The holidays are about so much more than presents, but it's still so fun and fulfilling to receive and give tokens of appreciation to one another. What better way to show friends, family and colleagues you care about them than with a homemade treat? Baking a batch of snickerdoodles or gingerbread people may be the go-to, but even Santa is getting sick of the same cookies. These creative candies, spreads, snacks, sauces, dips and soups are sure to bring a smile to the face of the recipients and make the holidays even more festive — and delicious!
Roughly crushed salted pretzels and toasted hazelnuts are stirred into melted chocolate in this lovely giftable treat. To up the ante even further, the mixture is then decorated with crumbled freeze-dried red strawberries and green pistachios for extra color and flavor to complete this delicious, sweet treat. There's bit of sweet, nutty and salty flavor in each crunchy, colorful, chocolaty bite.
These treats are super easy, super-fast, kid-friendly and everyone loves them. They're a wonderful way of giving socially distanced hugs and kisses! Make these a week in advance or longer and freeze until ready to serve or gift.
These festive reindeer treats are almost too cute to eat! They're a fun holiday project and delicious delight for kids and grown-ups alike. Change up the flavor by swapping the peanut butter crackers with any round cookie.
Make fudge with just two ingredients: chocolate and dates. It's a soak, melt and blend situation. Semi-sweet chocolate chips make for a sweeter fudgy experience, but if dark chocolate is preferred, use chips with a higher percentage of cacao (60-70%). Choose to be a purist and leave the treat plain or add extra flair by incorporating all sorts of goodies to the batter — from roasted, chopped nuts (walnuts, peanuts, pecans) to swirled nut butter to shredded coconut.
Siri Daly makes these festive marshmallows to make the best out of a common holiday dilemma. "We always have too many candy canes lying around the house over the holidays," she says. "By crushing them up, you can use them in cookies, fudge or these delicious homemade marshmallows. They also make great edible gifts and are perfect for dunking into a cup of hot cocoa."
Chocolate bark makes an impressive holiday gift and it's so easy! Instead of melting dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate in a double-boiler, use the microwave to melt them, then add mix-ins and decorate with some colorful ingredients for a jewel-like effect. Once cool, layer the pieces between sheets of parchment paper in a pretty tin or box and tie it up with a ribbon.
These chocolaty spheres hide a surprise inside. When hot milk is poured over them, the chocolate melts and magically releases marshmallows and hot chocolate mix, creating an incredible cup of cocoa. They're guaranteed to bring a little extra holiday magic to a warming winter drink.
The festively decorated white chocolate outside of this treat is dazzling on its own. But when your guests discover the edible cookie dough filling, they will really be wowed! The cookie dough is safe to eat — and lasts for weeks in the fridge — because it's egg-free and the flour is heat treated. Wrap these up in cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon for the most cheerful holiday favors.
The perfect combo of sweet and salty, this is the best treat to take to a potluck or party and they also make a very pretty present. These chewy, crunchy and chocolaty treats are made with just four ingredients and there's no double boiler needed. All the melting takes place in the microwave, keeping prep and cleanup quick and easy.
Homemade truffles make a big impression, but they're actually very simple to make! Start with a basic recipe and then dress them up with all sorts of creative toppings. Have fun by adding things like rum or peppermint extract to the chocolate and cream for different flavored truffles. They make the perfect edible gifts for the holidays. Pro tip: Use a melon baller or one-inch scoop to make uniform, professional looking truffles.
These crunchy chocolate and peanut butter cups are so easy to make — and even easier to devour. It's a melt, mix and muffin game that involves only three ingredients: chocolate, peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter) and a crispy, whole-grain cereal. These candy-bar-like cups are rich, indulgent, portion-friendly and perfect for sharing. Keep them in the fridge or freeze them for when you're craving something special.
Christina Tosi breaks down the formula to creating these sweet and chewy caramel snaps: "With one delicious formula, you can get super creative and dream up a snap that tells whatever flavor story you'd like," she says. "Start with a crunchy cookie base, layer it with a flavor center (caramel, peanut butter, jam, marshmallow, etc.), add a crunchy/sandy layer (like small crackers, mini pretzels, anything delicious and crumbly/broken up), cover with chocolate coating and add a textural topping (like crushed nuts, candies, etc.). You can't go wrong with the combos and they're always irresistible!"
While it's a lovely gesture to buy someone a box of candy, homemade is always more personal and treasured. Tiny bits of toffee and pieces of chopped pretzels stud the rich, creamy chocolate squares in this simple to prepare confection. Wrap them up in parchment, tie with a pretty ribbon and make someone's day sweeter!
These granola bars from Molly Yeh are the bee's knees! "They're chewy, nutty and delicious, and the ingredients are easy to have on hand at all times," she says. "They're also infinitely adaptable depending on what nut butter/chocolate/seed/dried fruit combo I'm into that week and they're easy enough to make with a baby in my arms. Some of my favorite combinations of mix-ins include peanut butter with dark chocolate, cashew butter with dried apricots, almond butter with white chocolate (bonus points if it's that white chocolate from Trader Joe's that has the sprinkles in it!), and tahini and halva (and a little rosewater). Once you have the basic formula down (oats + a can of condensed milk) you can go wild with your own creations! The world is your homemade granola bar oyster."
With just five main ingredients, this recipe is super easy. The slow cooker does most of the work in creating this velvety, rich fudge. Honey and white chocolate chips add another dimension of sweetness that keeps the palate guessing. It's perfect for serving at a party or to give as a gift.
It's hard to believe that a mash-up of these wholesome, kiddie snacks — Fluffernutters and Mallomars — could become such a decadent, grown-up treat. Dark chocolate, toasted marshmallows, peanut butter mousse and flaky sea salt, together, create something so much greater than the sum of its parts. They have a surprisingly elegant flavor and refined look.
Satisfy caffeine and sugar cravings in one decadent bite with Anthony Contrino's mocha truffles. "If you love chocolate and coffee, this one is for you," he says. "Whether you need a pick-me-up or are just crazing something sweet, these little treats are sure to do the trick. I like to enrobe the truffles with a thin coating of tempered chocolate for a bit of added crunch, but you can roll them in cocoa powder to get them in your mouth quicker!"
Pralines are a classic New Orleans confection. The crunchy nuts and creamy candy make them a wonderfully sweet treat. Plus, according to Jessica B. Harris, they carry "an awful lot of history in one small patty."
Samah Dada gives classic peanut butter cup candies a grown-up makeover. "I was the kid who was only interested in peanut butter cups," she says. "Every other candy was irrelevant in my eyes. To be honest, not a lot has changed other than the fact that I have now discovered almond butter. I decided to take everything I loved about the treasured peanut butter and swap it with almond, adding a little bit of maple syrup for sweetness and some flaky salt on top to balance it all out. What's left is a sophisticated, perhaps more grown-up version of my childhood favorite that's impossibly easy to create at home."
This sweet centerpiece will add festive flair to any Christmas table. It's as much fun to make as it is to eat. Take it on the go or give as a gift by packing the powdery puppy chow, marshmallow snowmen and decorations in individual glass jars.
These truffles are great to give as a gift, but they're so tasty, it's very tempting to just keep them! A little bit of butter and heavy cream give these treats a lustrously smooth and luxurious mouthfeel. Perfect for a little holiday indulgence.
One of the best parts of a chocolate chip cookie is the crisp, sugary, brown-buttery edges. This is a whole pan of that! It's so simple, so addictive and really unique. Plus, it's a fun recipe to make with little ones because they can help with patting out the dough, breaking up the baked brittle, etc. It's perfect for bringing to get-togethers and for end-of-year gifts in cute, ribboned bags or tins.
Planning a party? This nutty caramel corn is perfect for guests to munch on. It's also great for low-stress holiday gifting because it can be made in advance, packed in lidded containers or sealable bags and stored at room temperature.
Cake pops are so much fun because they bring all the goodness of a slice of cake or a cupcake in an easy-to-eat individual bite. They are also easy to make, instantly customizable and the perfect small treat. They are ideal gatherings where every item needs to be single serving, make for a show-stopping dessert display and are great to give as party favors or gifts.
No one would ever guess that these decadent treats are vegan. Coconut milk in the chocolate and a shredded coconut coating give these dairy-free treats a touch of tropical flavor.
These chocolate sandwich cookie truffles from Hoda Kotb are a cinch to put together. "They end up looking like cute little reindeer!" she says. "They're the perfect option for a cookie swap or holiday party and the kids love to help decorate!"
It's hard to believe how easy it is to make these adorably festive treats. These sweet little Santa hats are made of piped meringue and decorated with white chocolate and coconut. They're almost too pretty to eat!
These just may be the ultimate edible holiday gift. They not only have festive marshmallow snowmen, colorful candy canes and a healthy helping of rich chocolate, but they make an amazing cup of hot cocoa. Give these as gifts or swirl in hot chocolate for the ultimate minty treat.
This beautiful bark is bursting with chocolate and mint flavors. The dazzling swirls of white and dark chocolate get a brilliant pop of color and crunchy texture from crushed candy canes. It is quick and easy to put together and makes a great holiday gift.
For Al Roker, the holidays are the most festive time of year! "I love to make and gift these nuts because they are full of bold flavor but also a healthier alternative to the sugary cookies and other indulgent treats of the season," he says. "You can use any mix of nuts you prefer. If you like your snacks spicier, add an extra pinch or two of cayenne."
Move over, popcorn! Roasted chickpeas are the new easy-to-make, deliciously addictive snack in town. They are crunchy and tasty with just the right blend of spices. They also pack a ton of nutrients into every bite.
Bringing a batch of this crunchy, yummy granola to the hosts of a party will absolutely guarantee repeated invitations for years to come. It's packed with sweet, dried fruits, toasty oats, crunchy flax seeds and nutty almonds. So, it's not only filling and delicious, but healthy, too.
These pickles are the ultimate spicy and tangy snack. They're surprisingly easy to prepare and make an impressive presentation. The brilliant red chiles, emerald cucumbers and fresh herbs and aromatics look so attractive swirling around in an old-fashioned pickling jar.
Never toss out pumpkin seeds again. Instead, turn what would be food waste into something delicious. With just some simple seasonings and bit of time in the oven, the seeds transform into something truly special. The texture of the pepitas along with the flavors of the spices make for a wonderful snack.
Make this snack mix a few days in advance and have on hand for the holidays. This is a great recipe to get rid of a lot of cereals, nuts and pretzels that are taking up space in the cupboards. Since everything gets crisped up in the oven, they can even be a little stale. It's perfect for adding to cheese and charcuterie boards or serving on special occasions to keep guests snack-happy. The spiced cereal, candied nuts and dried fruit all go so well with cheese and cured meats, but the mix also tastes great on its own and makes a fun and festive gift.
Gift someone the ultimate on-the-run breakfast or a grab-and-go snack: trail mix. It's super customizable: Make it with any variety of nuts, seeds, cereals, dried fruit, popcorn and so much more (yes, even chocolate chips!). There's no need to refrigerate and it's totally totable and and filled with healthy fats, fiber and protein.
Sunny Anderson's simple glaze takes pecans to a whole new level. "I love making these crunchy nuts for holiday parties!" she says. "The sweet cranberry and woodsy rosemary give the toasty pecans big seasonal flavor. They're deliciously addictive."
Santa always gets cookies, but what about his trusty reindeer? While a carrot on the plate might have been enough for generations past, social media-obsessed millennial parents have driven a rise in "reindeer food." It's usually an oat-based recipe that gets sprinkled on the lawn and comes with a magical poem to get kids extra excited for the arrival of Rudolph and co. Humans can also eat the reindeer food as a muesli for breakfast in milk or yogurt.
Is this candy or is it a healthy snack? Is it dessert or is it a protein packed yummy bite great for bring on a hike? What it is for sure is feel-good food. The chia seeds add a hearty dose of daily fiber to maintain productive digestion and a healthy microbiome. This treat is so delicious it's hard to believe it's healthy, too!
Syrups, sauces, spreads, sips and soups
There's so many wonderful things about the changing seasons: The chill in the air, the trees changing colors and, most of all, the flavors and scents of the season. This apple cider warms from the inside out and it's just boozy enough for those who want a more adult version of the seasonal beverage. Making it in a slow cooker not only makes it effortless, but also slowly infuses the seasonings into the cider.
This slow cooker meal-in-a-jar is easy to assemble and makes a wonderful gift for the holidays, or any time of year! This black bean soup gets a wonderful depth of flavor from chicken bouillon and a hit of spice from the red pepper flakes. The result is a soup that is seriously warming and satisfying on cold days.
Jars and jars of caramel sauce line shelves of gourmet markets, but they're never as good as they should be and way more expensive than they deserve to be. Given the ingredients — sugar, water, butter and vanilla — the store-bought stuff is staggeringly expensive. But caramel sauce is so quick and easy to make at a fraction of the cost at home and the flavor is far superior. Because of the butter, this caramel sauce needs refrigeration but for a pantry-stable version, which is especially great for gifts, just leave it out. It will be less rich but no less delicious!
Known as speculoos in Belgium, where the blended cookie spread concept originated as a waffle topping. This trendy dessert can be purchased in jars, but it can be made at in about five minutes. This recipe is easily adaptable. Almost any cookie will work, it can be made in small or large batches and it's great for gifting. It's a creative way to spin the influx of holiday cookies into not one dessert, but two!
While Sorrento lemons can be used in all the same ways as any other lemons, they are known for making the best limoncello. In this three-ingredient liqueur that takes two weeks to brew, time does most of the work. But the reward for patience is liquid gold!
This soup-in-a-jar is great for low-fuss weeknight dinners. Alternating layers of barley, dried mushrooms and spices in a glass jar make this soup as nice to look at as it is to eat. This do it all dish is a creative gift, a hearty meal and home décor all in one!
This citrusy and floral-flavored simple syrup makes an excellent addition to cocktails and alcohol-free drinks. It adds sweetness and bright flavor to any beverage. It's perfect for prepping ahead of time since it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Homemade nut butter is different than the store-bought kind in a jar, but it is no less flavorful — and it's so fun to make. Blend nuts with a few flavorings and boom, instant nut butter! And best of all, its guaranteed to be free of any hidden sugars or other common additives.
This versatile condiment is a staple of Thai cuisine. It has the perfect balance of sweetness and a spicy kick. Plus, the tangy tamarind and umami-rich anchovies give it a depth of flavor that makes it absolutely irresistible.
Garlic, onions, spices, tomatoes and fresh basil get simmered together slowly to blend and develop the flavors in this simple sauce. Not only is it delicious when served with pasta, it is a versatile sauce that can be used on pizza, served with mozzarella sticks or transformed into a creamy vodka sauce.
Southwestern flavors in this short-cut jarred soup come through in the corn, white and pinto beans and smoky spices. When added to a slow cooker with diced tomatoes, a bit of broth and beer, it creates a hearty, rich soup. Add some chicken for extra bulk and protein.