste just like a jelly doughnut. See for yourself and try making these sandwich cookies.

Peanut and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

These classic thumbprints are all the best parts of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The cookie base is rolled in chopped peanuts for a salty crunchy texture. Once baked, use a spoon to dent the center of each cookie before adding a scoop of preserves, then bake once more until set.

It wouldn’t be a Christina Tosi recipe without cornflakes! This recipe for cornflake-marshmallow cookies with crushed candy canes was adapted from Tosi’s first cookbook. First make the crunch with cereal, milk powder, sugar, salt and butter, then cool before adding it into the cookie batter. These cookies will puff, crackle, then spread for premium ingredient distribution throughout.

Siri's Fudge Candy Cane Cookies

If you have a box of store-bought brownie mix in your pantry and some leftover coffee from your pot of morning Joe, you’re just a few steps away from these fudge candy cane cookies. Combine the brownie mix with flour, baking soda, salt, butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla and coffee. Throw in some chocolate chips and crushed candy canes for a taste of holiday in every bite. The best part? They only bake for eight minutes.

Old-fashioned peanut butter cookies are a staple in holiday cookie tins across the country. This version doesn’t reinvent the wheel — it perfects it. Peanut butter balls are rolled in granulated sugar, then pressed with the tines of a fork to create a classic criss-cross pattern. You can also use this dough recipe as the base for peanut blossoms by pressing a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie once baked.

Graffiti Sprinkle Cookies

Turn a tube of store-bought cookie dough into a feast for your eyes — and stomach. Simply preheat your oven, then roll the cookie dough into balls and dunk in a bowl of assorted sprinkles until completely covered. Place on a cookie sheet, gently flatten and bake.

Noël Nut Balls

Martha Stewart’s version of Russian tea cakes go by the name “Noël nut balls.” The buttery, nutty dough — studded with finely chopped pecans — is flavored with bourbon or orange juice for added flavor. Don’t skimp on the powdered sugar coating, either — a layer melts into the cookie and is everyone’s favorite part.

Giant Funfetti Sugar Cookie Cake

Why make two dozen cookies when you can make just one giant one? This funfetti cookie cake is loaded with rainbow sprinkles and frosted with vanilla buttercream. There’s just something delightful about cutting this giant cookie into slices, which is meant for sharing.

Excerpted from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, this shortbread cookie recipe is inspired by NYC establishment Zabar’s. She gives the shortbread a festive twist with pecans, which she roasts first for added flavor. (A great tip to remember when baking with any type of nut!).

Siri's Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

This simple-yet-elevated sugar cookie base — flavored with vanilla bean paste and sour cream — is chilled and rolled in festive sanding sugar before baking. The end result is cookies that are crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.

2-Ingredient Palmiers Cookies

You’d never guess that this gorgeous, fancy-sounding Palmier recipe only requires two ingredients: store-bought puff pastry and granulated sugar. If that’s not enough of a challenge, you can attempt to make homemade puff pastry. But the shortcut method will reveal light, airy, golden brown and caramelized palmiers every time.

The beauty of crinkle cookies is that they’re endlessly customizable. This version is for those family members who don’t eat dessert unless it has chocolate in it. To bring out the chocolate flavor even more, the ingredients list calls for a teaspoon of instant espresso powder and fleur de sel for sprinkling on top of the cookies once they come out of the oven.

Duff Goldman's Perfect Sugar Cookies

While delightful and tasty, these sugar cookies are best for keeping kids busy at your next holiday family gathering. Bake off the sugar cookie shapes and make royal icing in an assortment of different colors. Set up an assembly line of sprinkles and edible decorations and prepare for a feast for the eyes.

Gluten-Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

These gluten and dairy-free snickerdoodles taste just like your grandma used to make them. (Seriously!) Sweetened with maple sugar, this cashew and coconut flour base is coated with cinnamon sugar and baked until soft and chewy.

One bite into these powdered sugar-dusted snowball cookies will reveal a red velvet center. Add just a few drops of red food coloring to the cocoa batter, then roll into balls and bake before coating in melted butter and powdered sugar. Cue Lou Lou Who’s, “now that’s holiday!”

Most Christmas cookies aren’t known for being ‘light,” but this coconut macaroon fits the bill. These pillowy macaroons are soft and chewy and loaded with shredded coconut flakes. You can even kick these up a notch by drizzling the cooled cookies with melted chocolate. Bonus: this recipe is gluten-free.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies have a bad rap. Not only are raisins one of the most maligned types of dried fruit out there, but they're also easily mistaken for chocolate chips which (most would argue) are the superior cookie add-in. But for those who have a soft spot for oatmeal raisin, this recipe is worthwhile. The oats are toasted to bring out more flavor, while cardamom makes them feel “grown up” and molasses keeps them tender and chewy.

The best holiday mornings start with a biscotti and a cup of tea. Plus, green pistachios and dried red cherries add a festive look to this classic tea dunker. Enjoy one of these with white chocolate drizzle to get you through the whirlwind that is December 24th to January 1.


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April Franqueza

If you’ve graduated from the two-ingredient shortcut version, here’s the long way to make palmiers. Hint: It involves making homemade puff pastry. But don’t worry, you can do it! Once you’ve nailed it, these delicate swirly, twirly French cookies are beautiful enough to put on display! Wrap them in cellophane so everyone can see the fruits of your labor.

Once you learn how to make Linzer cookies, you’ll never buy them from a bakery again. Don’t have a powdered sugar shaker? Use a cheesecloth filled with confectioners’ sugar, tie with kitchen twine and sprinkle a layer of snow over your holiday treats.

Matcha is the perfect match for buttery shortbread. Adding just a few tablespoons of matcha powder to your standard shortbread dough will give it a green holiday glow. Cut the cookies into stars or trees, and decorate with dipped chocolate and sanding sugar.

Peppermint-Hot Cocoa Cookies

The only thing missing from these peppermint-hot cocoa cookies is a glass of hot cocoa to dunk them in! Bake the chocolatey cookies first, then top with a halved marshmallow. Once the marshmallow is melted, drizzle with chocolate and top with crushed candy canes for an ooey, gooey, textural delight.

This Linzer cookie recipe swaps almonds for walnuts as the base of the crumbly dough. As if that switch up wasn’t revolutionary enough, it calls for filling with Biscoff spread instead of jam, for a warm, buttery take on the typical puckery raspberry filling.

Brownies meet s’mores in this chewy cookie recipe. The dough base gets a deep color and flavor from a half cup of cocoa powder. Scoop it out on a baking sheet and place a marshmallow in the center of each cookie. After baking for 8 to 10 minutes, the cookie will have spread and the marshmallow will be golden brown. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, crushed peppermint candy, toffee bits, chocolate chips or whatever your heart desires.

For those unfamiliar, mandelbrot is a German-style biscotti that’s a bit easier to make than the Italian version. The dough is flecked with walnuts and shaped into logs. Sprinkle with sanding sugar (one red, one green of course), then slice and bake until the edges are golden brown. Just like biscotti, it’s the perfect dipping cookie.

White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookies

You can make chocolate chip cookies all year long, but white chocolate peppermint cookies have a certain window in which they’re best enjoyed — and that’s cookie swap season. Make a simple dough with white and brown sugar, shortening, butter, eggs, vanilla, peppermint and flour, then stir in a healthy amount of white chocolate chips and soft peppermint.

There’s a reason people buy rainbow cookies from Italian bakeries rather than making them at home. While they require a bit of TLC, the payout is worth the effort. Make layers of delicate almond sponge cake (in festive colors) and layer with raspberry jam, apricot jam and chocolate glaze. Stick with classic green and red or let your little ones go crazy with every color of the rainbow.

When they first came out, these chocolate chunk shortbread cookies by Alison Roman went so viral that they became known as “The Cookies.” Made with salted butter, light brown sugar, chocolate chunks and flour, this dough sets in the freezer until you’re ready to slice and bake. Don’t skimp on the Demerara sugar coating — it’s what gives these cookies their sparkly, crispy edges.

Leave it to Martha to develop a cookie recipe that’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost. These string-light Christmas tree cookies are trimmed with white chocolate garlands and red candy ornaments. Of course, we can’t forget the cookie star on top.

Savannah's Christmas Snickerdoodle Cookies

Snickerdoodles are Savannah Guthrie’s favorite holiday cookie. This recipe puts a twist on the classic. Instead of rolling them in cinnamon sugar, bake the cinnamon spice right into the dough. Roll in sanding sugar instead for a pop of color.

Sweet butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips and chopped pecans are the stars of this holiday cookie recipe. As with most great cookie recipes, these taste best when slightly underbaked. Do with that information what you will.

Candied Hazelnut-Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Elevate the classic chocolate chip cookie with one festive addition: candied hazelnuts. In a large skillet, cook hazelnuts, sugar and water until the sugar dissolves and thickens around the hazelnuts. Once they’re golden brown in color, remove from the heat, season with salt, then cool before adding to the cookie dough. They’ll be a sweet surprise in every bite.

Let this savory macaron recipe be your cookie swap wildcard. The shells are pretty standard: almond flour, powdered sugar, egg whites, sugar and water, but it’s the filling that really sets these apart. Made with cream, duck fat, rosemary, sage, thyme and white chocolate, it’s a little out of left field. According to the recipe developer, “they taste like the last bite of your Thanksgiving meal.” All we can say is don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

Gluten-Free Triple Chocolate and Corn Cookies

Here’s a gluten-free option for your dessert table that isn’t at all run of the mill. This corn and sorghum chocolate cookie is so tender it has the texture of a brownie. Dip them in chocolate and sprinkles for even more festive flair.

Santa Hat Meringues

Straight out of your holiday Pinterest board, these delightful Santa hat meringues will be the one treat everyone wants to take a photo of. Once the hats are piped, baked and cooled, dip in melted white chocolate and coat the fur trim and cotton ball tip in white coconut.

It’s not very often that a dessert is “refreshing,” but this lemon cookie with white chocolate chips fits the bill. These citrus holiday cookies transform a traditional sugar cookie into a tart and subtly sweet treat that’ll cleanse your palate after a hearty dinner — so you’re ready for even more cookies.

Chocolate Chunk-Potato Chip Cookies

Potato chips make everything better: dips, sandwiches and, yes, even cookies. For this recipe, be sure to spring for kettle cooked chips, which will retain some of their crunchiness after baking. The chips serve the same purpose as flaky sea salt, but add a fun textural surprise that’ll get everyone talking.

Prepare to be mesmerized by these swirly clouds of meringue. For the perfect swirl, use chopsticks to gently incorporate the raspberry coulis into the meringue. The tart berry balances out the sweetness of the meringue, making this the perfect dessert for the “not-too-sweet” set.

Candy Cane Cookies

This recipe is a twist on the iconic original from a decades-old Betty Crocker cookbook, tweaked by the winner of the TODAY holiday cookie contest. While these cookies may look like peppermint sticks, they’re flavored with almond and vanilla extract. Be sure to dip in powdered sugar while still warm for a dusting of snow.